When to Travel to Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are home to giant sea turtles (Photo: Galapagos-SchildkrÃ¶te image by Rangzen from Fotolia.com )
The South American country of Ecuador may be small, but it features an incredibly diverse range of landscapes that encompass numerous attractions. Tourists considering the best time to travel to Ecuador have to take regional factors into account. Four distinct climatic zones exist in Ecuador, each with its own weather patterns and optimal visiting seasons.
The Ecuadorian city of Quito and the surrounding highlands lie along the Andes Mountains. Winter in the Andes lasts from June through September, featuring cool and dry conditions. Winter temperatures hover around 50 degrees Fahrenheit on average. Summer runs from December to March, bringing on slightly warmer temperatures. Summer coincides with the Andean rainy season, so travelers can expect occasional showers. Altitude plays a major role in influencing the relatively low temperatures in this region. Frommer's recommends the dry season as the best time of year to visit the Andes of Ecuador.
Pacific Coast Region
Ecuador's Pacific Coast rotates between wet and dry seasons. The rainy season spans December through May. High humidity and hot temperatures prevail around this time of year. Surprisingly, the weather is much sunnier during the rainy season, despite the intermittent afternoon showers. Lonely Planet recommends this season as the best time to visit the beach. Cooler air temperatures appear from June to September, attracting whales and dolphins to the waters along the shore. This period constitutes the dry season, but the skies become overcast and it's usually to chilly to swim in the ocean.
The Oriente sprawls to the east, consisting of tropical rainforests and marshy lowlands. It rains year-round in this region, but the precipitation levels are particularly high between December and April. Visitors will experience drier weather from August to November. As such, this is the best time for jungle treks. Temperatures in the Oriente reach upwards of 90 degrees during the day, so be prepared for sweltering conditions.
The Galápagos Islands sit over 500 miles west of mainland Ecuador, but this archipelago still belongs to the country. The dry season in the Galápagos spans June to December. The air and ocean waters are colder around this time of year, and the seas tend to be rough. The rainy season commences in December and continues until May. Conditions are warm and sunny, with light rain showers on most days. Visitors can enjoy Galápagos wildlife viewing year-round, but each season has its draws. Sea tortoise and sea lion nesting occurs in the warm rainy season, whereas albatrosses and penguins follow the Humboldt Current to the archipelago in the cold and dry months.
Peak Tourist Seasons
The peak tourist seasons in Ecuador coincide with North American and European vacation periods. Travelers can expect larger crowds and higher prices for lodging and transportation between June and August as well as December and January. Hotels, flights and tour groups fill up quickly during these months. As such, the Lonely Planet Travel Guide suggests making reservations well in advance for trips around these periods.
Off-Season Budget Travel
Travelers can take advantage of lower prices on goods and services during the off-season months in Ecuador. The periods between February and April as well as September and November constitute the off-season here. Many hotels, restaurants, tour companies and transport operators reduce rates over the off-season. Crowds are minimal, and visitors are likely to find cheaper deals no matter where they go.