It' s rainy
If you’re planning a trip to Ethiopia, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the country’s climate in order to make the very most of your time there.
- In Ethiopia, the climate varies with altitude. It goes from the hot and arid climate of the lowlands to the cool climate of the plateau. Lying just North of the Equator, the country experiences little variation in temperature throughout the year.
- The rains are caused by the South-west monsoon, which affects the country from June to September (the rainy season is called Kiremt). However, in reality, each area has its own rainfall patterns. If you’re traveling to the historic sites of the North, July and August are the wettest months. But in the South, peak rains arrive in April and May, and again in October. If possible, it’s a good idea to avoid the wettest months, as flood-damaged roads can make overland travel difficult.
- In Northern Ethiopia, in the Afar Region, there is desert and hot throughout the year. In particular, in the Danakil depression, where some salt lakes such as Lake Afrera are found, the climate is particularly hot. That is also because of the low altitude, which drops to 125 metres below sea level. Here a stable and overwhelming heat reigns throughout the year. The abandoned settlement of Dallol, in the far North, is considered the hottest place in the world on average. There is a daily temperature of 35 °C (95 °F) all year round: lows are around 30 °C (86 °F) and highs around 40 °C (104 °F). On the slopes of the volcano Erta Ale, the dark basalt rock absorbs the sun’s rays and heats up particularly, thus creating a hellish environment.
In Ethiopia, traveling from one area to another can mean shifting from 15 C to 35 C in a matter of hours.
You can visit Ethiopia all year round. But at that case you should choose the time of year depending on what you want to do there. The best time to visit Ethiopia is from October to March. It is the driest and coolest almost everywhere. In the arid areas, at low altitude this is still a hot period, with scorching days, but usually with pretty cool nights. In the plateau, the worst months are July and August because of the rainfall, in the semi-arid areas they are April and May because of the heat. While the Danakil Depression is steadily scorching and inhospitable throughout the year.
What to wear in Ethiopia?
In the regions of Danakil and Afar and in the South-East, take loose fitting, light-coloured clothing, light and long shirt and pants of natural fibres (cotton, linen), a desert scarf, hiking shoes, a sweatshirt for wearing at the evening at an higher altitude.
- For wearing in Addis Ababa and at the plateau – spring/summer clothes, light for the day – dress and shorts, a sun hat, a jacket, but a sweater for the evening. In a rainy season at Addis Ababa – spring/autumn clothes, a jacket, a raincoat and umbrella.
- For high mountains (above 3,000 metres) – warm clothes, a warm jacket, gloves and a scarf.
- Eastern Ethiopia is typically warm and dry, while the Northern highlands are cool and wet in season. If you’re planning on visiting the Omo river region, be prepared for very hot temperatures.
Rainfalls infrequently in this area, although the river itself serves to keep the land fertile even at the height of the dry season.