NATIONAL PARKS SAFARIS ETHIOPIA

HIGHLIGHTS, WHERE THEY ARE AND HOW TO VISIT THEM

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ETHIOPIA CLIMATE ZONES

ETHIOPIA WEATHER & CLIMATE ZONES vary from the world's hottest and driest desert to cold wet mountains and seasonally wet savannahs. See regional graphs

Ethiopia Weather & Climate Zones of

Measured data on climate and weather in Ethiopia are scarce, as there are very few weather stations. Of those that do exist, we bought all available data from the Ethiopian Climate Institute, which your find summarized below. Be aware though, that climate conditions change with elevation, and that each location only represents the climate at that particular spot, while only a few kilometers away, the conditions may be totally different. As a rule of thumb, the average temperature drops 0.6C for every 100m increase in elevation. However, that does not take into account that higher elevations also lead to increased cloudiness and less sun-hours, which may cause the temperatures to drop even further.

 

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Ethiopia has five climatic zones, defined by altitude and temperature:

  1. The hot, arid zone covers the desert lowlands below 500 m, where average annual rainfall is less than 400 mm and average annual temperatures range between 28C and 34C or higher;

  2. The warm to hot, semi-arid zone includes those areas with an altitude of 5001,500 m, average annual rainfall generally of around 600 mm (but as high as 1,600 mm in the western lowlands of Gambella), and an average annual temperature range of 2028C;

  3. The warm to cool, semi-humid zone covers the temperate highlands between 1,500 and 2,500. Average annual temperatures vary between 16C and 20C, and annual rainfall is generally around 1,200 mm, reaching 2,400 mm in the south-west;

  4. The cool to cold humid zone includes the temperate highlands between 2,500 and 3,200 m, where average temperatures range between 10C and 16C, with an annual rainfall of 1,000 mm and up to 2,000 mm in higher areas;

  5. The cold, moist temperate zone covers the Afro-alpine areas on the highest plateaus between 3,200 and 3,500 m; average temperatures are below 10C and annual rainfall averages less than 800 mm.

Rainfall in Ethiopia

According to the National Meteorological Services Agency, the highest mean annal rainfall of over 2,400 mm, is in the south-western highlands of the Oromia Region. The amount of rainfall gradually decreases to about 600 mm in the north in areas bordering Eritrea, and it drops to less than 100 mm in the north-east in the Afar Depression, and to around 200 mm in the south-east in the Ogaden Desert. The mountain areas over 3,500 m frequently receive snow and hail, but it usually melts within hours after it falls.


Based on this rainfall distribution pattern, the following four major rainfall regimes can be distinguished:

  1. Central, eastern and northern areas of the country experience a bimodal rainfall pattern, receiving the majority of their rainfall from the Atlantic, while some derives from the Indian Ocean. The big rains from June to September come mainly from the Atlantic, while the light spring rains between February and May come from the Indian Ocean. In each case, the amount of rainfall and the length of the rainy season decrease the further north one goes;

  2. Western and south-western parts of the country experience a unimodal rainfall pattern brought about by wind systems coming from the Indian Oceans and merge with those from the Atlantic to give continuous rain from March or April to October or November. The amount of rainfall and length of the rainy season decreases from south to north;

  3. Southern and south-eastern parts of the country experience a bimodal rainfall pattern brought about by the wind system coming from the Indian Ocean from September to November and from March to May. The most reliable rainy months are April and May. Ethiopians speak about the main and little rainy season;

  4. North-eastern parts of the country comprise part of the western escarpment of the Pitt Valley and the adjacent Afar depression. The lowlands have only one rainy season during whilch only a little rain falls. However, the escarpment, particularly in the north, can have a third rainy season brought by moist winds from Asia which have crossed the Arabian peninsula and cool as they rise over the Ethiopian escarpment. These can bring mist and rain anytime between November and February.


Temperatures in Ethiopia

The highest mean maximum temperatures in the country, about 45C from April to September and 40C from October to March, are recorded from the Afar Depression in north-east Ethiopia. The other hot areas are the north-western lowlands, which experience a mean maximum temperature of 40C in June, and the western and south-eastern lowlands with mean maximum temperatures of 35C to 40C during April.

 

The lowest mean temperatures, of 4C or lower, are recorded at night in highland areas between November and February (National Meteorological Services Agency, 1989; Ethiopian Mapping Authority, 1988). Many of those areas, particularly in valley bottoms, have occasional ground frost.


Given the conditions of rainfall and temperatures, there can't be true tropical evergreen rainforests in Ethiopia, as rainforests grow under conditions of 3,000 mm of rainfall per year and higher. During the their dry seasons, the lower vegetation of the forests of Ethiopia dry up.

 
Ethiopia Annual Rainfall map

Average annual rainfall in Ethiopia

Mean annual temperatures in Ethiopia.

 

Weather stations of Ethiopia

We purchased these data in mm from the Ethiopian Climate Institute.

