Pakistan - The Himalaya, Karakoram & Hindu Kush Tour

TOURCODE: JHPK

Duration:
21 Days

Activity Level:
2

When To Go:
Sep

Countries Visited:
1

Arrive In / Depart From:
/

Max Group Size:
Never more than 18

Tour Style:
Cultural

Price From:

  Overnight in: Islamabad, Taxila, Naran, Hunza, Duiker, Passu, Gilgit, Kachura, Skardu, Khaplu, Machlu, Shigar, Peshawar, Lahore

Discover the country's true culture with the help of experienced local guides.

  • Small group sizes to help escape the beaten path.
  • All-inclusive with top-rated restaurants and hotels.
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Tour Overview
Tour Overview
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Countries Visited: 1 Activity Level: 2 Tour Style: Cultural

Pakistan. An entity formed from the partition of British India along religious lines. The name may evoke many images and stereotypes based on recent news headlines, but this tour aims to dig under the surface and reveal the wonders of this fascinating and vibrant nation.

Our focus is in the north of the country where multiple tales of the 19th century Great Game between the expanding Russian empire and the British Raj played out over control of the lands here in Central and South Asia.

Our tour embarks on an exploration of the capital, Islamabad, before setting off for the mountains of the Himalaya, the Karakorum Highway, and Hindu Kush. Ancient towns and villages lie ahead with discoveries of the old forts and dramatic scenery of the mountains. Highlights include the Hunza Valley, Gilgit, Skardu, and Shigar, all important stops on the ancient Silk Road.

Our tour concludes in the city of Lahore, home to the Lahore Fort, the Shalimar Garden, and the famous flag lowering ceremony at the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.

 


 

Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices

 

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to below Prices & Dates table. For general information on flights to/from the tour, click here.

 

Select a date below to reserve your spot:

 

$1000 PER PERSON DEPOSIT REQUIRED

Optional Single Supplement: $1610 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $1610 if you join our share program and we are unable to pair you.

 


 

Full Itinerary
Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Islamabad
Today we assemble in Islamabad - welcome to Pakistan!

About this Itinerary: This is our best hope for what we expect to accomplish on our trip, however a "go with the flow" attitude is necessary. While we and our local partners have tried our best to make this itinerary as accurate as possible, it should be considered an approximation of activities rather than a strict schedule. Though we try our best to adhere to the schedule, many unforeseen factors influence our tour -- weather conditions, health, route conditions, government restrictions, and other factors beyond our control. Alternative arrangements will be sought in such circumstances and the program will be modified accordingly.

Overnight in Islamabad.

Included Meal(s): Dinner



Day 2 Islamabad Sightseeing
After a leisurely morning (due to the possibility of late-night arrivals and the lingering effects of jetlag), we'll begin our exploration of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. This modern, lush, green, and spacious city was established in the 1950s against the backdrop of the Margalla Hills at the northern edge of the Potohar Mountain Range.

We visit the Pakistan Monument at Shakar Padian Hill, continuing to Lok Virsa and the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage. Next we visit the world’s second largest mosque, the Shah Faisal, designed by the Turkish architect, Vedat Dalokay, and financed largely by donations from Saudi Arabia. We drive through the diplomatic enclave, past the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Prime Minister’s House, and Parliament house.

We can also visit a typical shopping mall, where you can, among other things, see/buy a typical Pakistani outfit, designed and created by famous local designers.

Overnight in Islamabad.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 3 Islamabad: Taxila & Rawalpindi
After breakfast we depart the city by road and travel approximately one hour to Taxila, one of the sub-continent’s most important archaeological treasures, with the remains of three great cities and dozens of Buddhist monasteries dating from 600 BCE to AD 600. It is strategically located at the meeting place of trade routes linking China, India, Central Asia, and the West. Taxila survived through many empires and became the cultural crossroad of the ancient world.

Buddhism took hold in the region around 275 BCE and from here the religion spread to Central Asia, Tibet, and China. We visit Taxila Museum, famous for its finest examples of Gandharan sculptures and art. It also houses some of the important artifacts and discoveries of ancient civilizations. We visit one of the important Buddhist stupas at Dharmarajika. If weather and time permits, we'll visit the nearby ancient city of Sirkap.

