Ethiopia is an amazing country to visit. With its ancient history, Christian churches dug into the ground, and a whole host of amazing wildlife to see in its far-flung national parks, this country should definitely be on your travel list.
Figuring out when is the best time to visit Ethiopia, however, can be tricky. That’s exactly why we have created this month by month guide to the weather, temperature, and general climate of the country’s regions. We’ve also made a handy guide to the best festivals in Ethiopia, so you can plan your trip with its unique celebrations in mind.
When is the best time to visit Ethiopia?
Weather in Ethiopia in January
January in Ethiopia is high season. It’s a great time to visit Ethiopia for wildlife watching. You can expect clear skies and warm days, with temperatures in the capital city of Addis Ababa hovering around 17°C. Across the country, there’s an average high of 23°C and an average low of 9°C. It’s not freezing by any means, and days can be pretty mild.
The capital sees, on average, three days of rain (13mm). In church-filled Axum, the temperatures are much the same, with an average of 19°C. There’s hardly any rain, making for a good climate to explore the city. Elsewhere, in Gondar, the weather is also great – think 24°C on average and sunny days.
Weather in Ethiopia in February
The average weather for the capital in February is 23°C, with clear, sunny skies 82% of the time and a slim chance of rain. It’s definitely one of the best times to visit Ethiopia, with the weather being almost perfect across the country – but it depends where you are. Most of the time, the humidity is at an endurable level, meaning it’s comfortable enough to wander around, and sunny days are pretty much guaranteed.
In Axum, the average rises slightly to 20°C, while in Lalibela, the average temperature is similar – at 19°C. However, you may experience some showers, with 75mm of rain expected over an average of nine days. These downpours are only temporary, anyway, and the temperature never sinks below 17°C.
Weather in Ethiopia in March
March is a great time to go to Ethiopia. It’s starting to get a little warmer, yes, but it’s still perfect for exploring much of what the country has to offer, from its ancient churches to its wildlife. Addis Ababa sees clear weather and averages of 24°C, whereas in Bahir Dar (around Laka Tana), it is a balmy 28°C, with the max temperature hitting the early 30s. Thankfully there’s low humidity here, too.
At Awash National Park, temperatures are around 30°C. The park sees around eight days of rainfall on average, but generally, it’s good weather to explore.
Weather in Ethiopia in April
April marks the beginning of the low season in Ethiopia, with the rainy season in the southern parts of the country starting up around this time, too. In the lowlands, temperatures can get pretty scorching. In other places, while getting to be a little hot for comfort, it’s still fine to travel around during April.
The capital, for example, is still seeing temperatures of 24°C, and you can still enjoy the sunshine with a tolerable level of humidity. In other parts of the country, the weather is not so good.
In Arba Minch, for example, there’s a lot of rain, and the temperature is an average of 27°C (not so nice).
Weather in Ethiopia in May
It might not be the best time to visit Ethiopia in May; the country is heading towards low season – a time of year known for its not-so-great weather. There’s less visibility for wildlife spotting, overcast conditions, rainy days, and higher heat and humidity. Some places, however, are still fine to discover for yourself.
Axum is 25°C and sees some downpours in May. It’s a similar story in Gondar, with an average temperature of 26°C and around half the month being rainy. In Lalibela, things are a little nicer: temperatures are only 22°C, there’s much less rainfall, and humidity is at a moderate 52%.
Weather in Ethiopia in June
June is still low season in Ethiopia; however, it doesn’t mean you can’t travel to the country and see it for yourself. Addis Ababa sees temperatures of 25°C (high) and 21°C on average. You may risk getting pretty wet if you visit during June though, with 141mm of rain falling over 14 days in the capital. That’s pretty rainy.
In Bahir Dar, it is warmer, yet tolerable, with an average high of 28°C. But expect heavy rain as things get even wetter towards July. It is actually relatively dry in Yangudi Rassa National Park throughout June, with about six days of rainfall and temperatures anywhere between 24°C and 29°C. It’s an excellent place to visit during this month.
