<Where to go, What to do <Routes
ROUTE guayaquil - santo domingo

Crossing the bridge over the Rio Guayas you pass through Duran, a growing satellite of Guayaquil, where the railway from the highlands once arrived before the El Niño floods of 1998 washed it away. Outside Duran a turn-off takes you onto a road leading north, passing scrubland and a few offices and processing plants. The landscape is very flat. A new bypass arcs around Yaguachi, revealing only its church towers to the traveller. There is a lot of rice growing around here and you pass several piladoras. After the settlement of Tres Postres there are a few more trees and cows. This is a good place to buy mangos in December and January and also has a children’s amusement park which looks like its trying to rival the Magic Kingdom. At the village of Jujan, you pass over the Babahoyo river, into Los Ríos province and soon arrive at the provincial capital. Babahoyo is a medium sized town, full of commercial activity in the day. It is easy to bypass by road and there is not much to draw in the passing visitor. OK, so far this is not the most memorable trip you will ever make in Ecuador.

To continue north from Babahoyo you have to negotiate a couple of old and uneven metal bridges over the river and a section of tarmac which looks like it was designed by Frank Gehry rather than a civil engineer. After that you follow a fairly well paved two lane road which is elevated above the low lying land, initially filled with houses made of cane erected on stilts and liked by a maze of walkways.
On the stretch north to Quevedo there is every type of lowland agriculture. They grow rice (several piladoras around Ventanas). Dole have a huge presence along the first sector; passing turnoffs for Baba and Vinces there are many banana plantations bearing the name of the multinational. Further on merchants advertise that they will buy cacao, maracuya (passion fruit), mango. There are also plantations of teak (used to make furniture) and African palm (a source of oil).

Quevedo is a busy commercial town. At the entrance a sign diverts travellers to Santo Domingo or Quito to the left. This is quite a lengthy and badly signposted detour to avoid the main bridge over the Quevedo river. On weekdays there is a lot of congestion either side of the bridge but I still recommend you just continue straight ahead and (heading north) take the left exit at the roundabout before the bridge and the right exit at the one after the bridge. The town centre is on the north bank of the river. There is a little waterfront and a footbridge but not much else to see. Quevedo is home to many descendants of Chinese immigrants so if its lunchtime you can definitely find a good chifa.


The road to Santo Domingo heads uphill from the north side of the bridge. You pass a military barracks, some high schools and an airfield used for fumigating plants, before you can say goodbye to Quevedo completely. The next stretch of road is much the same as the previous – two lanes, so lots of overtaking of slow moving trucks required, fairly good quality but lacking in road markings and cats eyes (avoid driving it at night). Along the way you pass the huge empire of Reybanpac. It and various other related companies are owned by the Wong family and it looks like they control much of the agriculture around Patricia Pilar. While you are in Ecuador there’s a good chance you will probably sample some of their milk, cheese, bananas or yoghurt.

A road from this Patricia Pilar leads to the Toachi river where there are great rafting opportunities. Further north a turning on the right leads to the Tsachilas community. Visits to these sites are best organised from Santo Domingo which soon starts to sprawl out in front of you.


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