We continue to Rawalpindi for a break for lunch followed by a visit of the historic city and old bazaar.

Return to Islamabad.

Overnight in Islamabad.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 4 Islamabad - Naran
After an early breakfast we depart Islamabad for Naran (6-7 hour drive) north of Islamabad. The first 3 hours take us through the district of Hazara in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The road runs through the green and well-forested western Himalayan spurs of the Hazara district. En route we pass through Abbottabad, Mansehra, Balakot, and Kaghan.

The area has rich history with the earliest written accounts dating back to Alexander’s conquest of the region in the 4th Century BCE, followed by Buddhist rule in the 3rd century BCE, which left behind some interesting archaeological sites such as Asoka's Rock Edicts at Manshera, dating back to around the 3rd Century AD.

Overnight in Naran (2400m/7,875 ft)

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 5 Naran - Hunza via Babusar Pass
Today's journey continues via the N15 highway toward Babusar Pass, which connects province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with Gilgit Baltistan.

Before the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), Babusar Pass, at 4173m (13,690 feet), some 70km from Naran, was the main route for crossing into Pakistan's Northern Areas (Gilgit Baltistan). The road, diminishing to just a jeep track at its completion in 1898, is now a well-made road, which follows the Kunar River, passing through small towns such as Battakundi, Burawai, and Besal. Beyond Burawai the road rises further and the scenery starts to change, with silver fir and blue pine trees becoming scantier and the hills barer.

Continuing north from Besal, the road runs along the 2.5km long Lulusar Lake with its deep green waters and reaches Gittidas, the last village before the pass. The valley broadens out here, and further on steadily climbs for around seven kilometres to the summit of Babusar Pass (the highest point on our journey), continuing down the other side to Chilas on the Karakoram Highway. We will be rewarded by the spectacular panorama that greets us on our final descent.

From Babusar Pass the road passes through Thak Valley to Chilas. There are many rock carvings at Chilas, the majority of which date back to the Buddhist pilgrims who frequented these routes while travelling between China and the great Buddhist sites of south Asia.

After a break at the Shangrila Hotel in Chilas, we continue up the KKH to Gilgit (257km). The road winds round the foot of Nanga Parbat (8125m/26,660 ft), the world's ninth highest mountain, located at the western tip of the Himalayan Range. Before Gilgit we stop at the meeting of three of the world's greatest mountain ranges: the Himalaya, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush.

We continue to witness splendid scenery as we near Hunza -- weather-permitting we hope to see spectacular Rakaposhi Peak with its snowy crown. The route is abundant with terraced fields flanked by tress, particularly pretty in spring with apricot, apple, and peach blossom. In autumn the very same trees set themselves ablaze with fiery shades of yellow, orange, and red.

This afternoon we arrive in Karimabad village, the largest and main centre of Hunza, set on a mountainside with water channels defining the tiered levels of the villagers' fields and houses. Looming above the village of Karimabad, are several noteworthy peaks, including Ultar Peak (7388m/22,440 ft) and its glacier as a curtain backdrop, a majestic view of Mt. Rakaposhi (7788m/25,550 ft) and Diran Peak (7257m/23,810 ft). These views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains are spectacular.

Upon arrival in Karimabad Hunza, we continue to Altit in the small neighbouring valley to Karimabad. After hotel check-in and a chance to freshen up, we may have a chance to visit historic Altit Fort. This historic small fort is perched on a rocky outcrop high above the Hunza River, the only river that cuts through the width of the mighty Karakoram. The fort's balcony overlooks a village of mud houses with flat rooftops used as extra work areas for drying fruit etc. Prince (King) Charles and Camilla visited Altit Fort along with Prince Karim Aga Khan when it was still being restored in October of 2006. We will visit this fort tomorrow if we do not have enough time on this day.