Weather in Ethiopia in July
Ethiopia in July is wet. There’s a lot of rainfall this month, so expect downpours and storms. It’s not the ideal time to be traveling to Ethiopia, but some places remain accessible. For example, Addis Ababa has just an 8% chance of sunshine, a 21% chance of storms, and sees temperatures of 21°C on average.
Gondar boasts around a 95% chance of rain over 29 of July’s days and has around 85% humidity! One of the only places in the country with relatively good weather in July is Jijiga: things improve from June with less rain than the previous month, and warmer days (temperatures are around 21°C on average).
Weather in Ethiopia in August
August is most definitely the middle of the low season. It’s uncomfortable, it’s wet with hot temperatures in the lowlands, and just not great to get around in other places. Overall, it’s really not the best time to visit Ethiopia. It turns out the low season is low season for a reason!
Basically, the weather in Ethiopia in August is a similar picture to that of July, except that the rainfall is heavier and more frequent. For example, in the capital, temperatures are at 18°C, and there is an expectation of 100% rainfall over every single one of the 31 days in August. It’s a similar story for the rest of the country, except for Jijiga, which has less extreme seasonal norms.
Weather in Ethiopia in September
Ethiopia begins to ease out of the heavy rains of August and marks the beginning of the end of the low season. But don’t get too excited yet; there’s still a lot of rain to contend with, and it’s not the best time of year to visit Ethiopia. Addis Ababa has an average temperature of 19°C and 75% rainfall over 22 days.
In Lalibela, things are also improving, with half the month seeing rainfall and only 60% humidity. Things in the Laka Tana region are still pretty wet (80% rainfall over 24 days), with a relatively mild average temperature of 23°C.
Weather in Ethiopia in October
October heralds the start of shoulder season. After all that rain, the country begins to turn green, with much-watered wildflowers starting to bloom, as well as grasses. It’s a good time of year to begin trekking in Ethiopia, and there are fewer visitors than during high season – which may be a good thing for you.
Addis Ababa sees temperatures of 22°C and is, contrary to previous months, clear and sunny 78 percent of the time. Only half the month sees rainfall. In Axum, it rains very little, with only six days on average being affected by precipitation, and with temperatures of 21°C. Awash National Park is a pleasant 26°C on average and is beginning to see less and less rain.
Weather in Ethiopia in November
November is a good time to visit Ethiopia. It is still shoulder season, but the sunny skies and generally dry weather make it great for trekking and enjoying the wildlife. The capital is bright and sunny most of the time and is a pleasant 19°C on average. Axum is similar, with just a few days affected by rain. Gondar is also pretty great weather. =
Out in nature, the Simien Mountains National Park has the perfect climate for exploring during November. And it’s only going to get better!
Weather in Ethiopia in December
With much less rainfall as the country heads into high season, December is one of the best times to visit Ethiopia. Temperatures throughout the country aren’t too high, with Addis Ababa only 19°C and Axum also 19°C, meaning it is a pretty pleasant time of year to visit.
It is a great time to visit the desert region that is the Danakil Depression in the northern part of the Afar Triangle; it’s not as hot as it would be in other times of the year. Since it’s not yet the peak of the high season, it will be much less crowded than next month.
Festivals to Celebrate in Ethiopia
Spring Festivals in Ethiopia
April 5 is Ethiopian Patriots Day. This celebrates King Halie Selassie’s triumphant return to the capital of Addis Ababa, having successfully defeated the Italian army, which occupied the city for five years during World War II. Expect festivities like parades and flag-waving.
Easter in Ethiopia is called Fasika. It marks the end of a 55 day fasting period. On Easter Eve, people go to the church for a candle-lit mass. On Easter day itself, there are colorful celebrations – particularly in Axum and Lalibela, where fasts are broken, and families get together.
Summer Festivals in Ethiopia
On August 21, it’s Buhe time. What’s that, you ask? With its Halloween-esque tradition of groups of boys asking for fresh bread (called “buhe”) from people’s houses, as well as bundles of sticks being set alight and communities singing songs around them, it makes for a welcome break from the rains of August.
