Best time to visit Ecuador

Best time to visit Ecuador


temperature & rainfall

There is no best time to visit Ecuador; peak seasons are dictated by holiday periods – mid June to early September are busiest, as are late December to early January. It’s hardly the Costa del Sol, though, and crowds are still pretty rare. The exception is Galápagos – where thousands of visitors mean that in peak season, it hardly fits the “remote archipelago” image you may have in mind. Here, Jan to May are the warmest months with the calmest seas, plus the odd shower. The Andes are damp year round, with warm days and icy cold nights – while the Oriente is hot and rainy, particularly from Dec to April. Pack layers and waterproof bags!

When to visit Ecuador & when not to


A month by month guide

Mainland Ecuador

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!

Galápagos

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.
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Best time to visit Ecuador


Our recommendations

David Orrock is a South American specialist with our supplier Pura Aventura. He has travelled extensively in Ecuador and Galápagos – here is his top tip on the best time to visit Ecuador:
"If I was combining Ecuador and Galápagos, I'd look at going around May. You're out of the rainy season in the Andes, it's not the wettest time of year in the Amazon, and in the Galápagos you've got the clearest water for snorkelling and swimming, which is just a massive part of being there because there's so much wildlife beneath the water. You're also just out of the peak season, so flights may be cheaper."
Our wildlife pick:
Whales at Puerto Lopez
When winter hits the Antarctic in June-October, 30-ton humpback whales migrate to the warmer equatorial waters. They perform acrobatics and hit the water with their enormous flippers, to the delight of passing tourists.

Festivals & events in Ecuador


Our cultural pick from the Ecuadorian calendar

Corpus Christi is a Catholic celebration falling 60 days after Easter, which has been fused with traditional Incan sun festivals. Head to Salasaca or Pujilí to see masked dancers, wonderful costumes and people scaling 10m high poles to reach prizes at the top.
The Sun Party! Inti Raymi, the festival of the sun and harvest, is one of the most important indigenous festivals. Rituals are carried out at springs and waterfalls during the summer solstice, for spiritual purification and strengthening of the relationship with Pachamama – the Incan Mother Earth.

Did you know about...?


The Mama Negra festival Latacunga’s biggest festival is Mama Negra in early November. Thought to be a reference to slavery, with Spanish, indigenous and African influences, the “Mama” is a blacked up man dressed as a woman, accompanied by colourful, cultural characters and plenty of strong alcohol.
Photo credits: [Corpus Christi festival: Ryan Kellett] [Mama Negra: jose pereira]
Written by Vicki Brown
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