Guayaquil Travel Guide

The origin of the name "Guayaquil" derives from the love story myth of Tribal Chief "Guayas" and his wife "Quil".

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All the info to prepare your trip to Guayaquil. How to get in, maps, activities to...
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Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador. Called the Pearl of the Pacific, it is one of the main South American ports in the Pacific. The climate is hot for the first semester of the year and breeze cool for the rest of it. A proud city of the tropics where foreigners are well received, music rules and seafood is a must.

In the last decade, the city has undergone positive change. The beautiful riverfront promenade “Malecon 2000” , green areas and modern shopping arcades all over the city attracts tourism from inside and outside the country.


The origin of the name “Guayaquil” derives from the love story myth of Tribal Chief “Guayas” and his wife “Quil”. The city was founded on July 25, 1538 with the name “Santiago de Guayaquil” by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana. Even before it was founded by the Spanish, it already existed as a native village of the “Huancavilca” tribe.

A plunder destination for pirates. In 1687, Guayaquil was looted by George d’Hout (English) and Picard and Groniet (Frenchmen). In 1709, the English captains Woodes Rogers, Etienne Courtney, and William Dampier along with hundreds of pirates, attacked Guayaquil and demanded ransom; however, they suddenly departed without collecting when the epidemic of yellow fever broke out. Throughout the years, the city became known for its great Shipyards (Astilleros) with clients from all over the new continent.

In October 9, 1820, a group of civilians supported by soldiers from a battalion quartered in the city, declared Independence from Spanish Royalist Forces. Becoming “The Independent Province of Guayaquil” until 1822 when it was annexed to Simon Bolivar’s Colombia.

In 1830, the Southern part of Colombia decided to leave the union and create an independent state called “Republic of Ecuador”. Today Guayaquil is still the main port, trading and financial center of Ecuador.

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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 daily non-stop flights to New York, Miami, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Amsterdam, Bogotá, Panama City, among many Latin American destinations. 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 for about 20 minutes from Guayaquil, near Daular.

If you are planning to visit the Galapagos Islands, Guayaquil is the smartest place to take a flight from. There are three air carriers that will take you across to the Galapagos Islands as well as to the Ecuadorean mainland, LAN, Aerogal and TAME [5] have non stop daily flights, departing from Guayaquil is cheaper than leaving from the Capital city as most of the Quito flights do make an stop at Guayaquil for refueling and picking up passengers.

International departure airport tax is included in the flight ticket.

By car

If you are driving, your horn is your best friend. Being careful and common sense will get you to your destination. 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

Guayaquíl has direct connections to all major Ecuadorian cities and indirect connections all over the country. For schedules and more bus info, see the “Getting Around” section of the Ecuador country page. The huge mall/bus station (Terminal Terrestre) for connections out of the city is a short taxi (or walk for the able backpacker) from the airport. You can buy tickets on the lower level and workers will often come up to you and ask where you’re going in hopes of getting you on to their bus. More than one company goes to most places, so ask around if you’re looking for an ejecutivo or directo bus and you can save yourself some time and comfort.
The city also is served by international buses, to Chile, Peru and Colombia. Cruz del Sur operate international bus connections through Peru.

Within the city the local bus system is confusing but the locals will help you get where you want to go. Guayaquil’s bus terminal is well organized, but still keep an close eye on your belongings. Keep your items close to you during the midnight check points.

By boat

Guayaquil´s port is the largest in Ecuador. You can travel to Galápagos Islands from here.

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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 January 2014). You can use both cash and an electronic card to pay. It is a realiable and easy-to-navigate transport system; has modern buses and stops. Fortunatelly, it boast a good connection between downtown and to the main bus terminal and the airport. The Rio Daule terminal is located just crossing 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 (eg. T1, CS, T3, ect) 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 pourpose. 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 but don’t be alarmed the bus is a safe way to travel around Guayaquil.

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 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. Preferably, don’t take any street cabs as some taxi-kidnapping occurs. Call a taxi if you can or take taxis from known places like the airport, bus station, or commercial centers.

By Car

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.

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 the bus.

