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I spent some time in Guayaquil before we went on the coast down to Puerto Lopez. Most people may only stop here a night on their way to the Galapagos islands or if they were on a quick stop over before going further north. Unusually we spent 4 nights here as we had to wait for the prices of the hotels on the coast to go down over the weekend.
So first impressions were that it is massive, the biggest city in Ecuador, and its much like Sao Paulo in that it is a bit of a sprawling mass. However in true South American style it does have many great plazas and parks. Id say that at a push you can comfortably do everything the city has to offer in 2 rushed days or 3 'take your time' days.
So most people will come in by bus (the terminal is massive and looks more like a shopping centre than a transportation hub) or the airport, both are close together and for the former , it is a thoroughly unnecessary inconvenient location from the centre, you will have to get a taxi- dont worry there are hundreds outside the terminal and it should only cost you $5
Once in town, we stayed at the clean, spacious and inexpensive Hotel Jura on Capitan Narija, one thing will strike you...the complete lack of restaurants, there is street food in the Mercado Sur, the occasional chinese shop as is normal from South American towns, but no 'nice restaurants. To find these you have to go to the northern suburb of Urdesa 7 kilometers away. But venture to the riverside and lay your eyes on the Malecon 2000. a great 3 k stretch of wooden walkway, harbouring boats and cheapish food patio`s by the dozen, ice creams, shopping malls and a great tropical gardens, as well as a cinema and a museum.
At one end of the Malecon is Cerro Santa Ana, where you can climb the 400+ steps up to a lightouse, church and shipping museum. The route takes you through reconstructed cobbled street of multicoloured houses and period street lamps, flanked by some bars and small restaurants.
Other than this, pay £5 each way to head to the Parque Historico on Rio Guanas. This is a free park that you can take the kids too, with wildlife from all over Ecuador, crocs, caimens, macaws, parrots, Tapirs, monkeys, Ocelots and much more. The you can walk through a reconstruction of a plantation, complete with servants quarters and a hacienda, plus a land owners mansion, complete with costumed actors playing out comedy scenes in Spanish. Oh yes and it is all free !
All in all Guayaquil is great for a short break, but dont stay too long or you will exaust your options.