4 HOURS IN... GUAYAQUIL

Ecuador’s pow­er­house port is much more than just the gate­way to the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS - WORDS ISOBEL FINBOW

A whis­tle-stop tour of this colour­ful Ecuado­rian city

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Cerro Santa Ana light­house The best way to be­gin your ex­plo­ration of Ecuador’s Pa­cific port city is from above – 444 steps up above to be pre­cise – at the light­house on the peak of the Santa Ana hill. In the 28°C equa­to­rial heat, the climb past the colour­ful houses of the Las Pe­nas neigh­bour­hood can be pun­ish­ing, so take your time. Striped in the blue and white of the city’s flag, the light­house is the per­fect look­out from which to ob­serve the point where the Daule and Baba­hoyo rivers con­verge to form the great Guayas River, as well as the net­work of is­lands formed by the tide. To the north in Puerto Santa Ana rises Ecuador’s high­est build­ing, known lo­cally as El Tornillo (The Screw), which was com­pleted in 2010; to the south, wild man­groves line the river that brought French and Bri­tish pi­rates to pil­lage in the 17th and 18th cen­turies.

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Male­con 2000

Back at river level, head south along the Male­con 2000. The smartly paved board­walk along a 1.5-mile stretch of the Guayas River is the city’s strong­est sym­bol of ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion; less than a cen­tury ago it was noth­ing more than croc­o­dile-in­fested mud­flats. Join the lo­cals in a stroll along the ver­dant prom­e­nade, drop­ping into shops and mu­se­ums and watch­ing great con­tainer ships go by on their way in and out of the port – the port han­dles al­most two mil­lion TEU a year, mak­ing it one of the busiest in Latin Amer­ica. Wan­der far enough to the south and you’ll come to the 840-me­tre bridge con­nect­ing the city to the bio­di­verse wet­lands of San­tay Is­land. The bridge was re­cently re­opened af­ter need­ing re­pairs cost­ing US$3 mil­lion when a boat smashed into it last Oc­to­ber. male­con.org.ec

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Museo An­tropo­logico y de Arte Con­tem­po­ra­neo (MAAC) En­ticed by the promise of the port’s mer­can­tile riches, cen­turies of im­mi­grants from such far-flung lands as Le­banon and Pales­tine have moulded and re-moulded Guayaquil’s di­verse so­ci­ety. How­ever, its rich cul­ture be­gan to take shape many cen­turies be­fore the ar­rival of Span­ish colo­nial­ists in 1538, with abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties all along the coast.

The Museo An­tropo­logico y de Arte Con­tem­po­ra­neo pulls to­gether thou­sands of pieces of Pre-Columbian art and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal finds, shin­ing a light on the city’s indige­nous an­ces­tors. But it’s not all an­cient his­tory: the MAAC (at the north­ern end of the Male­con 2000) is also the place to dis­cover cur­rent artists and stock up on books by Ecuado­rian au­thors. guayaquilesmides­tino.com

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Pi­can­te­ria El Pez Vo­lador An­thony Bour­dain took a par­tic­u­lar shine to this rough-and-ready restau­rant when he filmed his 2010 CNN show No Reser­va­tions. The late chef-turned-TV pre­sen­ter chat­ted with owner An­gel­ica Cu­ji­lan Aragones (who has run the joint for 40 years) over ence­bol­lado, a ro­bust fish soup that has a spe­cial place in Guayaquilenos’ hearts. Lo­cals eat it for break­fast – it’s also ac­cept­able to or­der it for lunch. El Pez Vo­lador makes the most of seafood trea­sures fresh from the Pa­cific Ocean: lime-spiked shrimp ce­viche, crab claws and fish cooked in plan­tain and peanuts are reg­u­lars on the menu. Wash it down with a na­tional lager along­side lo­cals dis­cussing the city’s ri­val foot­ball teams, Em­elec and the cu­ri­ously named Barcelona Sport­ing Club. face­book.com/elpezvolador­pi­can­te­ria

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Par­que His­torico

Take a break from the ur­ban rush in Par­que His­torico, a peace­ful oa­sis ten min­utes by taxi from the cen­tre – try lo­cal taxi-hail­ing apps Cab­ify or Easy Taxi. Paths me­an­der through eight hectares of glo­ri­ous wildlife, with fes­toons of or­chids, wav­ing palm trees, and spi­der mon­keys and Pa­cific par­rotlets over­head. An an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary is home to res­cued ex­otic crea­tures, such as ocelots and blue-hued harpy ea­gles, while orig­i­nal Repub­licera build­ings have been re­con­structed and a street­car stands by to show­case the city’s his­tory. Guests of Ho­tel del Par­que, an el­e­gant bou­tique ho­tel – once a 19th-cen­tury nurs­ing home, moved board-by-board to the park and re­stored – have 24-hour ac­cess to the grounds, oth­er­wise it is open Wed­nes­day-Sun­day, 9am-4.30pm. hoteldel­par­que­his­torico.com

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