Overnight in Hunza (Altit or Aliabad, approx 2500m/8,200 ft).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 6 Hunza: Baltit Fort & Village Excursion
After a relaxed breakfast we head out to visit Baltit Fort. Hunza was a princely state ruled by one family, the Ayashkutz, for over 900 years. The ruler of Hunza was called the Mir of Hunza by outsiders and Thum by locals. The people of Hunza are called the Hunzokutz. The rule of the Ayashkutz family came to an end when, in 1974, the then Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, abolished all the princely states in Pakistan.

Baltit Fort was occupied by some of the elderly members of the Ayashkutz family until 1960; Mir himself had already shifted to a new palace much earlier. In 1996 Baltit Fort was reopened after a meticulous restoration by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. It has been transformed into a heritage museum, and has been given several international awards. Later we visit the local bazaar before continuing back to our hotel.

Overnight in Hunza (Altit or Aliabad).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 7 Hunza - Hoppar Valley - Duiker
Today we leave the Hunza Valley and cross the river to the Nagar Valley. This region holds some of the region's larger glaciers, the starting point for some of the more popular trekking routes. The valley lies along the southwest boundary of the Bualtar Glacier and offers a unique characteristic, transformed and created by glaciers. We walk through Hoppar village and enjoy lunch among the glaciers with fine views all around.

We return to Karimabad and continue to Duiker, the highest settlement in the area (2850m/9,350 ft), and the highest overnight point on our tour. Before sunset, we walk to a close-by point to enjoy magnificent 360° view of the snow-covered peaks and the valley below.

Overnight in Duiker.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 8 Duiker - Attabad Lake - Janapad Passu Duikar – Attabad Lake - Passu
Today we will depart for Passu, another couple of hours drive to the north. We will see Attabad Lake, formed in 2010 due to a landslide that blocked the Karakorum Highway and the Hunza River. As of 2015 there is road access again while the river continues to flow southward after a team of Pakistani and Chinese engineers completed the necessary tunnels. We stop at various points for views of the pristine blue waters and we will get an opportunity to take a traditional boat excursion out on the lake (or on our return, depending on the timing and the weather).

Time permitting, we will also have an excursion to see the mountain scenery at and around Borith Lake, a resting point for several species of birds during their migrations.

We continue on toward Janapad Passu and our overnight accommodations (2600m/8,530 ft)

Overnight in Janapad Passu.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 9 Passu & Khunjerab Pass
After breakfast we drive to Sost, the last border town on the KKH, and continue to Khunjerab National Park. The park has an area of 2270 sq km and it is one of the highest altitude national parks in the world. It was established in 1979 by Z.A. Bhutto and consists of three deferent valleys: Khunjerab, through which the KKH passes; Ghujerab, and the remote Shimshal Valley. At the end of valley, there is 4700m/14,420 ft Khunjerab Pass, the world's highest paved road crossing the international border to China.

Today's drive takes us through high, wild, and magnificent scenery. The region is home to Markhor (Marco Polo) sheep, Himalayan ibex, blue sheep, snow leopards, and Tibetan wolves. We are also close to the Wakhan Corridor, a snaky bit of Afghanistan created at the turn of the last century by the British and Russians to keep both empires apart.

We return to our accommodations in Passu after our excursion to Khunjerab. Weather permitting, we hope to also see the peaks known as the Passu Cones at some point during our visit.

Overnight in Passu.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 10 Passu - Gilgit & Kargah
After a relaxed breakfast we'll continue our journey with a scenic drive (3-4 hours) back to Gilgit. This afternoon we visit nearby Kargah, known for its large standing Buddha carved high on a cliff face. We visit the bazaar before retiring to our hotel.

Overnight in Gilgit (1500m/4,920 ft).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 11 Gilgit - Kachura Skardu: Explore Kachura Village
After breakfast we drive to Skardu, capital of Baltistan. In no other part of the world is there such a large number of high mountains in such a confined space as in Baltistan. The ideal route is from the west, which follows the Indus River for 106km/350 mi from the KKH to the capital town of Skardu. Previously this was a route plagued with rockfalls and slow-moving traffic on a narrow rough track. Recently, however (from 2018 - ongoing), this road has been expanded and paved by the Pakistan Army Engineers.

