Should you’re considering your first go to to Pakistan and need an itinerary to rival all others, here is the right 10-day introduction to Pakistan. This itinerary focuses on the Northern areas with their dramatic landscapes, historic forts, historic structure and proximity to the likes of Ladakh, world famous for its’ unimaginable mountain ranges.
Pakistan is likely one of the most underrated journey destinations for quite a lot of reasons. Not without its’ issues, Pakistan is understood for having a posh and sophisticated historical past since it was established in 1947. For that cause I might personally advocate a guided tour on your first go to, though haven’t any purpose not to encourage a solo journey given my very own experience.
For the sake of readability, travelling solo (and in specific 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 expertise in nations more populated by vacationers and indeed, with a extra developed strategy towards tourism and overseas visitors.
Because I didn’t journey by means of Pakistan as a solo female, I might recommend studying this publish by The Broke Backpacker for additional info and clarity given her thorough documentation on the topic (and sensible coverage of Pakistan!)
This itinerary follows my 10-day journey throughout Pakistan, beginning in Islamabad. The tour was put collectively by our guide Atta (you possibly can e mail him 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 shut to the most important metropolis. There are a whopping 213 million individuals in Pakistan and just 1 million in Islamabad. That makes the town great for a stopover and introduction to the country. I’d advocate a minimum of one full day to explore Islamabad, though it wouldn’t harm to permit for 2 and benefit from shaking jet lag on the similar time.
Start the day right with probably the greatest coffees in Islamabad, discovered at Mocca Cafe in Kohsar Market. When you are there ensure to wander around and begin to experience the local buying. I might recommend profiting from the chance to purchase a shawl or two, as you will have to put on a shawl when getting into mosques and as a basic rule, it is a good idea to have on one hand for certain conditions that call for overlaying up as an indication of respect to the native tradition.
For a lovely pashmina (that are in reality from Nepal), head over to Maharaja Handicrafts at F6 markez, faculty street. For Afghan Handicrafts and antiques head over to the few outlets across the nook from Maharaja on Aga Khan Street close to the flower outlets.
Verify in to the Serena Lodge if you’d like an unforgettable introduction to Pakistani tradition, structure, and opulent interiors inside what is taken into account probably the most lovely lodge in Islamabad. The lodge has all the perks you can ever need, together with an outside swimming pool, fitness centre and large restaurant to take pleasure in a buffet breakfast.
An essential observe on this itinerary: it relies completely on this first flight from Islamabad to Skardu, which is unfortunately subject to many cancellations given the weather path getting into the mountain ranges in Skardu. Should your flight be cancelled and you’re travelling as part of a tour, various preparations can 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 just one flight a day and it is totally climate dependent.
Sadly our trip began in just that style: a cancelled flight to Skardu, resulting in a 12 hour drive toward that path and a immediate 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 because it was originally planned as we still visited all of these locations – just in reverse and with far more time in a bus!
On the best way to Skardu make sure to request a seat on the left hand aspect of the aircraft for the most effective photograph alternatives – you gained’t remorse it as you enter the mountain ranges in the North!
When you arrive make sure to refill on dried apricots, walnuts and almonds for the lengthy journey by street over the coming days. There were days the place we might not eat for 12 hours at a time given the distant places of those towns, so it is higher to be ready!
A couple of hours drive from Skardu and you will arrive at Shigar Fort, considered one of Northern Pakistan’s most lovely inns occupying an previous fort. The expertise is real and raw – virtually so actual that it feels as if in case you have stepped in to a film set because it is so picturesque. The city itself can also be nice to walk around in the course of the day amidst the hustle and bustle or you’ll be able to take a bicycle for a extra relaxed afternoon to stretch the legs after your lengthy aircraft and bus journey.
For those who can time your luck, there may be an area polo match happening close by. Ask your information or one of many locals for updated info – this can be a widespread sport in the Gilgit-Baltistan region and recognized fashionable as “Game of the Kings”.
