Guayaquil  is the largest city in Ecuador.
Guayaquil is a sea port, and its personality derives much from that fact. Also, the climate is very hot. These two factors give the city a 'Caribbean' soul, where foreigners are usually well received, tropical music rules and seafood is a must do. The city has undergone a great change in these last 10 years as a result of great efforts made by the city administrators. Now you can find great parks and green areas all over the city (for example Peñas and the Malecon), and the city has a new look which attracts tourism from inside and outside the country.
Guayaquil was founded on July 25, 1538 with the name Muy Noble y Muy Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana. Even before it was founded by the Spanish, it already existed as a native village.
In 1600 Guayaquil had a population of about 2,000 people; by 1700 the city had a population of over 10,000.
In 1687, Guayaquil was attacked and looted by English and French pirates under the command of George d'Hout (English) and Picard and Groniet (Frenchmen). Of the more than 260 pirates, 35 died and 46 were wounded; 75 defenders of the city died and more than 100 were wounded. The pirates took local women as concubines. Quito paid the ransom demanded by the pirates with the condition they release the hostages and not burn Guayaquil.
In 1709, the English captains Woodes Rogers, Etienne Courtney, and William Dampier along with 110 other pirates, looted Guayaquil and demanded ransom; however, they suddenly departed without collecting the ransom after an epidemic of yellow fever broke out.
In October 9, 1820, almost without bloodshed, a group of civilians supported by soldiers from the "Granaderos de Reserva", a battalion quartered in Guayaquil, overwhelmed the resistance of the Royalist guards and arrested the Spanish authorities. Guayaquil declared independence from Spain, becoming Provincia Libre de Guayaquil, and José Joaquín de Olmedo was named Jefe Civil (Civil Chief) of Guayaquil. This would prove to be a key victory for the Ecuadorian War of Independence.
On July 26, 1822, José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar held a famous conference in Guayaquil to plan for the independence of Spanish South America.
The city suffered from a major fire in 1896 which destroyed large portions of the city.
Actually it is the main port and financial center of Ecuador.
The new José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, elected as best South American Airport, is located near the city center and is next to the bus terminal.In this airport, you cand find daily flights to New York, Miami, Houston, Madrid, Amsterdam, Lima, etc. Taxis to a hotel in the northern suburbs shouldn't cost more than $3 and a ride to downtown, where most attractions are located, is about $5. Actually there are plans to build a new international airport for about 20 minutes from Guayaquil, near Daular.
If you are planning to visit the Galapagos Islands
, Guayaquil is the cheapest place to take a flight from. Both Aerogal
José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport
International departure airport tax was just recently increased in Guayaquil and is exactly $27.75 (January 2009). About 15$ cheaper than Quito airport.
If you are driving, Your horn is your best friend. Drive both Aggresive and Defensive. Gas stations are full service and fully armed.
Guayaquil's bus terminal is well organized, but still keep an close eye on your belongings. There are frequent connections to almost every destination in Ecuador.
Guayaquil´s port is the biggest in Ecuador. You can travel to Galápagos Islands and other destinations from here.
Taxis range from "taxi amigos" (un-marked taxis you call to pick you up) to the standard yellow cabs. Taxi drivers will try to over charge tourists. Nicer taxis are metered by GPS, but the majority of taxis do not have meters. Always agree on a price (or make sure the meter is running) before you get into a cab.
You can also rent a car at one of the few places to rent just outside the airport. Prices range from $25 and up per day. Anyone with a drivers license from their home country can drive as a tourist in Ecuador.
There is a new mass transit system called "Metrovía" which can take you from north to south, from east to west to the city.
These places are located in the downtown area, near the main hotels and at the heart of the regenerated area, a very secure walk.
- The Malecon Simón Bolivar. It is a long park beside the Rio Guayas ("Guayas River"), with shops, an IMAX theater, gardens, and a beautiful view of both the river and downtown.
- The "Malecon del Salado" located next to the "Estero Salado" (an estuary of sea water), here you can enjoy fresh air and wonderful sunsets, with restaurants of typical food, all framed within a very safe new park.
- The renewed downtown area (Area regenerada), very secure to walk and look around.
- Museums (Museo Municipal, Museo Nahim Isaias, MAAC and Presley Northon Museum are located in the center of the downtown)
- Santa Ana & El Carmen hills, you can see almost the whole city from here. You can walk up the 400 odd steps to the top from the Malecon Simón Bolivar. There is a lighthouse, museum, small chapel and park at the top. Along the stairs, vendors sell water, ice cream and other snacks.
