At a glance
There is no perfect time of year to to to Ecuador. The weather is so changeable over the course of the year that you can go at any time; it's just a question of luck! The country has two main seasons
, a wet season and dry season, which vary according to region. The ocean currents around the Pacific coast and the Galapagos islands mean that they have similar climates: hot and humid from April to June, more agreeable from June to December. The Amazon is very humid
all year round, whereas one can tour the Andes whenever one likes, the climate there being more bearable and the heat a little less tropical.
Wildlife in Ecuador
Go to see the wonder Ecuadorian animals that live peacefully in the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands. Birdwatching is one of the flagship activities of Ecuador. Over 400 species are found in the area, making it an ornithologists' paradise. You'll come across various iguanas in the Galapagos Islands, as well as other creatures, such as sea lions. Why not spy on wild animals from a lodge in the Amazon jungle? Avoid the months of January to May, when it's too hot in the Galapagos. And if possible choose October and November to visit the Amazon!
The coastal plains
The part of the country bordering the Pacific Ocean is best visited from May to December, during the dry season. The seaside resorts and gorgeous little indian villages are more enjoyable at this time than during the rainy season, which runs from January to April. You can spend the time relaxing, partying, visiting the superb mangrove swamps or trying the delicious local Ecuadorian cuisine. Sporty types can go surfing whilst the explorers in the party head off to see some birds.
A holiday for thrill seekers!
You're spoilt for choice as far as thrills go. You can go on zip-wires high up in the Mindo cloud-forest or go whitewater rafting, in particular at Tena in the Oriente region of the Amazon. You can also go down the slopes of Chimborazo on a mountain bike. Obviously, it's possible to go surfing all along the coast of Ecuador as well as on the Galapagos Islands. Avoid the period from December to May so as to avoid having to do these activities in the rain or even finding them cancelled altogether! Choose the rest of the year, in particular October and November, to visit the Amazon forest.
The Galapagos Islands
It was the Galapagos archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The islands are still home to some indigenous tribes, who are prospering these days thanks to the tourist industry. You will have the opportunity to try lots of outdoor sports here: surfing, snorkelling, kayaking, cycling and diving for example. The best time to go hiking is from June to August, since it's cooler than the rest of the year. Tourists usually prefer these two months but you can also go at any other time of year. Whenever you choose, respect the natural environment in the same way as the local population, some of the few people in the world who still do these days.
There's really no bad time to visit the Andes: the climate is almost always temperate. So you can visit Quito, a wonderful Spanish colonial town
, all year round. Don't miss the lively streets in the Centro Historico, or "La Ronda", which is the best area to party! In this superb part of the country it's like spring all year round. You can go horse riding trips and seek out rare and magnificent birds. You mustn't miss the Indian artisans market at Otavalo either.
The Ecuadorian Amazon
The Amazon is the wettest region in the country, with very high humidity in June and July. The tropical climate is difficult to bear for most of the year. Choose the months of October and November to visit this part of Ecuador. At this time of year the climate is bearable so you can make the most of your trip and see lots of animals in the Amazon
, such as pygmy marmosets, the smallest monkeys in the world! You'll also come across giant otters and tapirs. The weather is equally bearable in December and January but this is also the busiest tourist period, so avoid it if you don't like being surrounded by crowds!
Festivals and celebrations in Ecuador
Most Ecuadorian festivals are worth making a detour to see,
especially those in the Sierra. Each town and village has its own celebrations, with fireworks, drinking, music and dancing. In September there's a two-week festival in Otavalo to celebrate the autumn harvest. The Fiestas de Quito are held over a few days leading up to the 6th of December, the anniversary of the foundation of Quito, with many concerts, beauty queens, flamenco dancing, bullfighting and huge parties. At the end of February, in Ambato, processions and parades are held during the Fiesta de Frutas y Flores, the fruit and flower festival. So make sure to go on these dates: fantastic carnival atmosphere guaranteed!