04 Oct How is the weather in Ecuador and when should I go?
Everything there is to know about the weather in Ecuador
If you are planning a vacation to Ecuador you obviously want the best possible experience. The weather plays a very important role in that. Not only do you want to know what weather you can expect during your trip to Ecuador. Also, you want to make sure you’ll go at the best time of the year. This article explains Ecuador’s weather and its different climates. Both through its regions as well as through the year.
4 regions and 3 climates in 1 country
When it comes to weather and climate, Ecuador is an extraordinary place. The strong sun at the equator, the altitude from the Andes and the humidity from the Amazon are a mixture making both Ecuador’s weather and landscapes more diverse than anywhere else in the world.
Ecuadorians could spend Friday at a subtropical beach, Saturday in the snow, Sunday in the jungle and be back in the office on Monday and all by car.
In the west of Ecuador, you’ll find the Pacific Coast. Here is a subtropical climate. Along the complete coast line are plenty of beaches which have very comfortable warm weather most of the year. Further west, 850 miles into the Pacific Ocean are the Galapagos Islands with a similar climate as that of the Southern Pacific Coast.
East is the Amazon. Here you’ll find the typical weather you’d expect in a tropical jungle. It’s a rainforest which is hot and humid through the year.
Through the center of Ecuador are the highlands of the Andes (Sierra). The altitude of the mountains has a huge cooling effect. The higher you’ll get, the cooler it gets. The tops of Ecuador’s volcanoes (like Cotopaxi) are covered in permanent snow. Quito and Cuenca are around 22 ˚C, while the at the low altitude areas of the Sierra (like Mindo) day temperatures are around 27˚C.
Ecuador’s 2 seasons: Wet and Dry
Due to Ecuador’s position right at the equator, the weather is rather stable year-round. No matter when you’ll go, you’ll enjoy 12 hours of daylight each day. In fact, the regions’ climates (as discussed above) have more impact on the weather than the time of the year. Nevertheless, the country still has two main seasons: dry (from June to September) and wet (from October to May).
Wet season (from October to May)
Don’t let the season names fool you! The humidity comes with heath (30 ˚C at the beaches) and some rain now and then is actually quite nice. In fact, this is when the people from the southern coastal area prefer to go to the beach the most.
In the Andean highlands, the effect of the humidity is quite the opposite from the southern coastal area. Here, the wet seasons feels colder due to more clouds and rain, while the absolute temperature is pretty much the same (as indicated in the regions section above).
The Ecuadorian Amazon is a rain forest, so it’s hot and humid year-round (around 28 ˚C). Although the intensity of rain increases a bit during wet season.
Dry season (from June to September)
During dry season, the temperature at the southern Pacific Coast as well as at the Galapagos Islands go down (24˚C during the day). While at the northern beaches, it remains warmer (around 28˚C).
In the Andean highlands (Sierra) it becomes sunnier and therefore it feels warmer during this season. The combination of dry air, high altitude and a strong sun makes this season very enjoyable. It’s not too hot and not too cold. The Quiteños (locals from Quito), consider this their summer. Even though it may not feel extremely hot, the sun is still incredibly strong and you need to protect yourself well.
The timing of the Amazon dry season is a little bit different (see month split below). However, In the rainforest ‘dry season’, is more like a ‘little less wet season’.
So, which season has the best weather for a vacation to Ecuador? Wet or dry?
Well, the answer is not as obvious as for most holiday destinations. It depends on your plans. So, let’s break it down a bit further.
January – February – March – April
The first four months of the year fall at the height of the wet season.
The higher humidity is especially felt at the Coast, with air temperatures of 30˚C and seawater temperature also high in its twenties. A strong sun, higher waves and nicely cooling summerly rains every now and then.
The weather at this time of the year is ideal for surfing, swimming in the ocean and sunbathing. Going further south along the coast line (in the direction of Peru), the weather will become more arid. This can be enticing for those who don’t like the heat that comes with humidity.
Andean Highlands (Sierra)
Here, the altitude plays a large role in the weather you can expect. Higher means colder. The highest volcanoes always have their tops covered in snow, so also in this time of the year.
At the higher places (Quito, Tulcán, Cuenca), you can expect moderate rain during the afternoons and temperatures of 22 ˚C during the day and 9 ˚C during the night.
