The cost of traveling in Ecuador

by Kim on October 9, 2012 · 65 comments

When we were planning our trip around the world, I found it helpful when other travelers were open about what they were spending on the road. So, in an effort to be transparent (and to help get you out the door!) I’ll be posting about our expenses in each country we visit.

Brian and I spent six weeks traveling through Ecuador. We stayed one week in Quito, eight days in the Galapagos Islands, three days in Mindo, three and a half weeks in Baños and four days in Cuenca.

A bit about Ecuador and how we traveled

Overall, Ecuador is an inexpensive country to travel through. You’ll see below that our per day cost looks high, but that is primarily because of the expense of traveling to the Galapagos. We also took two weeks of private Spanish lessons which increased our overall daily expenses slightly. All costs of our six-week travel is explained in detail below.

Brian with our Spanish teacher at our Spanish school

Brian and I are mindful of our budget but we are not budget backpackers. We try to stick to a budget of $80 per day for the both of us, a fairly easy thing to do in Ecuador. We generally stay in hostels and rent private rooms with a double bed and a shared bathroom. We eat out often and we drink when we want too. We buy too much ice cream. We don’t shop much but we do spend money on city tours and fun adventures like this:

Brian willingly jumps off of a bridge. What’s terrifying is he only paid $10 to do it. 

In general, we watch what we spend but we also have a lot of fun.

The cost of traveling in Ecuador

First, let’s get to our grand total. In all, we spent a total of $6,580.17 dollars while traveling six weeks through Ecuador.

I know, I know, that seems like a huge number. But bear in mind that our Galapagos trip was a gigantic expense (see below). If I remove the total cost of our Galapagos trip, our grand total spent was only $2,584.64. That equals an average of $68 per day (for two people!) on the days that we were not in the Galapagos. We also spent $400 on private Spanish lessons. If I remove that expense, our daily average drops to only $57.50 per day for two people, or $28.75 per person. As you can see, you can travel quite well on a budget of about $30 per person per day in Ecuador.

Cost of six-weeks travel in Ecuador 
TYPE OF EXPENSE                          COST
Lodging $547
Food/Alcohol (eating out) $931.96
Grocery $198.96
Souvenirs/Gifts $99
Entertainment $109.50
Transportation $174.70
Flights $0
Misc. $74.21
Spanish classes $400.00
TOTAL (2 people) $2,535.33

Some notes about our expenses: 

You’ll see that I did not account for our flights to Ecuador. This is because we bought our tickets a long time ago, back when we had jobs and paychecks and stuff like that. Since the money came out of our bank account way back when, I chose to leave that expense in the past. 

Transportation is cheap in Ecuador. In general, even long-haul buses cost about $1 per hour. Local buses cost about $0.25 cents. Taxis can always be negotiated and a price should be agreed upon before hopping in. 

The miscellaneous category includes things like laundry, donations and tips (we gave our Spanish teacher a tip).

For the record, I’m ashamed to reveal the amount of money we spent on alcohol and eating out. I told you we eat a lot of ice cream. 

Cost of traveling to the Galapagos

Visiting the Galapagos is an expensive once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’d not originally planned to go due to the cost, but eventually decided to spring for it because everyone and their dog told us we should. We’re glad we did, it was worth every penny, but it also cost a lot of pennies.

Galapagos: Worth the expense

In total our trip to the Galapagos cost us $3,995.53. This is the grand total for every single cent we spent on that trip (2 people). The costs are explained below:

Cost of an eight-day cruise of the Galapagos Islands
TYPE OF EXPENSE                                       COST
Galapagos all-inclusive tour and flights $3,410.53
Galapagos card (mandatory fee at airport) $20
Galapagos National Park entrance fee $200
Tips for crew and guide $201
Souvenirs, postcards, etc. $18
Snorkel gear and wetsuit rental $112
Bar tab $34
TOTAL (2 people) $3,995.53

It’s important to note that Brian and I actually booked a last minute deal to the Galapagos Islands, saving us at least a thousand dollars (probably more). We booked our trip through a travel agency in Quito on Monday and we left for the Galapagos on Wednesday. 

We were on a first-class yacht that held sixteen passengers plus crew. First-class is considered mid-range as far as price is concerned. There are luxury boats as well as tourist class (cheaper) boats. Tourist class gets mixed reviews, but I’ve heard from plenty of people who had a great time on a tourist class boat. One additional note: The food on our yacht was delicious, the best food I’ve had in years. I’m a vegetarian, and the chef provided me my very own vegetarian meal three times a day.

Overall notes about Ecuador

Before we left home we were frequently asked which country we’d be visiting first. When we said Ecuador we generally got this response: Ohhh, why Ecuador? To which Brian and I would sort of stutter and shrug our shoulders because we didn’t really know why we’d picked Ecuador

But we fell in love. 

Ecuador is a beautiful country. The mountains are stunning, the cities have a crumbling colonial charm, and the people are incredibly warm and kind. In Ecuador, life spills out into the streets. Women roast chicken on a spit on the sidewalk, children and dogs wander from house to restaurant to market. Life happens, outside, for everyone to see and because of that there is a kind of energy that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. The energy comes from the act of really participating in the lives of the people around you. It’s fabulous.

Busy streets of Ecuador


Life On Fire ebook coverLive your dreams! Find out how with my book, Life On Fire: A Step-By-Step Guide To Living Your Dreams.