- Las Peñas, where the city was founded, was actually rebuilt and painted bright colors where most of Guayaquil's colonial buildings are. About 15 years ago, Las Peñas was a horrible place TO LIVE. Now you can find here pictures showing exactly how this place was years ago.
- Parks, we recommend to visit the "Parque de las Iguanas" downtown, which is home to hundreds of tame iguanas, some fish in a pond and a black squirrel or two, and do not forget some turtles.
- The Central Bank Building has several giant paintings on the outside of the building.
- Markets, you can visit the "Mercado Artesanal", where you can buy some very cheap souvenirs from all regions of Ecuador. Near the Malecon Simón Bolivar.
- The cemetery north from the centre has few impressing graves and statues as well as plenty of more normal graves. Worth a visit if you're into graveyards.
Other interesting places near Guayaquil:
- "Parque Histórico", an interesting recreation of the early 20th century years of Guayaquil, the look, the people and the food. Includes a small zoo.
- "Crucero Discovery", rides up and down the Rio Guayas. You can catch it at Malecon Simón Bolivar. Crazy parties at night.
- Salinas was the main beach, but since they created a new province it's not. Now as 2009 General Villamil Playas is the main beach of Guayaquil the mayor of guayaquil invest on this new beach, wich is good. Fishing, surfing, and other water sports. Many modern hotels and delicious sea food. Interesting night life. Wonderful whalewatching during June to September.
The following places are interesting to see if you are daring:
- 6 de Marzo is an interesting street to visit about 10 blocks from the downtown area during the week before New Year's Eve, because the street is lined with "Años Viejos" or old years, paper maché figures ranging in size from about 12 inches up to 10 or more feet tall. These are often political, movie or cartoon characters.
- La Bahía, just off the southern end of the Malecon Simón Bolivar. Huge market area full of shops and stalls of almost anything imaginable. Because it is so cheap you will have lower social class people and have to be a little careful with belongings.
- Cocoa or Banana plantations are located around Guayaquil city.
- Malecon Simón Bolivar (waterfront)
- Las Peñas
- Simon Bolivar Park (also known as parque de las iguanas)
- Centenario Park, 9 Octubre avenue from east to west
- Malecon del Salado (salty waterfront)
- Mercado Artesanal
- The Cathedral
- Museo Nahim Isaias
- Museo Municipal
- Museo Presley Northon
- Museo MAAC
- Museo de la historia de la Cuidad
- The Clock Tower
- Botanical Gardens
- Flower Market
- Pantanal Zoo
- Victor Emilio Estrada Avenue
- San Francisco Church
- The Parque Histórico
Biblioteca Municipal de Guayaquil (Municipal Library of Guayaquil) serves as the public library of Guayaquil.
There are many language schools and some universities. Guayaquil is also home to the only U.S. accredited college in all of South America, Brookdale Community College, Ecuador.
Lots of English speakers work at English academies or schools teaching English. Legally, they should have some kind of visa that permits them to work, but some schools don't pay much attention to the legal status of the teachers. Wages are not up to U.S. standards and hours can be rough (mornings, evening and Saturdays), but a passable living is possible.
Indeed, some people come to Ecuador to work specifically because the economy is dollarized.
There are about ten malls in the city.
- Mall del Sol
- Mall del Sur
- Riocentro Los Ceibos
- Riocentro Sur
- Riocentro Entrerríos
- San Marino
- A new mall recently built, Village Plaza, near Riocentro Entrerríos.
Besides that, there are several popular spots like
- Mercados Artesanal
- La Bahia
- There are many typical dishes to try from such as encebollado, seco de pollo, ceviche, and caldo de salchicha.
- There are also many international fast food chains throughout the city such as:
- Burger King
- Kentucky Fried Chicken
- Taco Bell
- Pollo Tropical
- Parrillada del Nato; foods such oven cooked pizza, grilled meat,and more are served.
- Chinese restaurants (Chifas) are found throughout the city, and their food is very good.
- 'El Patacón' restaurant in Urdesa serves typical dishes, mostly based on verde (green bananas also known as 'Plátano Macho' on Central America).
- There is a lot of great cuisine in Guayaquil's centre. If you are more daring, you can go to this downtown area, near 9 de octubre avenue, there are chinese restaurants called "chifas" and typical restaurants where you can eat the seco de pollo, caldo de salchicha, etc.
- Lo Nuestro has a good variety of typical dishes.
- You can also go to a restaurant where the best 'encebollado' is sold. The place is called "Encebollado cordero". it is located near the IESS.
