When is the best time to go to the Simien Mountains?
The best time to visit the Simien Mountains is between October and March, with the clearest skies and warmest weather. December, January, and February is the peak travel season, meaning the campsites could be busy, but you have the best weather conditions. The rainy season in the northern highlands of Ethiopia runs from June to August, with showers often extending into the first half of September.
The shoulder season runs from April to the start of the rainy season in June. You won’t have any issues trekking in the Simiens during these months, but be prepared for cloudier skies and intermittent showers. From June to early September, rainfall increases significantly and temperatures drop. Whilst it is still possible to do treks, most people tend to avoid the Simien Mountains during these months.
Simien Mountains Seasonality
Best trekking conditions: October to March
The dry season begins in October which also marks the start of the peak travel season that runs until April. If you travel in October or November, the Simien Mountains (and much of the country) are verdant and colourful with grasses and flora in full bloom following the rainy season. There will likely be fewer trekkers around during these months, but temperatures will be slightly colder.
January and February sees peak visitors numbers to the Simien Mountains, and the best weather conditions for trekking. All campsites will be open for business, as will the Simien Lodge and Limalimo Lodge for those wanting some luxury.
Shoulder season: April - May
April is the start of a transition period in the northern highlands of Ethiopia. You can expect cloudier skies and intermittent, sometimes heavy, showers in the mornings and afternoons. These showers become more frequent as you head into May.
Generally, conditions hold up for trekking. Campsites and lodges are still open for business in the Simiens, and there will be fewer other trekkers around.
Rainy season: June - September
The rains begin in June and can persist through to August, even creeping into the first half of September. You won’t be able to camp in the mountains during these months as all campsites are closed. Limalimo Lodge is closed from mid-July until the end of August (but remains open in June). Simien Lodge remains open year-round and can be a nice spot to enjoy the mountains without many other people around, and a good launching point for exploring the mountains if that’s the only time of year you’re able to make it.
If you’re trekking during these months, be prepared for heavy showers and overcast skies. Mists can often obscure the views during these months. Where possible, you’ll want to avoid longer treks in the Simien Mountains during the rainy season.
Ethiopia’s size and topography means that regions have different seasonal characteristics. The rainy season in the Simien Mountains (and the northern highlands more generally) run from June - September, but south of Addis Ababa in the Omo Valley they come earlier (April - May), making June - August the best months to visit the Omo. In the Danakil area, searing temperatures prevent travel from June - August. As such, there are places to see all year round and the ‘best time to visit’ depends on the destinations in your itinerary.
Which season is best for wildlife?
Much of the wildlife in the Simien Mountains can be seen year-round, including the famous Gelada Monkey, Walia Ibex, Ethiopian Wolf, and birdlife of the Simiens. Sightings of Geladas are all but guaranteed, as they have become accustomed to humans. Walia Ibex are harder to find, particularly on misty days. Your best chance for seeing Walia is around the Chennek campsite. Birdlife in the Simiens is abundant, but of course clearer skies make for better sightings.
The endemic Ethiopian Wolf is seldom spotted in the Simiens. The size of the park combined with the limited population make sightings very rare. If you want to see Ethiopian Wolves, your best bet is to take a trip to the Bale Mountains in the south of the country.
Campsites, lodges, scouts, guides, support staff and vehicle costs all have seasonal prices. Costs are higher in the peak trekking season (October - March), and lower in the shoulder and rainy season (April - September).
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When is the best time to visit the Simien Mountains?
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