Soon after leaving the KKH and crossing Gilgit River at Maqpun Das, we will see the magnificent Nanga Parbat’s west face, 9th highest peak in the world (8125m/26,660 ft) and the 2nd highest mountain of Pakistan.

Today's destination is Kachura Skardu, which consists of the two villages of Upper Kachura and Lower Kachura, also known as Shangrila.

Overnight in Kachura Skardu (2500m/8,200 ft).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 12 Skardu Bazaar - Khaplu
Our first stop today will be Skardu Bazaar. If it is open we will visit the K2 Museum, which displays some of earlier photographs of explorations and climbing in the Karakoram. Skardu is known as a base for explorers, adventurers, alpinists, and trekkers. The town is also known for dazzling gems: aquamarine, topaz, and quartz.

We then have a 3-4 hour drive through some scenic villages to Khaplu, once the second-largest kingdom in Baltistan with a strategic position on the trade route to Ladakh.

Upon arrival we check-in to a historic palace-turned-boutique hotel under the careful guidance of the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan. The three-story structure incorporates traditional designs of embellished, carved wood, with an added serenity lent by the water ponds, water channels, and fountains.

Overnight at Khaplu (2600m/8530 ft).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 13 Khaplu & Machulu Village
Today will start with a visit to Khaplu Palace, constructed with the help of Kashmiri and Balti craftsmen. Being on the border of multiple regions, the structure of the palace has Tibetan, Kashmiri, Ladakhi, Balti, and Central Asian influences. The palace building consists of four floors built with timber, mud bricks, clay, and soil mortar. A carved wooden gate that Yabgo Raja Hatim Khan took from a fort in Skardu after conquering most of the Baltistan was erected at the entrance of the palace.

We then take a trip across the Shyok River to Machulu Village, which offers a spectacular view of Masherbrum (7821m/25,660 ft) on a clear day. This is the 22nd highest mountain in the world and the 9th highest in Pakistan. It was the first mapped peak in the Karakoram mountain range, hence the designation "K1".

Later we visit a trout farm and return to our hotel for overnight.

Overight in Khaplu.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 14 Khaplu - Shigar
Today we travel 3-4 hour drive to Shigar, the last part of which passes through a "cold desert" region, a unique landscape with large sandy dunes flank the river when it is not in flood with melting snows. The broad fertile Shigar Valley is ringed by mountains, several snow-capped year round.

Shigar Valley is is surrounded by mountains and made for trekking and hiking. This is the most remote district among the ten districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The town of Shigar is the gateway to the great Karakoram mountains and "Eight-thousanders," 14 mountains that are more than 8000 meters, including K2, the second highest mountain in the world.

The region features historical buildings mainly influenced by Tibetan traditions. The natives of the regions are Balti people and predominantly Shia Muslims. We spend time walking through small villages where you may have the opportunity to interact with the people living in this lush natural environment. The locals produce apples, apricots, pears, cherries, and walnuts.

We overnight at Shigar Fort, which has won many international tourism and historic awards for its quality restoration by the Aga Khan Trust.

Overnight in Shigar (2230m/7316 ft).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 15 Shigar Sightseeing
Our day will unfold based on factors such as the weather. We will have a walk through the relaxed town of Shigar where you may have the opportunity to interact with the people living in this lush natural environment. The locals produce apples, apricots, pears, cherries, and walnuts. Our exploration of the town will also include the delicately-constructed wooden mosque of Amburiq, built in the 14th-century by Kashmiri craftsmen and restored by a conservation group in an effort to preserve the Tibetan and Kashmiri architecture of the original structure.

Today we will also embark on a 4WD excursion to take in the expansive valley and mountain views nearby.

Overnight at Shigar Fort.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 16 Shigar - Fly to Islamabad
After breakfast we transfer to the airport at Skardu for our flight to Islamabad. It is 1 hour flight known for spectacular mountain views.*

Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel for check-in. Later we will visit the nearby Pakistan National Council of Art Museum.

* In the event of flight cancellation (ie due to weather), we will travel back to Islamabad by road today and tomorrow.

