Map from Google - Uzbekistan
In Uzbekistan the climate is arid continental
in the vast steppe of the central-western plain, while it remains continental, but becomes moderately rainy (and snowy in winter) in the eastern hills and mountains.
Winter is cold, especially in the north: the average temperature
in January is around -6/-7 °C in the northernmost areas (the Aral Sea and the northern part of the Kzyl Kum Desert), while it's around freezing in the central cities of the ancient Silk Road (Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara), and goes up to 3/4 °C in the extreme south (see Termez). Summer is hot: the average in July goes from 26/27 °C in the north, to 30 °C in the south. In the mountains of course the temperature decreases with altitude. Uzbekistan is exposed to cold air masses from Siberia, especially in the north-west, but also in the centre-south, where they alternate, with warmer air masses coming from the south. Sometimes different air masses clash, causing strong winds, for instance the warm winds blowing from the south-west, which can bring dust storms.
amount is typical of a desert and semi-desert climate in the west, while it's slightly higher, typical of a semi-arid steppe climate, in the central-eastern part. In the mountains, rainfall increases, especially in the more exposed slopes. Summer is sunny, and it's the driest season across the country.
In the capital, Tashkent
, sitting at 400 metres above sea level, the average temperature goes from 1.5 °C in January, to 27.5 °C in July. From the mountains located south of the city, a dry down-slope wind can blow throughout the year, and can raise the temperature by several degrees. In recent decades, the winter temperature has increased by a few degrees, and also the summer temperature, but to a lesser extent, as happened in many countries of the former Soviet Union. During winter, however, snowfalls and cold waves are quite frequent, although usually less intense than in the past, for instance in January 1969 the temperature reached -29 °C, while a recent cold wave occurred in January 2008, when it touched -18 °C.
In spring, from March to early May, the clashes of air masses cause frequent winds, rain and jumps in temperature.
Summer, from June to August is sunny and hot, with highs generally around 35/36 °C in July and August, but with peaks above 40 °C.
Here are the average temperatures of Tashkent.
Average temperatures - Tashkent
Precipitation, about 415 mm per year, occurs mostly from November to May, while in summer it almost never rains. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Tashkent
In the eastern part of the country, in Fergana
, located in the valley of the same name, at around 600 metres above sea level and enclosed between the mountains, the climate is slightly colder.
Average temperatures - Fergana
In Fergana, precipitation is scarcer than in the capital: only 165 mm per year. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Fergana
, the old city and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, at 700 metres above sea level, has a climate similar to that of Tashkent, just less hot in summer, due to the higher altitude. The annual precipitation is around 355 mm, slightly lower than in the capital, but it has a similar pattern, with a maximum in winter and spring, and virtually no rains in summer.
Average temperatures - Samarkand
is located practically in the plains, in the south-western desert, and in fact receives only 150 mm of rain per year. The temperature is not very different from that of the cities already mentioned, but it's a bit hotter in summer: the average in January is 1.5 °C, while in July is 29.5 °C, and highs are normally about 37 °C. Despite the low precipitation level, in winter the city may experience some light snowfalls.
Average temperatures - Bukhara
In the far south, in Termez
the average temperature is higher, between 4 °C in January and 30 °C in July. Only 150 mm of rain per year fall; even though the average is fairly mild, in winter sometimes it snows, and even here intense frosts can occur. In summer, in the worst moments the temperature can reach 50 °C.
Average temperatures - Termez
The central-western part of the country is occupied by the vast Kzyl Kum Desert
(or Qyzylqum), where the temperature can reach -30 °C in winter and 50 °C in summer, while in the far west we find the Ustyurt Plateau, another desert area, which despite its name has an average altitude of around 200 metres. The main river, Amu Darya, flows towards the west and eventually reaches the area of Aral Sea
, which once was fed by the river, but over the decades has partially dried up due to exploitation for agriculture, so that today the river opens into a large delta, which partly drains away in the desert, while in the south-west, from a branch of the river, a smaller lake, Sarygamysh, was born.
In the area of the Aral Sea, located in the north of the country, winter is cold, so that the temperature remains below freezing even during the day, for weeks. Summer is a bit shorter and a bit cooler, around 33/34 °C during the day, even though the highest peaks exceed 40 °C.
Average temperatures - Chimbay
The eastern part of Uzbekistan is home to several mountain ranges
, such as the Pamir-Alaj, where the highest mountain in the country is found, Khazret Sultan, 4,643 metres high. In the north-east, in the region of Tashkent, there is another mountainous area, where the Ugam-Chatkal National Park is found, with lakes, forests and canyons.
When to go
The best times to visit Uzbekistan are spring and autumn
, to avoid the climate excesses to which the country is subject. In particular, you can choose April and October for most of the country (Tashkent, Samarkand, Fergana valley), and for the north (see the Aral Sea), the periods from mid-April to mid-May, and from mid-September to mid-October.
What to pack
: very warm clothes, down jacket, hat, scarf, gloves; some lighter clothes for the mild days in the centre and south (see Tashkent, Ferghana, Samarqand, Bukhara, Termez).
: lightweight clothes, loose-fitting and made of natural fabric (cotton or linen), sun hat, desert turban; a sweatshirt for the evening, especially in the north and in hill cities (see Tashkent, Samarqand, Ferghana). In the mountains, at intermediate altitudes, light clothes for the day, sun hat, sweatshirt and light jacket for the evening, hiking shoes; above 3,000 metres, sweater and jacket for the evening; above 4,000 metres, down jacket, hat, gloves, scarf.
For women, it is best to avoid shorts and miniskirts.