Ecuador´s hiking and climbing season lasts all year round. Thanks to its location right on the equator, the sun is up for 12 hours a day, 365 days a year! This does not mean that the climate is the same every day and in every region. The country has a huge variety in weather types, influenced by elevation, trade winds and ocean currents.
In the Andean highlands, a popular saying is that the four seasons meet in one single day. Feel spring in the morning´s bright blue sky, experience summer temperatures around noon, bring your umbrella for autumn showers in the afternoon, and prepare for a cold winter night. This is one of the reasons to start our hiking and climbing days early in the morning.
The average day temperatures in the mountains vary according to the altitude and to the amount of sun (the equatorial sun is very intense). In the foothills, between 2000 and 3200 m. you can expect temperatures from 12 – 20°C. In the moorlands between 3500 and 4800 m. the average is 0 – 12°C, and above 4800 the temperatures will drop below zero.
In the eastern mountain range (including Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Antisana, Altar) the driest months are October until February, and the wettest months are June to August. The western mountains (Chimborazo, Ilinizas, Carihuairazo), have two dry seasons, from June to September, and from December to late January. The rainy season is from February to May, with the highest average precipitation in April.
Be aware that these are only general patterns. Not any year is the same to another, and even within one mountain range there are many microclimates. Hikers in the Andes always should come prepared for any type of weather: including strong sun, wind, mist, rain, hail and (at higher altitudes) snow.
The cloud forest on the outer slopes has similar dry and rainy seasons, though all over it has much more humidity and rainfall compared to the highlands. In the cloud forest you can enjoy very clear blue skies in the morning, and clouds covering the forest in the afternoon. The average day temperatures are 18 – 25°C.
Rain is the essential weather element in the Amazon Basin – this is why it is called rainforest and why it has the most abundant plant life in the world! Typically, sunshine and rain alternate. The rain showers can be very heavy but usually do not last all day long. March to June are the wettest months, while the dry season (meaning less precipitation) is from July through December. The average day temperature is 25 – 30°C. The rainforest is hot and humid, so always bring enough spare clothing of fast drying materials.
The tropical climate of the Pacific Coast is influenced by ocean currents. The El Niño current is active from January to May. This is the wet season with high temperatures (average 26°C – 30°C) and tropical rain showers. From June to December, the Humboldt current brings a bit cooler weather (average 22°C – 25°C). It is more overcast, with some garua (a mix of drizzle and mist).
The Galapagos Islands have a relatively mild and dry climate. The warmest months are from December to June, with average day temperatures of 26°C – 30°C) and occasional rain showers. This time of the year is best for snorkeling, with higher water temperatures and better visibility. From July to November is the dry season, average 21°C – 27°C. In this season the water temperatures are lower and the ocean is rougher.