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Pakistan Weather, climate and geography
Weather and climate
Best time to visit
Pakistan has three seasons: winter (November to March) is warm and cooled by sea breezes on the coast; summer (April to July) has extreme temperatures and the monsoon season (July to September) has the highest rainfall on the hills. Karachi has little rain. Global warming is starting to become apparent in Pakistan with warmer winters, glacial melt and a slight dip in temperature in the summer months.
The best time to visit southern Pakistan is between November and March, when the days are cool and clear. The best time to visit northern Pakistan, for trekking, is from April to October; outside of these months it will be snowy and very difficult to reach many mountainous places. Bear in mind that the monsoon plays havoc with travel in Pakistan and is not to be taken lightly, as we have witnessed recently with the devastating floods of 2010, which were the worst in 80 years.
Wear lightweights, with warmer clothing, including base-layers and woollens, for upland areas in the winter. Good trekking boots are a must for mountain explorers, as are walking poles and thermals. Visitors can buy woollen socks and sweaters at a very good price in the bazaars of Pakistan, but they might not be up to western standards and will be quite heavy.
Rainwear is advised for the monsoon season so if you are to spend any time in the cities during this time, do not rule out the possibility of bringing along some wellington boots as the rain can be torrential resulting in very flooded lanes. It's easiest to buy the necessary shalwar kameez (tunic and baggy trousers) when you land in Pakistan - this is essential for women, and optional, but advisable for the heat more than anything, for men. In the intense heat it may be tempting to lose layers – in respect of local customs, and to spare yourself unwanted harassment and disapproval, it is far wiser to cover up in cool, white flowing cottons, like the Pakistanis do, thus keeping the sun off too.
Pakistan has borders to the north with Afghanistan, to the east with India and to the west with Iran; the Arabian Sea lies to the south. In the northeast is the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, bounded by Afghanistan, China and India. The land covers a huge 796,096 sq km (305,058 sq miles) making it over three times the size of the UK.
Pakistan comprises six distinct regions. There is the northern mountain area which has a high concentration of jaw-dropping peaks, and some of the largest glaciers outside of the polar regions - in fact five are over 45 km (28 miles) in length - as well as the Himalayan range which includes the fabled Nanga Parbat, which stands a whopping 8,125m (26,657ft) tall. The other regions are comprised by the northern plateau, which is effectively the lowlands at the bottom of the mountain ranges, the western mountains, the Balochistan plateau (which is hilly and very sparsely populated), the southeast desert which stretches into Rajasthan in India and the plain of the river Indus, which is within Sindh and the Punjab (‘Punjab’ literally means five waters, named after the Indus and it’s four tributaries).