On the coast, the dry season from late May / June to November is unpleasantly cool, muggy and overcast. So if you like lying on beaches, then the rainy season from December / January to April / May is surprisingly the best time to visit Ecuador. It’s much warmer and the mornings tend to be sunny, with the rain falling in short tropical bursts in the afternoon.
It rains year round in the Amazon, but December to May is particularly soggy, with roads more likely to be blocked. Some of the forests experience periodical flooding during this time – you can paddle the swollen tributaries in little boats, which is eerie and exciting and gives you access to otherwise out-of-bounds regions. It’s also pleasantly cooler during this time – but wildlife will be much harder to track down, and the mosquitoes will be out in force.
The seasons in the highlands are more consistent, although the warmer, wetter period from December to March is the least advisable, especially if you are planning on hiking. Year round, days can be hot and sunny, while nights are bitterly cold. Rain or hail can occur at any time, and very suddenly.
Ecuador's volcanoes make their own weather – the temperature on the slopes doesn’t reflect what’s happening on the summit. It may be hot, rainy or snowing. Because of this, there is no best or worst time to climb the mountains.
Peak seasons don’t just attract crowds – they mean higher prices. If you’re on a budget, many operators and accommodations offer discounts from February to April (except for Easter) and in September, October and November. You can also leave booking until much later - so this may be the best time to visit Ecuador for disorganised travellers!
June, July, August and September and late December to January are peak season across Ecuador due to European/North American school holidays. If planning a Galápagos trip during this time, be sure to book well in advance.
However, this doesn’t necessarily coincide with the best weather. December to May are the warmest months in the Galápagos, with the wind dropping for calmer seas. Although there is also a greater chance of rain, these are the best months to visit if you’re spending several days on a boat. June to November is drier but chillier – with poor visibility for divers.
Wildlife is visible and active throughout the year in the Galápagos, although certain species and activities (such as turtles laying eggs and sea lions being born) are restricted to specific times – so consult our Galápagos guide if you have particular interests.