Ethiopia weather has two major seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. However, each month in every season has its own character and setbacks. It is necessary to know what is going on in Ethiopia, before deciding to come or before deciding to wear certain clothes or for any other reason.
Ethiopia is situated in the horn of Africa, and it has enormous diversity in altitude from place to place. The highest point, for example, is 4,550m (14,930 ft), at Ras Dashin mountain, Africa’s 10th tallest mountain. The lowest point is at the Danakil Depression that reaches 125m (410ft) below sea level.
This difference in altitude has a huge impact on the weather of the country. You may have different climatic zones and huge variance in Ethiopian weather. The north part of the country has a high altitude, therefore it has early rain and colder weather. Some cities, surrounded by high latitudes and mountains, have a much higher temperature. The Ethiopia weather changes as it goes down, especially near the rift valley region. It then goes cooler as it approaches the south. The overall green cover also increases.
The climate zones range from tropical savanna in the west to desert climate in the east. Tourist destinations such as Lalibela and Gondar are at an elevation above 2,000m (6,561ft). These places enjoy a considerably cooler climate year-round.
The best time to visit Ethiopia is between October and May.
Here I will show you everything you need to know about Ethiopia weather, what you should wear and when to visit the country. This article will save you a lot of time.
The Ethiopia Weather and the Climate
Ethiopia weather is influenced by the three climatic zones: The Kola, Woina Dega, and the Dega. These are the tropical zone, the subtropical zone, and the cool weather zone respectively.
The Kolla or the tropical zone of Ethiopia weather is in areas 1800 above sea level. Here the average annual temperature could be above 25-degree Celsius. The temperature rises higher in areas such as the Danakil Depression up to 50 degrees Celsius.
The Woina Dega or the subtropical zone is in areas between 1800 or above to 2500 or below meters above sea level. The temperature is about 22-degree Celsius.
The Dega or the cooler part of the country is above 2500 meters above sea level. This Ethiopia weather regions could have 16 Celsius.
Traveling to Ethiopia, it’s vital to understand the country’s climate in order to make the very most of your time there. Ethiopia weather varies with altitude, from the hot and arid weather of the lowlands to the cool weather of the plateau. The country is just north of the Equator, therefore, experiences little variation in temperature throughout the year.
The country has four major seasons. The summer or the Kiremet is a rainy season, from the end of May to the end of September. The rains are usually caused by the southwest monsoon, which affects most of the country from June to September. It only affects the plateau and the mountain slopes exposed to the south-west. The area on the south-east of the country has two rainy seasons from March to May and from October to November. The rains are less tense than the southwest plateaus. In the southeast part, during some years, the rain doesn’t occur and, causes droughts.
On the Ethiopian Plateau, the weather is mild and warm. The sun shines from November to February, and the rain takes place from June to September and rain and thunderstorms once a day (mostly in the afternoon) from March to May.
Except for Mekele, located at 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) of altitude, the arid or semiarid areas surrounding the Ethiopian plateau have much lower altitude. These places have a July and august rainy season, and hot April to June.
Afar is very hot and is a desert. The Danakil depression gets hotter as the altitude suddenly drops to 125 meters below sea level. With the low temperature around 30 °C (86 °F) and highs around 40 °C (104 °F), the area is one of the hottest in the Ethiopia weather.
Is Ethiopia Hot or Cold?
Since Ethiopia is near the equator the sun shines almost all year round. There is no snow in Ethiopia weather, and the rain usually comes and goes in half a day in may places. The rain mostly forms due to evaporation and precipitation due to mountains near cities.
Ethiopia weather changes from city to city and from place to place depending on the altitude of the place. The higher the altitude, the colder the place becomes.
Addis Ababa, for example, is located at 2300 meters or 7500 feet above sea level. The temperature is mild and the day is pleasantly warm. And the night is cool. The average temperature at day time is 23/25 °C (73/77 °F), and at night is 1 0 °C (50 °F) or below.
Gondar is located at 2000 meters or 6500 feet above sea level, therefore the temperature is higher than Addis Ababa.
Bahir Dar, for example, is hotter than Addis Ababa, since it sits 1800 meters or 5900 feet above sea level.
Altitude is not the only criteria here. The location also matters. Places in the north that sit near the high plateau areas would have a hotter climate. Mekele, for example, sits on 2000 meters or 6500 feet but has a hot and dry climate. If the altitude goes lower than that, the heat becomes higher.
Places such as the Somali region and Dire Dawa are hot areas with 35 °C (95 °F) temperature. Like a desert the day becomes hot and night very cold.
Does It Get Cold in Ethiopia?
In Ethiopia, in some places like Debre Brihan, few kilometers from Addis Ababa, and somewhere in the plateaus of northern Ethiopia, it could get cold. Some times the night could be windy and very cold even in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia Weather Map
Weather Forecast Addis Ababa 15 Days
Addis Ababa has an optimal temperature, around 24 degrees or less in the day time. This consistently goes from October to march. March might see some increase and soon declines in the rainy season. here is the weather forecast for Addis Ababa for 15 days.
