Iguana Park really has a much more mundane name – Parque Seminario – but is best known by its most famous occupants, the iguanas. These scaly reptiles, the size of large Dachshunds, can be found on grassy patches, in the small pond, on park benches, in low lying bushes, and high over head, literally draped across the tree branches above you.
This is a tourist destination but it’s also a beloved location to Guayaquileños. The shaded park benches provide some respite in the muggy afternoon heat; ice cream and ice cold water are always on sale from the wandering street vendors. And if you tire of watching the lizard life, there are other animals as well. Tortoises and carp inhabit the small pond. Squirrels scamper around tree trunks. And tourists provide some interesting diversions.
How many people will ignore the Do Not Touch the Animals sign?
How close can a tourist get while taking a selfie with an iguana?
How many foreign languages can you hear in a single afternoon?
The park has a long history. In colonial times, it was known as Plaza de Armas, a term that loosely translates as the parade ground. In the late 1880’s, a statue of Simón Bolívar, el Libertador, was erected and the park became known as Parque Bolívar. Then at the turn of the century, local citizen Manuel Suárez Seminario made a donation to improve the park in the French style and the city decided to dedicate the newly renovated park in his name. But when you ask ¿Por favor, dónde está el Parque de las Iguanas? every Guayaquileño will tell you: in front of the Cathedral on Chimbarazo between Ballen y Millán and 10 de Agosto. No need to call it by its proper name.