If you are looking for a tour guide, I’d like to recommend the services of Francisco Guayasamin. I can’t possibly say enough great things about him.
Shortly after I posted on Facebook that I was planning an exploratory trip to Ecuador – and was looking for any advice – I got two recommendations for Francisco’s services. Shortly after that I got a Facebook Messenger message from the man himself.
I had never been out of the US and so I was a bit nervous about traveling to a foreign country however Francisco’s help really put me at ease. Over a series of messages back and forth he proposed (and we refined) an itinerary for my visit.
In addition to acting as a tour guide Francisco offers a pickup service at the airport – which I gladly took advantage of. After nervously making my way through customs (it was my first time and turned out not to be a big deal) it was so comforting to see a familiar and friendly face waiting for me.
My goal was to see Ecuador with a focus on where I’d like to settle after I move in early in 2023. That said, I wasn’t opposed to playing tourist.
The first few days I wanted to get to know the Quito area and Francisco set up the perfect itinerary. He recommended a private apartment in a safe neighborhood of Quito and arranged for a driver who was with us throughout our time together.
Francisco clearly loves introducing people to this beautiful country, but if you are just looking for a guide who will point at an attraction and say “look… there’s the Basilica de Voto Nacional…” as you walk by then Francisco is not your guy. As we approached the Basilica on our walking tour of Quito, Francisco stopped to point out an interesting feature of the architecture. Most cathedrals feature gargoyles as part of the adornment. On this building the first level is adorned with animals native to Ecuador – instead of gargoyles. On the second level there are birds. Francisco explained why this is the case. This is just a small example of how he explains what Ecuador is about and why.
Check out Francisco’s blog for more information on the various tours he offers. During our time together Francisco got to know me a bit and made suggestions for changes to our itinerary based on what he learned about me.
After spending a few days touring with Francisco, it was my time to head to Cuenca for a couple of weeks. So, we (Francisco and I) decided to do and overnight trip to Baños and then travel into Cuenca. In all of our adventures Francisco took care of all the arrangements.
When I was heading back to the US I decided to spend a few more days with Fransisco so we could take a trip to Mindo to visit the Cloud forest. We also spent a day visiting a few places in Quito like the Chapel of Man (the amazing art museum with that showcases the amazing art of Oswaldo Guayasamin). I would say this should be on your short list of places to see.
I wish I could tell you which experience was my favorite but I’d be hard pressed to choose.
Keep in mind that Francisco’s blog is upfront that he is a gay man (which was a bonus for me) but I have no doubt he would provide the same exceptional services for people that are not part of the LGBTQ+ community.
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Recommended by Kendel J: firstname.lastname@example.org