Ethiopia's Weather and Average Temperatures

Ethiopia Weather and Average Temperatures
••• Mists Gather Over Rock-Cut Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia. Jon Bratt/ Getty Images

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. The first rule of Ethiopian weather is that it varies greatly according to elevation. Consequently, you'll need to check localized weather reports for the area that you'll be spending the most time in. If you plan on touring around, make sure to pack plenty of layers.

In Ethiopia, traveling from one area to another can mean shifting from 60ºF/15ºC to 95ºF/35ºC in a matter of hours. In this article, we take a look at a few general weather rules, as well as climate and temperature charts for Addis Ababa, Mekele, and Dire Dawa.

Universal Truths

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, is located at an elevation of 7,726 feet/2,355 meters, and as such its climate remains relatively cool throughout the year. Even in the hottest months (March to May), average highs rarely exceed 77ºF/25ºC. Throughout the year, temperatures drop quickly once the sun goes down, and frosty mornings are common. Towards Ethiopia's borders, elevations decrease and temperatures rise accordingly. In the far south, far west and far east of the country, average daily temperatures often exceed 85ºF/30ºC.

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. Rain falls infrequently in this area, although the river itself serves to keep the land fertile even in the height of the dry season.

Rainy & Dry Seasons

In theory, Ethiopia's rainy season begins in April and ends in September.

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; while 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. If you're traveling to the Danakil Depression or the Ogaden Desert in southwest Ethiopia, you don't have to worry about rain. These areas are notoriously dry and rainfall is rare all year round.

The driest months are typically November and February. Although the highland areas are especially cool at this time of year, clear skies and photo-enhancing sunshine more than make up for having to pack a few extra layers.

Addis Ababa

Thanks to its location on an elevated plateau, Addis Ababa enjoys a pleasantly cool climate that can be a welcome respite for travelers arriving from the country's desert areas. Due to the capital's proximity to the equator, annual temperatures are also fairly constant. The best time to visit Addis is during the dry season (November to February). Although the days are clear and sunny, be prepared for the fact that nighttime temperatures can dip as low as 40ºF/5ºC.

The wettest months are June and September. At this time of year, the skies are overcast and you'll need an umbrella to avoid getting soaked.

MonthPrecipitationMaximumMinimumAverage Sunlight
 incmFCFCHours
January0.61.5752459158
February1.43.5752460167
March2.66.5772563177
April3.38.5742563176
May3.07.5772564187.5
June4.712.0732363175
July9.323.5702161163
August9.724.5702161163
September5.514.0722261165
October1.23.0732359158
November0.20.5732357149
December0.20.57323571410

Mekele, Northern Highlands

Located in the north of the country, Mekele is the capital of the Tigray region. Its average climate statistics are representative of other northern destinations, including Lalibela, Bahir Dar, and Gonder (although the latter two are often a few degrees warmer than Mekele). Mekele's annual temperatures are also relatively consistent, with April, May, and June being the hottest months.

July and August see the majority of the city's rainfall. Throughout the rest of the year, precipitation is minimal and the weather is generally good.

MonthPrecipitationMaximumMinimumAverage Sunlight
 incmFCFCHours
January1.43.5732361169
February0.41.0752463179
March1.02.5772564189
April1.84.5792668209
May1.43.58127868208
June1.23.0812768208
July7.920.0732364186
August8.521.5732363176
September1.43.5772564188
October0.41.0752462179
November1.02.5732361169
December1.64.0722259159

Dire Dawa, Eastern Ethiopia

Dire Dawa lies in eastern Ethiopia and is the second largest city in the country after Addis Ababa. Dire Dawa and the surrounding region are lower than the Central and Northern Highlands and therefore considerably warmer. The average daily mean is around 78ºF/25ºC, but average highs for the hottest month, June, exceed 96ºF/35ºC. Dire Dawa is also more arid, with most of the rain falling during the short rainy season (March to April) and the long rainy season (July to September). The data indicated below is also a good indicator for the climate in Harar and Awash National Park.

MonthPrecipitationMaximumMinimumAverage Sunlight
 incmFCFCHours
January0.61.6822872229
February2.15.5863073239
March2.46.1903277259
April2.97.4903279268
May1.74.5933481279
June0.61.5893582288
July3.38.3953582287
August3.48.7903279267
September1.53.9913379268
October0.92.4903277259
November2.35.9842973239
December0.71.782287222

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Updated by Jessica Macdonald.