More than your average port city, Guayaquil combines the old and new with areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Far more than merely a gateway to the Galapagos, the city of Guayaquil is a characterful coastal centre in its own right. The largest of Ecuador’s city-ports and affectionately known as the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’, Guayaquil has recently gone through rapid changes, none more so than the carefully restored district of Las Peñas; the city’s oldest neighbourhood and home to centuries-old buildings and atmospheric streets.
Guayaquil has a rich collection of museums, fantastic restaurants and great nightlife, enough to rival any Latin American city. Its jewel in the crown, however, is the Malecón 2000; a two-mile pedestrian walkway which runs along the Guayas River. This promenade is lined with trendy eateries, cafés, shops, botanical gardens and a contemporary art museum – there really is something to suit everyone.
Elsewhere in Guayaquil, you can climb the steps to the summit of the historic Santa Ana Hill for spectacular panoramic views of the city and coastline. Then, out of town, the wider Guayaquil region is perfect for relaxed horseback rides, hacienda stays, working cocoa and banana plantation visits and secluded beach trips, giving you the chance to unwind after a few busy days in the city! If you’re a keen twitcher, head to the Cerro Blanco Forest to spy some of the 211 bird species that thrive in the ceiba and pigio trees, or go canoeing through the Puerto Hondo Mangrove Reserve to see Saltwater Crocodiles, Pelicans, Herons and Frigate Birds too. It’s not just the Galapagos that boasts amazing wildlife in Ecuador!
The Oilbird 'Cave' of Chontal
Eateries on the Malecón
As the largest and most populous city in all of Ecuador, Guayaquil has no end of fantastic traditional and international restaurants, many of which can be found along the Malecón. So take a relaxing stroll down the promenade, and find your own favourite spot to dine the evening away.
Parque de las Iguanas
Surely one of the most unusual city centre sights anywhere in South America is Iguana Park in downtown Guayaquil. Here, hundreds of perfectly tame Iguanas lounge around throughout the park day and night, waiting for any stray snacks offered by visiting tourists. Take a stroll among the green spaces shared with these native residents for some excellent photo opportunities, though be sure to bring food!
Capt Morgan pirate ship
Cruising down the Guayas River, which dissects Guayaquil, is a relaxing and enriching experience. What better way to soak in the spectacular city views, colourful Cerro Santa Ana district and busy Malecón than aboard a replica of one of the most famous Caribbean pirate ships of them all?