It is a further three hours drive to reach Khaplu Palace, but that is palms down one of the lovely properties to keep in all of Pakistan and indeed, the highlight of my journey. In case you have time to spend multiple night time, this property is greatest loved at a slower pace. Be certain to make use of the guided palace tour as there’s a lot to study concerning the historical past of the palace and its surrounds.
The Royal Excessive Tea is an experience not to be forgotten and is served on a terrace overlooking the palace grounds and has sweeping views of the encompassing mountains. Should you ask politely the lodge employees may allow you to explore the rooftop of the palace, which has 360 degree views over Khaplu.
In case you are feeling extra lively and adventurous, there is a great panoramic view to be had at Thoqsikhar, a two hour hike from the palace. Ask the lodge to pack a picnic lunch or begin your journey early in the morning with the solar and return to the palace for a relaxed lunch in the gardens.
When you have time the day you’re testing, contemplate stopping at Bara, a small city simply 20 minutes from Khaplu and en route to your subsequent destination: Gilgit. Here one can find a wool spinning and weave centre that trains and helps local ladies. That is also a fantastic place to purchase an area Baltistani topi.
It’s a prolonged drive from Khaplu to Gilgit, so ensure to depart in good time if you want to see Gilgit earlier than darkish and maybe even take a hike to the water channel above the town that gives views of the valley under and in addition features the victory monument of Taj Mughul in addition to the 7th century Kargah Buddha rock carving. Whilst in Gilgit we stayed at the Serena Lodge and I used to be beginning to realise how much I appreciated these lovely motels being all across Pakistan! They have been extraordinarily welcoming and felt like coming residence. Buffet breakfasts have been a spotlight as have been the interiors, all the time dedicated to the local space and paying tribute to influences in Central Asia.
In case you are going to spend a couple of days in anybody place, I might highly advocate basing yourself for a number of days in the Hunza Valley. Famend for its allure, cleanliness and 995 literacy price, Hunza is usually considered one of the crucial lovely cities to visit in the North of Pakistan.
Should you’re feeling peckish, begin your day at Cafe de Hunza for a slice of famous walnut cake with an iced latte (which is actually a frappe for ye Westerners) and so refreshing after days and days of on the spot espresso!
There are lots of towns to discover in Hunza, however with limited time we made our method to Gulmit, one of many highlights in the Hunza Valley. 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 local 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 find many artisans and shop keepers on the streets who’re more than prepared to assist (lots of which converse good English) and never once was I hassled to purchase anything all through my time in Pakistan.
Not too far from Hunza, I might extremely advocate a go to to Attabad lake. This lake appeared after a landslide that killed 20 individuals referred to as the Attabad disaster. The lake collects glacial silt from the encompassing mountains, resulting in its turquoise blue colour in Spring and Summer time. Additional down the street edging nearer to the border with China is the rickety bridge often known as “The Indiana Jones Bridge” for its likeness, though it never appeared in the movies. It’s 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 among the highlights of Northeastern Pakistan. The whole journey is 805 miles long but you don’t need to drive the complete means to expertise a number of the epic scenery that takes you through hair-raising turns, infinite mountain ranges and lots of small villages where locals will wave as you cross by.
If journey journey is more your type and you’re prepared for one wild experience, do not miss the prospect to bounce on the jeeps and make your means to fairy Meadows along a steep cliff edge. After a one hour drive to the top of the street, it’s just a 1.5-2 hour hike to the Fairy Meadows camp, which is a well-liked cease en route to the Base Camp for Nanga Parbat.
If time is on your aspect you may think about embarking on the trek to base camp the following morning – according to my guide 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 electricity! This was a ravishing part of the world to get up and enjoy the crisp mountain air so if time is on your aspect, you could even want to stay an additional night time.
In case you are in 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 many years expertise as a information in addition to being educated in mountaineering, so is a superb contact in case you’re in search of an area guide 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 protected]