Quito & Highlands: Quito is broadly representative of the Highlands region as a whole and here in July the weather is about as bright and sunny as it gets all year. Better still for outdoors-lovers, it is dry: bone dry in fact. Average rainfall for the month in the vicinity of Quito is down at an incredibly low 1.34 inches/22mm, about a ninth of what it was just three months ago. Bright clear weather means colder although often beautifully star-filled nights.
Oriente/Amazon: It has been getting wetter in the jungle throughout the first half of the calendar year but in July, change is in the air. It's getting drier. Rainfall is back down to its levels of March in the Parque Nacional Yasuni area. River levels remain high, however. Temperatures are at their lowest of the year but, in the Amazon, that's still on average a sweaty 75.4°F/ 24.1°C
Desert Coastal Strip & Galapagos: Fog hugs the coast this month, and it's cold compared to earlier in the year. Fog and cooler weather have also come to the Galapagos, although in both regions it remains dry.
Crowds & Costs
July sees travelers converging on Ecuador at almost peak levels. This is nothing to do with the weather (excellent in the Highlands but still wet enough in the jungle and poor on the coast and the Galapagos) and more to do with it being North American and European vacation season. It is hard to find good deals anywhere this month although you may have some luck on the Ecuadorian coast. Book as many accommodations in advance as you can, as in popular areas hotel rooms fill up fast right now.
Where to Go
Quito & Highlands: Spend less time in the cities around now: it is Ecuador's mountainous outdoors that should top your list. In Quito, spend time climbing to some of the many viewpoints, or take the TelefériQo up to volcanic peak Volcán Pichincha. Head south to Latacunga to hike the Quillota Loop or have an adventure in Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, full of volcanoes and memorable trails.
Near Cuenca, the best place to hike this month is in the little community of Principal near Sigsig, where you can reach lakes and waterfalls by foot or on horseback. It's also starting to dry out (a little) in Parque Nacional Cajas, high lake-spattered moorland and mountain full of dwarf forests of polylepis trees, some of the highest forests in the world. Baños on the cusp between mountains and jungle has lots of outdoor activities on offer: soak in a thermal pool if you are too cool, bungee-jump or mountain-bike: all brilliant fun in July.
Oriente/Amazon: Parque Nacional Yasuni is a good place to visit this month, where jungle hiking trails are drying out and where elaborate canopy walkways make it possible to see birds sunning themselves in the canopy in the increased sunshine. Another good place to base yourself might be Puyo, a place from which to visit the central jungle. Agencies here offer land-based jungle trips to spots within a few hours' journey from town.
Desert Coastal Strip & Galapagos: Probably the place to base yourself on the coast is Puerto López. It has hiking in nearby rainforest and trips to the Isla de la Plata, where you can observe whales and other marine animals and birds. Go to Isla Isabela on the Galapagos to see the only penguins in the northern hemisphere going about their business.
What to Do
Quito & Highlands: Walking is the key activity in the Highlands in July. Even Quito has many beautiful viewpoints that you can walk to or take a gondola-cable car. Quito's TelefériQo transports you up the slopes of Volcán Pichincha, a volcano, to nearly 13123 feet/4,000m. There are superb treks to do in the mountains, such as the Quillota Loop or hikes in Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, which is full of spectacular volcanoes. Neither is far from Quito.
Oriente/Amazon: This month water levels are still pretty high, meaning exploring the Amazon by canoe on its small tributaries to maximize wildlife watching is recommended. However, jungle pathways are also becoming a bit less swamped. In some areas, exploring the jungle on foot is now an option, such as Parque Nacional Yasuni or the central jungle near Puyo. Some lodges also have canopy walkways: great to climb to see birds taking advantage of more sun in the jungle canopy.
Desert Coastal Strip & Galapagos: Despite the fog on the coast, it might be a good time to try some coastal hiking, as it is colder for sitting around on the beach. A great place around now to base yourself is Puerto López. Here you are well placed to go hiking in the rainforest at Parque Nacional Machalilla, with excellent hikes and an indigenous community at Agua Blanca.
Then, of course, there are the boat trips to Isla de la Plata, where whale sightings are common now and where much of the same wildlife visible in the Galapagos can be seen. This is a great month for diving in the Galapagos. Water visibility is less than the first half of the year but still decent. However, increased nutrients in the waters increase sightings of one of the blockbuster marine animals, the whale sharks. Sea lions and frigate birds are active in the Galapagos this month too.
Paseo de Chagra: July 21. In and around Machachi, in the highlands near Parque Nacional Volcan Cotopaxi, a volcano-studded national park, this can be an intriguing festival to watch. Chagras are Ecuador's cowboys, and they compete against each other in parades, rodeos and other contests in full traditional dress.
Fiestas Julianas (Founding of Guayaquil): July 24/25. Ecuador's big southern city goes crazy as they celebrate not only freedom fighter Simon Bolivar's birthday (on July 24) but also their city's founding the following day.