Overnight in Islamabad.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 17 Islamabad & Excursion to Peshawar
Today we have an excursion to Peshawar.*

Khybar Phakhtoon Khwa Province, formerly known as North West Frontier Province, is Pakistan’s most diverse, covering an area of over 100,000 square kilometers including the Tribal Areas. KPK stretched from Pamir in the extreme north all the way south as far as Dera Ismail Khan on the banks of the Indus River, encompassing high mountains, fertile river basins, and semi-arid deserts. At the heart of the province is the Peshawar Valley. Its rich alluvial soils, watered by the Kabul and Swat rivers, make this amongst the most productive agricultural regions in Pakistan.

The drive to Peshawar is a unique experience. For centuries, traders and invaders made their way to/from India, making and losing fortunes. You can still see traces of those times, in terms of fortresses and caravanserais (inns).

The romance of Peshawar has traditionally been linked to its frontier location close to the historic Khyber Pass (due to security reasons, it is closed to visitors since 9/11). Today Peshawar is a large rapidly-developing and growing city, but with a distinct character all of its own. Indeed much of its unique atmosphere still thrives in the fascinating bazaars of the old city. In the traditional Central Asianstyle, the Old City was formerly completely encircled by a wall and centered on a citadel.

In the late afternoon we return to Islamabad.

* The above described Peshwar excursion will occur only if our previous day's flight is not cancelled due to weather. In the event of cancellation, this day will be a continuation of our road journey back to Islamabad.

Overnight in Islamabad.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 18 Islamabad - Hindu Temple at Katas - Lahore
Today we travel by road to Lahore via Katas.

In the village of Katas there are extensive Satghara Hindu temples, centered around a large pool and spring. According to legend the pool was formed of tears from Shiva’s eye as he wept over the death of his wife Parvati. Tears from his second eye fell near Amjer in Rajasthan forming a second pool. The oldest temple on the hill overlooking the complex has a narrow staircase inside which leads up onto the top of the roof overlooking the site and a very good view of the surrounding hills. We then continue to Lahore.

PLEASE NOTE: This evening we may/will likely be meeting travellers arriving today to join our Southern Pakistan tour. For the short time in Lahore, our total group size owing to this overlap may exceed our usual maximum; however, this will be deftly managed with multiple vehicles and guides, such that we won't feel "crowded" for our sightseeing and at meal times over the next two days.

Overnight in Lahore.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 19 Lahore: Royal Bath, Lahore Fort & Badshahi Mosque
Today we explore Lahore.

We visit the Shahi Hamam and Walled City of Lahore, containing many buildings, bazaars, public spaces, and monuments of high cultural, architectural, and historic value. The Shahi Hammam is located inside Delhi Gate and provides an ideal context for welcoming visitors to the Walled City. In 2012, the Walled City Authority created an enabling environment for the restoration of the Shahi Hammam by removing commercial encroachments around the historic building.

Next is the Wazir Khan Mosque, located further inside the Walled City. The mosque was built in 1643 and is renowned for its use and execution of inlaid pottery decoration in the wall paneling. The Badshahi Mosque was built for the Emperior Aurangzeb in 1673-74 and is Lahore’s most striking building.
Modelled on the great Jami Masjid in Delhi, it has an impressive 20 meters high gateway and a central prayer chamber topped by three large white marble domes that open onto an enormous courtyard. It has space for 100,000 worshippers at a single time.

We also visit Lahore Fort, built by the Mughals during the their days of rule. The fort contains some of the most impressive secular Mughal buildings in South Asia. Embellished with carved red sandstones, marble, pietra dura work, glazed colored and Kashi tile works plus frescos depicting princely pleasures. It is more a "place" than just a fort.

Overnight in Lahore.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 20 Lahore: Lahore Museum, Shalimar Garden & Waga Border
After breakfast we visit Lahore Museum, Shalimar Garden, and the flag lowering ceremony at Wagah Border.

Lahore Museum is the oldest and best in Pakistan. The museum's first curator was John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling who referred to the museum as the "Ajaib Ghar" or House of Wonders. The coin collection here is extremely valuable with some from the period of Alexander the Great.

