This year you have been clear: the tickets for your next vacation have Ecuador as a destination. This small South American country, despite its size, has a very interesting history and culture. But its strong point is clear: the most diverse nature is the great protagonist of Ecuador.
So, probably, you are already fantasizing about entering the Amazon jungle, bathing in the immense white sand beaches of its coasts, or enjoying its waterfalls. Or you may be dreaming of discovering the species that inhabit the Galapagos Islands.
Still, the doubt of many tourists comes when they do not know which city in Ecuador to visit. The two main options are Guayaquil or Quito. With this in mind, you should know that you are in front of two of the most important cities in the country but they are both very different.
Are you wondering where is Guayaquil? Well, the thing is that Quito (Pichincha Province) is the capital of Ecuador and Guayaquil (Guayas Province) is considered the economic and commercial capital of the country. On the other hand, in terms of climate and geography, they are also different. Quito belongs to the Andean and volcanic region of Ecuador, Guayaquil belongs to the coast and is home to the Guayas River. Despite this, I will give you good reasons why you should travel to Guayaquil instead of Quito. Let’s start!
1. Enjoy The Guayaquil’s Beaches
As I mentioned at the beginning, Quito is an Andean city so it has no beaches. Instead, Guayaquil is a Pacific coastal area and they are separated by 420 km of route, which is about 5 or 7 hours by car or only 30 minutes by plane between one city and the other.
97 km from Guayaquil, less than an hour away by land, is General Villamil where UNESCO rated this resort as the second-best climate in the world. The main letter of introduction to this beach is its 17 km of sands that make it a destination that enchants tourists who visit it. Other characteristics are the 100 meters wide that, on average, its beach has, offering a breadth that not all spas have.
General Villamil has other places for the rest of national and foreign tourists, such as the beaches of El Arenal, Data, Data de Posorja, on the one hand; and El Pelado, Engabao, El Faro, on the other, if you want to have a great time in Guayaquil.
But its offer of fun is not only sand, sun and sea. There is also a range of alternative ecotourism tours. Thus, the sector of Puerto El Morro, 15 minutes from General Villamil, becomes the starting point for walks through the mangrove swamp. From two tourist piers, it is possible to depart, every day, on maritime tours to observe the bottlenose dolphins, as well as a diversity of birds and the four mangrove species in the area. You can also get to the open sea to the Los Pajaros island.
2. Surf and Relax Life in Montanita
Montanita is a small town located 184 km from Guayaquil and the estimated time of the bus trip is approximately 3 hours 20 minutes. You can take the bus at the Guayaquil land terminal, which is located on Benjamin Rosales avenue and Las Americas avenue, between Jose Joaquin de Olmedo Airport and the Rio Daule Terminal de la Metrovia.
Montanita is considered the cradle of surfing and one of those towns that are scattered around the world where the words stress and anxiety do not even exist. Here, everything is relaxed thanks to the carefree and calm atmosphere that is breathed in its few streets where most people walk in flip flops and swimsuits whatever the time of day, something that of course, in Quito you will never see.
This little corner of Ecuador becomes a stop - and temporary home - for many travelers who travel the country without haste. In its stores, you can buy local handicrafts, in its restaurants you can try Ecuadorian gastronomy and, at night, the locals are filled with young people wanting to have a good time while dancing to the rhythm of Latin music.
3. Live the Guayaquil’s Nature
If you travel to Guayaquil, you should go to Banos de Agua Santa, a town located about 300 km from Guayaquil, which is about 5 hours by bus. Here, you will see that the landscape begins to change as it is nothing less than the gateway to the Amazons.
In the surroundings of this place, you will find the secrets of its success: huge gorges, high mountains, rivers full of rapids where you can practice all kinds of activities, trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls, etc. Nature expresses itself with the most wonderfully in this little corner of South America… How can you miss this natural wonder? I am sure that you will not want to miss your flights to Guayaquil.
By the way, we must bear in mind that active tourism is the real king here. So, if you are one of the daring who likes to practice everything that involves an adrenaline rush, this is your place! Do you want to bungee jump in an amazing environment? Here you will find it. Canyoning? Rafting? Of course! And when you run out of energy after a whole day of action, Banos de Agua Santa will give you the perfect option: enjoy the baths and thermal water pools that feed on springs at the foot of the Tungurahua volcano.
4. Venture Into the Amazon
To enter the Amazon, you must travel to Guayaquil first, so this is another reason why you should choose Guayaquil instead of Quito, which is much further from the lung of South America, which extends to this beautiful country.
Now, from Guayaquil, we must go to Puyo, which is about 5 or 7 hours by bus, depending on traffic. From here, you can access some of the indigenous communities that live next to the Pastaza River. With the Kichwa, for example, with whom you can experience what it is like to live with them for a few days while learning about their traditions.
A little further, in the surroundings of Macas, another of the jungle cities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, you will be able to meet the Shuar, an indigenous community that practiced ‘jibarizacion’ - or skull reduction - until the mid-1990s. In addition to enjoying life in the middle of nature - yes, do not forget the mosquito repellent! -, it is the opportunity to learn and discover everything you want about the Ecuadorian indigenous culture. A unique experience!
5. Visit Galapagos Island
And now yes, it is the turn of the jewel of the Ecuadorian crown. The Galapagos Islands is that corner of the world with which absolutely every traveler dreams of visiting one day. And of course, it is another reason to choose Guayaquil since they are very close to each other.
Almost 1,000 kilometers from the Ecuadorian coast, in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, this archipelago is made up of 13 islands whose name comes from the number of turtles that once lived on them. The uniqueness of this corner of the world is given by many characteristics. One of them is the almost minimal presence of the human being in its territory.
The biodiversity of the place is very peculiar, the wild fauna is the owner and mistress of the place and the iguanas, sea lions, giant tortoises, or blue-footed boobies -among many other species- are unmoved by the presence of travelers who come to the Galapagos to enjoy this coexistence. Looking back in time, it is easy to imagine how Charles Darwin himself must have felt when he arrived here in 1835.
A good option is to stay in Isabela, the largest and most chosen island by travelers. From there, you will have to move around the rest of those that make up the archipelago by boat.
But how to get to the Galapagos Islands?
First, take your flights to Guayaquil, and once here, you must fly to the Baltra Island airport, already in the Galapagos archipelago. Once there, you will have to take a bus for a few minutes from the airport to a small port where you can catch a barge and cross the Itabaca channel.
Once on the other side, on Santa Cruz Island, you will have to go by land 45 minutes to Puerto Ayora. Here, you have 2 options:
1. Take a taxi to Puerto Ayora.
2. Get on the regular bus that will take you to Puerto Ayora, which is a cheaper option. (There is the possibility that some taxi drivers tell you that there are no buses and that the only way to go is in their taxi... be careful with that).
Do you need more reasons to travel to Guayaquil instead of Quito? Well, I can tell you that if you go to Guayaquil you will have a great time since if you want to spend a few days in the city, you will be able to enjoy its restaurants and nightlife. If you spend time in Guayaquil you will not regret it as the city leaves you within reach of many natural beauties such as the Amazon, water sports, relaxing beaches, and meeting great people in Ecuador.