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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 the riverfront promenade for the Guayas River, with shops, theaters, museums, gardens and shopping arcades. The “Rotonda” monument in the middle of the Malecon, commemorates the famous meeting of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin that took place there.
  • 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.
  • Parks, we recommend to visit the “Seminario 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 traditional souvenirs from all regions of Ecuador.
  • Parque Histórico, Avenue Rio Esmer Aldas, Guayaquil, Ecuador. an interesting recreation of the early 20th century years of Guayaquil, the look, the people and the food. Includes a small zoo, some old town-buildings where moved here as well as a “Hacienda”-Building and a small country-side farm-house. There is also a garden where you can see all kinds of tropical fruits being grown. In case you know coffee only as the black beans, chocolate only as powder and sugar only as a white powder – this is the place to go. no entrance fee (2013).
  • Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden), ciudadela ‘las Orquídeas’, Av. Francisco De Orellana (in the northern part of the city). In the Botanical Garden you find many tropical plants directly under the blue sky as well as local animals and especially a butterfly “farm”.
  • 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.
  • Zoológico El Pantanal, Km. 23 Vía a Daule, Guayaquil. Nice small zoo in the northern part of Guayaquil. Visit, if the kids want to see more animals after having been to “Parque Histórico”

Other interesting places near Guayaquil:

  • “Crucero Discovery”, rides up and down the Rio Guayas. You can catch it at Malecon Simón Bolivar. Crazy parties at night.
  • Traditionally, Salinas has been the main beach, but since 2008 General Villamil Playas has attracted a big part of the local and international tourism. Fishing, surfing, and other water sports. Many modern hotels and delicious sea food. Interesting night life. Wonderful whale-watching 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.

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Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco, km.16 vía a la Costa (In front of the Unidad Educativa Cenest Harvard), ☎ +593 086225077, [10]. 8AM-4PM. Just on the outskirts of Guayaquil, owned and managed by the NGO Fundación Pro-Bosque, this reserve covers over 6000 hectares of tropical dry forest. It´s open to visits 7 days of the week for guided or shorter self-guided walks to explore the plants and animals that live there. You need to reserve ahead on weekdays. There is also a cabaña you can stay in. From $4.

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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.

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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.

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There are about 20 malls in the city and Samborondon.

Among the best places to shop:

  • City Mall
  • Riocentro Los Ceibos
  • Plaza Lagos
  • San Marino
  • Riocentro Entreríos
  • Village Plaza
  • Mall del Sol
  • Piazza
  • Three Supermaket chains (Supermaxi, MiComisariato & Megamaxi) are all over the city with superb availability for any need
  • Mercado Artesanal (An old building but definitely the best place to buy traditional souvenirs)
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  • There are many traditional dishes in the range of seafood, white and red meats. Many with colorful names such as encebollado, seco de pollo, ceviche or caldo de salchicha. The traditional soups and stews this country offers are outstanding.
  • Vegetarian food is not very common in Guayaquil, but there is a guesthouse in the Centro called Manso that serves quinoa, lentil hamburguers and other dishes that combine Ecuadorian ingredients in fast food format for veggies.
  • Many international fast food chains are found throughout the city such as TGI Friday’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Chilli’s Grill & Bar, KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc.


There is a lot of great cuisine in Guayaquil’s downtown. For a trip on a budget, it is the place to go.

  • La Parrilla del Ñato, (Locations all over the city), ☎ +593 4-238-7098. Grilled meat and Sangria, the way its done on a South American port. Around 10 usd per person.
  • Chinese restaurants (Chifas) are found throughout the city, mostly Cantonese and the food is very good.


  • “Puerto Moro” with a few locations around town, it is a great choice. Any of the “Suco Moro” dishes are strongly recommended.
  • “Cafe de Tere” good place to have a real Ecuadorian breakfast.
  • “El Patacon” restaurant in Urdesa serves typical dishes, mostly based on Plantain (green bananas called Plátano).
  • Lo Nuestro in Urdesa, has a good variety of traditional dishes.
  • Trattoria Piccolo Mondo, (Balsamos 504 e/ Las Monjas y Ebanos), ☎ 53942884621. Real Italian cuisine. Around 20 usd per person.