Standing outside the museum is the famous Zam Zama Gun. Immortalized by Kipling in the opening lines of “Kim” this mighty cannon is so named because on firing it resembles a lion’s roar. The gun saw action in the Battle of Punjab 1761 and was badly damaged in the battle of Multan in 1818. It was subsequently retired to Lahore Fort, and finally moved to its present location in 1870.

We then visit the Shalimar Gardens, dating from the period when the Mughal Empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith. Laid out as a Persian paradise, it was intended to create a representation of an earthly utopia in which humans co-exist in perfect harmony with all elements of nature. In 1981 the Shalimar Gardens were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as they embody Mughal garden design at the apogee of its development.

Finally we then witness the Flag Lowering Ceremony at Wagah Border, an interesting daily 'Beating Retreat' ceremony at Wagah border since 1959. Indian and Pakistani security forces jointly drill a very seriously provocative parade, imbued with humour and drama. The ceremony starts with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both sides and ends up with the perfectly coordinated lowering of two nations' flags. Flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves abrupt handshakes between the soldiers of each side followed by the closing of the gates.

Overnight in Lahore.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 21 Departure
Departure from Lahore.
Included Meal(s): Breakfast

 


 

Trip Info
Trip Info

Inclusions
Hotel breakfast included daily; all dinners and lunches are included on all full touring days. A picnic lunch and assorted snacks/purified water will be provided on long travel days; evening meals on tour will be taken mostly at hotels where we are staying. Bottled water will be provided at lunch and dinner, as well as on the road throughout the day.

All transport (including internal flight and alternative land transport in the event of flight cancellation); accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Services of a full-time Adventures Abroad Tour Leader and local English-speaking step-on guides at several locations on our route.

Gratuities for drivers, restaurant/hotel staff, porters, local guides. Airport transfers for land & air customers. If you extend your stay pre- or post-tour, we will include your airport transfers if you book both your air and extra nights through us. We also include your 'Letter of Invitation' required to apply for your visas (see "Exclusions").

Exclusions
International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuities, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), additional beverages, any meals not listed in the itinerary, international (if applicable) air taxes, visa fees (see below), and any excursions referenced as 'optional'.

Airport transfers for Land Only customers (available for purchase). Optional trip cancellation insurance (strongly recommended). Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on visas, any not included meals, money matters, what to bring, etc.

Visas: A tourist visa is required to travel to Pakistan, which is not included in the cost of your tour. This must be obtained in advance of your arrival and can be acquired online (Canadian, USA, UK passports). We will provide you with a 'Letter of Invitation' to assist you in applying for your visa (included). More information will be provided in your pre-departure notes emailed at time of reservation.

Seasonality and Weather
Pakistan’s climate is difficult to pin down as a single entity. It ranges from tropical and subtropical to semi-arid and desert, and then up north you’ve got the ridiculously beautiful – and ridiculously cold – mountainous areas incorporating the Karakoram, Himalaya, and Hindu Kush ranges.

October is the month when autumn arrives in the valleys, bringing with it a vibrant palette of leaf colour and slopes high above covered in snow, making this a very picturesque season in the region.

Weather conditions can be highly-changeable throughout, and one should be prepared for a wide range depending on altitude, shelter from wind, time of day, and whether or not the sun is shining!

Transport and Travel Conditions
Land transportation will vary from private air-conditioned mini-bus in major cities (ie Toyota “Coaster”) to 4x4 air-conditioned Toyota Land Cruisers (3 passengers each, plus driver) for longer overland journeys between locations. Our one internal flight is provided via a local scheduled carrier.

The roads outside of major centres are very winding, rough, and slow on mountainous sections, which can/will be uncomfortable despite the high quality and ruggedness of our vehicles. Anyone joining this trip must understand that in many places the tourist infrastructure (roads, restaurants, and washrooms) is very primitive. Some days are long and hard, and the level of services will not match those offered in most touristic locations. Security checkpoints can also be annoying, but travellers must be flexible and patient. Many roads are in a bad state of repair and journeys can be long and tiring; you need to be flexible and maintain an open mind, a sense of adventure, and a tolerant and patient spirit during all aspects of the tour.

