It’s the usual conversation opener. And weather is usually the main thing we complain about – it’s either too hot, cold, wet or dry for someone. But although we might complain bitterly about the rain or heat, few of us live in places with really extreme weather. Holiday Lettings explores those places in the world where the climate will really take travellers to the limits.
As hot as hell
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Where: Death Valley in the Mojave Desert, California. This aptly named desolate terrain has little vegetation, although when the meager spring rains arrive, wildflowers burst out of nowhere and color the arid landscape.
Weather record: This inhospitable spot lays claim to the highest temperature ever recorded – a sizzling 56 degrees Centigrade.
Trip tips: Visit between October and March when daytime temperatures don’t soar so high. Top up your fuel tank and take plenty of water and moisturizer. Watch out for rattlesnakes and take care on the road – car accidents are the main cause of death here.
As cold as ice
Photo credit: Becker0804 (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons
Where: Verkhoyansk in Siberia, Russia. This chilly and often snowbound place is home to a sizeable population that makes a living from extracting tin and gold, as well as rearing cattle.
Weather record: The absolute freeze dates back to 1892 when temperatures plummeted to minus 67.8 degrees Centigrade. Since then, it hasn’t been much warmer and the January average sits around a very chilly minus 46.
Trip tips: Be prepared for a challenge – winter visits involve an 8-day journey along the frozen river, and in summer you’ll need a boat to get there. Overload on warm clothing (locals pile on real furs) and swig away at the vodka.
As wet as it gets
Photo credit: Wikijosem (license) via Wikimedia Commons
Where: The title of world’s wettest place probably belongs to Puerto Lopez de Micay in western Colombia. Sitting in the high mountains on the, the small population relies on fishing and mining to make a living.
Weather record: 1984 is recorded as the year of the deluge, when rain levels topped 23,818mm and it rained for 353 days out of 366. Average annual rain falls at much lower rates but the 12,898mm is still nearly 22 times higher than the amount Londoners moan about.
Trip tips: Make sure your gear really is waterproof and invest in several umbrellas. When you’re inside, savor the cup of coffee made from locally grown beans.
Dry as a bone
Photo credit: Luca Galuzzi (license) via Wikimedia Commons
Where: Atacama Desert in South America. The windswept plateau spanning four countries is home to over 1 million people, mostly working in the rich copper mines or looking through giant telescopes at the stars.
Weather record: The Chilean part of the Atacama takes the prize for the world’s driest spot. Annual rainfall averages a minuscule 0.1mm, although most years don’t see a single drop come out of the sky.
Trip tips: Keep your fuel and water levels topped up at all times and wrap up warmly. Unlike other deserts, the Atacama doesn’t heat up too much and night temperatures are chilly. Be prepared for snow in winter – over 76cm fell in July 2011.
As windy as can be
Photo credit: Lanma726 (license) via Flickr
Where: Wellington in New Zealand gets the prize for windiest city in the world. The country’s capital and most populated area sits in a so-called ‘river of wind’, making life a breeze practically every day.
Weather record: Wellington’s strongest blast registered 246kph and the windiest year included 233 days with winds at speeds above gale force.
Trip tips: Make the most of any sports needing wind behind them. Don’t bother with an umbrella and hold onto your hat.