The Galapagos are located 973 km (605 mi) from South America, and the flights only operate early in the day, which means it is essential for travelers to spend at least one day in Ecuador before and after their visit. Travelers can choose from Quito and Guayaquil. We stayed in Guayaquil, a coastal city, before our travels to the Galapagos. It’s a small city, but there are still things worth exploring. National Geographic Galapagos Cruise Series: • Galapagos Islands National Geographic 10 Days Expedition (Photo Essay) • National Geographic Endeavor II | Aboard the Galapagos Cruise (Boat Tour) • Stay in Guayaquil, Ecuador Before the Galapagos Islands (Pre-Trip) Accommodation We stayed at the Hilton Colon Guayaquil. Not only is it a really nice and upscale hotel, but it’s also conveniently located near the airport. Flights to the Galapagos leave early in the morning, so you want to be as close to the airport as possible. The Hilton Colon Guayaquil is only about a 10- 15 minute drive away from the airport and they can have someone pick you up from the airport. Hilton Colon Guayaquil Av. Francisco de Orellana MZ. 111 Guayaquil, Ecuador Telephone: +593-4-5010000 Email: email@example.com Website: https://www3.hilton.com/guayaquil
Eat at Siete Moros There are 4 different restaurants in the hotel, but if you prefer to eat outside the hotel, there are other options in the area within walking distance. One place which was recommended by the staff for typical Ecuadorian food was called Siete Moros. The plates are huge and range from $9-$13. You choose from 7 different kinds of moros, which are basically mounds of rice and beans topped with cheese. The meat was tasty and the moros were a different style that I had never had before!
Malecon 2000 The Malecon 2000 is the boardwalk that runs along the Guayas River. It contains a lot for visitors to wander around and enjoy. Several restaurants line the boardwalk, including an upscale food court. They have a variety of foods to choose from, like chinese food and even sorbet ice cream! As you continue to walk along the Malecon 2000 you will stumble upon an amusement park where the biggest ferris wheel in South America is located, called La Perla. There’s also a street fair filled with all kinds of knick knacks for people to buy.
Las Peñas Las Peñas is a neighborhood of Guayaquil with some colonial architecture. It was the first neighborhood of Guayaquil, but it had been destroyed several times due to fires that took over the city. It’s a wonderfully gorgeous and safe neighborhood to walk around and take pictures!
Seminario Park (Iguana Park) As you may have guessed, this park is filled with iguanas, but different than what you will see in the Galapagos. They are considered the “Iguanas from Guayaquil”, and have inhabited Guayaquil since the colonial times due to the rivers and the fruit that grows on the mangroves. Because iguanas were never an ideal meal, the species was never disturbed, and they stuck around as the city grew, migrating to the parks which have all that they need.
Final Thoughts When people think Ecuador, they only think of getting to the Galapagos. Little do they know, they will have to spend at least one day in mainland Ecuador before flying to the Galapagos, so why not do a little exploring and enjoy what Ecuador has to offer? I was pleasantly surprised to find that Guayaquil had a lot to offer and I only wish I had the opportunity to spend a little more time there. I guess I’ll just have to go back! National Geographic Galapagos Cruise Series: • Galapagos Islands National Geographic 10 Days Expedition (Photo Essay) • National Geographic Endeavor II | Aboard the Galapagos Cruise (Boat Tour) • Stay in Guayaquil, Ecuador Before the Galapagos Islands (Pre-Trip) Live an Awesome Life, Tuli Escalante Disclosure: Hotel stay was paid for by National Geographic. Meals and experiences in Guayaquil were paid by us. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.