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The largest city in Ecuador, Guayaquil’s proximity to the Pacific makes it a prime access point to Galápagos

Guayaquil is a sprawling and vibrant city in Ecuador’s low-land region, just 2º south of the equator. Other than being the most accessible point to the Galápagos Islands (just 2 hours by plane), Guayaquil’s big city profile is present in its high rise condos and bustling atmosphere.

Santiago de Guayaquil was the city’s official name and it was founded in 1537 by the Spanish Explorer Francisco de Orellana. But this name signifies the city’s origins that pre-date this. Allegedly, the city’s popular name was taken after the legendary chief of the Huacavilcas culture and his wife - Guaya and Quila. 

In 1537 it was officially named Santiago de Guayaquil by Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana. But the name itself represents the city’s origins that pre-date this, as it was inspired by the indigenous Huancavilcas cultures’ legend of chief Guaya and his wife Quila. 

The city runs adjacent to the Rio Guayas, with the red brick Malecón 2000 serving as a walkway that brings urban life right up to the water’s edge. The hillsides above are dotted with colourful favelas, and much of the modern centre today is becoming revitalised in urban renewal projects. 

Las Peñas is a picturesque barrio which overlooks the river, the vibrant streets accentuated by cobblestone pathways meander around various romantic pit-stops, bohemian bars and cafes. Guayaquil is fast becoming a place for modern artistic thought and the university culture here is fuelling a lively art, theatre, film and food scene. 

Guayaquil has always been an important hub. Today it continues to handle 90% of the country’s imports. That said, there are pockets within the economic centre which are overflowing with beautifully kept gardens and quaint colonial squares. 

The neighbourhood of Sambodoron gracefully watches over the meeting place of the Rio Daule and the Rio Guayas, and it is here that Guayaquil’s tropical climate is vivid. Inundated with birds and equatorial wildlife and just a stone’s throw from the centre, lodges here provide pleasant city refuge. 

The fascinating history, and the city as Ecuador’s primary port has resulted in a diverse and spirited place to visit. However, if it’s just serving a purpose to stop for the night before onward travel the inner-city oasis lodges are fantastically appointed.

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Best times to visit Guayaquil

Guayaquil has a very hot and humid climate due to its proximity to the equator. January to April is regarded as the temporada or ‘beach season’ in Ecuador's south - meaning that lots of locals head out of the city to the beaches. Guayaquil can be pretty wet at this time of year.

If heading to the Galapagos Islands from Guayaquil, the best time to visit is from December to May when the warm and wet weather will bring calmer, more pleasant seas. That said, there is no ‘bad time’ to visit the Galapagos, as the wildlife on the archipelago is present year round. 

Maldives monthly weather chart

Call us on +44 117 313 3300 to start planning your holiday, we’re looking forward to hearing from you


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