If you’re planning a trip to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador and bearer of the best-preserved Historic Center in South America, you’re in for a treat! The city bustles with life, history, culture, gastronomy, and so much more! Nevertheless, before embarking on the great adventures that are waiting for you in Quito, you need to read a thing or two about its unique Andean weather!
There are a number of factors that affect Quito’s weather and climate, including its high altitude, equatorial position, and surrounding mountain ranges. Despite that, the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much throughout the year –during the day it averages a comfortable 70°F (21°C), generally falling to around 50°F (10°C) at night. What does change is the climate throughout the day. It’s not uncommon for Quito to experience four seasons in a single day, which can affect your plans if you’re not prepared for it. The most important advice we can give you is to dress for all seasons and carry anything you may need.
Due to its unique position so close to the equator, Ecuador doesn’t have four seasons like many places around the world. It really only has two seasons: a rainy season and a dry season. For the most part, the drier months run from June to September, and the rainy season begins in October and stretches into May. Although many of us would expect the rainy season to be like winter, this is actually the time when the country is the warmest.
However, Quito generally follows slightly different rules. One reason is that it is only 16 miles (26 km) from the equator. Another is because it generally has low winds and therefore can experience the traditional four seasons in one day: sunshine, rain, hail, thunderstorms, and then back to sunshine. As well as the sudden change in weather, temperature variations can feel abrupt because of Quito’s exposed position and proximity to the sun. If wind speed suddenly increases or the sun ducks behind the clouds, it can feel like the temperature has dropped. Strangely enough, this normally isn’t true, but our bodies don’t know that. That’s why it’s always best to be prepared no matter the season or the forecast.
The altitude of Quito averages 9,350 ft (2,850 m) so it’s no surprise that this historic and beautiful city can often feel like the middle of the desert. It also means that the sun’s rays beat down on the city more directly than most other cities, so it tends to be a little more ferocious than in other warm places. On some days, it can feel like you are melting into the pavement! It’s important to always apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Stay hydrated by always carrying a full water bottle with you, and always wear a sun hat and sunglasses.
Some popular visitor points, such as El Teleferico, take you even higher up into the mountains. Remember that at higher altitudes the temperatures can drop dramatically. Always wear warmer clothes and carry a warm jacket on any of these excursions.
This capital city lies between the volcanoes of the soaring Andes mountains, and therefore has a climate that can be a little temperamental -after all, mountains attract clouds. This means that it’s not uncommon to have surprise thunderstorms and even hail. Although the temperature doesn’t fluctuate a lot, the weather throughout the day can change without warning. It’s common for the sun to be scorching hot one second and then a thunderstorm can roll in, causing torrents of water to run down the streets.
Yes, the torrents are due to a combination of poor draining and steep hills in some areas of the Old Town. They are also caused by the gigantic raindrops that are commonly formed by the surrounding mountains. As the air reaches a mountain it rises, and as it rises, it cools. If the air is carrying a lot of moisture it will cause precipitation (or rain) because cool air carries less moisture.
But don’t let that scare you! For the most part, Quito has an extremely comfortable climate that is perfect for exploring and sightseeing. The main thing is to always be prepared and carry everything you may need on every day excursion you go on.
How to pack for Quito’s climate
So how do you work with this unpredictable weather? When traveling around Quito, it’s always a good idea to wear layers. Put on a breathable T-shirt, then a light sweater, and then a rain jacket on top. Of course, this means that you should always take a backpack to share between your group for any day excursions. You don’t want to get caught in the pouring rain or burning in the sun! In this backpack, each person should also pack:
- Water bottle
- Spare sweater
Are you interested in a complete packing checklist for your adventure in Quito?
Remember: If you are traveling to a higher elevation, pack extra-warm clothes and some chocolate to nibble on to help with the altitude.
A trip to Quito is spectacular any time during the year. The stable temperatures mean that you won’t experience snow or soaring desert temperatures during any month of the year. However, you should be prepared for any change in the weather on your day excursions, and take any local weather forecast with a grain of salt. Sometimes we think blue skies mean we’ll have a beautiful day ahead of us, but that’s not always the case in Quito. It’s not just the incredible sights and adventures that can surprise you in this city – the weather likes to play, too!