Ecuador is a very diverse country and there is something for everyone. At the same time Ecuador is a small country, tiny compared to a country like Brazil and getting around is relatively straightforward. The roads range from bad to terrible but the short distances to travel between places make the trips usually pleasant.

By Anita Evans

Personally, it a strange way, I don’t mind Guayaquil (for a day or two that is). I have never felt unsafe there. However, we do stick to the main streets and tourist areas and stay in a good hotel. There is enough to do in the CBD to entertain you for two days.

It’s a bloody busy city! Traffic for as far as you can see and the pollution to go with it. We generally use local taxis however, we do ‘check’ the look of the taxi driver and go by our gut feeling a lot. There are great shopping malls if you want to get a mall fix. There is Burger king, KFC, MacDonald’s if you need your junk food fix. It’s a big city that is a mixture of slums and up market flash gated communities.

Driving in G

I must give credit where credit is due and take my hat off to Pierre. He can drive around G!! This is by no means for the faint hearted. The traffic in G is diabolical and crazy and noisy and just plain mad. There are no identifying land marks, hardly any street names and a one way system to boot! You find yourself driving in some real slums where you hope like hell you don’t need to stop for any reason. As you enter G from the West (coming back from the coast) you go past lots of HUGE gated communities where I guess the wealthy locals live. When you head towards the coast you go through La Puntilla, which is an up market gated housing area.

There is a ring road that surrounds the city but getting on it in the right direction and then finding the exit you need is a game of patience and luck! Pierre can do it. He has navigated G multiple times now from the airport and the bus terminal, to finding the coast road and finding your way into and out of the CBD.  In the day and in the NIGHT!

Hotel Palace

This is the place we have stayed at a few times when in Guayaquil. Pierre calls it "a soft landing spot". When landing in Ecuador from a western country such as New Zealand it helps to adjust a bit to have one night in a place that does not look too "Ecuadorian". It is not the cheapest option (nor the dearest). However, we have always received very good service here. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. They have a good restaurant and do a very good buffet breakfast. The location is right in the heart of the CBD so it is easy to get to places like the Iguana Park, the water front and the 444 steps from the hotel.

For more information to the website for the hotel. http://www.hotelpalaceguayaquil.com.ec/

Iguana Park

The Iguana Park in Guayaquil is a family favorite park to visit. Sometimes we take a bunch of bananas with us. Find a park bench (preferably not under a tree) and hold a few bananas out at ground level and within a minute the Iguana’s start making their way to us.

They can move these animals when they want to! And they can smell, especially bananas. Then, well put a banana on our lap and UP they come! They are expert climbers so legs with jeans on them pose absolutely no challenge to them at all. You do not want to try this without jeans on as these animals have long, hard as nails, razor sharp and you will feel them through your jeans. Just don’t tense up and laugh and relax and within seconds you will have an Iguana or two on your lap happily eating the banana. If you want them off you then just put a banana on the ground and viola they’ll follow it.

They are amazing to touch! I love to gently place my hand over the side of one and let it rest there, feeling the breathing and energy as the rib cage rises and falls. It’s an energy that goes back to prehistoric times.

Respect these creature, respect all creatures great and small we are all connected. So, DON’T pull their tails.

Warning! Be aware, very aware of where you sit or stand in this park. LOOK UP!! You will see 100’s of Iguana’s resting in the trees above you. Hmmm…. What happens when an animal high up shits or pee’s?? Hmmm……. What happens when you are standing under a tree filled with animals above your head and one of the ones that is directly above you decides to relieve itself? Splat!!! Is what happens on your head and shoulders! Trust me I’ve seen this happen.

444 Steps

For those who want a work out or just a challenging walk and a great view of Guayaquil there are the 444 steps. Take water with you. There are places to rest along the way and restaurants if you need to refill for more energy. The houses that line the walk have been done up. However, do not venture off the steps. The surrounding area is very run down, to put it basically it’s a slum and dangerous. Tourist police will stop you leaving the steps if they see you trying too!

Waterfront Promenade

Another spot we visit when in G is the promenade (Malecon). It is in complete contrast to the CBD which is old and grey and reminds me of Sydney’s CBD. The promenade is new and modern and very nice indeed. With big play grounds for the kids to play on, restaurants, rest areas etc. You can walk the promenade and at the North end find yourself at the bottom of the 444 steps.