You can’t fly directly to the Galápagos Islands but have a choice of 2 cities in Ecuador which will get you there on an internal flight, Guayaquil and Quito. Even if you choose Quito, your plane will still stop in Guayaquil on its way. We chose Guayaquil (pronounced wirekeel) for a couple of reasons; the first being that flights were slightly cheaper and the second because at the time of our visit there were reports of hospital overcrowding due to covid-19 and higher cases in Quito. From reading reviews Quito is the more interesting of the two places, at 2,850 metres altitude, however we had some fun in Guayaquil so felt it warranted a post of its own. We spend a total of 4 nights there both before and after visiting the islands
On our return from the Galápagos Islands we returned again to Airport Hotel, conveniently situated near the airport, clean and comfortable and with free airport shuttles and breakfast included. It also wasn’t too far from the Malecon 2000 which was recommended as a place for any visitors to the city to visit. So we had a couple of chill days and decided to check out a couple of recommendations in the city.
This is the name of given to the boardwalk which overlooks the Guayas River in Guayaquil. It is 2.5km long and has museums, gardens, a fairground, restaurants, a shopping mall and childrens attractions along the way. From everything we read this was the main point of interest in Guayaquil. We visited here on one very busy Tuesday which turned out to be ‘Children’s Day’ hence the amount of people.
This perhaps the biggest attraction along the Malecon, a big wheel which is the highest in the whole of South America at 57 metres high. Of course it would be wrong not to have a go on it. For the bargain price of $3.50 each we hopped on and did a circuit on the wheel. The London eye it is not but it still gave us great views across the River and the city. This is especially nice if you do it around sunset as you can catch the sun setting over the moutains as we did. Unfortunately the skies were a little dull on the day so the photos don’t really do it justice.
We had a great stroll around the Malecon area but it was way too busy to be comfortable especially in covid times so we decided to call it a day and head back to the area the next day.
Santa Ana Hill
We had seen Santa Ana Hill the day before from the Malecon and La Perla and some further research showed that you could get to the top with amazing views of the city. The downside? 444 individually numbered steps to reach the top! Generally my reaction to this would be sod that due to my pesky knee, however the heat has definitely helped me do more than normal and I was having a good day. Also there were shops, bars, restaurants and benches on the way up so we decided to go for it. We grabbed an uber to La Perla and headed there leaving plenty of time for a slow walk up in time for sunset.
The walk up was a very slow one, stopping several times on the way including for a drink and an ice cream but the higher we went the better the views over the city became.
Finally, we reached the top and was it worth the effort and pain? definitely! At the top of the stairs is a museum, a lighthouse, a small church and the most amazing views across the city!
We had got that far so it was a no brainer that we would climb the final few steps to go up to the top of the lighthouse! We had timed it perfectly as the sun was just setting and lights were coming on across the city – Amazing
We had a walk around the church and the viewpoint, even finding a bench where we could pose for a picture with Noddy (random!) before deciding to head back down.
We had certainly worked up a thirst with all that activity so broke up the journey back down with some cocktails on the way, would be rude not to 😊 It was a hard trek up and down but the views definitey made it worthwhile, especially at sunset and this would be our recommended place to visit if you could only visit one place during a short stop here.
Aerovia Cable Car
We noticed the cable car from near La Perla going across the water to Duran and decided as a last stop to hop on with a coffee and a cake to enjoy the views. The Aerovia system is 4km long as was built with the aim of reducing congestion on the main bridge from Duran, where a lot of residents have jobs in Guayaquil, and reduce travel time. It was finally completed in 2018 and despite some technical building difficulties has been deemed a big success. For us however it wasn’t a daily commute just a nice round trip across the water for under $4.
In summary, Guayaquil probably has a lot more to offer than we saw however our time was limited. This was just a stop over point for us to and from the Galapagos Islands; however if you do have a day or so here, get out and grab an uber to La Perla (the other places we visited were all very near here) and enjoy a bit of Ecuador, you won’t be disappointed.