- In the northeast there is a place called "Pelucolandia". There are a lot of restaurants with a great variety of food. Here you can find japanese, italian, american, and typical food, too.
- There is another place called Urdesa. In the Victor Emilio Estrada you can found a great variety of good food and also a nice place to visit.
Great nightlife, you can go to 5 or more discos in one night, and don't need to travel much.
The usual price for entering is $10-$15 consumable, depending on where you go.
Usually the parties there last to 4 am. but you can always find something else to do in this city.
Visit the "Zona Rosa", located at the secure regenerated area, with several options of night life.
Several brands of beer are available.
- El Gran Yate, Alborada (close to Dreamkapture). Crabs and beers, 1$ a crab
The city has hotels for every pocket and decent hotel rooms can be had for around $10 a night.
- Dreamkapture - $10 - Dorms with AA Breakfast
- Hotel Sander, Luque 1101 (Very close to the Parque de Centennario), ☎ +593 04 2320030, . checkout: 13.00. Simple and clean place just in the centre of the city. Rooms have tv's, fans and towels. From $9.
- Suites Guayaquil Apartments for rent, complete freedom and own key given, starting at $17 USD per night
- Hilton Colón - 5 stars, located at the heart of the Northern area
- Hotel Oro Verde (Not to be mistaken with the Hotel Loro Verde)- 5 stars
- Hotel Continental - 5 stars, in front of the Parque de las iguanas.
- Howard Johnson Hotel - 5 stars, near the airport
- Sheraton Four Points Hotel - 5 stars, in front of the Mall del Sol
- Best Western - 4 stars, near the main attractions
Actually, there are plans to build other big international hotels near Malecon 2000, the main attraction of the city.
- DreamKapture hostal (), Alborada 12 Av. Etapa, Mz-02 Villa 21. A friendly hostel with a nice outside area. They offer a book exchange and the accommodation comes with a delicious breakfast. Prices are on roombasis, but if it's possible you can share it with other people. A dorm 10$ with Breakfast.
3$ taxi to Malecon or .25 cents bus drive. Close to Airport and Bus terminal. However, be forewarned. DreamKapture does not allow Ecuadorians to stay on the premises. If you are traveling with an Ecuadorian, or would prefer not to stay in a location with this racist policy, you'd best look elsewhere.
- Ecuahogar, Av. Isidro Ayora ( Sauces Uno * Mz F-31 * Solar 20 ), 2245357 (2248241, 2273288, fax 2248357, email [email protected] ). Basic, but expensive rooms with a ventilator and television. Bathrooms are shared. Two bread rolls with marmalade and a coffee for breakfast is included in the price. A night in a single room costs $12. It is far from the attractions area but near the airport and the national bus station (Terminal Terrestre).
There are cyber cafes around to communicate with distant friends and relatives. These often have telephone booths for making (VoIP) phone calls. Some malls (Mall del Sol, Riocentro Los Ceibos) even offer free
Wi-Fi in the food courts, in addition to free entertainment. Buy $30 worth of groceries at Mi Comisariato and get a two for one coupon to the movies. A single weekday ticket is $2.80 as of 3 January 2007.
- About 10 years ago the city had high crime levels, today however the crime level has been greatly reduced.
- Avoid walking alone around the downtown area at night, especially off the main, well lit streets.
- Attacks have been reported where someone will distract the target so that the attacker can put a choke hold on the victim from behind and make the victim pass out in order to easily rob the person.
- The Malecón 2000 is safe during the day and night. There are tons of security guards hanging around during the day.
- It is better to avoid wearing jewelry that is expensive or appears to be of high quality.
- It is best not to consume lettuce due to the fact that it might not be properly cleaned and might make one sick, unless if you buy it from the supermarket.
- Jeans and a Baseball Cap is the local uniform.
- The only drinkable water comes from a bottle.
- Avoid going to downtown areas where too much air pollution exists.
Several consulates have offices in Guayaquil such as:
- United States
- The Netherlands
Piedra Blanca is just three hours away, where one can take rainforest tours, rafting expeditions and visit local fascinating cultural sites.
Other places that you can visit are the beaches at Playas which is about 40 minutes away, and the more popular Salinas beach which is about one hour away up the Via la Costa.
Quito is about a seven hour drive (less than an hour flight also for about $100 round trip -January 2007-)
Cuenca is about a four hour drive (half-hour flight for about $100 round trip -January 2007-) through beautiful and interesting scenery, including a mangrove preserve, cocoa and banana plantations, cloud forests and mountains.
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