Climate in Ecuador...

 

It's often said that the most predictable about the climate in Ecuador is its unpredictability, up to the point that all weather conditions can be experienced in a single day.

Technically speaking, nine different climates can be identified in the country, three tropical, three meso-thermic, one dry, the apline tundra or paramo, plus the climate of Galapagos Islands.

In order to understand why such a huge number of climates, we need to consider the altitude of each area of the country. Due to Ecuador's location, there isn't such a thing as the typical four seasons pattern, climatic conditions are based upon altitude rather than the time of the year.

Besides altitude, there are other factors that contribute to the climate in Ecuador, such as topography, latitude and two opposing marine currents, the warm Panama current coming from the north - from December to May - and the cold Humboldt current coming from the south, for the rest of the year.

When any of them persist for longer periods, it creates severe changes in precipitation that either causes massive floods or severe droughts, a phenomenon known as El Niño and La Niña.

This unusual weather pattern affects not only the climate of Ecuador but the South American continent and the world as a whole. Read more about El Niño and La Niña here.

 
 

In general terms, Ecuador has a mild weather throughout, which makes it a year-round destination for travelers, with only two real seasons - the wet season and the dry season.

There are, however, significant variations among the four geographical regions: La Costa (coastal lowlands), El Oriente (Amazon region), La Sierra (Andes mountains) and Galapagos Islands. It's important to note that even during the rainy season, most days are sunny until the afternoon.

If you’re deciding which part of the country to visit, you’d be wise to make the climate in Ecuador part of your decision process. To this end, lets review the general weather trend for each region...

  • Andean Highlands:
    Temperatures are determined by altitude and the time of the year, with a general cooler weather than one would expect for being on the equator.

    Quito is a good example of this. Located some 23km away from the equator line at an altitude of over 9.000 ft, it has a temperature range of 7°C (55°F) at night to 26°C (78°F) at noon. The highland dry season is June through the end of September, being April the rainiest month.

  • Amazon Region:
    The Oriente is mainly rainy, with a warm and humid weather, being August and December through March usually the driest month. The average temperature varies from 23°C (72°) to 26°C (80°F).


  • Coastal Lowlands:
    With a hot and humid weather, the rainy season - roughly January to May - has the best beach weather, with some sunshine and rains in the afternoon. Cooler month correspond to the dry season, roughly June to December.


  • Galapagos Islands:
    Siting on the equator, the Galapagos Archipélago doesn't have the equatorial climate one would expect, this is due to the cold Humboldt current. Climate on the islands follows a pattern more like that of the Sierra than the Costa.

    The dry summer month go from June to December and see no precipitations, whereas the winter months of January through April have some fog and drizzle. In general, the islands have a very pleasant temperature of around 17°C.