  • Samborondon is located at the northeast of the city. Bocca and Terrazas are good choices.
  • Plaza Lagos is an excellent place, located a few minutes from the Samborondon main area. Traditional architecture and some of the best restaurants in town. A bit pricey but worth the visit.
  • The main road of the Urdesa area is the “Victor Emilio Estrada St” (North of the city). A large selection of international cuisine and nice bars.
  • Kosher food its available for delivery call 0993256499
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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 to 15 USD which are consumable in most places. Usually the parties there last to 4 am. but you can always find something else to do in this city. Visit the “Zona Rosa” and Peñas 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, Free!
  • Bloom Club, Aventura Plaza Local 46 (Av. Las Monjas, Urdesa), ☎ +593 9 931 5800 (locally dial 099315800) ( Opens from Thursday to Saturday at 20:00 – 04:00. It is a mid-size club for 200 people aprox. offering a broad selection of music and drinks, very popular among people from 20 to 40 y.o. The Shopping Center “Aventura Plaza” offers security and has a nice park inside, with a huge Iguana sculpture o it; it features other sport and karaoke bars, small discos and some good restaurants as well, at affordable prices. A parking lot is available at no cost but if you plan to drink, taking a cab is better, and at your departure it is recommended to ask the host to get you a secure taxi. The entrance fee is $20 consumable but if you are an International traveller you can enter for free and pay as you drink showing your passport or International ID. The costs ranges from $3 to $5 a beer, and $6 to $10 a glass of rum, vodka, whisky or a cocktail, or a bottle starting from $75.
  • La Paleta, Las Penas. 18:00-02:00. Open from Wednesday to Saturday this places offers a great variety of cocktails in a cozy and alternative ambiance and lounge music.
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The city has hotels for every pocket and decent hotel rooms can be had for around $10 a night.


  • Nucapacha Hostel, Urdesa Central. Balsamos Sur #308 (at Los Todos Santos), ☎ 593.4.2610553, [11]. checkout: 13:00. Clean hostel with breakfast, WiFi, and a large pool included in price. The pool is cleaned every 10 days or so. WiFi usually works (drops when the hostel phone rings). Plenty of private rooms and spacious dormitories. Kitchen is stocked pretty well. The included breakfast is 1 scrambled egg, 2 slices of toast, jam, butter, coffee, and fresh juice. Staff is nice. Shared bathrooms are cleaned well daily. $11 dorm bed.
  • Hotel Rio, Esq. Boayaca y Victor Manuel Rendon. checkout: 08:00. Absolute dump, cheapest place available. Seems good on security, just a few streets away from Boulevard 9 de Octubre and the central plaza. Mostly used by locals for short sexual liasons. No windows, no english, no internet. From $7 total for a two people shared room, matrimonial bed.
  • Hotel Andes Inn, L. de Garaycoa 1233 y C. Ballén, ☎ 2329796. Cheap hotel. Cable TV. Windows and AC in more expensive rooms, cheaper rooms can be dark and grotty. Internet in lobby. From $12.
  • Hotel Berlín, (Rumichaca y Sucre), ☎ 2524648, [12]. Cable TV, Air conditioner, free Internet, in the center of Guayaquil near to Malecon 2000, Seminario Park. From $8,00.
  • Hotel Sander, Luque 1101 (Very close to the Parque de Centennario), ☎ +593 04 2320030, [13]. checkout: 13.00. Simple and clean place just a few blocks from the center of town. Rooms have TVs, fans and towels. From $17.
  • Hotel Alexander, Luque 1107 y Avenida Quito (Very close to the Parque de Centenario), ☎ +593 4 2532000 (, [14]. checkout: 14.00. Neat and clean hotel, cheapest on it’s category, just a few blocks from 9 de Octubre Ave. Has Hot Water, TV, WIFI, Internet Caffe in lobby, A/C, Restaurant, Laundry service, Room service. From $28.
  • Murali Hostal Airport Guayaquil, Garzota 2 La Salle y 3er Callejon esq. mz 135, ☎ 593-4-227-5533, [15]. Clean, safe, good value hotel just 2 short blocks from the Airport and bus terminal in Guayaquil. Pet-friendly, AC, Patio for smokers, Free WIFI in rooms. From $45.
  • ‘Manso [16], located in the city’s centro, right across the street from Malecon 2000, is a budget guesthouse that has full service riverview suites, and more economic rooms with with and withour air conditioner. Also rooms with shared bathroom and dorms with private bath @ US$12 per person. Friendly staff, clean accommodations, wifi, and towel provided. Nice deco, beautiful historic landmark building.
  • Suites Guayaquil (Guayaquil Airport Hotel), Near Aiport Jose Joaquin de Olmedo Guayaquil (Garzota, Cdla. Simon Bolivar Mz.2, V.9), ☎ +593 4 2690885 (, fax: 593 4 2690885), [17]. checkin: 2:00 PM; checkout: 12.00 PM. free internet (wi-fi, laundry,private rooms,cable tv,hot water,clean rooms. From $20 pers.
  • Hostal Suites Madrid. Centrally located one block from Parque del Centenario, this is a good-value option offering lots of room options starting at about $30 per room. Friendly staff, an English-speaking manager, baggage storage, full kitchen, open-air terrace, internet/wifi. Hotel is spotlessly clean.


