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Ecuador-galapagos-medium Ecuador & Galapagos

Four worlds, one tiny country

Just your average volcano walking, cloudforest ogling, Amazon hiking, Galapagos sailing destination. For such a small country, Ecuador certainly packs an awful lot in. There is nowhere else that you can see rich colonial heritage, walk in beautiful mountain wilderness, wander through bustling indigenous markets and experience life in an Amazon community before being bundled out of the way by an advancing giant tortoise. Ecuador wraps all of this incredible diversity in a layer of unaffected South American charm.

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Ecuador & Galapagos at a glance

Capital city

Quito

Famous highlights

Galapagos Islands, Amazon Rainforest, Quito, Cuenca

Hidden gems

Mindo, Otavalo Region, Cotopaxi

Language(s)

Spanish (official)

Food & drink

Ceviche, llapingachos, patacon, canelazo

How far?

15 hours London to Quito (shortest flight time, one stop)

Currency

US Dollar ($)

Timezone

GMT -5

When to go to Ecuador & Galapagos

January weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

In Galapagos and along the coast, this is a showery but also sunny time of year, so a great time to be out on the beaches or the sun deck of a yacht. Bring plenty of sunblock and water with you on walks. The first week of January is peak season so plan well in advance for cruises. This is also the wet season in the Andes, with spring-like weather and some short sharp showers. In the Amazon, January is one of the drier months of the year: showers are likely most days, but they will be relatively short. Temperatures are very hot, easily reaching the low 30s.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 30 22 25 Good
Amazon 32 22 189 Good
Andes 18 8 70 Good
January events in Ecuador & Galapagos

Jan 1-6: The Devil’s Feast of Pillaro

February weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

In the Galapagos Islands, this is a hot month with some showery weather. Winds are very light at this time of year, which means that the water is calm. The water temperatures are at their highest now, which makes it a lovely time to snorkel and swim without a wetsuit. In the Andes, February tends to be the wettest month – you can get away with spending a day or two in Quito but the rest of the highlands are a bit of a write off. In the Amazon, this month sees some of the most sustained rainfall – it is not the rainiest month but it is perhaps the most persistently wet.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 30 24 25 Good
Amazon 32 22 321 Okay
Andes 17 8 100 Okay
February events in Ecuador & Galapagos

Feb 12: Galapagos Province Day
Feb 14: Carnival – Guaranda, Ambato, Esmeraldas

March weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

In the Galapagos, this is the hottest month for air and sea temperatures, with intense sunshine. Another lovely month for swimming and snorkelling. This is also the rainiest month of the year, though it does not rain every day, and much of it tends to fall inland, away from most of the coastal visitor sites. In the Andes, be prepared for sudden heavy downpours in the afternoons, perhaps with some thunder. In the Amazon, this is a lighter month for rainfall.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 31 24 51 Good
Amazon 31 22 246 Good
Andes 17 9 90 Okay
March events in Ecuador & Galapagos

Mar 4: Peach Festival, Gualaceo

April weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

This is one of our favourite months to see the Galapagos Islands. The weather is warm and usually sunny, the sea temperatures warm, the rains have ebbed away a bit, and the landscapes are still green. A wonderful time to see waved albatrosses on Espanola, and the eggs of sea turtles and land iguanas will be hatching. In the Andes, this is the last month of the rainy season. Rainfall is on the way up in the Amazon but the tropical showers are usually short. Bring a poncho with you (as you always should) and head out exploring as the weather should be clear for the rest of the day.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 31 24 38 Best
Amazon 31 22 321 Good
Andes 17 9 70 Good
April events in Ecuador & Galapagos

Apr 21: Battle of Tapi Anniversary

May weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

May is an excellent time to visit the Galapagos and the Andes. In the Galapagos, the weather becomes cooler and drier, though it is still generally sunny and the seas are calm. The blue-footed boobies’ mating dance is one of the big wildlife attractions this month. As the rainfall declines in the Andes May is a lovely time to visit, when the landscapes are green and waterfalls are at their peak. The Amazon sees one of its heaviest months of rainfall in May so expect plenty of showers. With high water levels you will easily be able to explore deeper into the forest’s lakes and rivers by boat.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 28 22 19 Best
Amazon 31 23 354 Good
Andes 17 9 60 Best
May events in Ecuador & Galapagos