When you decent to places at lower altitude, the temperature rises. At places like Ambato, Ibarra and Loja, you can expect temperatures of 24˚C during the day and 11 ˚C at night. While in Mindo 27˚C and 15˚C. While you decent, also the rain intensifies.
The Ecuadorian Amazon
The weather in the Amazon is humid and warm year-round. Temperatures are consistently around 28˚C during the day and 18˚C at night. March and April are a bit more wet. This increases the rapids in the rivers and could reduce the accessibility of parts of the jungle, but not to the level that you should avoid this season.
The weather in the Galapagos is akin to that of Ecuador’s southern coastal line. Temperatures are in this time of the year the highest going up to 30 ˚C during the day. The water is warm and this is also the surfing high season due to the higher waives.
May – June – July – August
This time of the year is the transition from wet to dry season. Generally, this change occurs in June and July.
The weather at the coast will change from humid to drier. At the southern coast, this means that it cools down a little, making visits to cities like Guayaquil, Manta or Portoviejo more comfortable. However, temperatures at the beaches at the southern coast go down as well. Temperatures in May can still be around 28˚C, while in August it has dropped to 24˚C. Nevertheless, in the months with the lowest air temperature, the oceans is at it warmest. This attracts whales, because it’s more comfortable for its calves. Making June – September the whale-watch high season at the southern coast.
The northern beaches like Esmeraldas and Atacames are still perfect for sunbathing. The weather is sunny and hot with temperature of 29˚C during the day and 25˚C at night.
Andean Highlands (Sierra)
The highlands experience the most enjoyable months of the year. During the months of June and July, the region transitions into what the locals call “summer”, for its likeness to the summers in places more far from the equator. Summer in the Ecuadorian Highlands means warmer, sunnier days with close to no rainfall. Places like Quito, Baños and Otavalo are very enjoyable in this time of the year. Also hikes around Quilotoa or mountain biking at the Cotopaxi is most enjoyable at this time of the year.
The Ecuadorian Amazon
May, June, July are the wettest in the Amazon. However, this decreases considerable in August until February. But it remains a rain forest all year-round. The dry season can make hiking, fishing and rafting a bit easier. However, it’s still possible during wet season. Your guide is just going to be a more careful when picking routes. Also, if you decide to go by car to Tena roads are virtually never closed due to excessive rain. While during the rainier months, it’s good to keep an eye on local weather forecasts and warnings.
The dry season at the Galapagos Islands is very much alike that of the southern pacific coast. In May and June, it’s still in its higher twenties Celsius. But in July and August it will come down to 24˚C (and 15˚C at night).
This season is great to explore nature. The drier weather makes it easier to spot animals. Just like at the Pacific coast, now is the best time in the year to spot whales.
September – October – November - December
The weather in Ecuador at this time of the year is most unpredictable. During October, the dry season changes into the wet season through the country.
The dry season ends around the end of September, meaning so do the cooler days (24˚C) at the beaches in the south. With the wet season (continuing until May), also the heat comes back to the full coast line. Meaning at the Southern beaches temperatures will start climbing up again. From around 24˚C in September to around 28˚C in November and further up after.
During the dry season, the northern beaches remain hot. Meaning, you can expect around 28˚C whenever you go.
Andean Highlands (Sierra)
In the Sierra, temperatures are rather stable and mainly impacted by its altitude (e.g. Quito 22˚C – 9˚C, lower places are warmer, higher place are cooler). More frequent clouds and rain (during afternoons) make the months of October and November feel the coolest of the year. This mainly impacts places like Quito and Cuenca.
The tops of the volcanoes are always covered in snow. While the cloud-forest of Mindo remains around 24 ˚C – 28 ˚C.
The Ecuadorian Amazon
The dry season started in August and continues to around April. It’s still Humid and warm as you would expect from a rainforest though.
Again, very similar to the Southern Pacific Coast. In September, it’s around 24˚C, because the Galapagos Islands are still in the dry season. After September the wet season starts, accompanied with rising temperatures of around 29˚C in December and at it peaks of around 30˚C in February.
September and October are still part of the whale watching season. While November and December are considered the first months of the surf and sunbath season.
Co-written by: Gabriela Salgado & Bram Weites
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