Guayaquil – The Pacific’s Pearl – Quito may be recognized as the capital of Ecuador, but economically, the port city of Guayaquil could easily fill these shoes. It is the largest city in Ecuador, and though today it may have a certain cosmopolitan vibe, there’s a lot of colonial history in this Ecuadorian port city.
Guayaquil served the Crown of Spain in 1547 as a port and shipyard. The first neighborhood to spring up in those times was Las Peñas, or The Cliffs, aptly named for the surrounding foothills of Santa Ana. Today, Las Peñas is Guayaquil’s most colorful and traditional parish, with most of the architecture dating back to Colonial times reflecting Ecuador’s wealthiest period when cocoa was booming.
Guayaquil’s Historic Park is also a highlight of any visit. You can check out the wildlife, urban architecture, and traditional areas, each with their own sets of acreage. The wildlife area is home to several species you can view in their natural habitats. Parrots, harpy eagles, toucans, and masked ducks are just a few of the bird species you’ll see.
In the acreage dedicated to urban architecture, you’ll admire the iconic mansions of the Republican time period offering a glimpse into the turn of the century. This part of the park highlights one of the city’s wealthiest periods, if not all of Ecuador’s. Today’s addition is the Hotel del Parque. This lavish boutique offering is located in the center of the park and provides visitors a glimpse into the opulent past with a touch of modernity.
In the park’s traditional acreage, you can visit an operating cocoa farm, paying homage to the reason this region experienced such a boom in the 1920s. You’ll learn how cocoa is processed, as well as how the farmers lived during the peak of cocoa production in the region.
In all, there are eight sites between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific’s coastal waters that are highlights on any visit to Ecuador. Of course, the Ecuadorian mainland offers several more, but the ultimate Ecuadorian experience is up to you and your personal interests. Everything in this country will awaken your curiosity into the distant and not-so-distant past.