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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 holiday. 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.


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 boats

Seaman Journey

The first thing to say about our choice of Galapagos vessels is that they’re all small, because they can reach places the larger boats can’t, and we believe that your experience will be better when surrounded by fewer people.

Being a catamaran, one of Seaman Journey’s selling points is her stability, which will be of interest to you if you’re concerned about seasickness. That’s not it, though: the Seaman Journey is a first class boat, comfort is key, and the (max) 16 passengers are very well looked after. Guides, onboard lectures and sunset at the outside bar all come highly recommended.

S/S Mary Anne

The Mary Anne is a photo opportunity in herself. An elegant and beautiful 3-masted tall sail vessel, she is the only ship in the Galapagos able to navigate by wind power alone, and you can get involved with hoisting the sails (guaranteed on every itinerary) if you wish. Accommodation is spacious, with 12 cabins yet a maximum capacity of 16, and single cabins carrying no supplement. Some meals are served on the sun deck, and the décor reflects the Mary Anne’s classic appeal: lots of wood, and a strong sense of maritime heritage.


A sleek motor boat, the Beluga is, in our opinion, one of the best in class due to the reliable quality of every stage of your experience as a guest, which comes at a price that represents very good value. The Beluga’s naturalist guides are very well thought of: while all Galapagos guides are exceptionally knowledgeable and passionate about their craft, the Beluga crew are among the very best. Eight double cabins hold a maximum of 16 passengers comfortably, and the royal blue loungers on the rear sun deck are ideal for watching the archipelago drift past.

The Beagle

The Beagle feels a little like the nautical equivalent of one of our favourite inns or lodges in Spain or Latin America, and that’s why we like her. Owned and run by the Cruz family, Sr Cruz having been born on Floreana island, The Beagle is described as being particularly friendly and relaxed, and we agree. She’s cosy too, and that’s not a euphemism for not being able to swing a cat: she has six double cabins and one smaller one for single or double occupancy. If you have a romantic vision of sailing the Galapagos on a classic sailing ship, then you’ll love The Beagle’s teak decks and white sails.


Ecoventura’s first-class motor yachts Eric and Letty are identical and each carry up to 20 passengers. Because each yacht has two bilingual naturalist guides, the ratio of guest to guide is lower than on many other ships, which is a very important factor to consider. If you’re planning a family holiday to the Galapagos Islands, these are an excellent choice, as regularl family departures include activities and adventures aimed specifically at children.

Why us?

We are proud of our team's considerable personal Galapagos knowledge, both of boats and land-based options - 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, we think it's worth exploring all the possibilities to get the best fit. After all, there is a bewildering choice of boats, islands with endemic species, cabin configurations, best snorkelling spots and many more details to consider...

As much we love the Galapagos Islands, we've spent a lot of time discovering corners of the Ecuadorian mainland too. We believe that any Galapagos trip should include at least some time exploring the amazingly different regions of the mainland too. By combining our nuanced approach to Galapagos with our passion for places like the Andean cloudforest, we create holidays which allow this iconic destination to surpass its immense expectations.

Ecuador & Galapagos at a glance

Capital city


Famous highlights

Galapagos Islands, Amazon Rainforest, Quito, Cuenca

Hidden gems

Mindo, Otavalo Region, Cotopaxi


Spanish (official)

Food & drink

Ceviche, llapingachos, patacon, canelazo

How far?

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


US Dollar ($)


GMT -5

When to go to Ecuador & Galapagos

January 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

Our holidays to Ecuador & Galapagos

The best of both worlds
No need to choose between a land-based Galapagos exploration or a cruise; this holiday combines t...
Read more »
Rainforests and Galapagos
From the pulsing life of the Amazon to the misty cloudforest and beyond to the unique wildlife of...
Read more »
Ecuador & Galapagos wildlife adventure
Climb a volcano, swim with sea lions and take a paddle among the penguins. Ecuador's amazing faun...
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Classic Galapagos Cruise
Snorkel with sea lions, walk across lava fields, drift among penguins, and marvel at the uniquely...
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Land-based wildlife journey
Snorkel with penguins and turtles, walk along the beach as the sun goes down, or hike to a volcan...
Read more »
Hidden corners of the Andes
Beautiful cloudforest birds, timeless Andean highlands. Crater lakes and snowcapped volcanoes. Th...
Read more »
Classic Galapagos cruise
Observe colonies of blue-footed boobies, step over nesting iguanas, and swim with turtles and sea...
Read more »
Book Sign up for our newsletter » 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 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 Seaman Journey, Galapagos The Galapagos yacht Mary Anne under full sail Beluga yacht moored off Fernandina Island in the Galapagos Cabins on the Beagle, Galapagos The first class Galapagos Islands cruise, Eric.