 

Additionally we found some interesting climate data for the Danakil Depression from a weather station at Dallol:

Climate data for the Danakil Depression at Dallol

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Record high C (F)

46
(115)

46
(115)

46
(115)

45
(113)

45
(113)

45
(113)

46
(115)

47
(117)

46
(115)

46
(115)

45
(113)

46
(115)

47
(117)

Average high C (F)

40.9
(105.6)

40.5
(104.9)

40.4
(104.7)

40.8
(105.4)

40.3
(104.5)

40.7
(105.3)

40.7
(105.3)

40.1
(104.2)

40.1
(104.2)

40.2
(104.4)

40.3
(104.5)

40.9
(105.6)

40.49
(104.88)

Daily mean C (F)

35.6
(96.1)

35.6
(96.1)

35.8
(96.4)

35.6
(96.1)

35.0
(95)

35.9
(96.6)

35.7
(96.3)

35.9
(96.6)

35.9
(96.6)

35.9
(96.6)

35.1
(95.2)

35.0
(95)

35.58
(96.05)

Average low C (F)

30.1
(86.2)

30.2
(86.4)

30.4
(86.7)

30.8
(87.4)

30.6
(87.1)

30.1
(86.2)

30.7
(87.3)

30.7
(87.3)

30.7
(87.3)

30.6
(87.1)

30.9
(87.6)

30.2
(86.4)

30.5
(86.92)

Record low C (F)

24
(75)

24
(75)

24
(75)

24
(75)

24
(75)

23
(73)

23
(73)

23
(73)

24
(75)

24
(75)

24
(75)

24
(75)

23
(73)

 % humidity

88

89

90

89

85

80

80

81

83

83

82

85

84.6

Source: D.E. Pedgley, "Air Temperature at Dallol, Ethiopia," Meteorological Magazine v.96 (1967): 265-271

 

Climate data for Addis Ababa

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high C (F) 30
(86)
28
(82)
30
(86)
29
(84)
30
(86)
29
(84)
29
(84)
32
(90)
28
(82)
27
(81)
30
(86)
28
(82)
32
(90)
Average high C (F) 24
(75)
24
(75)
25
(77)
24
(75)
25
(77)
23
(73)
21
(70)
21
(70)
22
(72)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23.2
(73.6)
Daily mean C (F) 15.4
(59.7)
16.6
(61.9)
17.9
(64.2)
17.9
(64.2)
18
(64)
17
(63)
15.9
(60.6)
15.8
(60.4)
16.2
(61.2)
15.7
(60.3)
14.8
(58.6)
14.9
(58.8)
16.34
(61.41)
Average low C (F) 8
(46)
9
(48)
10
(50)
11
(52)
11
(52)
10
(50)
10
(50)
10
(50)
10
(50)
9
(48)
7
(45)
7
(45)
9.3
(48.8)
Record low C (F) 1
(34)
1
(34)
3
(37)
6
(43)
6
(43)
1
(34)
0
(32)
6
(43)
4
(39)
2
(36)
0
(32)
0
(32)
0
(32)
Rainfall mm (inches) 13
(0.51)
30
(1.18)
58
(2.28)
82
(3.23)
84
(3.31)
138
(5.43)
280
(11.02)
290
(11.42)
149
(5.87)
27
(1.06)
7
(0.28)
7
(0.28)
1,165
(45.87)
Avg. rainy days 3 5 7 10 10 20 27 26 18 4 1 1 132
 % humidity 47 51.5 47.5 54.5 53 67.5 79.5 79 71.5 47.5 48 45.5 57.67
Mean daily sunshine hours 9 9 8 7 8 6 3 3 5 8 9 9 7

 

Climate data for Mek'ele

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high C (F) 23
(73)
24
(75)
25
(77)
26
(79)
27
(81)
27
(81)
23
(73)
23
(73)
25
(77)
24
(75)
23
(73)
22
(72)
24.3
(75.8)
Average low C (F) 16
(61)
17
(63)
18
(64)
19
(66)
20
(68)
20
(68)
18
(64)
17
(63)
18
(64)
17
(63)
16
(61)
15
(59)
17.6
(63.7)
Precipitation mm (inches) 36
(1.4)
10
(0.4)
30
(1)
46
(1.8)
36
(1.4)
30
(1.2)
201
(7.9)
216
(8.5)
36
(1.4)
10
(0.4)
30
(1)
41
(1.6)
722
(28)
 
 
Elevation lines of Ethiopia

 

Elevation and climate

Elevation is an important element in determining the climate of Ethiopia. For every 1000 m, the temperature drops about 6.5 degrees Celcius. But not only that, with higher elevations, the winds get pushed up and clouds are being formed, which further lowers the temperatures in daytime. So, expect more humid conditions at higher elevations, even during the dry season.

 

Ecological zones of Ethiopia Geological map of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has 7 distinct ecological regions with different climate conditions, as can be seen on the map on the left.

 

Pictures of weather conditions in Ethiopia

The following pictures give some impressions of different weather conditions in Ethiopia:

Simien Mountains National Park, Giant Erica forest

Lake Asale sulphur salt formations

In the Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains National Park, the sky often is overcast with sometimes very menacing looking clouds. Rain and even snow can fall any time of the year.

 

In the Danakil Depression, like here in the middle of Lake Asale, the sky hardly ever is clouded and mid-day the sun is brutal. Always take of early in the morning to the hot springs.

 

Palms at the Danakil Depression or Afar Depression, Ethiopia

Dust laden skies in the desert of the Danakil Depression. Often at dawn, a strong wind takes up and stirs the fine dust of the desert, filling the air with sand and dust

 

Awash Falls at sun rise, Awash National Park, Ethiopia

Fisherman at Lake Chamo, Nechsar National Park, Ethiopia

Best hours for photography: before 10 AM like on the Awash Waterfalls and after 4 PM, like this fisherman on Lake Chamo in Nechsar National Park.

 

Best season to Visit Ethiopia?

Nechsar National Park savannah in the wet season with purple flowers

Nechsar savannah in the dry season with Zebras.

In the wet season, the savannahs are nice and green, but much less accessible - in some parts inaccessible -, while in bushy areas wildlife is much more difficult to spot. So each season has Ethiopia weather conditions that may favor some aspects while being less favorable to other highlights. As a result, you can enjoy Ethiopia any time of the year.

During the dry season, wildlife is better visible, but the scenery is dry and often the savannah has been burnt to prevent bush encroachment.

 

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