Ethiopia's location is so near to the equator, that most areas are a year-round destination with slight variations in rainfall that offer both advantages and disadvantages to travelers. The most popular time to go is the drier season, which spans from about September to May in most parts of the country. The rainy season lasts from June through October in most of the country. The bulk of the rainfall occurs in July and August in short downpours that quit promptly, making travel even during these months possible. Rarely do travelers have to cancel their plans due to a full day of rain, and only on occasion in certain areas do the roads start to flood making them impassable.
Perhaps the greater factor in climate changes are attributable to the varying topography of the country. The central highlands have a more temperate climate, the lower parts in the east and south have more of a hot and dry climate year-round, and the western lowlands are more hot and wet, making this the more 'tropical' part of the country. Choosing the best month to travel may vary more by which particular destination you plan to visit on your Ethiopia tour.
See below a brief summary by travel destinations to help you plan your trip.
Perhaps one of the best, and certainly most colorful, times to travel in Ethiopia are during one of their well-known festivals. Hotels do fill up far in advance during these times as well as guides are booked up. We do recommend if you plan to travel during these times to book your trip further in advance.
Best time to tour the Historic Route
In general it is best to travel here in the months directly after the rainy season. So from October to March most people will visit these areas. Some advantages to traveling here during the rainy season are encountering fewer tourists at the main sights (particularly in Lalibela) as well as seeing the landscapes when they are green and more impressive. Traveling during rainy season will also give you discounts and most days you will do just fine with an umbrella in hand.
Best time to trek in the Simien Mountains
The best months to trek here are from September through November. The rainy season ends slightly sooner here than in the north and central parts of the country, and the trekking views are stunning when everything is still green. The wildflowers are in full bloom in October and the area is still relatively dust free due to the moist grounds.
Best time to visit Omo Valley
The Omo Valley follows a rainy season pattern that is slightly earlier than the rest of the nation from April through June, and has a short second rainy season in October as well. The best times to visit this area are August to October, as well as from December to January.
Best time to visit Danakil Depression
The Danakil Depression is one of the hottest places on Earth, with temperatures averaging up around 120 F most of the year. The 'coolest' time to visit the area is from November to early January. Any other time of year and you are likely to see temperatures above 120 F.