Where We Be
After climbing 444 steps you arrive at the top of Cerro Santa Ana. From here you can
climb a lighthouse to get a terrific view of the city -- in our case during a dramatic rainstorm.
Guayaquil, Ecuador
It might surprise you to learn that Ecuador's
largest and most populous city isn't Quito but
Guayaquil. This coastal city of 4 million people
is vibrant and experiencing something of a
renaissance with its lovely river walk along the
Guayas River. Called the Malecon, this year
2000 renovation has created a wonderful place
for Guayaquileños -- and any lucky visitors -- to
enjoy. It offers brick walkways, gardens, shops,
restaurants, and more ice cream stands than it
seems possible for any populace to support.

Guayaquil is the nation's main port and the
commercial heart of the country. Flying into
Guayaquil, we were surprised to see how huge
the city is. As tourists we made no attempt to
see it all. Rather we focused on the Malecon
and the adjacent Cerro Santa Ana district, a
steeply staired hillside with shops and eateries
galore. These areas are very safe for tourists.
We stayed just off the city's main commercial
thoroughfare, vibrant Av. 9 de Octubre.
We only got a taste of Loja on our way to Vilcabamba, but it is one of Ecuador's oldest cities and seemed worthy of further exploration
The next day we flew from Guayaquil to the southern Ecuadorean city of Loja. Loja's most famous landmark is the Puerta de la Ciudad (Door of the City).
Guayaquil may be the only city in the world with land iguanas roaming around its downtown
I can't help wondering what this pigeon and this land iguana think of each other!
Parque Bolivar is also called "Iguana Park" because of the many land iguanas that call it home
We also walked to Parque Bolivar just off the Malecon
A pretty stretch of the Malecon near its southern end. The Malecon was much quieter on a Monday morning than it had been on Sunday evening.
The next morning we continued exploring the Malecon -- this time heading south from the Rotunda instead of north
Ice cream stands and ice cream shops are everywhere in Guayaquil. We
visited this lone beacon of light during a lull in a rainstorm on our way home.
The central part of the sprawling city of Guayaquil, as seen from the lighthouse on top of Cerro Santa Ana
We ran across to the lighthouse and snapped this photo looking back at the chapel
The land iguanas in Guayaquil are a different species than those found in the Galapagos
Loja, Ecuador
Just as we reached the top it started to pour. We took shelter in a small chapel. During a lull in the rain I snapped this photo of the nearby lighthouse.
Cerro Santa Ana as seen from the southern end of the Malecon
There's even a tropical garden here
From our hostel (Casa de Romero) it was an easy ten-minute walk along Av. 9 de Octubre to the Malecon, where our first sight was the Rotunda.
This statue portrays the two great South American liberators, Simon Bolivar and San Martin, shaking hands. They met in Guayaquil once.
Here we are near the top of Cerro Santa Ana looking back down. We stopped (like everyone else) for some snacks and some breathers along the way.
Here we go! Up the 444 steps to the top of Cerro Santa Ana. Note that each step is conveniently numbered!
The colorful jumble of houses on Cerro Santa Ana is a joy for the eye to behold
The Malecon runs alongside the River Guayas. At the far end is Cerro Santa Ana -- the hillside with the lighthouse on top.
The Malecon offers a wonderful place for the locals to gather and stroll. We saw few tourists but lots of families enjoying their weekend here.
We stayed at classy and convenient Casa de Romero ($40 per night)
just off Guayaquil's main commercial thoroughfare, Av. 9 de Octubre
Kids were everywhere, especially in this busy playground that included a track for child-sized electric cars
This ship moored on the Guayas River serves as a very cool school