Best time to visit Ecuador

Updated: 13th June 2019

Ecuador Cotopaxi Volcano - Best Time to Visit - On The Go Tours
Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador is best tackled between September and February

Seasons and Weather

Ecuador’s climate is highly changeable due to the variation in altitude across the country. The central Sierra region has the most constant climate whereas the coastal and Amazonian lowlands attract a rather wet equatorial climate. Naturally the further north you go, the colder it gets.

Depending on the side of the Andes you are on you’ll experience different climate. The west is dry from June to September and October to May being wetter. If you are in the east, the opposite is true. Rainfall is generally more prolific in the north with the southern highlands being much drier. The coastal region can be enjoyed all year round, however it is cooler between June and November.

Peak tourist seasons in Ecuador generally coincide with public holidays though June to September tends to be the busiest period. The coastal destinations are busiest between December and April.

Best time to visit the Amazon in Ecuador

Sitting right on the equator, Ecuador benefits from a pleasant climate all year round so the determining factor of when to travel usually depends on crowds and rain. From June to September and December to January, the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon sees the highest number of people as these are holiday periods in Ecuador and surrounding countries. However, this part of the Amazon is much less visited than its Brazilian neighbour for example, so crowds aren’t too much of a problem at any point of the year.

When it comes to rainfall, while the rainforest is never dry, the ‘dry’ season, when rainfall is at its lowest, lasts from December to March and is considered a good period to visit. It is still likely that there will be at least one shower each day but this should be brief and won’t hamper your wildlife viewing. The best time to visit, however, is from June to August as this is when the wildlife really thrives and travellers will have the best chances of seeing even the rarest and most elusive of creatures.

Thinking of visiting Ecuador? Download a copy of our Latin America brochure for inspiration.

Climate | Quito


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C888887777878
Temp Max °C222222212122222323222222
Rainfall (mm)99112142175137432031691129779

Climate | Banos

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C111213121212111212121211
Temp Max °C141616151515161516161516
Rainfall (mm)189321246321354390231189279348234219

Upcoming events

To help plan your visit to Ecuador, here's an overview of the festivals and events taking place over the next year. This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you are thinking of heading to Ecuador outside of these dates and want to know what's on, refer to this comprehensive list.

2019:

August 15th-21st - Fiesta de la Virgen de el Cisne (El Cisne)
September 1st-8th - Fiesta del Yamor (Otavalo)
September 21st-22nd & November 9th - La Fiesta de la Mama Negra (Latacunga)
November 2nd - All Soul’s Day (Nationwide)
December 24th - Pase del Nino (Cuenca)

2020:

June 11th - Corpus Christi (Cuenca)

There's also a number of national holidays in Ecuador and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

Ecuador Corpus Christi parade - Best Time To Visit
A parade during Corpus Christi. Photo credit: Ministerio de Turismo Ecuador

Festivals and Events

Ecuador might not have quite the same international reputation as other South American countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to throw a sensational festival. Characterised by bright colours and exotic music, fiestas in Ecuador are a big deal, so here is our selection of some of the best.

What is Corpus Christi?

This is Ecuador’s most calorific event of the year, the celebration of Corpus Christi, commonly known as Cuenca’s setenario. Running for seven days, this festival coincides with the observance of Corpus Christi but has actually very little connection to religious piety. Festival-goers can expect to be awed by sparkling firework displays, bright costumes, music and dancing. The main draw of this festival, however, is the sugary sweets and treats that are sold on every street corner. Candy, pastries and cookies are piled high on stalls, manned by street vendors, before being gobbled by the masses.

What is the Fiesta de la Virgen de El Cisne?

This festival is probably Ecuador’s most spectacular display of religious devotion. Hordes of citizens make the pilgrimage to the small town of El Cisne every year to show their respects by carrying a statue of the Lady of El Cisne (the Virgin Mary) through the streets for around 70km. Hundreds of thousands of worshippers follow the procession until it reaches Loja cathedral and once it arrives, fireworks and music begin to mark the end of the statue’s journey.

What is the Fiesta del Yamor?

Once a year, Otavalo, home to Ecuador’s largest and most vibrant market, hosts a festival in honour of the autumn harvest. During the Fiesta del Yamor, many different events take place, including a queen being elected and crowned, hardcore swimmers making the 4km journey across the icy waters of San Pablo Lake and mock bull fighting (the bull is not killed during or after the event). To accompany the entertainment, a special drink called Chicha del Yamor is consumed. This non-alcoholic beverage consists of seven different types of corn, which are slowly simmered together.

What is La Fiesta de la Mama Negra?

Taking place in the town of Latacunga, this important religious festival finds its roots in Afro-Ecuadorian culture. A Mama Negra (black mother) is paraded through the streets, always adorned in colourful, traditional garments, spraying audience members with milk and water as she goes. A mixture of the Virgin and African Deities, the Mama Negra represents the blending of cultures that happened during the Spanish colonisation of Ecuador. This festival takes place twice a year and is celebrated with music and chugchucaras, a dish consisting of deep fried pork rinds, potatoes, empanadas and popcorn.

What is All Soul’s Day?

During this holiday, Ecuadorians visit the graves of deceased loved ones with an offering of baked goods, or something similarly delicious in tow. Snacks are left on the ground and are supposedly claimed by the ghosts of the departed when they return to earth for 24 hours during the first two days of November. Those who do not leave something edible for the returning spirits risk incurring their displeasure. Once the festival is over, Ecuador’s poorest are welcome to help themselves to the leftover food on the ground - visitors, however, are not allowed to.

What is the Pase del Nino?

The Pase del Nino festival takes place during the day of Christmas Eve and usually lasts upwards of eight hours. The celebrations combine various elements of Catholicism with indigenous traditions and see several likenesses of Jesus being paraded through the streets. In past years, modernity has been injected into the procession as the Three Kings have made appearances on Harley Davidsons. Everywhere you look, children are wearing elaborate homemade costumes, while adults make merry with cups of chichi.

See Also

To help further planning of your holiday to Ecuador, take a look at our handy Travel Guide resources:

Best Places to Visit - top sites in Ecuador that should be included on your visit
Tourist Visas - regulations regarding entry to Ecuador
Top Travel Tips - time, voltage, money and health in Ecuador
Style of Travel - what to expect on our Ecuador group tours