(Altitude: 2,668 m / 8,698 ft, Population: 25,000, City Code: 03)
Guaranda is best known for its massive pre-Lenten Carnaval, celebrated with parades, parties and water throwing on the streets for about five days before Ash Wednesday. If you want to see the ultimate Ecuadorian Carnaval party, Guaranda is the place to go.
During the rest of the year, Guaranda is a pretty sleepy town that sees very few tourists. It is a good place to go if you want to see a more authentic view of what a typical life in Ecuador consists of. Be aware though, that you will be an outsider in town â€“ Guaranda sees few foreigners throughout the year.
Guaranda is nicknamed â€śLa Ciudad de las Siete Colinas,â€ť for the seven hills it is built upon. It was founded by the Spanish in 1571, with its first settlers being Jews fleeing from the Inquisition in Lima. The name may have come from the guarango tree, or the indigenous nation, the Guaranga, that lived in the area, or for a chief named Guaranga. Today, this largely Quichua town is the capital of BolĂvar Province.
Guaranda is a good jumping off point for the village of Salinas. On the road to Ambato is the entry point for Reserva de ProducciĂłn FaunĂstica Chimborazo, home to Ecuadorâ€™s highest volcano, which backdrops Guaranda.