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Although Ecuador is only small, it is home to wildly different environments and ecosystems. Due to this, high and low seasons are varied depending on which part of the country you choose to visit. There are perks to visiting in each month of the year, meaning that Ecuador is an exciting destination in each season.
Ecuador consists of three main geographical regions: the Pacific coastal region in the west - the Costa; the volcanic & mountainous highlands running down the centre - the Sierra; and the tropical rainforests in the east - the Oriente. The incredibly diverse regions of Ecuador mean that visiting at any time of year has its perks. There is a vast array of wildlife to be seen with every visit, it just depends on what you want to seek out and discover.
In general, December through to May is the best time for Pacific coast beaches and the Galápagos Islands. This is the rainy season, however the seas become warmer and clearer during this time and plenty of marine life is in full show. June to September are the most favourable months for Quito and trekking in the sun-blessed Andes. For cruises down the Río Napo, exploring the Amazon and Mindo's cloud forests, you can pretty much expect rain throughout the year but the driest time begins in August and ends in November.
Whenever you choose to visit Ecuador, there are outstanding experiences to be had both on the mainland and on the Galápagos Archipelago. It's a year-round destination. Read our monthly guide below for detailed experiences to be had with each month, and contact our specialists for a tailor-made itinerary suited to your ideals.
In the Galápagos Islands, the seas are calmer and clear and high season is in full swing due to incredible wildlife viewing and the coincidence with school holidays. Green turtles are visiting the islands to lay their eggs, and Española Island hosts a bright array of colourful marine iguanas during their mating season. If visiting at the beginning of the month, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the last remaining waved albatross before they migrate onwards. Temperatures range from 18ºC - 28ºC and rainfall is at its annual highest at 178mm over the course of the month and sea temperatures are around 24ºC.
Ecuador's central mountain range during January experiences scattered showers, and the unpredictable weather means that trekking routes aren't guaranteed to be clear. The temperatures can range from 3ºC - 21ºC and rainfall averages 121mm monthly. Nonetheless, exploring Quito's beautiful historic centre and the markets in Otavalo are still incredibly rewarding and well worth a visit.
The Amazon rainforest and Yasuní National Park is the warmest and driest in January which makes it a fantastic time to tailor in a visit to the tropics alongside a Galápagos cruise. The exposed river banks and accessible footpaths mean that it's a great time to stay in a lodge as opposed to a boat. The temperatures range from 19ºC - 29ºC and rainfall is at its lowest, yet still frequent, at 273mm.
February is a great month for observing all different kinds of species on the Galápagos Islands. For birders this is a fantastic chance to see the greater flamingo nesting on Floreana Island and for those who want to see penguins, be sure to visit the western side of the archipelago as they head to the cooler waters around Isabela and Fernandina as the Humboldt current brings water packed with nutrients from the Antarctic. In Feburary the weather in the Galápagos is warm and slightly less rainy than January. Temperatures range from 19ºC - 30ºC and the average rainfall is 146mm, whilst sea temperatures hover around 22ºC.
Over in the highland regions of Ecuador, days are cooler and wetter. Temperatures can range all the way from 3ºC - 20ºC and rainfall averages at 143mm over the course of the month. This is the month of Carnaval in the last few days before Ash Wednesday, which is celebrated in the form of colourful and chaotic water fights.
February is the last month of the Amazon's drier season. Temperatures can range from 18ºC - 28ºC and rainfall nonetheless averages at 258mm, the beginning of the month is significantly drier and towards the end of February, rain starts to increase.
March is the peak of the rainy season in Galápagos when weather remains warm and wet, from 18ºC to 31ºC and rainfall averages 170mm over the course of the month. If you head to Galápagos at the end of the month, you'll be greeted by less rain. A major perk of visiting Galápagos in March is the return of the waved albatross on Española Island later on in the month. Asides from these beautiful birds, March is a great month for seeing nesting birds and animals as well as snorkelling in clear waters frequented by penguins in the west. However, due to sea-surges diving is not advised at this time of year. The average sea temperature is 25ºC in March.
Cooler and wet weather in the highlands doesn't stop the celebrations in late March of Semana Santa, or Holy Week. Religious precessions take place throughout the country and the Good Friday procession in Quito with hooded, purple-robed penitents is definitely worth staying for. Weather conditions range from 3ºC - 20ºC and average monthly rainfall is 158mm.
It's the beginning of the rainy season in the rainforest, yet temperatures remain pleasant and warm at 18ºC - 28ºC and although rainfall rises to 370mm it's still an enjoyable time to visit. Take to the rainforest by boat, and enjoy the treetop canopies within reach around Yasuní Parque Nacional or paddle by canoe in Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve to see the caiman up close.
