In case you’re contemplating your first go to to Pakistan and need an itinerary to rival all others, right here is the right 10-day introduction to Pakistan. This itinerary focuses on the Northern areas with their dramatic landscapes, historical forts, historic architecture and proximity to the likes of Ladakh, world famous for its’ unimaginable mountain ranges.
Pakistan is likely one of the most underrated travel destinations for quite a lot of causes. Not without its’ issues, Pakistan is understood for having a posh and sophisticated historical past because it was established in 1947. For that cause I might personally advocate a guided tour in your first visit, though haven’t any purpose to not encourage a solo journey given my own expertise.
For the sake of readability, travelling solo (and particularly as a female) in the likes of Bali or Bangkok could be very totally different to travelling solo in Pakistan. In case you are new to solo travel I might recommend gaining experience in nations more populated by tourists and certainly, with a extra developed strategy towards tourism and overseas visitors.
As a result of I didn’t travel via Pakistan as a solo female, I might recommend reading this submit by The Broke Backpacker for further info and clarity given her thorough documentation on the topic (and sensible protection of Pakistan!)
This itinerary follows my 10-day adventure all through Pakistan, beginning in Islamabad. The tour was put together by our guide Atta (you’ll be able to e mail him right here) who works full time as a information in Northern Pakistan (more on Atta later).
Islamabad (or Isloo to the locals) is the capital metropolis of Pakistan but not even near the most important metropolis. There are a whopping 213 million individuals in Pakistan and simply 1 million in Islamabad. That makes the town great for a stopover and introduction to the nation. I’d advocate no less than one full day to discover Islamabad, although it wouldn’t harm to permit for 2 and benefit from shaking jet lag on the similar time.
Begin the day proper with probably the greatest coffees in Islamabad, discovered at Mocca Cafe in Kohsar Market. When you are there be sure you wander round and begin to expertise the local purchasing. I might recommend profiting from the opportunity to purchase a scarf or two, as you’ll need to wear a shawl when getting into mosques and as a basic rule, it is a good idea to have on one hand for certain situations that call for masking up as a sign of respect to the local tradition.
For a ravishing pashmina (that are in truth from Nepal), head over to Maharaja Handicrafts at F6 markez, faculty street. For Afghan Handicrafts and antiques head over to the few outlets around the corner from Maharaja on Aga Khan Street close to the flower outlets.
Examine in to the Serena Lodge if you’d like an unforgettable introduction to Pakistani culture, structure, and opulent interiors inside what is taken into account probably the most lovely lodge in Islamabad. The lodge has all the perks you may ever need, including an outside swimming pool, health centre and large restaurant to take pleasure in a buffet breakfast.
An necessary word on this itinerary: it depends completely on this primary flight from Islamabad to Skardu, which is unfortunately subject to many cancellations given the weather path getting into the mountain ranges in Skardu. Ought to your flight be cancelled and you’re travelling as part of a tour, various arrangements will probably be made for you. In case you are travelling by yourself accord, I might advocate having a couple of days of flexibility in case of cancellation, as there is only one flight a day and it is solely climate dependent.
Unfortunately our trip began in simply that trend: a cancelled flight to Skardu, leading to a 12 hour drive towards that path and a prompt in us reversing our itinerary. With a dose of optimism I hope the identical does not occur to you, so will proceed to share the itinerary as it was originally deliberate as we still visited all of those places – just in reverse and with far more time in a bus!
On the best way to Skardu you’ll want to request a seat on the left hand aspect of the aircraft for the most effective photograph opportunities – you gained’t remorse it as you enter the mountain ranges in the North!
Once you arrive make sure you top off on dried apricots, walnuts and almonds for the lengthy journey by street over the coming days. There have been days where we might not eat for 12 hours at a time given the distant places of these towns, so it is higher to be prepared!
A couple of hours drive from Skardu and you will arrive at Shigar Fort, one in every of Northern Pakistan’s most lovely inns occupying an previous fort. The experience is real and uncooked – virtually so real that it feels as when you have stepped in to a movie set because it’s so picturesque. The city itself can also be great to walk round in the course of the day amidst the hustle and bustle or you possibly can take a bicycle for a extra relaxed afternoon to stretch the legs after your long aircraft and bus journey.
For those who can time your luck, there could also be an area polo match happening nearby. Ask your guide or one of many locals for up to date info – this can be a widespread sport within the Gilgit-Baltistan region and recognized in style as “Recreation of the Kings”.