Lalibela Ethiopia Weather
Lalibela has 3 months of rainfall days with 1140mm or 44.9inch of precipitation. January, the middle of the year, is dry. May and June are warm and they have an average high temperature of 24°C (75.2°F). The temperature drops between August and November by 4-degree centigrade.
The temperature of Gondar varies from 51°F to 84°F and is rarely below 48°F or above 88°F.
What to wear and pack
The average temperature is warmer between October and May and is colder between June and September. Based on when you will visit the country, you need to pack accordingly. However, you should not expect extreme weather. The Ethiopian climate has an optimal temperature throughout the year.
In the rainy seasons, you need to have Jackets and full cloths. At this time of the year, avoid short dresses or short trousers. You don’t need many fur clothes or too many clothes. In the night time, especially in Addis, you only need normal clothes. The locals wear, shirts and trousers and dresses as well.
Sometimes, the night gets cold, then you only need to have an extra sweater or coat.
If you are traveling on a bus from Addis Ababa to the north, then you definitely will have a layer of weather varying from one place to another. Especially in the northern part of the country, despite the altitude, the temperature could change. The Abay desert in the north is a very hot place. Humera is also very hot during the summertime. Some places in the north also get very cold. Mekele could become warm and humid like Bahir Dar.
Therefore, you need to pack clothes and change as you feel like it.
The day time is warmer in many places and the cold comes as soon as the sun goes down. Therefore, you need to consider the temperature change and pack accordingly. In Addis Ababa night, for example, the Ethiopian weather goes down at least in half of the day temperature.
The harshest place is in the northeast part of the country. Near the Danakil depression and near afar, and Dire Dawa, the weather becomes harsh. The day is very hot and the nights get very cold. The locals do heavy manual work such as grinding and cutting salt out of the ground, and they even have to walk for hours to arrive at the workplace. But it is not advisable to do for a foreigner. Here, wear cotton and linen cloths and have a turban and a simple scarf. Wear white cloths, and avoid black clothes. Don’t expose skin to the sun, if you have a frail skin.
In the regions of Danakil and Afar and in the south-east, bring loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, light and long shirt and pants of natural fibers (cotton, linen), a desert turban, hiking shoes, a sweatshirt for the evening at an altitude higher than the plain.
The best time to visit Addis Ababa, Aksum, Lalibela and Gondar
The best time to visit Aksum, Lalibela and Gondar are from November to April. The sun is up and the day is warm. You won’t have a problem with rain. The cold season begins in June in many places. Timely rain and cold weather begin here. Then in July and August, the rain proceeds and it rains at least once a day. In some places, it rains for hours nonstop.
October gets warmer and the flowers bloom in many places. March and April have a higher temperature in many of these places. It is advisable to wear cotton clothes in these months.
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The big plus of the weather is that in September and October, March, April, May, and June, traveling gets cheaper. With unexpected rain and colder weather, you can enjoy the country.
The best time to visit the Lower Omo Valley
The best time to visit the Omo Valley is from January to April when the Ethiopian weather is dry but hot. Since you are looking for social and cultural events, you need to avoid going there in the rainy season. The people would be sitting their chambers waiting for the cold to pass rather than going out and dance and do their things.
The roads that lead to some villages are also not paved and the mud, due to the rain, would give you a hard time.
The rain in the south is much more than in the north. It may rain all day, nonstop in some places. The days get cloudy and cover all the beautiful things you need to visit.
The wild animals also would take a shade instead of coming in the open to be seen.
The best time to visit the Danakil Depression
The Danakil depression Ethiopia weather could get up to 50 degrees and more. It is not a place for a simple walk. If it was not for the marvelous landscape and the natural features, the places would not be fun to be inside. Due to the altitude, the weather is harsh. The mountains and higher altitudes surrounding the area would trap the air and you feel a still hot air. While in a car you need to close windows or else you see the heat against your face.
Make sure you have a good ventilation system on your car before departing to Danakil depression.
Visiting new places is always a strange activity. You would see new phenomena that your body did not experience before. Therefore, it is best to understand the climate and the weather of the place beforehand.
1-The weather of a place in Ethiopia doesn’t only differ based on altitude, but also the nearby altitude and the mountains surrounding it. For example near the northern part of Addis Ababa, the air is colder and the rain stays longer than the rest of the city. The south part seems dry. This is due to the mountains in the north and the relatively higher altitude. The great depression zone in the south makes the area hotter.
2-When traveling by bus to long-distance, the Ethiopia weather changes fast. You need to be aware of this all the time.
3-White cloths and thin clothes are preferable in the day time.
4- Time from June to October is a rainy season for many places. The sun gets harsh in march.
5-Ethiopia, even Africa is not a desert as you may have heard. It is definitely less humid and less desert and less cold than any place in the world.