Trans Eurasia travel

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Kyrgyzstan's position near the middle of the Eurasian land mass creates a continental climate with sharp local variations. Although clouds tend to collect over the mountains, the country is generally sunny, receiving as much as 2,900 hours of sunlight per year (that's eight hours a day) in some areas.

Temperatures vary immensely according to altitude. In January the average lowland temperature is -5°, a little warmer in Osh and around Lake Issyk Kul which, as its name, 'hot lake' would suggest, does not freeze in winter. Mountain valley temperatures typically fall to -30°C or lower, the record being -53.6°C. Siberian winds bring freezing temperatures and snow from November to February, with ferocious cold in the mountains. The average winter minimum is -24C.

In winter, Bishkek temperatures range from +4°C in the sunshine to -20°C at night. Freezing fog sometimes closes the airport and makes roads perilous. There is little money to spend on gritting roads, making them treacherous to vehicles and pedestrians alike.

The thaw begins in February or March and most of the rain falls in April, May and June, when many areas face the threat of flood, mainly from snow melt. Throughout the country springtime buds appear in April and May, though nights can still be below freezing.

Mid-May to mid-June is pleasant, though many mountain passes will still be snowed in.

From the end of June through to mid-August most afternoons will reach 32C or higher, with a maximum of 40C in Fergana Valley towns such as Jalal-Abad; mountain valleys are considerably cooler. Of course in the mountains the ‘warm’ season is shorter. Trekking is best from July to September, though in the mountains rain and snowstorms are possible at any time.

In September the vibrant autumn hues can be spectacular. The average temperature for July and August between 800 metres and 1700 metres is 26-30°C although it can creep over 40°C. Some higher valleys see sub-zero temperatures even in summer.

Snow has normally fallen by September in the mountains, and by November in the lowlands. Weather in the mountains changes constantly, taking you through the extremes of winter and summer in one day.

The best time to visit is July to September, although camping and trekking are pleasant from early June through mid-October.

Avalanche danger is greatest during March and April and from September to mid-October. Overall, the republic is best for scenery and weather in September, with occasional freezing nights in October.