Fall Festivals in Ethiopia
September 11 marks the Ethiopian New Year, called Enkutatash. Not only does it mark the New Year – coinciding with the end of the rainy season and the highlands being covered in wildflowers – but it also is a celebration of John the Baptist.
Translating as “Gift of Jewels,” Enkutatash is a time when children don new clothes and dance through towns and villages offering bouquets of flowers.
The most vibrant celebration takes place in the Gondar region, in the city of Genet – specifically at the 14th-century Kidus Yohannes church. It’s most definitely one of the best festivals in Ethiopia.
September is also the time of Meskel. Falling on September 26 and 27, it allegedly dates back to 326 AD and a legend surrounding the “true cross” on which Jesus was crucified. In Ethiopia, it’s marked by bonfires, dancing and singing, priests in ceremonial dress, and plenty of food and drink.
Though Ethiopia has many traditions and festivals based on religion, one of the best events in Ethiopia has got to be the Great Ethiopian Run. Held around Addis Ababa every November 15, it is a 10-kilometer run that sees thousands of participants take to the streets and a fun atmosphere. The finish line is a grueling 2,300 meters above sea level.
Winter Festivals in Ethiopia
In either early December or late November, Ethiopia celebrates the festival of Maryam Zion. Thousands of pilgrims arrive in Axum for the celebrations in front of the Northern Stelae Field, where patriarchs of the Ethiopian Church line the steps.
Another one of Ethiopia’s top festivals, Christmas in the African country is called Genna. Interestingly, its observance is still based on the ancient Julian calendar and therefore falls on the 7th of January. Much as you would do at home, people dress up in their best clothes, go to church, and feast with their families.
In January, there is the festival of Timkat (also known as Timket). This is Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christian celebration of the Epiphany, which marks the time when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Lasting for three days, the celebration in the capital is colorful and takes place every year on January 19, with preparations beginning the previous day. Streets are adorned with the colors of the Ethiopian flag, and priests walk through the streets holding elaborate parasols.
Plan and Pack for Ethiopia
Look the part
Here is our guide to choosing the best safari clothes for your adventure. Browse through all our Africa packing lists:
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Africa so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere. The tap water in Uganda is generally not safe to drink, but a water purifier, like the Grayl waterbottle, works well!
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa.
You’ll need a special travel adapter in Africa.
Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights. Are you going on safari? We always carry our Robert’s Southern Africa Bird Book and a good mammal guide
You’ll want a safari shirt while on safari. They are lightweight and keep the bugs away. Plus they look ideal in photos and blend into the environment around you!
Lightweight pants that are made from synthetic material are tremendous to have in your pack. It’s what we wear most days when traveling around Africa as they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos (malaria).
We recommend neutral colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors. What’s great is they’re useful beyond Africa as they are a travel staple and we pack a pair everywhere we travel.
If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Africa then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Africa.
Africa Travel Tips
- Read These Tips On Travel in Africa
- What to Know Before You Go To Morocco
- Namibia Travel Tips You Should Know
- Why Traveling In Africa is Expensive
- Things To Know Before You Travel To Botswana
- Read These Tips On Travel in Zimbabwe
- 12 Tips On Travel To Zanzibar You Should Read
- 20 South Africa Travel Tips
- An Ideal Self Drive Uganda Itinerary
- Truck Camping • A Guide to Living Out of Your Truck
- The Africa Packing List Items You’ll Want to Have • 2019 Update
- 10 Best Travel Water Bottles to Carry Around the World in 2019
- 10 Africa Travel Blogs to Help You Plan Your African Adventure
- Sustainable Travel is More Than Being Green • How To Travel Sustainably
- 19 Movies About Africa to See Before Visiting the Continent
- The Best Safari Destinations To Sport Wildlife
- Your Guide To Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
- The Magic of Kafue National Park
- A Masai Mara Guide For Safari Goers
- Africa’s Safari Animals And Where To Find Them
- Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – All You Need To Know
- Inside Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve
- A Week in South Luangwa National Park