24 May: Battle of Pichincha

June weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

Another lovely month in the Galapagos and the Andes. During June, the season shifts as the Humboldt ocean current brings colder water up from the Antarctic. The weather will turn cooler and breezier, and sea temperatures will drop too. The colder current brings more diverse marine life to the Galapagos waters, and you may see leatherback sea turtles and whales at this time of year. This is a lovely time to explore the Andean highlands, with clear weather and little rainfall. In the Amazon, June sees the highest amount of rainfall on average, though this is concentrated in the same amount of rainy days as the rest of the year.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 21 6 Best
Amazon 30 22 390 Good
Andes 18 8 40 Best
June events in Ecuador & Galapagos

21 June: Inti Raymi – Otovalo, Cotocachi, Ibarra

July weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

In the Galapagos, the weather will be cool and misty, especially in the highlands, though it rarely rains at all at this time of year. The seas become choppier. This is a good time to see plenty of courtship and nesting activity amongst the bird populations, and look out for whales and dolphins off the coast of Fernandina and mainland Ecuador. In the Andes, July is the driest month - with few rain clouds about, it is significantly sunnier too, with around seven hours of sunshine a day. In the Amazon, this is one of the drier months of the year. With the last few months seeing quite a lot of rain, the forest should be very active and the water levels nice and high.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 20 13 Good
Amazon 31 21 231 Best
Andes 18 8 20 Best
July events in Ecuador & Galapagos

19 Jul: Paseo del Chagra, Quito region
24 July: Simon Bolivar’s birthday

August weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

In the Galapagos, this is one of the coolest and driest months of the year. Sea temperatures are very cool. Divers consider this the best time of year to explore Galapagos underwater, though the visibility might not be as good in areas where the water is especially choppy. It is also a great time to see sea lion pups. In the Andes, this is the last month of the dry season – with plenty more long sunshine hours, this is a lovely time to go hiking around Cotopaxi and, with luck, clear skies should reveal the volcano in all its glory. For a tropical forest, the Amazon is relatively rain-free in August which is to say that showers are still very likely, but they will be shorter, or lighter, than usual.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 19 6 Good
Amazon 31 21 189 Best
Andes 19 8 40 Best
August events in Ecuador & Galapagos

10 Aug: Independence Day

September weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

September is a good month to travel throughout Ecuador. In the Galapagos, put your wetsuit on and brave the cold waters to swim with sea lions and penguins. The weather in the Andes is temperate, and the local festivals happening in the highlands make this an interesting place to be in September. In the Amazon, September has the fewest rainy days on average. You might see some days with significant rain showers, but other days will be completely clear.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 19 13 Good
Amazon 32 22 279 Good
Andes 19 8 70 Good
September events in Ecuador & Galapagos

1-8 Sep: Otovalo Yamor Festival
23 Sep – 11 Nov: Mama Negra Festival

October weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

In the Galapagos, low-lying fog covers the shoreline in most areas, except in the west where the morning mists will burn off after a few hours of daylight. This is a wetter month again in the Andes with around half of the days likely to see some rain, usually afternoon showers. Likewise in the Amazon, this is another rainy month, bringing water levels back up in the rivers and lakes.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 20 6 Good
Amazon 31 22 348 Good
Andes 18 8 80 Good
October events in Ecuador & Galapagos

9 Oct: Guayaquil Independence Day

November weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

In the Galapagos, the air and sea temperatures start to warm up and the winds decrease, resulting in generally great weather. This is a wonderful time to go, with great snorkelling and plenty of chances to get up close to curious sea lion pups. You should also find the weather relatively dry in both the Andes and the Amazon, though it is more likely to be cloudy up in the Andes now, with average sunshine hours sliding back to around five a day amid intermittent showers.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 21 13 Best
Amazon 32 22 234 Good
Andes 18 8 60 Good
November events in Ecuador & Galapagos

1-2 Nov: Day of the Dead
3 Nov: Cuenca Independence Day

December weather in Ecuador & Galapagos

Another great month for weather in Galapagos, with the gradual onset of the rainy season bringing greenery back to the islands. Air and sea temperatures increase a little more, and winds remain light. The second half of December is a very popular time to travel to Quito and the Galapagos Islands, so plan as far in advance as possible if you are travelling over the holidays. The weather in the Andes and Amazon is not especially rainy this month so this is a good time to travel throughout the country.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 27 22 13 Best
Amazon 32 22 219 Good
Andes 18 8 50 Good
December events in Ecuador & Galapagos

6 Dec: Foundation of Quito
31 Dec: Años Viejos Ritual

Top 7 things to do in Ecuador & Galapagos

Sail the Galapagos

Some places are so famous, so revered, that we half expect them to disappoint. The Galapagos never do. Here is an archipelago where humans are not considered a threat – a place where most of the animals simply don’t fear your approach. You’ll be the one moving out of the way of everything from giant tortoises to sea lions, iguanas to penguins.

