• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Ecuador


Ecuadorian Geography - Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands

Despite its small size, Ecuador has three distinct geographical regions. The heart of the country is the Andes Mountains which rise up rapidly from the Pacific Ocean. These mountains are both rocky in nature as well as volcanic as the capital is surrounded by numerous volcanoes including Cotopaxi, which stands at 19,300 feet (5,900 meters). The Andes rise up higher in other areas and the entire central part of the country, running north and south, is covered by these mountains. Most of the people that live in the mountains live in the valleys and along rivers that cut the mountains.

In the country's west is a narrow, flat, and fairly dry coastal region. This region is also well-populated, but being somewhat dry there is little agriculture in the region and hence less than ideal living conditions. The living conditions in the far eastern part of the country are just as poor, but for different reasons. Here, where the mountains drop in elevation is the beginning of the rain forests and numerous rivers. The forests are very dense and transportation to or through the region is difficult, hence discouraging settlement.

The final distinct region of Ecuador in terms of geography is the Galapagos Islands. These islands, which sit west of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean, vary greatly from desert to wet and forested. Few people live here (partially due to governmental restriction), but the wildlife here is large and extraordinarily diverse.


Ecuadorian Geography - Hola Vida Falls
Hola Vida Falls

Ecuador gets its name from the Equator since the country sits right on the equator. Because of this the temperatures in the country vary little from season to season, but changes in elevation and seasonal variations greatly affect the weather. Generally, the country is hot year round and because of this people have fled to the mountains where temperatures are cooler and conditions are more livable. In the mountains rains are common, plant life is substantial, and there are plenty of animals, yet in mountain valleys it rarely reaches the freezing point so this is where most of the country's population lives.

One of Ecuador's two seasons is the dry season, sometimes referred to as summer. The dry season lasts from about June to September, or even as late as December along the coast. In the mountainous capital of Quito, temperatures average 50° F (10° C) most nights, but get up to about 68° F (20° C) during the days year round. The Galapagos Islands average about 70° F (21° C) during this time of year, which is actually the coldest time of the year in the islands.

From about January to May the temperatures throughout the country remain fairly stable, although the Galapagos Islands' average temperature is about 83° F (28° C) during these months. Elsewhere temperatures are consistent, but it rains more as this is the wet season. Many places, including the Galapagos Islands get most of their rain this time of year and the islands average about 3.5 inches (90 mm) per month during the wet season. With little rain, even during the wet season, most days see some sun year round.


Ecuadorian Geography - Red rock crab
Red rock crab

Ecuador has a fairly diverse variety of wildlife as the mainland is very mountainous and wooded, but also has lowlands along the coast. Additionally, the off shore Galapagos Islands are famed for being some of the most diverse and unique islands in the world when it comes to wildlife and is home to the famed Galapagos Turtle as well as dozens of species of finches and other bird species, which helped lead Charles Darwin to his theory of natural selection.

Many of the more common mammals are woodland animals, such as squirrels, mice, rats, bats, opossums, deer, rabbits, tapirs, sloths, and others. However, the mountains and rain forests attract these animals as well as others, including llamas, alpacas, vicunas (a camel species), cougars (puma), beers, armadillos, porcupines, monkeys, jaguars, and wolves. There are also some rodents unique to South America in Ecuador, such as the chinchilla.

Ecuador also has a huge variety of sea life in the Pacific Ocean. The ocean is home to mammals, like whales and dolphins, as well as fish and shellfish. Among these sea dwellers are sharks, tuna, mahi-mahi, snapper, mackerel, grouper, puffer fish, shrimp, crabs, seahorses, starfish, eels, rays, jellyfish, and sea urchins.

Ecuadorian Geography - Galapagos Turtle
Galapagos Turtle

The bird life is almost as diverse as the sea life. Among these are egrets, eagles, condors, partridges, coots, geese, sandpipers, ibis, herons, finches, hummingbirds, wrens, owls, sparrows, cardinals, jays, orioles, frigate birds, pigeons, parakeets, flamingos, and woodpeckers. The Galapagos Islands are home to dozens of unique species, including dozens of bird species that are closely related.

The reptilian, amphibian, and insect life in Ecuador are also diverse, but the variety of species is still fairly limited. On the mainland many of these animals are spiders, including the tarantula and black widow, and snakes, including the rattlesnake. In or near some of the rivers the amphibian population spikes as a number of frogs, iguanas, and lizards are present. The Galapagos Islands are again home to numerous species and is well known for their turtle populations. The number of insects is quite substantial, including flies, mosquitos, butterflies, ants, and more.

Ecuadoran Wildlife - Vicuna

When it comes to native plant life, South America is home to many famous edible plants and these plants quickly spread throughout Ecuador, South America, and beyond. The pineapple is from the region where Brazil and Uruguay meet while potatoes and tobacco originated in the Andes Mountains. A few others, including cacao trees (used to make chocolate), peanuts, and tomatoes are also from South America, although their actual origin is unknown. Peppers, both sweet and hot peppers are from Central America or northern South America while vanilla, avocado, papaya, and corn (maize) are likely from Central America itself. No matter each food's origin, what is known is that these foods spread throughout the continent and to the country of Ecuador with the help of pre-historic people, animals, and winds. These people have had these foods for nearly as long as people have inhabited the region and each makes an important part of the people's diet and culture now and for thousands of years into the past.

Other plants are also present in Ecuador. Orchids, lilies, rosewood trees, mahogany trees, mangrove trees, rubber trees, walnut trees, cedar trees, oak trees, and thousands of other trees, flowers, ferns, and plants can be found in Ecuador.

This page was last updated: March, 2013