Overview

Ecuador sits astride the Equator, where its relatively tiny size belies its staggering geographical diversity, from a battalion of snow-smothered Andean volcanic peaks to luscious Amazon rainforests. Ecuador holidays offer wild Pacific beaches are fringed with exuberant vegetation pulsating with wildlife, as well as colonial cities steeped in history.

The Galápagos Islands, which also form part of Ecuador’s territory - are located a couple of hours flight from Ecuador's coast. Born from volcanoes thrusting their way through the surface of the waters, the clutch of alternately sun-baked and misty islands of twisted lava, jagged cliffs and scrubby forest seem an unlikely habitat for wildlife. But a phenomenal array of trusting bird and reptile species, not to mention undersea marine animals, have settled and evolved here, to the delight of visitors from Darwin onwards.

Mainland Ecuador is compact and easy to get around. Roads are invariably scenic and journeys are of a comfortable length. Short domestic flights and a recently refurbished railway complete the transport network. It is one of the continent’s most traditional countries; there’s a strong indigenous tradition in the highland villages, with cottage crafts and hand-woven textiles piled high in the lively markets and Quito is  a most impressive colonial city. Ecuador is especially attractive if you are looking to take part in outdoor activities, visit local communities, enjoy breathtaking nature and relax in country farms or haciendas in exquisite scenery.

Experience Ecuador on its own or combine it with a wind-down on a sunlit chalk-white beach in the balmy Galápagos islands or a Galápagos cruise.

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Where to go when - our guide to Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

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THE CLIMATE IN ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS ISLANDS IS WIDE AND VARIED

Ecuador sits astride the equator, dissected form North to South by the magnificent snow-capped Andean mountain range. The climate is relatively stable throughout the year, without vast temperature fluctuations between the wet and dry season, but it can vary greatly between different regions.

Influenced by the altitude, the Andean highlands including Otavalo, Quito, the Avenue of the Volcanoes and Cuenca are pleasantly spring-like year round with lots of sunshine, particularly in the June-September dry season. When it rains it is usually as heavy afternoon downpours. February-April are the wettest months, July and August the driest.

The misty cloud forest reserves of Mindo, Mashipi and Bellavista, where bird-watching is superb all year, have similar seasons to the highlands although with fewer hours of sunshine, slightly higher temperatures and longer periods of rain, usually starting in the afternoon.

The North West and Amazon rainforests are typically equatorial; hot and humid all year with tropical showers possible any day, even in the less wet months of January-February and July-September.

The arid central and southern Pacific coast is hot all year round. The most popular time to enjoy the beaches is January-April, during the wet season, when the sea is at its warmest and the days clear, hot and sunny, with rain usually only presenting in the form of afternoon tropical showers. May to December is the dry season, with colder seas, very little rain, slightly cooler temperatures and overcast hazy skies. June-October is the whale watching season.

The Galapagos Islands are immensely rewarding year round. Whatever the month, both on land and underwater, the wildlife is incredible with some species of fauna or another always breeding, nesting or particularly active for some reason. The December-May wet season sees very hot and sunny days with afternoon showers in the highlands and warm calm seas. The June-November dry season brings more comfortable cooler temperatures with choppier, colder seas but a burst in marine life activity.

Ecuador’s rich indigenous and colonial Spanish heritage is evident in a number of fiestas and weekly markets, which you may wish to factor into your holiday. Carnival (Februay/March) is celebrated throughout with great fervour and widespread street festivities while Easter week sees colourful but traditional religious processions fill the streets. Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) is celebrated on the summer solstice (16-24th June) in indigenous communities throughout the highlands to honour the sun and Pacha Mama (mother Earth). Dia de Todos los Santos (all Souls Day/Day of the Dead) is a fascinating and colourful celebration of life and commemoration of the dead on 2nd November.

Read More View our Ecuador & Galapagos Islands weather guide

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    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

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