A hundred years ago scientists took species samples of everything they could, so convinced were they that the world would soon destroy the precious wildlife of the Galapagos. 97% of those species are still there. There isn’t a conservation project on the planet that has been more successful.

Sink into nature in the cloudforest

It is very much a rainforest, with the resulting exuberant foliage and birds - so many birds! Yet it is neither hot, nor flat. It is the cloudforest, one of the most beautifully tranquil environments in Ecuador.

As the mist drifts across steep hills shrouded in deep forest, watch a yellow-rumped tanager swoop across the face of a tumbling waterfall. Walk through trails at dawn accompanied by the richest birdsong before swinging in a hammock listening to the afternoon rain fall on the forest canopy and feel completely, utterly, immersed in nature.

Sharpen your senses in the Amazon

Ecuador offers more than one magnificent wildlife experience, in fact, perhaps its greatest gift is its natural diversity. It’s a place where you can build up to your encounter with hard-to-miss giant tortoises by travelling deep into an entirely different environment, a tropical rainforest that teems with life on every level.

Here you’ll need a local guide’s keen eyes and ears to spot that sloth hugging a tree trunk, the glow of a caiman’s eye in a torch beam, or the squirrel monkey observing you from a leafy branch overhead.

Travel without expectation and open your eyes and mind up to the wonder of everything from a tree-cutter ant to an ocelot. This vast wilderness appears impenetrable, yet is immensely vulnerable, and immensely precious. When you enter this world it is an incredible privilege.

Crater lakes in the rural north

Otavalo market is rich in tradition - the locals have been coming here for hundreds of years to buy and sell their wares. Saturday is the day to go, when the stalls expand into the surrounding streets, fedora-crowned women browse and haggle, and colourful displays of fruit and fresh produce vastly outnumber the souvenirs.

Otavalo is one of Ecuador’s best-known attractions, but the crowds that come here miss the region’s true highlight – its countryside. Venture just beyond the market, and you have a region of snow-capped volcanoes, deep blue crater lakes, and grassy valleys almost to yourself, and in highland villages day-to-day life goes on undisturbed.

Visit the market, certainly. But then spend a few days here to get a truer sense of what Andean life in Ecuador is really like.

Move between centuries in Quito

It’s not unusual for cities to display a confusing blend of their evolution over the years, but Quito seems to enjoy a particular identity crisis when it comes to its past. And that’s to say nothing of the combination of this past with its 21st Century present.

Step from shiny shopping malls to market stalls of grains and produce from the Andean highlands. Make your way through crowds wearing sharp suits and hand-woven ponchos. To some it might seem strange for a city to embrace the gold leaf and baroque façades of its colonial churches, alongside the hero of Independence, Simon Bolivar. But not in Quito, where it all comes together in a glorious jumble of modern and ancient, Old World and New.

Hike into the wild at Cotopaxi

The near-perfect conical shape of the snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano forms a beautiful centre-piece to the wider area known as the Avenue of Volcanoes - a stretch of road south of Quito flanked with eight of Ecuador’s highest peaks.

Cotopaxi National Park is a wild place spanning an area of over 330 sq km, yet it is less than a two hour drive from Quito. Visitors come here to walk around the volcano, or even climb to the summit. You can ride bikes or horses around the park on many trails usually among llamas, deer, rabbits, and many bird species. However, most visitors just come to catch a glimpse and marvel at the beauty of the world’s highest active volcano. 

Stroll through Cuenca's cobbled streets

Cuenca is often regarded as the cultural capital as well as Ecuador’s prettiest city.  The cobbled streets, colonial buildings, cathedrals and beautiful interior patios are very well preserved. It is a wealthy, conservative place with an air of tranquility about it - a refreshing change from the hustle and noise of Ecuador’s other cities.  

Stroll around the streets and shop for high quality souvenirs and handicrafts - remember this is the actual home of the Panama hat. Outside the city is Cajas National Park - a pristine landscape of lakes and mountains and arguably the most beautiful park in Ecuador. 

Our top 5 memories of Ecuador & Galapagos

The volcano comes out to play

Cotopaxi National Park is a wild, desolate place. It was pretty wet, windy and foggy when I arrived. I couldn’t see much evidence of volcanoes and it reminded me of the Scottish Highlands.

Half an hour later, the weather started to clear, there was a glimmer behind the clouds and within 10 minutes Cotopaxi volcano was in full view. It felt like the sleeping giant had woken and lit up the park. The perfect cone shape of the world’s highest active volcano is a truly majestic sight. Scotland suddenly felt a very long way away...

