Ethiopia is one of the most incredible places to visit in Africa. Known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’, it has a long and fascinating history, a rich and diverse culture, breathtaking landscapes, and a jaw-dropping range of wildlife.
Though you may imagine Ethiopia being a hot, dry country which is uncomfortable to visit, this is simply not the case. Though on the fringes the temperatures can go above 86°F (30°C), Ethiopia enjoys a fairly mild climate with average temperatures of around 86°F (20°C), though this varies depending on altitude.
Overall, the best time to travel to Ethiopia is the dry season (between October and June) as the highlands are green, lush, and perfect for hiking. Going during the wetter months is wet and humid but, on the other hand, is the cheapest time to go to Ethiopia. This handy guide will explain the pros and cons of going during the high, shoulder, and low seasons.
The High Season (January to March)
- Season: Summer
- Average temperature (in Addis Ababa): 50-75°F (10 -24°C)
- Average rainfall: 20-80 mm
This is the best season to visit Ethiopia as the weather is warm, sunny, and perfect for seeing wildlife such as ibex, wolves, and giraffes. The average rainfall is at its lowest in many parts of the country including the capital, Addis Ababa.
Some of Ethiopìa’s most vibrant festivals, such as Timkat and Leddet, also fall during this time of year. The only activity you cannot do during these months is hiking in the Simien or Bale mountains.
Shoulder Season (October to December)
- Season: Summer
- Average temperature (in Addis Ababa): 50-70°F (10-20°C)
- Average rainfall: 10-40mm
Another fantastic time to visit Ethiopia for tourism. Though it is cooler than the high season, it is a great time for trekking and there are fewer tourists. There is little rain during this period so visibility is perfect.
This is the ideal time to go hiking in the Simien mountains which are truly stunning. More adventurous visitors can also visit the Danakil Depression and the Great Rift Valley.
The Low Season (April to September)
Average temperature (in Addis Ababa): 55-75°F (12-25°C)
Average rainfall: 55-270 mm
This is the peak rainy season and it is a bad time to visit many parts of the country such as the Simien or Bale mountains. The lowlands can be hot, sticky, and uncomfortable including Addis Ababa.
The major advantage of traveling during the low season is the price. Certain national parks such as the Omo and Mago Valley can be visited after July but many of the most popular national heritage sites and trekking routes are inaccessible.
When is the best time to go to Ethiopia?
So, when is the perfect time to travel to Ethiopia? This depends on where you want to visit. It is best to avoid the rainy season but apart from this, the Ethiopian weather generally makes for an unforgettable adventure.
Here are some recommendations for different regions…
The highlands, north, east, and west: October to April
The south and Danakil: August to mid-October and mid-February to march
If you plan to travel around Ethiopia, take clothing for hot and cooler temperatures they can vary greatly depending on the altitude and time of day.