Get out of Addis? That is the best advise, head for somewhere drier, sunnier and warmer. The Kremt rains really begin to pull in through July as the rainy season intensifies in Addis Ababa, and it is easy to think the whole country will be like that, but it is not. Ok so the Simien mountains can be cloaked in swirling mists and driving rain, but that is at 3-4,000 meters, but book a few nights at one of the great lodges in the Gheralta area, or do a Tesfa trek in the Agame mountains near Adigrat and you are likely to wake up to blue skies and see a lot of sun before rain clouds bring some dramatic showers and even those clear up. In Lalibela and Gondar you can go around and see the sights with few other tourists to disturb you, and the Blue Nile Falls begin to live up to their local name Tis Isat – smoke of fire. In the Rift Valley too, dramatic and heavy rains will break up sun and warmth. Across much of Ethiopia you will not get rain all day, the landscape looks lush and with few tourists around you can strike a good deal at many lodges and hotel. So if you feel marooned in Addis for the Kremt – get out!

Holidays in July

The most famous is the bi-annual Gabriel day on July 26 (and also December 28) known as Kulubi Gabriel. It takes its name from the town some 60km from Dire Dawa whose church is the focus of a bi-annual pilgrimage. The Archangel Gabriel is one of the most popular saints in Ethiopia and many people pray to St. Gabriel for personal assistance such as a birth in a barren marriage, safe delivery of a child, or a cure to a serious sickness. When payers are answered the beneficiary will fulfil their side of the bargain which may often be to embark on a pilgrimage which may entail crawling the last bit to the church or carrying heavy rocks for the last few kilometers. Others bring gifts to the church as thanks for vows fulfilled. Around Ethiopia on this day the Gabriel churches will have special ceremonies, often with the Tabot coming out.

 

Another special day is the end of the Senay Tsom which comes on the feast day of Petros and Paulos (St Peter and St Paul) and also on an annual Saint Abo Day. Abuna Gebre Menfes Kiddus as Abo is called in full, was a Franciscan like saint who lived with the animals fierce and feathered, and was sent to begin his work in Ethiopia at the ripe old age of 300. Paintings always depict him covered in hair, letting birds drink tears from his eyes and accompanied by lions and leopards. In one Abo church I know at Akat, Meket, N.Wollo, the priest informed us of a big leopard living near the church in the surrounding dense protected woodland, and so the historical story ties up with the current reality in a way that protects the environment.