Many know Ecuador best for the Galapagos Islands whose diverse wildlife inspired Charles Darwin and his theory of Natural Selection, but the mainland is one of the most bio-diverse country in the world too. Wildlife reserves abound. Take the Cuybeno Wildlife reserve, which encompasses a large swath of the Amazon Rain Forest.

With its diverse regions, Ecuador has a variety of climates. The coast is generally warm to hot, with a rainy season from December to May. The beaches are busy during the months of January through April because of school vacations. July and August can be cool, but are the best times for whale watching. The climate in the mountains can reach temperatures up to 80°F in the middle of the day and then go down as low as 40°F at night, so dressing in layers is ideal. Rain showers are unpredictable, though the summer months (June-September) tend to be drier. In the Amazon Jungle, the climate is tropical.

Rain, humidity and heat are the most typical weather patterns to expect.
In the Galapagos, the climate varies from rainy and humid (January-June) to dry (July-December). Temperatures range between 65-90°F, with an average of about 77°F. From May through July, the water temperature can go down to 65°F.

Ecuador, about equal in area to Nevada, is in the northwest part of South America on the Pacific Ocean. To the north is Colombia and to the east and south is Peru. Two high and parallel ranges of the Andes, traversing the country from north to south, are topped by tall volcanic peaks. The highest of these is Chimborazo at 20,577 feet. Cotopaxi, at 19,347 feet, is highest active volcano in world. The Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean about 700 miles west of the South American mainland, became part of Ecuador in 1832.

Major Holidays & Events
In addition to the customary holidays, Ecuador traditionally celebrates:
February - Carnival/Shrove Tuesday
March or April - Maundy Thursday through Easter
May 1 - Labor Day/May Day
May 24 - The Battle of Pichincha
July 24 - Simón Bolívar's Birthday Memorial
August 10 - Independence Day
October 9 - Independence of Guayaquil
November 2 & 3 - All Soul's Day & Independence of Cuenca
December 6 - Foundation of Quito

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