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Is it a bad time to travel through Ecuador?

Season 6: Project Alaska

1 January 2022

A huge part of planning a long- (or short for that matter) distance motorcycle trip is thinking about what the best time is to undertake the adventure. Generally, your adventure is going to be a lot more enjoyable and pleasant if you pick the best season or time of the year. Nobody wants to ride through Africa in the rainy season or in Siberia in the midst of winter. So, planning is essential. 

When I type in 'best time to visit Ecuador', Google advises me to visit Ecuador in June to September because it will be dry and sunny then. But, I was so desperate to go back to South America to finish my journey to Alaska that I didn't check what the weather would be like in November and December. Nor did I care. Come rain or shine, I shall persist and continue the ride. At least that is what I thought. 

So far, it has rained pretty much every afternoon in Ecuador. At first, I thought it was just my own fault of being here during the 'wrong' months of the year. Until I read an interesting article. Turns out, we are dealing with another La Niña year. 

La Niña and Ecuador

Perhaps you are only familiar with her counterpart, El Niño. Both phenomenons are climate patterns that affect weather patterns all over the world. An El Niño or La Niña episode typically lasts 9 to 12 months, but can sometimes last for years. 

The La Niña effect occurs less often, but when it does, it means that more warm waters are being pushed towards Asia because of strong westerly winds. As a result, deep, cold water comes to the surface, west of the Americas. 

The effect of the upwelling of this cold water is that places like Australia and Indonesia are going to receive lots of rainfall and probably experience flooding. The south of the USA becomes drier, whereas its northern part and Canada will experience heavier rainfall. The hurricane season in Central America is often more active during La Niña, causing heavy rainfall, floods and landslides. And as for Ecuador, heavy rainfall is what she will receive. 

That is not very good news for me as I will be traveling through Ecuador, Colombia and Central America in the coming months.

Crime and Ecuador 

On top of that, 2021 hasn't been a good year crime-wise either. Ecuador declared a state of emergency over a crime wave that hit the country and due to several deadly prison riots. It turns out that Ecuador has changed from being a drug trafficking country (not good) to a drug consumer country (worse) as land borders with neighboring countries have been closed due to the pandemic. 

Like many other countries in the world where I've traveled that have big internal crime problems like this (think: South Africa), you don't notice much of it as a motorcycle traveler. Unless you get massively involved in drug trade or other criminal activities, of course. Staying out of bad neighborhoods in big cities and not riding at nighttime will generally do the job. When you explore mountains and other remote areas on your motorcycle during the day, all you will encounter are lovely people that are pretty excited to meet you. In that sense, Ecuador feels safe and not dangerous at all.

Spectacular Ecuador

That leaves the question: is it a bad time to travel to Ecuador? I think it's always a good time to travel to Ecuador, as it's a spectacular country with incredible nature, friendly people and good food (important!). You can't go very wrong here! 

And as for La Niña. Yes, it may not be the best time to be here. But as these big climate patterns have global effects, there are many other countries that also suffer from it. In a way, there is just no escape of La Niña. And I guess that's also part of traveling, experiencing how a nation handles conditions other than just sunshine and blue skies. Seeing how it's like to live in a place when it gets tough. 

The most significant thing for me is to be back on the road again,  exploring and experiencing as much as I can, so I can share it with you. No matter, rain or sunshine!


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I was worrying if you were going to go through Ecuador it is getting really bad their ! Stay safe !

Bradford  | 

Hi, really enjoying your blog. Brings back memories of year in Central and South America. Its interesting how some things change and others stay the same. In 1977 on Honda 350KLs crossing from Panama to Columbia was by far the most difficult crossing. Panama was divided into the American controlled Canal Zone and locally controlled rest which had no proper port, was full of crime but really interesting. In the end got a boat from Panama to Buenaventura where our troubles started. Customs confiscated passport and Carnet leaving us stuck in the docks with no facilities or food for several days .Eventually got out after enlisting some "good cops' who recovered documents and got us out at 2am. Buenaventura was the most desperate place I'd ever been and the rest of Columbia was in the grip of the Cartels with government officials and police being shot and whole towns taken over. Now Columbia is safe and it sounds as if Equadior which in 77 was a friendly and beautiful country is not so safe thanks to the drugs. All the best for the rest of your trip

Has Been  | 

While you're in Colombia, could you go to Gaviotas, the famous village founded in 1971 where they've planted over a million trees and reclaimed land that was dead before? It would be great to see it in reality, through your camera, rather than the official websites.

Ronman  | 




What a great start to season six. I can see why not to put Alaska into a basket again. Hope the H60's work out much better. What was that fruit opener you used, never saw one with that design.
In a couple of days we made it up from -4.7 F to 51 F ... with wind of course ... it's the Rocky Mountains.
Take care Noraly. Next adventure on the 10th of January 22 is only 36 hours away.

Mike - P.  | 

Hi Noraly. You truly are amazing! You've been going for more than 2 months now! By the time you posted the last video of Savannah in two parts at the end of the Kalahari rally, you have left Quito. After today's episode i think you went back to Quito for new tires and a service on Alaska. So i think you then crossed into Colombia on or near 1st December. By year end you could have been in Costa Rica easily!

Take care and enjoy the ride in 2022.

Tom  | 

Yes, you are spot on. It is an unusual year for the Pacific in that we are experiencing am intensified La Niña this year following a La Niña year last year as well. The NOAA website shows the development of the La Niña this year and you are smack in the epicenter of it as it flows from east to west across the Pacific in the equatorial region. You, Noraly, have the true heart of an adventurer, though. You are on this journey, not just this one, but the one called life, to explore, discover, and push the limits, if needed, to explore and experience that which is there to be experienced in it's raw form. I want to say it was perhaps by only your 3rd or 4th episode of your first season they I remember thinking, you have the heart of a lion, and you do. We, as your fans and supporters, worry about you, of course because we care about you, but I know you would not be you with out your passion for exploration and adventure. That is what makes you, you, and what makes you so special. We will keep watching and riding with you as you take us along on your remarkable journey and continue to inspire us, fellow adventures, four sure you have inspired me, to step out of my comfort zone and take on new adventures of our own. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! 🙏🏼😊

Ranjit  | 

You are a saint keep up the adventures that as we get older we can see the world through your eyes , and enjoy your travels😊😊😊😊😊😊🥂

Chris Venter  | 

Hey my friend. Glad you’re feeling better. Happy new year. Stay safe

Charles S bordelon  | 

Hi Noraly,

Sorry to hear that altitude sickness caught you in Quilotoa at just 3500 m altitude. As you said, you crossed much higher passes in the past, so I assume it was perhaps a fatal combination of altitude and high humidity.

I remember you once said, you are a very bad boss to yourself, so enjoy a small break every once and a while at a nice place and better work not too hard as nearing burnout won't help neither us nor yourself.

So, happy travelling northbound now and all the best for 2022!


Thomas_57  | 
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