The best time to visit Ethiopia is either before are after the rainy season, which runs from April to September. The heaviest rains fall between June to August, so it's worth keeping that in mind.
Between September and April, the vegetation is lush and you have more chance of spotting the wildlife. If you don’t mind the rains and you won’t be doing much hiking, then you may want to visit between April and September, when there are fewer visitors.
In the highland areas, daytime temperatures are mild with cooler nights and the higher you go into the mountains, the warmer clothes you'll need to pack. The southern Rift Valley and South Omo are warmer, but as you head into the northern Rift Valley you can expect much hotter temperatures. From June to August, Ethiopia experiences its rainiest weather and the temperatures can vary depending on which part of the country you're in. It’s best to avoid travelling during this time.
If you are wanting to spend time exploring the Simien Mountains, then aim to visit from September to November when the vegetation is lush after the rains, or from January to March, which is when the temperatures start to rise. But make sure you plan so that you avoid the heaviest rainy season from June to August. Lighter rains do start from around April, which could interfere with hiking plans, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before you head into the mountains. It is very important to note that, no matter what time of year you visit, the high altitude can make hiking difficult and you may find yourself battling with the length and intensity of hiking you are used to doing.
The rainy season generally stretches from around April into September, and as October rolls around it’s the perfect time to head for the central highlands and the north to make the most of the beautiful green scenery and bright new meskel blossoms. By November and December most of the rains have cleared up and visits to the South Omo Valley and the Danakil Depression will be rewarding.
One of the main religious festivals in Ethiopia is Timkat, the Christian celebration marking the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, which usually falls on January 19. The spiritual importance of the event, coupled with the mild temperatures at this time of year makes for large crowds of visitors. During the festivities there is a ritual re-enactment of baptism and processions with models of the Ark of the Covenant.
Whatever you want from your trip to Ethiopia, our team of expert travel designers are here to help.