If you happen to’re contemplating your first go to to Pakistan and need an itinerary to rival all others, right here is the proper 10-day introduction to Pakistan. This itinerary focuses on the Northern areas with their dramatic landscapes, historic forts, historical structure and proximity to the likes of Ladakh, world well-known for its’ unbelievable mountain ranges.
Pakistan is without doubt one of the most underrated journey locations for a wide range of causes. Not with out its’ issues, Pakistan is thought for having a fancy and sophisticated historical past because it was established in 1947. For that motive I’d personally suggest a guided tour in your first go to, although haven’t any motive to not encourage a solo journey given my very own expertise.
For the sake of readability, travelling solo (and specifically as a feminine) within the likes of Bali or Bangkok could be very totally different to travelling solo in Pakistan. If you’re new to solo journey I’d counsel gaining expertise in nations extra populated by vacationers and certainly, with a extra developed method towards tourism and overseas guests.
As a result of I didn’t journey by Pakistan as a solo feminine, I’d counsel studying this submit by The Broke Backpacker for additional data and readability given her thorough documentation on the subject (and sensible protection of Pakistan!)
This itinerary follows my 10-day journey all through Pakistan, beginning in Islamabad. The tour was put collectively by our information Atta (you may e-mail him right here) who works full time as a information in Northern Pakistan (extra on Atta later).
Islamabad (or Isloo to the locals) is the capital metropolis of Pakistan however not even near the most important metropolis. There are a whopping 213 million individuals in Pakistan and simply 1 million in Islamabad. That makes town nice for a stopover and introduction to the nation. I’d suggest no less than one full day to discover Islamabad, although it wouldn’t harm to permit for 2 and reap the benefits of shaking jet lag on the identical time.
Begin the day proper with one of many greatest coffees in Islamabad, discovered at Mocca Cafe in Kohsar Market. While you’re there make sure you wander round and start to expertise the native purchasing. I’d counsel benefiting from the chance to purchase a shawl or two, as you will want to put on a shawl when getting into mosques and as a normal rule, it’s a good suggestion to have on one hand for sure conditions that decision for protecting up as an indication of respect to the native tradition.
For a fantastic pashmina (that are in actual fact from Nepal), head over to Maharaja Handicrafts at F6 markez, college highway. For Afghan Handicrafts and antiques head over to the few retailers across the nook from Maharaja on Aga Khan Highway close to the flower retailers.
Test in to the Serena Resort in order for you an unforgettable introduction to Pakistani tradition, structure, and opulent interiors inside what is taken into account probably the most stunning lodge in Islamabad. The lodge has all of the perks you can ever want, together with an out of doors swimming pool, health centre and large restaurant to get pleasure from a buffet breakfast.
An necessary notice on this itinerary: it depends completely on this primary flight from Islamabad to Skardu, which is sadly topic to many cancellations given the climate path getting into the mountain ranges in Skardu. Ought to your flight be cancelled and you’re travelling as a part of a tour, various preparations might be made for you. If you’re travelling by yourself accord, I’d suggest having a couple of days of flexibility in case of cancellation, as there is just one flight a day and it’s completely climate dependent.
Sadly our journey started in simply that style: a cancelled flight to Skardu, leading to a 12 hour drive towards that path and a immediate in us reversing our itinerary. With a dose of optimism I hope the identical doesn’t occur to you, so will proceed to share the itinerary because it was initially deliberate as we nonetheless visited all of those locations – simply in reverse and with far more time in a bus!
On the best way to Skardu make sure you request a seat on the left hand aspect of the airplane for one of the best picture alternatives – you gained’t remorse it as you enter the mountain ranges within the North!
When you arrive make sure you replenish on dried apricots, walnuts and almonds for the lengthy journey by highway over the approaching days. There have been days the place we might not eat for 12 hours at a time given the distant places of those cities, so it’s higher to be ready!
A few hours drive from Skardu and you’ll arrive at Shigar Fort, one in all Northern Pakistan’s most stunning lodges occupying an previous fort. The expertise is actual and uncooked – nearly so actual that it feels as when you have stepped in to a film set as a result of it’s so picturesque. The city itself can also be nice to stroll round in the course of the day amidst the hustle and bustle or you may take a bicycle for a extra relaxed afternoon to stretch the legs after your lengthy airplane and bus journey.
If you happen to can time your luck, there could also be an area polo match going down close by. Ask your information or one of many locals for up to date data – this can be a fashionable sport within the Gilgit-Baltistan area and identified fashionable as “Recreation of the Kings”.
