Ethiopia Weather and Climate
General and location
Ethiopia is an independent state in East Africa, which with around 97 million inhabitants is the largest landlocked country in the world. According to current statistics, at least 3.5 million people live in the capital Addis Ababa alone.
Ethiopia’s area is three times the size of the Federal Republic of Germany and, due to its considerable altitude, it also has a special position on the African continent. Almost exactly half of the country’s area is above the 1200 meter mark, and Addis Ababa is also located at around 2370 meters in the high mountains.
The highest elevation in Ethiopia is the Ras Daschän at 4533 meters, and the neighboring Somali highlands in the southeast of the African Rift Valley also produce mountains with more than 4000 meters.
Ethiopia is a real multiethnic state with over 85 ethnicities and languages. In the course of its eventful history, Ethiopia was the object of desire for Italian expansion plans for many decades, in particular starting from the neighboring colony of Eritrea.
For a long time these attempts at conquest could not be resisted, but in 1936 Italy successfully invaded. However, since the army never controlled the entire country, Ethiopia still regards itself as the only African country that has never been colonized.
After Addis Ababa, the largest cities in today’s Ethiopia are Dire Dawa, Adama (former Nazret), Bahir Dar, Gonder and Mek’ele.
Climate in Ethiopia
Ethiopia not only has enormous differences in altitude, but logically also has regionally different climatic conditions. Basically, the country can be divided into three climate zones. Below 1850 meters there is a tropical hot zone with high temperatures and very little precipitation.
Between 1,850 and 2,500 meters above sea level, there is a large, temperate zone with quite high temperatures and increased rainfall, especially between June and September.
This also includes the capital Addis Ababa at around 2,400 meters above sea level. Above 2500 meters it is not only significantly cooler, but also increasingly wetter in all mountain regions of Ethiopia. In the area above 4000 meters, there is seasonal frost and snowfall.
Nevertheless, the weather in Ethiopia – more than in other regions of Africa – is often unpredictable and characterized by extreme extremes. In the recent past, for example, there has been both torrential precipitation and long-lasting, serious periods of drought.
When to go to Ethiopia
In general, Ethiopia is subject to two rainy seasons due to the subtropical latitude: An extended rainy phase from June to September and a small rainy season in February and March, which is usually much weaker. When planning a trip, it is particularly important to avoid the great rainy season in Ethiopia.
We recommend the period from the beginning of October to mid-June as the best travel time for round trips through Ethiopia. Especially November, December and January are perceived by most travelers who seek a good mix of culture and nature as particularly pleasant.
Optimal travel time for the regions
In the following overview you can see the best travel time depending on the region (Ethiopia).
|Place||Best travel time|
|Addis Ababa||all except June, July, August and September|
|Gondar||all except June, July, August and September|
|Bahir Dar||January, February, March, April, May, November and December|
|Mekele||all except July, August and September|
Temperatures, precipitation, sunshine in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
|Daytime temperature||25 ° C||26 ° C||27 ° C||26 ° C||27 ° C||25 ° C||23 ° C||23 ° C||24 ° C||25 ° C||25 ° C||24 ° C|
|Night temperature||6 ° C||8 ° C||10 ° C||10 ° C||10 ° C||10 ° C||11 ° C||10 ° C||10 ° C||8 ° C||6 ° C||5 ° C|
|Precipitation in mm||18||47||72||92||86||123||257||271||170||38||9||10|
|Hours of sunshine||9||7||8||7||8||6||4||4||5||8||9||9|
The annual average temperature in Addis Ababa is 16.7 ° C. For comparison: Munich reaches an average of 8.6 ° C, in Berlin it is 9.6 ° C. The warmest month is April (18.3 ° C), coldest month of December with averages of 14.9 ° C.
The annual precipitation is 1193 mm on 123 days with precipitation. For comparison: In Munich, 967 mm, in Berlin 570 mm, precipitation is measured annually. The months of July and August are considered the rainy season, as more than 175 mm of precipitation can be expected per month. Overall, about 528 mm of precipitation can be expected in the rainy season. You cannot expect snow in any month in Addis Ababa.
As our climate table shows, December is the sunniest month with an average of 9.3 hours of sunshine per day. On average over the year, the sun shines an average of 7 hours a day. For comparison: In Munich and Berlin, the sun shines an average of 4.7 hours per day throughout the year.
The following larger towns are nearby and have a similar climate: Debre Zeyit.
Highlights and sights
The wide range of cultural and scenic attractions ensures that round trips and guided adventure trips as well as study trips are among the preferred types of travel in Ethiopia. Classic, pure safaris are still rare, because the country offers much more than the classic wildlife destinations in Africa.
Many journeys lead from Addis Ababa, the roof of Africa, via the biosphere reserve on Lake Tana to the former kingdom of Gondar. Alternative routes lead first via Bahir Dar to the impressive water masses of the Blue Nile Falls from Tis Issat. In the Semien Mountains National Park there are not only wonderful panoramas, but also the rare geladas (blood breast baboons).
Over the Wolkefit Pass with breathtaking landscapes, we recommend the drive to Axum, the former empire with its mystical steles above the royal tombs. The Adwa Mountains with their narrow serpentines and impressive table mountains should not be missing on your trip, as well as the mountains at Lalibela.