April is when the rainy season draws to a close in the Galápagos Islands. It is also one of the best months to visit Galápagos if you're planning on avoiding the busy high seasons. The weather in April is lovely and warm with plenty of sunshine and less rainfall than March, ranging from 19ºC - 30ºC and the rainfall drops to 156mm. Giant tortoise hatching is drawing to a close in April, turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea from the nest at this time of year, and land iguana hatchlings are often spotted across the islands with large predatory birds hovering overhead.
April is the peak of the highland's rainy season. Trekking is unadvisable at this time as temperatures can drop drastically at high altitudes and vistas obscured by cloudy skies. Temperatures range from 4ºC to 20ºC and rainfall averages 174mm. That said, it is still a brilliant time to visit towns and enjoy bustling centres and markets around Easter time.
Rainfall increases in the Amazon during April to 451mm and temperatures remain the same - ranging from 18ºC to 28ºC. The rainy season has its pros, as plants begin to fruit and flower which attracts birds and primates to the water's edge and grants visitors the chance to observe them frequently.
May is one of the best times for visiting the Galápagos at the end of the high season when the weather is drier and the seas remain calm and clear. The islands are verdant in colour following the annual rains. Temperatures range from 18ºC - 28ºC in May and rainfall decreases to just 79mm. Watch the blue footed booby perform their courtship dance, and visit in time for the waved albatross who will begin to lay eggs. This is a great time to try and incorporate your visit with the highlands which are also becoming gradually warmer and dry.
May in the highlands is pleasant with scattered afternoon showers. Temperatures range from 4ºC to 20ºC and rainfall drops slightly to 128mm. Although weather is not yet guaranteed, this is a brilliant time to enjoy highland destinations without any crowds.
This is one of the wettest months in the Amazon, and temperatures range from 19ºC - 30ºC. May is still a brilliant time to visit nonetheless, as rain will be frequent on every visit. The higher water levels will bring the canopy down to eye-level, and with this comes swinging monkeys enjoying abundant fruits.
June is the beginning of the peak season in the highlands, where skies clear and trekking routes are exposed with wonderful vistas. If visiting Cotopaxi National Park - now's your time! Climate remains cool in the evenings with lows of 3ºC and pleasant during the day, averaging 20ºC. The colourful celebration of Inti Raymi occurs at the summer solstice and festivities are best experienced in Otavalo.
Galápagos can still be thoroughly enjoyed in June, as the seas are still warm and daily average temperatures begin to cool for those who are less tolerant of the equator's heat. Temperatures range from 17ºC to 27ºC and sea temperatures remain warm at 26ºC. However, it's worth noting that this is the beginning of the Garúa season which brings overcast skies at times. The Garúa season runs from June to December.
The Amazon stays waterlogged in June, yet there's nothing stopping you from a cruise down winding waterways and enjoying the canopies at eye-level.
This is the perfect time of year for trekking the Quilotoa loop or checking out Cotopaxi National Park. Weather around Quito and Ecuador's highlands is incredibly favourable in July, however peak season means that accommodation may get booked up quickly. This month has the least amount of rainfall at just 30mm, and daily highs of 20ºC are joined by chilly evenings so be sure to bring suitable gear, plenty of layers and suncream.
July in the Galápagos is significantly cooler than the months before. It's great for those who don't want to travel in the heat, or indeed the wet. The skies are still clear, yet seas to become rougher and winds stronger too. However, there are still huge perks to visiting in July. Due to cooler temperatures in the sea, spotting whales to the south and west of Isabela Island is more likely. Additionally, the waved albatross is nesting around July, and this is not something that can be observed year round. This is an active month for birding in Galápagos.
Rainfall begins to decrease in July in the Amazon. Temperatures remain around 18ºC - 27ºC, and this is a fabulous time to see the thickets in full colour with less frequent showers.
Tie in a trip to Ecuador's highlands with an Amazon Rainforest excursion and Galápagos cruise in August. Cloudless, bright days around the Andes make way for stunning vistas, and the weather is as pleasant as it gets all year. Daily temperatures average around 20ºC and monthly rainfall remains low at 32mm. The clear weather does mean that nights can be bitterly cold, but be sure to wrap up and enjoy an expansive star-lit sky.
August is when Ecuador's coastline is met with the garúa - a fog which will linger for the next few months. Despite this, the Galápagos remain dry with pleasant temperatures around 21ºC. Many visitors still flock to the islands to see the wildlife successfully at this time of year. August is birthing season for both Californian sea lions as well as Galápagos fur seals, with pups present it's important to take extra care observing and interacting with the animals. Additionally, the waved albatross nests on Española Island with newly born chicks around.
Over in the Amazon, rainfall is down. This is still the beginning of the drier season in the Yasuní National Park and in the cloud forests of Mindo, meaning that visitors can observe birds sunning themselves on the treetops from canopy walkways and the fruiting trees attract diverse visitors.