It’s a additional three hours drive to succeed in Khaplu Palace, however that is arms down one of the crucial stunning properties to remain in all of Pakistan and certainly, the spotlight of my journey. When you have time to spend multiple evening, this property is greatest loved at a slower tempo. You’ll want to make use of the guided palace tour as there’s a lot to study in regards to the historical past of the palace and its surrounds.
The Royal Excessive Tea is an expertise to not be forgotten and is served on a terrace overlooking the palace grounds and has sweeping views of the encompassing mountains. If you happen to ask politely the lodge employees may additionally allow you to discover the rooftop of the palace, which has 360 diploma views over Khaplu.
If you’re feeling extra lively and adventurous, there’s a nice panoramic view available at Thoqsikhar, a two hour hike from the palace. Ask the lodge to pack a picnic lunch or begin your journey early within the morning with the solar and return to the palace for a relaxed lunch within the gardens.
When you have time the day you’re trying out, take into account stopping at Bara, a small city simply 20 minutes from Khaplu and en path to your subsequent vacation spot: Gilgit. Right here you’ll discover a wool spinning and weave centre that trains and helps native girls. That is additionally a terrific place to buy an area Baltistani topi.
It’s a prolonged drive from Khaplu to Gilgit, so make sure you depart in good time for those who want to see Gilgit earlier than darkish and even perhaps take a hike to the water channel above town that gives views of the valley under and likewise options the victory monument of Taj Mughul in addition to the seventh century Kargah Buddha rock carving. While in Gilgit we stayed on the Serena Resort and I used to be beginning to realise how a lot I appreciated these stunning lodges being all throughout Pakistan! They had been extraordinarily welcoming and felt like coming house. Buffet breakfasts had been a spotlight as had been the interiors, all the time devoted to the native space and paying tribute to influences in Central Asia.
If you’ll spend a couple of days in anybody place, I’d extremely suggest basing your self for a couple of days within the Hunza Valley. Famend for its appeal, cleanliness and 995 literacy fee, Hunza is usually thought to be one of the crucial stunning cities to go to within the North of Pakistan.
If you happen to’re feeling peckish, begin your day at Cafe de Hunza for a slice of well-known walnut cake with an iced latte (which is definitely a frappe for ye Westerners) and so refreshing after days and days of prompt espresso!
There are lots of cities to discover in Hunza, however with restricted time we made our solution to Gulmit, one of many highlights within the Hunza Valley. Right here there are a variety of ladies’s initiatives and it was one of many few cities the place we noticed girls within the streets. To assist native communities, some nice gadgets to buy as souvenirs or items to take house are apricot lotions and oils, gem stones, woollen shawls and woodcraft. You’ll find many artisans and store keepers on the streets who’re greater than keen to assist (a lot of which communicate excellent English) and never as soon as was I hassled to purchase something all through my time in Pakistan.
Not too removed from Hunza, I’d extremely suggest a go to to Attabad lake. This lake appeared after a landslide that killed 20 individuals generally known as the Attabad catastrophe. The lake collects glacial silt from the encompassing mountains, leading to its turquoise blue color in Spring and Summer season. Additional down the highway edging nearer to the border with China is the rickety bridge generally known as “The Indiana Jones Bridge” for its likeness, although it by no means appeared within the movies. It’s completely value a go to however not for the faint hearted!
Thought of to be one of many best engineering accomplishments of the 20th century, the Karakoram Freeway connects Pakistan and China and is without doubt one of the highlights of Northeastern Pakistan. Your complete journey is 805 miles lengthy however you don’t must drive the complete solution to expertise a few of the epic surroundings that takes you thru hair-raising turns, infinite mountain ranges and lots of small villages the place locals will wave as you move by.
If journey journey is extra your model and also you’re prepared for one wild journey, don’t miss the prospect to leap on the jeeps and make your solution to fairy Meadows alongside a steep cliff edge. After a one hour drive to the top of the highway, it’s only a 1.5-2 hour hike to the Fairy Meadows camp, which is a well-liked cease en path to the Base Camp for Nanga Parbat.
If time is in your aspect you would possibly take into account embarking on the trek to base camp the next morning – in keeping with my information this was an extra 10-12 hour hike with primary lodging at base camp. The Swiss-style cabins at Fairy Meadows are beautiful and plush, full with scorching water and electrical energy! This was a fantastic a part of the world to get up and benefit from the crisp mountain air so if time is in your aspect, you might even wish to keep an additional evening.
If you’re inquisitive about travelling to Pakistan with a information I can extremely suggest my information Atta who made our time in Pakistan nothing in need of superb. He has a few years expertise as a information in addition to being skilled in mountaineering, so is a good contact for those who’re in search of an area information to embark on a trek or two (I’ve set my eyes on K2 base camp subsequent!)
You’ll be able to contact Atta by e-mail: email@example.com