Weather in Ecuador: A Short Summary
Before we travel somewhere new, it is always helpful to know a little about the place we will be visiting. What language do they speak? What’s their currency? What are their most important holidays? What local traditions and events should I not miss out on? But perhaps the most important question of all is: what’s the weather like? If you have not booked your trip yet, then knowing the best seasons to travel to a country can make a huge difference in the travel experience. In the case of Ecuador – with it being a “season-less” country – it’s not all that big of an issue knowing when to book. This pretty much means that people can comfortably visit the country throughout the year. The only difference that does exist between weather patterns in Ecuador is between the dry and rainy patterns. Either way, it’s a guarantee that you’ll get to enjoy amazing landscapes that are full of vegetation and change radically with altitude. Wildlife in the Galapagos and the rest of the country go about their business uninterrupted. Weather in Ecuador doesn’t vary all that much throughout the year – though it does change from region to region – and the sun sets at the same time every day, all year long.
Ecuador’s Location on the Equator
Ecuador is favourably located right on the planet’s belly. The equatorial line that divides the planet into northern and southern hemisphere goes right through Ecuador and is a mere 24 km (15 miles) away from the capital of Quito. If you are on your way to the Galapagos, make sure to stay at Quito’s Casa Gangotena for a couple of nights. It’s located right at the heart of the old town and will give you the chance to visit the surrounding and renowned colonial neighbourhood which is a World Heritage site. Day trips are also offered on a daily basis to visit the Mitad del Mundo monument (Middle of the World monument). Make sure you take the classic photo with one feet on each hemisphere! You will not get many chances to stand on two hemispheres at once!
Weather in Ecuador: Unpredictable
Because Ecuador is on the equator, its weather is not divided into four seasons like the rest of the world found outside of the tropics. Some websites might give information saying Ecuador has a dry season and a rainy season, but the truth is that due to the lack of winds (which are sometimes non-existent and other times appear out of nowhere), the weather in Ecuador is totally unpredictable. Additionally, because the Andes mountains cut across Ecuador vertically like a spine, the temperatures change dramatically when going from the highlands to the coastline and the rainforest.
A Little Drier
Every year there is something akin to a dry season that coincides with the northern hemisphere’s summer and usually lasts from June to August. After August, showers start happening sporadically all the way up to the months of November and December. The dry period experiences almost no rain while seeing an increase in temperatures throughout the highlands. The coast and rainforest feel a little fresher and slightly less humid. But when we say this, you must keep in mind that Ecuador has tropical weather. Consequently, heat and humidity are the rule in lower altitudes.
The rainy season is characterized by sunny mornings, rainy afternoons and cooler temperatures in the highlands and usually lasts from December to May. The coast experiences an increase in temperature and humidity levels. When the El Niño phenomenon happens, which is also quite unpredictable, rains can be more copious and recurrent. They can also be seen throughout the country. In any case, the rule for weather in Ecuador is as follows: complete unpredictability. Just ask any quiteño (the name for people from Quito) how they would describe the typical day in Quito weather-wise, and you’ll find that it’s impossible for them to narrow it down to something predictable.
The Galapagos are an Exception
Unlike the rest of the country, the Galapagos do have two clearly defined weather patterns: the dry season and the hot season. The dry season usually starts during the month of June and lasts throughout the following five to six months. It is marked by the arrival of the colder Humboldt Current that comes in bearing nutrient-filled waters and lower land and water temperatures. Even though marine life is more abundant during this period, wildlife in the Galapagos can be seen all year long.
From December to May, the archipelago goes through its hot season. The water temperature increases, which makes for a more comfortable swim and a rise in tropical fish population that comes as a result of the warmer sea currents. The winds also bring tropical showers that change the island’s vegetation from a brownish hue to a green and vibrant one.
No matter when you decide to visit, you will find the archipelago wildlife and famous Big15 are around all year long, so make sure you book your trip through a Galapagos cruise, to make the most of this one-in-a-life-time experience!
What to Pack?
You do not need to bring a winter jacket unless you are planning on climbing Cotopaxi volcano. In the highlands, you will find that it feels nice and warm in the morning and during the early afternoon. Temperatures tend to fall a little at night, but a sweater and jacket should be enough. On the coast and in the Galapagos archipelago, you will only need summer clothes: shorts, t-shirts, sandals, a hat and a light jacket for evening, when it gets slightly breezier. Given the unpredictable nature of weather patterns, it’s always a good idea to bring a rain coat and comfortable walking shoes to enjoy the amazing hikes in the Galapagos, the highlands or the cloud forest. Remember to wear a hat and sunscreen at all times since the sun over the equator is stronger and tans the skin faster than you may think.
Nathalie Moeller is of Ecuadorian and German descent. As a child she spent her summers in the Galapagos Islands, where her mother grew up, and from a very young age learned to love the beauty and uniqueness of the archipelago. She studied Journalism and Humanities in Barcelona, after living in Madrid and Germany for a couple of years. This gave her a culturally broader view of the world, which is reflected in everything she does. Blogging gives her the opportunity to combine her passion for travelling and writing.