Clear weather and sunny skies are joined by plenty of fiestas in Ecuador's highlands in September. Climb up to enjoy one of many viewpoints in Quito, take the TelefériQo up Pichincha, and enjoy Cotopaxi National Park's volcanic vistas with cloudless skies. Be sure to factor in your visit with the Fiesta del Yamor - a Kichwa harvest festival that takes place in Otavalo this month, and at the end of the month Fiesta de la Mamá Negra in Latacunga - celebrating the coming together of Catholic, indigenous and African cultures. This is the highlands at their brightest.
September is one of the coolest months in the Galápagos, and the sea is relatively cold at 22ºC. This month has a low rainfall and higher winds so although you won't be getting wet, make sure to bring layers for sitting out on deck. The wildlife highlights in September include seeing dolphins and whales around the islands - this is the final month for seeing humpbacks before they migrate to cooler seas. Sea lions and fur seals are active during this time, as males fight along the seafront over mating partners and seeing pups of both species is also likely. Sea birds such as blue footed boobies and waved albatross are nesting, and when snorkelling around the islands you'll likely be greeted by Humboldt penguins darting around the cool currents.
In the Amazon and Yasuní, this is the perfect time to explore the jungle on pathways which are gradually drying up. Birding can be really enjoyable at this time of year as the exposed banks mean that nests are more visible.
October is in Ecuador's shoulder season. Weather remains good in the highlands in Ecuador, with a few more overcast days and scattered showers. This is a great time to beat the crowds and get good prices on accommodation. It's still a fantastic time to trek, however be sure to bring waterproofs in case of downpours. This is an exhilarating time to enjoy outdoor activities in Baños, before the mainland showers set in. Temperatures neither get as hot, or as cold with daily highs of 20ºC and night time lows of 8ºC.
The misty skies in the Galápagos in October mean dramatic sunrises and the water clarity is reduced due to nutrient rich currents bringing with them an abundance of marine life. October is far less busy than the months prior. At this time of year snorkelling in the is incredibly rewarding, with waters frequented by sea lion and fur seal pups, as well as Humboldt penguins. On land, this is a special time to see blue footed booby chicks being hatched, and this is also an important month for lava herons. The sea temperatures are rising at 22ºC, and daily temperatures outside are also at a pleasant 25ºC.
The Amazon Rainforest remains great for land-based jungle trips in October, and due to the bimodal seasonality of Yasuní, the national park is entering into another wetter period. Stay in a luxury lodge instead of a houseboat, and spot an abundance of colourful wildlife from there.
Expect pleasant weather in the Galápagos in November with highs of 26ºC, and it is still considered the dry season. The sea temperatures are beginning to rise from 23ºC upwards. Sea lion pups born in August are getting used to playing in the waters and have increased confidence at this time of year, enjoying interactions with snorkellers. This is a once in a lifetime experience. Additionally it's breeding season for some birdlife, such as the brown noddy tern breeds and the band-rumped storm petrel. The blue footed booby, red footed booby and Nazca booby are all nesting in November, along with frigate birds and flamingos.
November in the highlands is when rain can be expected. Visiting Baños south of Quito to enjoy waterfalls beginning to increase in volume, or the hotsprings at Papallacta can be a fantastic way to enjoy the mainland. Daily temperatures average at 20ºC, and rain is as frequent as sunshine. Visiting at the beginning of the month and venturing down to Guayaquil and exploring Cuenca is also fantastic as the Independence of Cuenca take place in colour and commemoration.
November marks the beginning of the wet season in the Amazon Rainforest, however pathways are still relatively dry so this is a great time to make the most of jungle paths before they become waterlogged.
December is a drier month in the Amazon, it's a great time to tie in the rainforest with a Galápagos cruise as the seas become clearer and calm. This is the transition period between the cooler dry season and the warm wet season in the Galápagos, meaning that visitors will experience a range of different weather conditions. Rain is less frequent and temperatures rise to 24ºC with the sea similar to the air at 23ºC. At this time of year giant tortoise eggs start to hatch on Isabela Island, and it is mating season for the Pacific green turtles. Marine iguanas are colourful at this time of year, as they brighten up to try and attract mates. This is the last time of year that visitors can see the waved albatross before their migration in late December. Watch the chicks on Española Island test their wings for take off.
The Andes and Ecuador's sierra regions are increasingly waterlogged in December. Despite this, plentiful festivities around Christmas and the New Year compensate for overcast skies, including the Fiestas de Quito which is a week long party around the 6th December and the Fiesta de Baños on around the 16th with fireworks, parades and music under the Tungurahua volcano.
This is a fabulous time to experience the Amazon Rainforest by boat or land-based accommodation. The jungle is verdant following rains, and December has some of the least amount of downpours.