Quito & Highlands: Quito is broadly representative of the Highlands region, where change is in the air this month. Bright sunny spells remain, but some rainy days are also in evidence: there is overall twice the rain that there was just last month in the Quito area. Temperatures neither get as hot (average max 69.1°F/20.6°C) nor as cold (average min 45.5°F/7.5°C) as they did over July, August, and September.
Oriente/Amazon: In the Oriente, this month is a comparatively dry one. Rainfall stays low in Parque Nacional Yasuni and no month since March has been this warm on average. Jungle roads and paths are about as good as they get: free of landslides and firmer underfoot.
Desert Coastal Strip & Galapagos: It is still a fairly rain-free month along the coast. In Guayaquil, broadly representative of coastal Ecuador, temperatures are creeping back up in October (on average 85.6°F/25.1°C). The fogs along the seaboard persist, although there are beginning to be some clearer days. Fog and cooler, drier weather also continues in the Galapagos, with nutrients reducing water clarity (but making it more appealing to dive or snorkel in because more sea creatures are attracted by nutrients).
Crowds & Costs
October, like September and November, is a good month to try and negotiate deals on accommodation, tours and other services, both in the Highlands where visitors are decreasing again, on the coast where low season continues and even on the Galapagos, where cooler flatter weather reduces visitor numbers and means deals on cruises are common.
Where to Go
Quito & Highlands: October is still prime outdoor activity weather in the Highlands of Ecuador. 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.
Some of the best hiking at the moment is near Cuenca, where the Parque Nacional Cajas is in one of its driest periods. This high lake-spattered moorland and mountain is also carpeted in tracts of dwarf forests of polylepis trees, some of the highest forests in the world. Baños on the cusp between mountains and jungle also has lots of outdoor activities on offer: see below for more details.
Oriente/Amazon: Parque Nacional Yasuni remains a good place to visit this month, and is, as in other months, a favorite destination with foreign travelers. Here, jungle hiking trails are quite dry and elaborate canopy walkways make it possible to see birds sunning themselves in the canopy in the increased sunshine. Also consider Puyo, an Oriente base 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: Guayaquil is probably the best place to visit on the coast in October. It is a vibrant and interesting city, with a rejuvenated waterfront, several diverting museums, and fantastic nightlife, so any foggy, overcast October weather will not worry you too much. It also hosts the month's big party: Guayaquil Independence Day (see below). And there are great trips from Guayaquil too: for example, to see the cacao plantations that produce Ecuador's famous, high-quality chocolate.
What to Do
Quito & Highlands: October remains a fairly good month for walking, although the risk of showers is increasing. A good bet is maybe to try a hike where, if bad weather descends, there are other indoors options. Here, even Quito can oblige, with October 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: some, such as the Quillota Loop, not far from Quito. This trek is across a beautiful area of traditional Highlands overshadowed by volcanoes where you can stay in indigenous family homes along the way. Another good place for diverse outdoor activities is Baños, where you can try mountain-biking on the Ruta de las Cascadas (Waterfalls Route) to Puyo, bungee-jumping or bathing in natural thermal pools.
Oriente/Amazon: October is a great time to explore the jungle on its pathways. Some of these lead to canopy walkways that are great for watching the forest from above (in the drier sunnier weather birds love sunning themselves on the canopy). You also see different wildlife: that which lives on or in the trees, such as snakes and spiders!
Desert Coastal Strip & Galapagos: In October, that coastal fog keeps lingering along with that cooler weather, although temperatures are on the rise, and North Americans and Europeans, used to colder weather in their home countries, might fancy some beach time at vibrant beach towns like Mompiche.
Try a slice of sizzling city life in Guayaquil, where you can attend animated festivals and enjoy excellent nightlife, as well as visiting several high-quality museums, like the Parque Histórico Guayaquil which showcases the varied history and culture of the region.
This is also a brilliant month for diving and snorkeling 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 blockbuster marine animals, such as the whale sharks, as well as other nutrient-loving sea creatures. The endemic-to-the-Galapagos fur seal, mating right now, headlines the animal activity on the islands this month.
Independence Day of Guayaquil festivities: October 9-12. People in Guayaquil know how to make a party last. Guayaquil's independence from the Spanish (achieved in 1820) is celebrated on October 9. But another special day, Día de la Raza, occurs on October 12 so this entire period becomes one of cultural events and activities, and quite a few parades and processions.