Ecuador perfectly illustrates South America’s geographic and atmospheric diversity.

With its varied ecosystems, Ecuador experiences only two major seasons: wet season running from October to May and dry season, which takes place between June and September. This means it enjoys relatively steady and moderate weather (22 Celsius) throughout the year, and deciding when to visit will mostly depend on what it is you want to do while you're there.

Nevertheless, Ecuador’s contrasting regions (Serranía, Coast, Amazon rainforest and the Galápagos archipelago) do experience some ebb and flow of seasonal change and climate zones. After all, the country sits right on the equator, leaving half its territory in the northern hemisphere and the other half in the south.

Here’s our guide for the best times to visit Ecuador

Ready to travel to Ecuador? Here are the things you should know before you go

Diver viewing a green sea turtle, Galapagos Islands.
Underwater visibility in the Galápagos Islands is best between December and February © Michele Westmorland / Getty Images

December to February is the best time for coastal fun

From December to February, days on the Pacific Coast and the Galápagos Islands are generally warm, with occasional but tame rain and the best underwater visibility for those booking snorkeling or scuba diving trips. 

This time of the year is also ideal for wildlife enthusiasts hoping to spot courtship rituals and newborns, as the hatching, breeding and nesting season of species such as giant tortoises, birds and sea lions take place in the Galápagos.

On the Pacific shoreline, daring wave riders benefit from winter storms in the North and the west swells making their way south, bringing optimal surfing conditions.

Meanwhile, the weather varies from chill to moderately cold in the Andean region, and the Oriente experiences relative dryness. Though rain is constant all year round in the Amazon rainforest, during this time of the year visitors are less likely to get soaked under pouring rain and will find it easier to explore the trails. 

In recent years, however, due to changing climate conditions, the lack of rain has started to disrupt water transportation, which is the only means available to reach many reserves and communities. 

With festivities like Christmas, New Year and Carnaval as well as school breaks taking place on the Ecuadorian coast, December, January and February are high tourist months. 

Prices are slightly higher and accommodation is hard to secure on major holidays, so planning ahead of time is recommended if you want to visit at this time. But don’t fret. The difference between other seasons is not too substantial and won’t dramatically affect your budget. 

Planning to travel around Ecuador? Here's our guide to transportation

March to May is ideal for a rainy Amazon getaway

During March to May, good conditions continue on the Coast and the Galápagos archipelago for surfing and underwater activities. On the islands, spotting albatrosses, iguanas, tortoises and blue-footed boobies will be an everyday occurrence as they arrive for hatching season. Keep your eyes peeled for the blue-footed boobies’ mating dance, which occurs in May. 

Rain takes over the highlands as early as the last days of February until early May. Ecuadorians live by the Spanish saying "Abril aguas mil" (in April, thousand waters) during April, which is the rainiest month of the year and generally coincides with Holy Week celebrations — though the rain never stops devotion, and religious demonstrations will take place regardless. 

The Amazon rainforest also experiences rain, bringing out a particularly luscious and verdant landscape, better navigation conditions and higher chances of spotting animals that thrive in rainy weather. 

This is the best time of the year to see flora and fauna, including some birds that hide during the dry season to avoid the heat. You will, however, need to pack sturdy rubber boots, a raincoat and insect repellent in your travel essentials.

Flight and accommodation prices will fluctuate during this period as important holidays unfold throughout April and May. Holy Week, Labor Day (May 1) and the anniversary of the Battle of Pichincha (May 24), which are observed nationwide, will encourage tourism, bringing prices up and making it hard to find accommodation. Book hotels in advance if you plan to stay in the Coastal region, where Ecuadorians flock during this season.

Visiting the Ecuadorian Amazon? Here's our planning guide

A group of hikers follow a path through a hilly region heading towards a volcanic peak
Conditions in Ecuador's highlands are ideal for hiking in the summer months © SL_Photography / Getty Images

Unveil the wonders of the highlands from June to September

Benefiting from sunny days and summer breaks in the Andean region, the Ecuadorian highlands thrive from June to September. Clear skies, good weather conditions and a slew of cultural activities make this period a favorite for national and foreign tourists. 

Though increased tourist activity naturally leads to higher prices, hiking trips to some of the most beautiful Andean mountains and colorful traditional festivals will justify the slightly higher prices. Make sure you book your tickets and plan well in advance if you aim to visit Ecuador at this time of the year.

In June, the central and northern highlands put their best foot forward for their traditional and religious festivals. Pujilí, a town in Chimborazo, celebrates Corpus Christi the first week of June with big parades, where the danzante (the dancer) — a traditional figure carrying a large, adorned headpiece — dances to the rhythm of the bombo (bass drum) and pingullo (a traditional Andean flute). 

Inti Raymi, celebrating the summer solstice, follows, with the most prominent fêtes taking place in Peguche, Otavalo and other towns in Imbabura. In August, Indigenous people in the northern highlands celebrate Fiesta del Yamor to express their gratefulness to Pachamama (Mother Earth) for the harvest season.

In September, places like Latacunga and Zámbiza, a rural community in Quito, honor the Virgin of Mercy and Saint Michael the Archangel, respectively, with gatherings that mix Indigenous culture and Catholic devotion.

But it's not only the highlands that teem with activity. Adventure-loving tourists can enjoy the arrival of humpback whales to the Ecuadorian coast starting June through September. Droves of these majestic animals arrive in the waters of Puerto López in Manabí every year for the breeding season. Whales stay as they give birth to their calves and mate again, guaranteeing their return for the next year.

Make the most of your time in Ecuador with this guide to the best places to visit

October and November are the best months for off-peak travel

Because of the transition between seasons, the Amazon region has a less predictable weather pattern in October and November. This is shoulder season and an ideal time for exploring the rainforest and avoiding heavier rain and flooding.

The Coast and Galápagos Islands might experience light morning mists and drizzle during this season, which signals the arrival of warmer days.

Temperatures start to drop in the highlands, bringing gentle rain and slighter chillier nights. In October, people in the region prepare for the Lash of St Francis (el Cordonazo de San Francisco) — northern winds expected to bring heavy squalls on Saint Francis Day (October 4).

Though precipitation might bring a few challenges, this is still a good time for hikers and tourists with an exploring agenda. It's a relatively low season compared to other times of the year. Flight tickets won’t be gasp-inducingly cheap, but prices will certainly reduce and accommodation will be easily available.

However, watch out for November, as Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead) on November 2 and Cuenca’s Independence celebrations on November 3 are commemorated with long weekend holidays that prompt travel throughout the country.

This article was first published Nov 26, 2021 and updated Jun 6, 2024.

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