To be sincere, travelling to Guayaquil I couldn’t expect that it can be so interesting in the city. Ecuador is a unique country, that managed to keep and carry its culture through ages of the wars and Spanish influence. Many things changed, but you still can try traditional Ecuadorian food. Guayaquil is not a very popular touristic direction comparing to Galapagos islands, however, it definitely worths a visit.
Interesting facts about Guayaquil
The traditional architecture of Guayaquil is represented by typically colonial buildings. The same buildings you can notice in other Spanish colonies.
Since the time of the Spanish conquistadors, the people of Ecuador are very religious: everyone passing by the church stops and baptizes, showing deep respect. However, this didn’t stop them from simply adding an apartment building to the wall of the cathedral, or opening souvenir shops and Dunkin Donuts right in the wing of another cathedral.
The story about the city name. According to one version Guayaquil is named after Guiyaz and Akil. Guyaz – before being captured by the conquistadors, was the leader of the Indian tribe, Akil – his wife.
What to do in Guayaquil?
It is also called the Iguana Park. This is such a square, where hundreds of these reptiles live. They are not afraid of anything, they can easily crawl on your shoulder, they will fight and even have sex before your eyes (2nd pic). But! You can’t feed them.
This is a very beautiful promenade in Guayaquil with many viewpoints, open-air cafes and tourist points, including the statue of Simon Bolivar – the most influential and famous of the leaders of the war for the independence of the Spanish colonies in America.
Interesting fact: The Guyaz River changes its direction twice a day. You can notice it, walking down the promenade.
Santa Ana Hill & Las Penas
The hill is located just at the and of the promenade and leads to the famous Guayaquil lighthouse. To climb up the mountain you have to overcome 440 steps through the narrow streets, colourful houses, souvenir shops and loud bars with Latin music of the authentical district Las Penas.
I would call Las Penas the Ecuadorian La Boca (the famous district in Buenas Aires). Firstly, because of the colours. Secondly, because here the city of Guayaquil was founded.
Advice: don’t come here in the darkness. It can be dangerous.
El Faro de Guayaquil
On top of Santa Ana Hill, you will see a wonderful view of the Guayaquil city. There was once a fort that helped repel pirate attacks. Now there is a Lighthouse (you can climb to the top of it) and a church.
All rich people of Guayaquil live on Sambordondon Island either in an apartment in one of several skyscrapers, or in an elite cottage village, or in a private house on the river bank.
Many of them have never left this island in their life. The leisure of the rich people is golf, beach tennis, tennis. In the sports clubs (incl. tennis clubs, golf clubs etc) they don’t pay for an hour (like tennis court rent). Instead of that they buy an annual or lifetime memberships and can come at any time.
Shopping centres on the island are similar to elite shopping centres with boutiques in USA. However, in Ecuador, there are also few local clothing brands with a good quality and cheap prizes. Also, Samborondon is the onliest place in the city, where you can sit in a good restaurant with a beautiful interior and open-air terrace (I think, because, it is the safest place to eat outside).
This is a very interesting park that is located on Samborondon island. In this park, the visitor can make the acquaintance of Ecuadorian history and culture. The park is situated on the shore of the river and is divided into three zones:
- Wildlife area. Where you walk around the mangrove jungle and watch exotic plants, birds, and animals.
- Urban area. This part demonstrates the life of Ecuadorians in the XIX-XX centuries. In this area is built the part of Malecon promenade, as it looked like 150 years ago.
- Traditional area. Here you can come closer to local historical traditions. In this part of the park is built the real traditional hacienda and also there are museums of cocoa, medicine, etc.
Check the opening hours on the official website.