Guayaquil is probably the least "important" city on our entire itinerary: we mainly chose it as a jumping board for the Galapagos. We had two brief stays in Guayaquil: before and after our trip to the Galapagos. After our second stay, we then left for Cuenca from there (so it serves as a jumping board again). As a busy port, Guayaquil does not have the allure of either the Galapagos or the colonial cities of Cuenca and Quito, but it is not fair to say that Guayaquil does not have its own identity -- it does. Maybe it is not as glamorous as the other places, but it has a down-to-the-earth authenticity. Besides, it will always have the distinction of the first city in South America and in the Southern Hemisphere that I landed in.
(Click on each image to see the high-resolution version)
The hotel that we stayed at is Unipark Hotel, which is next to a small park, Parque Seminario, which is adjacent to Catedral metropolitana de Guayaquil (the Metropolitan Cathedral of Guayaquil). What's most interesting about this park is the many Green Iguanas roaming around in it and in the trees. This was not a bad "reptile introduction course" before one goes to the Galapagos to see the Marine and Land Iguanas.
Because Guayaquil is the first South American city that I visited, most of the birds there were new to me as well (but not all; some can be found in North America, and some can be found in Central America, and after two trips to Costa Rica, I have seen some of those as well). The Eared Dove and Ecuadorian Ground Dove were two of the new birds I saw in this park.
Ecuadorian Ground Dove
Catedral metropolitana de Guayaquil at dusk; it is a pity that one of its towers was wrapped up in ugly tarps for repairs.
Catedral metropolitana de Guayaquil
We had a walk to the Malecon 2000 and eventually to Las Penas. Guayaquil has a reputation of being unsafe, but this stretch of waterfront is heavily guarded by police and security guards. If one stayed on designated path, it should be safe (we did not have any incidents).
Las Penas streets
We eventually reached the lighthouse at the top of Las Penas, which has a commanding view. The muddy Guayas River and the overcast sky due to the high humidity of the tropics do not make a pretty picture.
Las Penas (seen from the lighthouse)
Malecon (seen from the lighthouse)
Stained glass from the small chapel at the top of Las Penas.
Torre Morisca (Moorish Tower) at the other end of Malecon 2000.
Along the Malecon I saw and photographed quite a few birds. The Scrub Blackbird is a common, even nuisance, bird in the tropics, but it was a new bird for me.
The Variable Seedeater is a bird that I had seen in Costa Rica.
The most comical bird that I saw on this trip is the Pacific Hornero. This one has a deformed bill.
The most beautiful bird that I photographed in Guayaquil is probably the Saffron Finch. i saw a pair of them foraging outside a McDonald's in the Malecon, picking up scraps of junk food! Regardless of its corrupt behavior, it really is a pretty little bird.
One last shot of the City Hall, on our last night in Guayaquil.