Many travelers find themselves in Guayaquil, Ecuador due its popularity as a jumping off point for touring the Galapagos Islands. For us, it was the most affordable entry point to South America as we started our six-month backpacking excursion. Itís a bit more industrial than the historic and picturesque capital of Quito, but there a few experiences worth having here. These are our top picks for activities for those who are spending a day in Guayaquil.
Spend the afternoon along Malecon 2000.
A popular waterfront development area, Malecon 2000 is a pleasant way to experience the waterfront area of Guayaquil. Waterfalls, statues, a beautiful Moorish-style clock and an antique train-car-turned-public-internet-cafť are all things youíll see as you stroll this picturesque area. There are places to stop and sit, enjoy an ice cream and have a caricature sketch done. There are also museums and the first IMAX movie theater in South America. †Youíll find plenty of photo ops and a breeze to cool off from the city heat.
Stop by the Guayaquil cathedral.
Near Malecon 2000 is the Guayaquil Metropolitan Cathedral. Itís quite picturesque and the architecture is well done. Worth poking your head inside and grabbing a few photographs from the exterior. If Catholicism happens to be your religion of choice, then you may even choose to attend a service. Either way, itís a nice building worth your time to go and see while you are visiting the city of Guayaquil.
Explore whatís known as Lizard Park.
Immediately in front of the cathedral is a pleasant, grassy park area with trees, benches and a pretty gazebo. Itís also FULL of large iguanas that seem to pose for tourists and photographers at every turn. So be sure to pack your camera, along with its zoom lens. This is one photo op you donít want to miss.
Have lunch at La Canoa.
Directly across the street from the cathedral and Lizard Park is a restaurant called La Canoa. Itís located on the bottom floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, and is known by locals and business travelers alike for its great Ecuadorian food. I wouldnít call it an exceptionally fancy place, but if youíre looking to experience the national cuisine of Ecuador, this is the place to do it. When we were there, it was PACKED with locals having lunch. Always a good sign, in my book.
There are a number of hotels in Guayaquil to stay at, but we chose to stay at Dream Kapture.
Technically a hostel, Dream Kapture has affordable private rooms with shared baths, in addition to dorm-style sleeping accommodations. Breakfast is included, and they have a small support office on site to help you with arranging travel to other locations throughout the country. Thatís where we booked our getaway to Ayampe. There is internet, taxi access and a pharmacy nearby for handling incidentals. While there was a mishap with a live electrical wire in the shower (donít ask), we felt this place was more than adequate by hostel standards and certainly affordable for those who want to travel on a budget but still be safe.
After youíve explored what Guayaquil has to offer, you can head to El Oriente, Mindo or even Saquisili for a true sense of rural Ecuador. We used it as an affordable launch point for the next leg of our trip. Heading to Lima from Guayaquil is quite affordable with a combination of bus and air fares.
Photo Credits: These travel pictures of Guayaquil were photographed by the Trek Hound team. Those interested in more images or using these ones online can access them through a creative commons agreement on our sister site, Pictures of Travel Places.