By RetirePedia’s Roving Reporter Jim Veinot
“It is not uncommon to experience all “seasons” in the course of one day.” That’s a pretty accurate statement about the climate in Ecuador.
However, when Ecuadorians talk about “seasons,” they refer to the distinction between months with less and more rainfall. Due to its location on the equator, temperatures stay roughly the same all year round.
Plus, the Ecuadorian people can enjoy 12 hour long days for 365 days per year! How’s that for a reason to retire in Ecuador?
As we discovered in neighboring Colombia, while the latitude and thus the climate may be equatorial, the weather is greatly affected by the altitude.
The altitude varies with the presence of those pesky Andes mountains again, and where you happen to be located on them. The weather is further affected by the wet breezes from the Pacific.
Ecuador Climate: Regional Differences
Let’s take a look at the different climate zones in Ecuador on the map below.
This map nicely illustrates the major areas of the country and the accompanying weather. The black line across the map marks the equator. “Austro” in this context means Southern, and is demarcated as a separate geographical zone. Climatically, it is part of the Andes.
The Pacific winds bring moist, warm air to the coast and then over the mountains, where it is cooled and comes down as rain, draining on the far side into the Amazon River Basin.
This is a pretty simplistic description of the Ecuadorian weather patterns, however! In any one day, depending on location, you can experience all four seasons.
It’s been said that the only thing predictable about the weather in Ecuador is its unpredictability. The same thing applies to the reporting on the climate, unfortunately; I’ve found descriptions of average temperatures 10℃ (50°F) apart for the same places! It just depends on the time of day.
Ecuador Climate: The Galapagos
The red area noted as The Galapagos offers desert-like climate conditions in the dry season, which is June to December. In the rainy season, as there is little terra ferma to hold the rainfall, runoff is quick, with ponds of water evaporating over the day.
Temperatures during this time are around 28℃ – 32℃ (82°F – 90°F). In the dry season temperatures are a bit lower, around 21℃ to 25℃ (70 °F – 77°F).
Nearly all year around the water is cooler than the islands, and wind blows across the warmer land. This phenomenon creates a surrealistic, misty environment at times as the air is heated and then cooled.
Ecuador Climate: The Coast
The coast is humid and tropical in the north, declining to arid and dry in the south. The Humboldt current’s presence on the southern shores accounts for this change. This water is from Antarctica and is much cooler, and the air above it is much drier.
In the north, the Panamanian current brings winds laden with moist air over the coastal areas; at times, the effects of “El Niño” and “La Niña” alter this pattern.
Rainy season is December to May, and you can expect torrential downpours and high levels of humidity.
Ecuador Climate: The Andes
The highlands feature a central valley high in the Andes, with mountain ridges on each side. Places like Quito, the capital, are close to 10,000 feet (3000 meters) high! The western ridge receives more rainfall as the air mass rises higher to get over the top.
The northern half of the mountains receives more rainfall than the south as the air contains more moisture. When it rains in Quito the volume of water can create geysers out of the storm sewers some 10 feet (3 meters) high!
Temperatures here range from 8℃ (46°F) or cooler at night to an average of 17 – 18℃ (63 – 64°F) in the daytime. If it clouds over, the temperature can drop 5 degrees C (about 10 degrees F), to give you an idea of the strong effect of both the sun and the elevation.
Further south, in Cuenca for example, the temperatures are moderately warmer. 9 – 10℃ (48 – 50°F) at night and 21 – 22℃ (70 – 72°F) in the daytime would be representative.
Ecuador Climate: The Amazon Jungle
On the far side of the Andes is the rainforest, where it is almost constantly hot and humid, and often wet. Again, the north will see more rain than the south, particularly in the so-called dry season.
Temperatures here can reach 40℃ (104°F) with high levels of humidity.
In a nutshell, here’s what you can take away about the weather and climate in Ecuador…
Because of their elevation, the Andes are significantly cooler than the coastal areas. The climate there is typically described as “perpetual spring.” Differences between day- and night-time temperatures can be high.
The coast is hot and humid in the north; the further south you go, the less humid it gets, with a pronounced dry season from June to November.
In the Amazon rainforest, it’s hot and humid all year round.
Related: Why You Shouldn’t Move to Ecuador