We have lived in Guayaquil, Ecuador for ten months now. Jazmin, a native Ecuadorian, has taken us around the city to see everything it has to offer. Or so we thought. We had completed everything on the online tourist guides to Guayaquil.
A quick trip to the Ministerio de Turismo left us with an armload of tourism pamphlets, fliers and maps of the city and the entire country. Looking through them it was no surprise that we had missed many of the smaller attractions outside downtown Guayaquil.
While we normally focus on walking guides to each city, these distances require taxi or car transportation.
If you are looking for our regular walking travel guide of downtown Guayaquil click HERE.
Parque Histórico Guayaquil is just outside of Guayaquil, portraying the history of the city within three distinct areas: wildlife, urban architecture and tradition. The wildlife section is home to a wide variety of native plants and animals, including several protected animals. The urban architecture recreates both urban and farm life from the turn of the 20th century, the height of the economic boom of cocoa. The tradition area features a lifestyle museum and historical performances and presentations based on the recreated time period. The park is free, open daily from 9:00AM to 6:30PM.
El Pantanal Zoo is arguably one of the best zoos I have ever been to. This small and under visited zoo has just as much to offer, if not more, than internationally acclaimed zoos. It is less focused on entertaining the visitor with fancy infrastructure, with simple dirt paths, so it’s small operating income is placed primarily towards the animals themselves. When I visited the zoo, there was only one other couple there.
You are required to go through the zoo with a guide, who gives more information about the animals and can answer questions (in Spanish), but they do give you as much time as you want to observe and photograph the animals. My guess is there is a required guide since some of the animals habitats are easily accessible, and you don’t want to poke a Llama with a selfie stick. El Pantanal Zoo is open Monday to Friday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM and costs $6/adult and $3/child/student/elderly.
Jardin Botanico Guayaquil is located north of the city. The botanical garden is located on top of a hill, and while driving up, watch out for longboard and bike enthusiasts who take advantage of the long winding downhill road. The walking trail through the park features more than 800 species of plants, 164 trees, amazonian animals and an indoor butterfly garden. The species include cactus, fruit trees and ornamental plants, along with tropical exotic plants and a collection of orchid plants. Make sure to bring bug spray or the mosquitoes will feast on you. The garden is open from 8AM to 4PM. $3.00/adult and $1.50/Children, students and elderly.
Cerro Blanco is a protected forest about 15km outside of the main city of Guayaquil, but still close to urban sprawl if you would like to find a nearby meal. The forest has many trails and interactive interpretation centers, to educate on the importance of nature and conservation. It is close to the city, but you still have the opportunity to get into some deep forest. There are also specialized guides who are there to answer questions, and provide guided walking tours at a cost of $12-35. There is also a camping area, which can be used by reservation only. Open daily from 8am to 4pm. $4/adult, $3/kids, $2/elderly and for bicyclists.
Plaza Lagos, while considered a mall, calls itself a “town center,” due to an yet to be finished adjoining neighborhood. It is located just across the river from Guayaquil, along Vía Samborondón. If you are looking for some of the nicest restaurants in town, this is the place to go! Plaza Lagos has much more to offer than fancy restaurants. There is also a row of coffee shops and small, more budget friendly restaurants. If you are not looking for food, you can walk around, enjoy a few shops, fountains and a small island with a neat play area for kids.
Plaza Lagos (source: Facebook)