I would like to respond, if I may, to the letter from the reader who was told by a cruise line that Guayaquil was not the chosen port of entry in Ecuador because “Quito is a much safer city” (July ’06, pg. 38).
My husband grew up in Quito. It is the best-known Ecuadorian city and certainly is lovely, but, indeed, many people — including me — find the altitude difficult. So I take (most recently in April ’06) many of our charter groups to the Galápagos Islands via Guayaquil, for the following reasons.
Guayaquil has changed enormously over the past few years, due to excellent governmental planning and the allocation of resources promulgated by the mayor and unanimously supported by Guayaquileños!
Her hotels, including the Oro Verde hotels (phone 593-4-2511316, fax 2514215 or visit www.oroverdehotels.com), the Hilton Colón and others, are superb! Oro Verde’s UniPark Hotel, for example, is on the unique Parque Seminario, known as “Iguana Park,” the only park on the mainland boasting a resident population of huge land iguanas as well as water turtles.
The city offers a great variety of delightful restaurants as well.
Ecuador’s most famous naval vessel, the Abdon Calderon (at El Museo Cañonero Calderón at Armada Park), may be toured in Guayaquil, and the Museo Naval (across from the Yacht Club, along the Malecon) is a delight. Each makes an interesting tour, and the Armada Park Museum has a delightful mechanical mockup of the famous 1941 Battle of Jambeli in which the Abdon Calderon defeated the much larger Peruvian ship Almirano Villar.
The riverway park Malecon 2000 holds a marvel of activities for kids and adults plus historical information, not to mention a variety of restaurants. It’s well policed and perfectly delightful!
The new Parque Historico offers a wonderful walk through three large, beautifully presented areas: one with animals and birds (some endangered) of the region, including magnificent parrots, tapirs, caimans, etc.; an exposition of indigenous 19th-century coastal life, featuring homes on stilts, a hacienda, music and home life, and an exposition of the cacao trade and the old urban environment of Guayaquil after the great fire of 1896. The famous Casa Rosada was moved to the park several years ago. The gardens and attached park are lovely.
At the right time of year, the city park, featuring orchids, is a lovely place to visit.
Any big city has its good and bad points and its safe and less safe areas. Guayaquil is no different — and is well worth one’s time!
JUDIE MUGGIA, Galápagos Direct, Box 1043, Winchester, MA 01890