It is a further three hours drive to succeed in Khaplu Palace, but this is arms down one of the lovely properties to remain in all of Pakistan and certainly, the spotlight of my trip. When you’ve got time to spend multiple night time, this property is greatest loved at a slower pace. You’ll want to make use of the guided palace tour as there’s a lot to study concerning the history of the palace and its surrounds.
The Royal High 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. In case you ask politely the lodge employees can also let you discover the rooftop of the palace, which has 360 degree views over Khaplu.
In case you are feeling more lively and adventurous, there’s a nice panoramic view to be had at Thoqsikhar, a two hour hike from the palace. Ask the lodge to pack a picnic lunch or start your journey early within the morning with the sun and return to the palace for a relaxed lunch within the gardens.
When you have time the day you’re testing, contemplate stopping at Bara, a small town simply 20 minutes from Khaplu and en route to your next destination: Gilgit. Right here you’ll discover a wool spinning and weave centre that trains and helps native ladies. This is additionally an excellent place to buy an area Baltistani topi.
It is a lengthy drive from Khaplu to Gilgit, so be sure you depart in good time in case you wish to see Gilgit before dark and maybe even take a hike to the water channel above the town that gives views of the valley under and in addition options the victory monument of Taj Mughul in addition to the seventh century Kargah Buddha rock carving. While in Gilgit we stayed at the Serena Lodge and I was starting to realise how much I appreciated these lovely inns being all throughout Pakistan! They have been extraordinarily welcoming and felt like coming residence. Buffet breakfasts have been a highlight as have been the interiors, all the time dedicated to the native space and paying tribute to influences in Central Asia.
If you’ll spend a number of days in anybody place, I might extremely advocate basing yourself for a couple of days in the Hunza Valley. Renowned for its appeal, cleanliness and 995 literacy fee, Hunza is usually considered some of the lovely cities to go to in the North of Pakistan.
Should you’re feeling peckish, begin your day at Cafe de Hunza for a slice of well-known walnut cake with an iced latte (which is actually a frappe for ye Westerners) and so refreshing after days and days of prompt coffee!
There are various cities to discover in Hunza, however with restricted time we made our method to Gulmit, one of the highlights in the Hunza Valley. Right here there are a selection of girls’s initiatives and it was one of many few cities where we saw ladies in the streets. To help native communities, some nice gadgets to purchase as souvenirs or presents to take residence are apricot creams and oils, gem stones, woollen shawls and woodcraft. You can see many artisans and shop keepers on the streets who are more than prepared to help (lots of which converse good English) and never as soon as was I hassled to buy anything all through my time in Pakistan.
Not too removed from Hunza, I might highly advocate a go to to Attabad lake. This lake appeared after a landslide that killed 20 individuals often known as the Attabad catastrophe. The lake collects glacial silt from the encompassing mountains, resulting in its turquoise blue color in Spring and Summer time. Further down the street edging closer to the border with China is the rickety bridge often known as “The Indiana Jones Bridge” for its likeness, though it never appeared within the movies. It is completely value a visit but not for the faint hearted!
Thought-about to be one of the biggest engineering accomplishments of the 20th century, the Karakoram Highway connects Pakistan and China and is likely one of the highlights of Northeastern Pakistan. The complete journey is 805 miles long however you don’t have to drive the complete approach to experience a number of the epic scenery that takes you through hair-raising turns, countless mountain ranges and lots of small villages where locals will wave as you cross by.
If adventure travel is more your fashion and also you’re prepared for one wild journey, don’t miss the prospect to leap on the jeeps and make your method to fairy Meadows along a steep cliff edge. After a one hour drive to the top of the street, 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 may think about embarking on the trek to base camp the next morning – based on my information this was an extra 10-12 hour hike with primary lodging at base camp. The Swiss-style cabins at Fairy Meadows are pretty and plush, complete with scorching water and electrical energy! This was a wonderful a part of the world to wake up and enjoy the crisp mountain air so if time is on your aspect, you might even need to keep an additional night time.
In case you are fascinated about travelling to Pakistan with a information I can highly advocate my information Atta who made our time in Pakistan nothing in need of superb. He has a few years experience as a guide in addition to being educated in mountaineering, so is a superb contact in the event you’re in search of an area guide to embark on a trek or two (I’ve set my eyes on K2 base camp next!)
You’ll be able to contact Atta by e-mail: [email protected]