  • La Fontana. One of the best mid-range hotels in town, exceptional location, friendly staff, nice rooms, cable. Price is around 45 dollars for a single, 50-55 for a double, but discounts are available. P. Icaza 404 y Cordóva. Tel. (593-4) 230396.
  • Iguanazú [18], Ciudadela La Cogra, Manzana 1, Villa 2, off Avenida Julio Arosemena km 3,5. ☎ (04) 220 1143. From busterminal terrestre 5 $ by taxi. Most recommendable. Enjoy lovely views of Guayaquil in one of the hammocks on the large terrace or refresh yourself in the pool. Starting from 15 $ for dorm, private rooms are available up to matrimonial class with own jacuzzi. Breakfast included, free internet access, modern cooking facilities, warm water and towels, friendly staff, nice guesthouse, very clean.
  • Marriott Courtyard Guayaquil, Av. Francisco de Orellana #236, ☎ 593 4 6009200, [19]. checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 PM. 144 guest rooms with complimentary high speed Internet access, comfortable beds and large work desks.


  • Grand Hotel Guayaquil (known locally as the Hotel Guayaquil) – 5 stars, 10 minutes from the airport in the heart of the city. Beautiful pool, waterfalls, stunning stained glass windows of the Cathedral and a 45 ft. hanging garden.
  • Hilton Colón International- 5 stars, located at the heart of the Northern area
  • Hotel Oro Verde (Not to be mistaken with the Hotel Loro Verde)- 5 stars runs by the Swiss Administration
  • Hotel Continental – 5 stars, in front of the Parque de las iguanas.
  • Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport – Walking distance from the airport. Rooftop pool and hot tub; exercise room. Free high speed WiFi internet. Some staff speak English. Option to add breakfast for an additional $12. Restaurant offers a buffet dinner for about $18 per person or options a la carte from the menu. Clean and highly recommended if only staying as a stopover to travel to the Galapagos Islands or other transfer locations.
  • 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
  • Marriot Hotel by Courtyard – Marriott Rewards category: 2 , located on the new downtown of Guayaquil at Kennedy’s North area
  • Best Western Guayaquil – 4 stars hotel located in the downtown area
  • Hampton Inn Hotels – 4 stars hotel located at the main street on 9 of Octubre Avenue
  • Unipark Hotels – 4 start hotels inside the Unicentro’s mall

Northern suburbs

  • DreamKapture hostal ([20]), 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 11$ with Breakfast. A single room with private bathroom and with air conditioner $22, without a/c $18, breakfast included. They can pick you up from the airport and it will cost $15. 5$ taxi to Malecon or .25 cents bus drive (bus # 121 marked city mall which is a 10min walk from the hostel). 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, you’d best look elsewhere.
  • Ecuahogar, Av. Isidro Ayora ( Sauces Uno * Mz F-31 * Solar 20 ), 2245357 (2248241, 2273288, fax 2248357, email ). 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).
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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.

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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 to 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 for to Peru are available from Guayaquil. Most services stops close to the main cities along the Panamericana motorway; such as Machala, Tumbes, Máncora, Piura and all the way to Lima.

  • CIFA: They have a stand inside the main terminal, within the international section. Usually this is the company that provide the cheapest services and a popular choice among backpackers. They have several departure times a day and different services. Procure the direct services that goes to your desired destination, since some services do stop a lot along the way. Their buses might have somewhat low cleaning standards.
  • Ormeño: Buses leave daily around 11:00 a.m. close to the main bus terminal, where their office is located. Just go to the terminal, ask for the office of Ormeño and walk 5 minutes outside the terminal. Ormeño has been in business for several years. Unfortunately, the buses where never renewed and are known for bad services, so air conditioning might not work. In case one should have problems at the Peruvian boarder, the bus drivers might not wait until the formalities are done.
  • Ecuatoriano Pullman: Departs everyday at 11 PM from the main station, where their stand is also located at the international section.
  • 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.

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Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador. Called the Pearl of the Pacific, it is one of the main South American ports in the Pacific. The climate is hot for the first semester of the year and breeze cool for the rest of it. A proud city of the tropics where foreigners are well received, music rules and seafood is a must.

Travel and tourism in Guayaquil. How to get in, maps, activities to do, where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Guayaquil Travel Guide.

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Michel Piccaya


As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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