Guayaquil

Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador.

Understand

Guayaquil is a sea port, and its personality derives much from that fact. Also, the climate is hot and humid. These two factors give the city a 'Caribbean' soul, where foreigners are usually well received, tropical music rules and seafood is a must do. An old travel book once counted the attractions in Guayaquil as one: "The Public Cemetery". Not so, anymore; 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.

History

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.

La rotonda monument

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. Today Guayaquil is the main port and financial center of Ecuador.

Get in

By plane

The new José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport , elected as best South American airport, is located near the new business district center and is next to the International bus station. In this airport, you can find flights to New York, Miami, Houston, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Madrid, Amsterdam, Lima, Bogotá, Panama City, San José, San Salvador, etc.; and a new 4 times a week to Cali and twice a week to Medellín, Colombia. Not all flights are non-stop. 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. Currently there are plans to build a new international airport about 20 minutes from Guayaquil, near Daular.

Guayaquil airport (best airport of South America)

If you are planning to visit the Galapagos Islands, Guayaquil is the cheapest place to take a flight from. There are three air carriers that will take you across the Galapagos Islands as well as the Ecuadorean mainland. LAN-ECUADOR, Aerogal and TAME have non stop daily flights. Departing from Guayaquil is cheaper than leaving from Quito; it's closer and most of the Quito flights do make an stop at Guayaquil's airport for refueling and picking up passengers. If you are visiting the islands take shoes and they don't have taxis! Research the limits. You must walk everywhere.

International departure airport tax was just recently increased in Guayaquil and is exactly $29.75 (January 2010). About $15 cheaper than Quito airport.

By car

If you are driving, your horn is your best friend. Be careful, as the city is full of aggressive drivers, but if you are always on the defensive you won't get anywhere. Gas stations are full service.

You can also rent a car cheaply just outside the airport, paying around $35 a day. Carmax is one of the less expensive yet reliable companies available.

By bus

Cruz del Sur operate international bus services to and from Peru.

Within the city the local bus system is confusing but the locals will help you get where you want to go. It is also the cheapest way to get around the city as there is no metro system. For women it is safest if you sit at the front near the driver, but don't be alarmed, the bus is a safe way to travel around Guayaquil.

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. Keep your items close to you during the midnight check points. The police will steal valuables when the men leave the bus to be checked for weapons; this occurs on night busses around Ecuador.

By boat

Guayaquil´s port is the biggest in Ecuador. You can travel to the Galápagos Islands and other destinations from here.

Get around

By Metrovia

Metrovia is a modern bus rapid transit system that runs mostly from north to south and east to west of the city. The fare per ride costs 25 cents (as of April 2010). You can use both cash and an electronic card to pay. It is a reliable and easy-to-navigate transport system; has modern buses and stops. Fortunately, it boasts a good connection between downtown and to the main bus terminal and the airport. The Rio Daule terminal is located just across the street from the main bus terminal and some blocks away (around 15 minutes walking) from the airport. Remember to match the code of the bus (e.g. T1, CS, T3, etc.) with the station where are you heading to, since not all buses stop at all stations. You can use the map posted at each station for this purpose. The following stations will drop close by to some tourist attractions: La Catedral, Las Peñas, Jardines del Malecón, Banco Central and Biblioteca Municipal.

By bus

Within the city the local bus system is confusing but the locals will help you get where you want to go. It is also the cheapest way to get around the city as there is no metro system. For women it is safest if you sit at the front near the driver. The bus is not a good idea in Guayaquil. The boys take your cell phones and other items. Ask for a taxi at the hotel you are staying. Get the driver's ID and a business card from him. Not all yellow taxis are created equal. They are not always safe. Travel in pairs at night.

By Taxi

Taxis range from "taxi amigos" (un-marked taxis you call to pick you up) to the standard yellow cabs. Taxi drivers will try to overcharge 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.

By Car

You can also rent a car at one of the places 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. However, if you happen to be involved in a crash the police may take both drivers to jail until they sort everything out and decide what happened. Just take a taxi. It's the safest way to travel in GYE. Always take the taxi at night.

See

These places are located in the downtown area, near the main hotels and at the heart of the regenerated area, a very secure walk.

Art in the city
Iguana's Park

Other interesting places near Guayaquil:

The following places are interesting to see if you are daring:

Learn

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, Broward College, Ecuador.

Work

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.

Buy

There are about 20 malls in the city. A nice place to buy is Via Samborondon.

Besides that, there are several popular spots like

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

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 4AM. 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.

Sleep

The city has hotels for every pocket and decent hotel rooms can be had for around $10 a night.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Northern suburbs

Connect

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.

Stay safe

There's been a high increase of crime in Guayaquil in 2009, especially violent crime.

Guayaquil is well known as Ecuador's most dangerous and violent city. Always remain aware of your surroundings. Don't pay attention to anyone trying to speak to you on the streets, not even to wealthy-looking people or beggars. Avoid walking alone around the downtown area at night, especially off Avenue 9 de Octubre or well-lit areas. Don't flash money or valuable things in public. Never walk in suspicious areas. Guayaquil is especially dangerous at night, so avoid walking on streets at night.

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. It is better to radio taxis instead of hailing one off the street, as there have been many cases of robberies involving taxi cabs in the last year. It is better to avoid wearing jewelry that is expensive or appears to be of high quality.

Be aware in Plaza Centenario, especially when it is very crowded. The only relative safe areas in downtown Guayaquil are Avenue 9 de Octubre, Malecón 2000, Malecón del Salado, Las Peñas, and Plaza de la Administración. Don't ever cross any other street unless you know where you are.

The inside of Malecón 2000 is safe during the day and night. There are tons of security guards hanging around during the day. The only drinkable water is bottled water.

Cope

Several consulates have offices in Guayaquil such as:

Go next

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 90 minutes away, and the more popular Salinas beach which is about two hours away up the Via la Costa.

Quito is about a seven hour drive (less than an hour flight also for about $125 round trip -September 2009-)

Cuenca is about a four hour drive (half-hour flight for about $120 round trip -September 2009-) through beautiful and interesting scenery, including a mangrove preserve, cocoa and banana plantations, cloud forests and mountains.

Not too far out, perhaps 30-50 minutes, there is a beautiful cocoa plantation where they also make chocolate. The owners entertain tour groups by serving cocoa juice and plantain snacks before you are taken on a tour of the cocoa plantation right up to the final chocolate tasting. You are then entertained with a delicious local lunch. Absolutely fabulous! It is past the orchids farm on the same road. The cost is $110 per person when booked via tour operator Canodos. The tour operator is essential if you don't speak Spanish.

International Buses

There are several bus companies that cross the border to Peru that are available from Guayaquil. Most services stop close to the main cities along the Panamericana motorway; such as Machala, Tumbes, Máncora, Piura and all the way to Lima.

Nevertheless, other companies like Ruta De America and Caracol can be valuable alternatives. Routa de America goes from Guayaquil to Lima every Sunday. Call their office in Quito for more information.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, July 25, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.