Guayaquil is Ecuador's largest city and it's commercial centre. Just a few years ago the docks occupied the main central area and it was very much a working city. Two pioneering City Mayors later, Guayaquil has become a prime example of successful urban regeneration based on preserving heritage and culture among a modern landscape. The docks have been moved well out of town, parks and recreational areas have been developed, and there is an efficient bus tram transportation system. The place is clean and well maintained, and well worth a visit.
This morning we enjoy a Guayaquil city tour by coach and on foot. At Seminario Park we get our first glance of Land Iguanas. Inside this park, Iguanas walk freely, dig tunnels to lay eggs, and climb trees (and pee from a great height!) Opposite the park is Guayaquil's gothic Cathedral. Moving on via the commercial district, we see large scale murals on the exterior of a bank building. These are reproductions of work inside the nearby art museum.
Next stop is the old Market Place, an ornate, decorated iron structure designed by Gustave Eiffel. Originally a smelly market, it is now an attractive exhibition gallery. It is also the start of the award-winning Malecon 2000 project, a 20 hectare area of waterfront esplanade along the Guayas River waterfront. The Malecon features gardens, fountains, shopping, restaurants, an IMAX theatre, as well as viewpoints, museums and monuments.
We visit La Rotonda, a spectacular semicircle monument that commemorates the July 1822 meeting of two Latin American liberators, Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, when it was decided that Guayaquil be annexed to what was then known as Gran Columbia (today, the countries of Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela). We continue through the beautifully kept botanical gardens of the Malecon, at which point Richard and Dawn feel Magnum Ice Creams should be served. They go down well.
The city tour concludes in the artisan area in the Santa Ana community where we walk cobbled streets and local art galleries.
Following a free afternoon spent mostly by the hotel swimming pool, we enjoy dinner and receive final instructions for our flight to Galapagos!!