Dubbed the “Pearl of the Pacific”, Ecuador’s largest city and port is undergoing a transformation. In the 1990's, the local government invested in a series of public projects to offset Guayaquil’s reputation as dangerous and run-down. Today, safely stroll the Malecon 2000, a 2.5km (1.5 mi) boardwalk along the Guayas River, stopping at historical monuments, museums, gardens and galleries. Shop for Otavalo-style sweaters and Panama hats at the Loja artisans’ market. Make friends with one of the giant iguanas living downtown in the Parque Bolívar.