At one with the cloudforest

It’s strange that somewhere so wonderfully peaceful can be so full of life. The greens of the foliage are unbelievably vibrant, with cool water from the earlier downpour dripping from them and glittering in the sunlight. A flash of red and yellow flits silently across my peripheral vision: another exotic bird I can’t identify. I stand, still and silent, feeling the cloudforest pulse around me.

Bargain at the market

It was clearly a game she’d played before, while I was just a novice. It was even clearer that she was all too aware of this when she named her starting price. The twinkle in her eye was unmistakable however, so I threw myself into the haggling with gusto.

After several minutes of hilarity and feigned offence on both sides, I marched off clutching my new purple hammock, proud of my newfound bartering skills. Though I was pretty certain I saw her wink at her stall neighbour as she took my cash...

Kayaking in the Galapagos

Seeing a Galapagos penguin so close up was only possible from my kayak. As I floated off Isabela Island, curious sea lions immediately came to investigate, following my kayak and excitedly darting from side to side beneath it. I soon spotted the Galapagos penguin perched on a craggy outcrop along the shoreline, just at my eye level. As I very quietly paddled over I fully expected it to move off but it didn’t move an inch. It just stared as I slowly floated past.

As I paddled across the bay, a large fish leapt out of the water just to the side of me. It was a white-tipped reef shark and according to my guide “it was just playing”. I had underestimated just how much more intimate the wildlife experience can be from a kayak.

Fun in the jungle

After the bites stop itching, and the monkey dawn chorus has faded, it might just be the human interactions in the rainforest which linger longest. The guide’s ill-concealed hilarity at my blowpipe technique. Bartering my football shirt for his machete. Mostly it’s his ability to enjoy the here and now, and the beauty of the world around him, that means my time in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin will live long and deep in my travel memories.

Our holidays to Ecuador & Galapagos

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South Ecuador and Galapagos
This extremely varied holiday is a sweep down through the dramatic snow-capped volcanoes and crat...
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Ecuador-imbabura-cuicocha-lagoon-oflixs
High Andes to Amazon
Beautiful cloudforest birds, timeless Andean highlands. Hot springs and snowcapped volcanoes. Thi...
Read more »
Ecuador-cloudforest-mindo-crimson-rumped-toucanet-steve-hermann
Rainforests and Galapagos
From the pulsing life of the Amazon to the misty cloudforest and beyond to the unique wildlife of...
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Ecuador-galapagos-islands-sunset-over-kicker-rock
Land-based wildlife journey
Snorkel with penguins and turtles, walk along the beach as the sun goes down, or hike to a volcan...
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Communities of Ecuador
Landscapes, ecosystems and people come together in this fascinating, fun and sometimes challengin...
Read more »

Why us?

Because, much as we love them, we know that Ecuador is so much more than the Galapagos Islands, and we're proud that we've spent even more time discovering corners of the mainland. Which isn't to say we're not proud of our Galapagos experience, both on boats and on land - it's what helps us find the right Galapagos experience for each of our clients. Although most people would be hard put to have a 'bad' Galapagos trip, as a dream destination, we think it's worth exploring all the possibilities to get the best fit. After all, there are different activities on offer, islands with endemic species, cabin configurations, best snorkelling spots and more...

We believe that any trip to Ecuador & Galapagos should include at least some of the amazing - and amazingly different - areas of the mainland. By combining our more refined and nuanced approach to Galapagos with our great passion for places like the Andean cloudforest, we create holidays which allow this iconic destination to surpass its immense expectations.

A marine iguana catching the afternoon sun on Isabela Island, Galapagos Ecuador When to Go Map - February Ecuador When to Go Map - March Ecuador When to Go Map - January Ecuador When to Go Map - April Ecuador When to Go Map - May Ecuador When to Go Map - June Ecuador When to Go Map - July Ecuador When to Go Map - August Ecuador When to Go Map - September Ecuador When to Go Map - October Ecuador When to Go Map - November Ecuador When to Go Map - December Moored by Devil's Crown, Galapagos The colonial heart of Quito The distinctive red rooftops of pretty Cuenca in southern Ecuador Beautiful panorama of the cloud forest in Ecuador Wild horses grazing at the foot of Cotopaxi volcano The beautiful Cuicocha Lake in the Ecuadorian Andes Marmoset in the Ecuadorian Amazon The majestic cone of Cotopaxi, the world's highest volcano Humming bird in the Ecuadorian cloudforest Colourful weaving in Ecuador's traditional craft market in Otovalo A diminutive Galapagos penguin on the Mariela Islands, Galapagos Community guides show you their jungle