Ethiopian Weather: A Basic Guide To The Cool And Harsh Climate

Ethiopia is one of the biggest nations in Africa, only second in population. The nation is located in the horn of Africa which is East of Africa. It Shares limit with Kenya, Somali, Sudan, Djibouti, and Eritrea. There is high social and cultural variety in Ethiopia that makes it one of the most visited nations in the world.

On the other hand, the high elevation contrast in Ethiopia made a different climatic zone within the boundary of Ethiopia. The elevation differs from Ras Dashen Mountain to the absolute bottom of Assale Lake in Danakil depression.

Before visiting Ethiopia, you probably need to answer a few Ethiopian weather questions.

  • What are the seasons in Ethiopian weather.
  • How many climatic zones are in the country, and more?

Ethiopia is located near the Sahara Desert, and it gets the effect of the dry heat, especially in the northern part.

The rest of the country is green and has unique soil types and weather types. Each Ethiopian weather also has its opportunity and threats. The cold in the semen mountains, for example, makes life hard on the plateau. The optimal temperature of the Southern Ethiopia is good for many crops and coffee. In other areas, the rain comes early and may stay longer than in other places.

What are the Seasons in Ethiopian Weather?  

There are four seasons in Ethiopian weather: Bega, Belg, Kiremet, and Tseday. The Bega is the driest season of all where the amount of rain falls is at its minimum with frost in the morning, especially in January. It’s called winter, and it includes December, January, and February.

Belg is autumn which comes in September, October, and November. This season is the harvesting season and the time of the year the landscape is covered with plants and its beautiful product. The harvesting time might be different based on the type of crop.

Kiremet/meher is called summer and it has the month of June, July, and August. This season is the rainiest. Even though the amount of the rainfall differs from place to is this time of the year the preparation of land and crops starts.

Tseday is called spring that contains the month of March April and May. This season is well known with its hottest of all seasons with high temperatures which requires occasional showers.

What are Climate Zones in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is in the tropical zone lying between the equator to the tropic of cancer. In Local terms, it is classified into 5 major groups Dega, Wonadega, Kolla, Bereha, and Wirch.

Dega is the cool zone. It is a climatic zone in areas of the altitude above 2440 meters and the average annual temperature of about 160 c and the annual rainfall between 1270mm and 1280 mm. The rain here is much less than tropical zone.

Weyna dega is warm, wet and lies below 2440 to 1800 m the zone includes highland areas. The average annual temperature of 220 with the annual rainfall between 510 and 1530 mm.

Kola climatic zone is much warmer than weyna dega and also drier. Bereha and wirch, both of which refer to Ethiopia’s most extreme climate zones.

Bereha is the hottest and drier of all the zones and in contrast, the Wirch is the coldest of all which is above 3200 meters of altitude.

Since Ethiopia covers a large area in eastern Africa, and since the altitude differs largely from place to place these climatic zones are found distributed in the country. The northern mountains and plateaus are cold while the Danakil depression only few kilometers away are the hottest places in the country. 

How Does Ethiopian Weather Affect the Society and my Travel? 

From the way of dressing to the architecture, Ethiopian culture is affected by the Ethiopian weather. In the Afar, a desert climate zone, the dressing code is light clothes on the day time and more cloths at the night as the temperature dramatically falls at night. Therefore, you need to prepare with extra cloths.

The climate in Afar forces the people to live a nomadic lifestyle, and they are constantly on the move. Therefore, they use small, easy to carry materials to build their houses and to demolish and rebuild in another location where there is water. They use sticks and mats as these are easily transportable.

In south Ethiopia, many places are colder and rainy. The places are green and wild coffee and fruits are easily found. The people need permanent living and they depend on the landscape. In the Gurage zone, for example, the land is green and their houses are permanent and well designed. The houses are placed integrated with landscapes such as rivers and local plants.

Most places have an optimal temperature that does not need an air conditioner. Addis Ababa, for example, has 22 degrees at its highest temperature. These days, due to the contractions and deforestation, the temperature seems to increase in some months. However, the city has a consistent and optimal temperature.

What are the Climatic Regions in Ethiopia?

Plateau: This Ethiopian weather can be cool, mild, or pleasantly warm, depending on altitude. There is a season characterized by scarce rains from November to February and a rainy season from June to September, preceded by a period, from March to May, when some showers and thunderstorms may occur in the afternoon. The annual rainfall ranges from 1,000 to 2,200 millimeters. Rainfall occurs as downpour or thunderstorm, usually in the afternoon or in the evening, even during the monsoon season, when, however, cloudiness is more widespread.

Arid regions in the arid or semiarid areas surrounding the Ethiopian plateau the amount of rainfall drops below 800 mm (31.5 in) per year. The narrow strip of the west of the plateau receives the southwest monsoon.

Danakil in northern Ethiopia, in the Afar Region, is desert and hot consistently throughout the year. Specifically, in the Danakil Depression, where some salt lakes, for example, Lake Afrera are discovered, the atmosphere is especially scorching. Since the altitude drops to 125 meters below sea level, the climate is for all time and very hot consistently.

The relinquished settlement of Dallol, in the far north, is viewed as the hottest spot on the in the world, by and large, having an everyday temperature of 35 °C throughout the entire year. Lows are around 30 °C and highs around 40 °C. On the inclines of Erta Ale fountain of liquid magma, dim basalt rock assimilates the sun’s beams and warms up with a certain goal in mind, in this way making a repulsive domain.

Among mountains from the Ethiopian Plateau, several mountain peaks, Ras Dashen is the highest in the country at about 4,550 meters. In some mountains where several interesting ecosystems are found up to 2,800 meters, you find a forest, replaced at higher altitudes by barren mountain vegetation, able to withstand the cold of the night. While above 4,000, the constant cold prevents the growth of almost any type of vegetation. On the contrary, some mountains such as Ras Dashen (in the north) and Abuna Yosef (in the east) are located in the semi-arid area.

What Is the Best Time to Visit Ethiopia?

The best time to visit Ethiopia is from November to February, the driest and coolest the year almost everywhere. In the arid areas, this is still a hot period at low altitude, with scorching days, but nights are usually pretty cool. The worst months on the plateau are July and August because of the rainfall, and April and May in the semi-arid areas because of the heat. The Danakil Depression is steadily scorching and inhospitable throughout the year although it is probably a little less hot from December to February.               


The climatic zone in Ethiopia is rather very diverse and is different from many other countries. The climate highly differs from one place to another, based on the altitude of a city or a location. You will experience a huge climatic change if you are traveling in a car.

Before traveling to cities in Ethiopia, first, you need to know the climatic zones of the areas. Then you need to wear for the climatic zone.

November to February is the best time for a visit to many areas in Ethiopia. In these months the sun is not harsh and the rain has not yet come. This might not be true for some areas, especially in the northern mountains and in southern Ethiopia. Except in some areas in the eastern part, Ethiopian weather has an optimal temperature that doesn’t need air conditioning.

There are four seasons in Ethiopia with their character but only two of them, the summer and the winter have much more effect. The summer is dry and sunny and the winter is when the rain begins. The summer is about 9 months and the winter is 3 or months depending on the location.

Finally, you may need to use sunscreen to keep your skin safe, especially if you came from cold areas. Although the sun may not be that harsh, you still may get the effect. You also need to stay hydrated. Since the climate changes fast from place to place, keeping body temperature optimal is necessary.

Ethiopian weather, Ethiopian weather guide

Author: Tesfaye Abebe , edited

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