Tour code: PAK22023
Group size: 2 - 12
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Pakistan is a country close to our hearts…and for good reason. Home to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world, thriving cities, colourful markets and warm hospitality, a trip to this part of the world is bound to excite even the worldliest travellers. Having run trips here for more than fifteen years, we understand the political complexities of travelling to this fascinating country and our paramount consideration has always been the safety of our clients.Despite the negative images painted by the press, we believe that most areas in Pakistan - particularly around Chitral and the mountains of the north - pose little or no danger within the current climate.On this amazing journey along the Northwest Frontier you will drive up from the capital Islamabad, through stunningly spectacular scenery, to the ancient kingdom of Chitral. Here we will spend two days with the Kalash before heading on over the Shandur Pass to one of the most beautiful places on earth, Hunza. We will complete our circuit by returning to the Islamabad via the Buddhist University town of Taxila.
Today the tour starts in Islamabad, 'City of Islam', Pakistan's capital city. It replaced Karachi back in the 1967 and is now the political and commercial heart of the country. Situated against the lush backdrop of the Margalla Hills it is a city where old and new collide. Leafy green boulevards are home to modern buildings, and shopping malls, but also dotted with traditional homes and mosques. The group flight doesn't arrive until late evening so anyone arriving early might want to take a stroll and familiarise yourself with the city.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we will start our journey north by driving through the Northwest Frontier and into the beautiful Swat Valley. Until quite recently this region was out of bounds to foreign tourists, but now it has opened up again offering us a great chance to explore the regions ancient Buddhist past. Once we have checked into our hotel we’ll visit the local museum, packed with many fine Gandharan artefacts, and other Buddhist sites.
Accommodation: Local Guest House
After breakfast we will have a spectacular drive, past Chakdarra – where a young Winston Churchill saw action back in the 1890s – before continuing over the Lowari Pass (or going through the new tunnel) and into the ancient kingdom of Chitral. Here we’ll drive on to Ayun where we’ll arrive in the afternoon and check into the wonderful home of Maqsood Ul Mulk, one of the princes of Chitral.
Today we have all morning to relax and enjoy the Prince’s beautiful garden and take one of the many wonderful village walks nearby. After lunch we will continue our journey into the Valley of Rumbor and the village of Balanguru where we stay with our good friend Saifullah Jan, the chief spokesperson for the colourful Kalash people. Most people prefer to walk the last few miles through this gorgeous valley. Please note that at times security restrictions don’t allow foreign visitors to stay in the Kalash valley but we will maximize our time spent in the region and then head back to Chitral for the night if these restrictions are imposed.
Spending all day in the valley, we will have ample opportunity to enjoy thespectacular festival of Joshi. This is a time when the Kalash celebrate the comingof spring with music and dancing. In the morning we’ll be able to go for a walkthrough the valley and see the families as they prepare for the festivities. In theafternoon we’ll watch the dancing at a high point above the main village andenjoy the final interesting spectacle as the elders of the village shoo the badspirits out of the valley with walnut branches!
This morning we have more time to explore the valley before driving back to the sleepy mountain town of Chitral. We’ll hope to catch a game of mountain polo and in the late afternoon if a match is being played and then we’ll travel on towards Chitral National Park to see the markhor, a kind of mountain antelope and favoured prey of the snow leopards, before checking into our lovely local hotel and have dinner.
Accommodation: Wooden Cabins or Fixed Tents
After breakfast we will drive to Mastuj. This is one of the most beautiful and dramatic drives you are ever likely to take as we wind our way up the Mastuj Valley, passing Tirich Mir and Boni Zong, before finally entering the Yarkund Valley at the top of which lies Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. Here we will stay at a hotel next to the fort. On arrival we will take a stroll around the village.
Today after breakfast you will drive to the Shandur Pass, stopping for tea en route at the top of the pass at 3,800 metres. From here, if you'd like, you can walk to the Langer – a beautiful plain used for grazing the yaks and dzos – where you can enjoy some time before getting back in your jeep again and drive on to Yasin Valley. Well known during the 'Great Game' era the Yasin Valley provided a possible route through the Pamirs and Hindu Kush for the Russians to reach Chitral and Gilgit. Today it has a pleasant green and leafy outlook following the path of the Ghizer River.
After breakfast we will travel on to Gilgit where we have a chance to take a look around this classic frontier town, once considered the furthest outpost of the empire. We will see the Christian graveyard here as well as the local bazaar, before heading to Hunza. The drive to Hunza is truly spectacular, as you round the corner and see the titanic form of Mount Rakaposhi basking in the sun, right beside the road – the sight will leave you speechless. In Karimabad (Hunza) we will stay for the first night at a spectacularly located hotel, situated 2850m above sea level and 500m above the valley floor, with panoramic views of seven 7,000m peaks!
This morning we visit the famous Baltit Fort, recently restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to a fantastic standard. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. We will then take lunch in town. In the afternoon those that wish can have a water channel walk down around Karimabad before having a wander around the local shops where there will be plenty to buy.
Wake at around 5:30 to watch the rising sun turn the peak of Rakaposhi flamingo pink…not compulsory! After breakfast we will first drive to the other side of the valley to take a walk on Hoper Glacier. After this we’ll have lunch in a pretty garden café before driving an hour further up the KKH to visit the newly formed lake at Attabad. In January 2010 a massive landslide blocked the Hunza River, which submerged 28kms of the KKH by forming a beautiful azure lake. In the afternoon we return to Karimabad.
This morning we return to the Karakoram Highway for our drive to Gilgit stopping en route for lunch at the Rakaposhi View to take in the stunning backdrop. This afternoon we will drive back to Gilgit where we will check into our hotel.
Today we have a spectacular drive back towards Islamabad as we drive along the Karakoram Highway enjoying the mountain scenery and stunning countryside. Flights at this time of year are unreliable and can be cancelled on a regular basis due to adverse weather conditions so we plan to drive this very memorable route, and break our journey in Naran. The majority of the people here are Pashtun and we may have the opportunity to have a stroll around the bazaar this evening or sit and watch the world go by in one of the rooftop cafes. Please note that if the Babusar Pass is closed due to early snowfall we will return to Islamabad via Besham.
Today we continue our journey stopping en route in Taxila, a fascinating Buddhist university town, dating back to the Gandaharan era of Alexander the Great. We then continue the short distance to Islamabad.
Today we have the chance to visit some of the famous sights of Islamabad including the Faisal Mosque, the largest in South East Asia, and 5th largest mosque in the world. We will also take time to visit the Lok Virsa Museum and Pakistan Monument. If time allows there will also be a chance for some last minute shopping before our farewell dinner, after which the tour ends. Wash and change facilities will be made available to those on the group flight, which departs in the early hours of the following day.
14 x Breakfasts14 x Lunches14 x Dinners
On this tour we will use classic re-conditioned 1970’s Willys jeeps between Chitral and Hunza opening the roof when the weather allows. We are embracing the nature of adventure travel with this mode of transport as it maximises our opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery. We will use minibus coasters everywhere else.
A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings
The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate
All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary
All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary
Low / Moderate
We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatoryTips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documentsInternational Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UKAirport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flightsBeverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs
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