Difficulty Level 2: Though this tour does not feature any hiking (some walking excursions are possible but optional), or "roughing it" in terms of accommodation, it can be considered moderately strenuous due to the fact that it is very busy and moves around a lot: you must be prepared for some early starts and full days of road travel (see detailed itinerary for more details). You also need to be steady on your feet and able to endure some heat/cold and extended time at moderate elevations (all overnight points are under 3000m/10,000 ft). We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are quite large and feature steps and uneven surfaces.

Suitability: We visit remote locations with limited access to modern medical care; those with pre-existing conditions or persons with compromised immune systems and mobility problems should carefully consider their participation. Please note that, outside of major cities, it may be very difficult or impossible to cater to those with very specific dietary requirements/preferences. Though the altitudes on this trip are not considered extreme (ie under 3000m/10,000 ft), we require all passengers to complete a simple online "self-assessment" form as a condition of participation (click on link below to preview). Advancing a deposit to Adventures Abroad confirms your confidence in your physical and mental fitness to undertake this journey.

Safety: Pakistan is one of those countries that sets off alarm bells in the minds of friends and family. Their reaction is understandable given the news coverage of Pakistan over the past 20 years, and there's no doubt that some areas that should be avoided. That said, you can rest assured that we would not take you anywhere unless we were convinced it was safe. There's much more to Pakistan than the media might lead you to believe.

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.

Accommodation
Just because you're travelling in a remote, little-visited country doesn't mean you have to rough it. From quaint family-run inns/guest houses to converted forts and palaces, the name of the game here is "character" and the spectacular locations where most of them reside. Our city hotels (Islamabad & Lahore) are modern, international class properties of a high standard.

Overall, our accommodation choices on this trip bely the ruggedness of the land and the simplicity of local life, with comfortable properties with the modern comforts and conveniences one craves after a full day of exploration and travel. Nonetheless, it is important to note that not everything is going to work flawlessly: there may be occasional power outages, hot water may only be available at certain times of day, internet may just be OK or only be available at lobby, etc.

Please note that due to the lack of single accommodation in some locations, we may ask same-gender travellers who have paid the single supplement to 'double up' for a night or two; we will prorate your supplement post-tour. Please also note that due to the high cost of single accommodation in the region, if you book on our share program and we fail to pair you, you will be required to pay a "forced" upgrade equal to 100% of the single supplement fee.

Baggage handling is available/included at some hotels, however you must be able to manage with your baggage when porters are not available.

For full details, please click on the "Map & Hotels" tab elsewhere on this page. Most of these hotel do not have an official "star" rating, but we can generally place them all from 3-5 star international equivalent.

Staff and Support
Your full time Tour Leader will be assisted by a team of drivers (including a "senior driver" who will also act as a guide); and possibly local guides at some locations. For 2024, leadership is on a TBA basis.

Group Size
Maximum 17 travellers plus Tour Leader

Tour Extensions
This tour is part of a series that can be upgraded to make for a longer trip. For more options, please refer to tour code/s:

30 Day Pakistan North & South Tour
SEP
TOUR CODE: JHPF
Tour Overview

 


 

Map & Hotels
Map & Hotels

Regions visited: South Asia
Countries visited: Pakistan


*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Islamabad Serena Hotel
5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation
Location: Islamabad
Country: Pakistan
A visit to Islamabad Serena Hotel is more than just a comfortable stay at the only 5-star deluxe hotel in Pakistan. It is a vivid immersion into the culture, heritage and lifestyles ... Pakistan’s capital, a relatively undiscovered city boasting exhilarating scenery as well as some of the most colourful musical and culinary traditions in the world.

Islamabad Hotel is tucked into a peaceful, 14-acre garden setting between the Margalla Hills and Rawal Lake, framed by Islamic architecture and al fresco terraces and pavilions. Remaining faithful to traditional aesthetics with furniture and design flourishes handcrafted by local artisans, its timeless interiors have been curated to preserve a superb level of comfort.
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Grey Walls Mountain Huts & Cottages
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Naran
Country: Pakistan
Greywalls Resorts is one of the finest resorts in Naran which aims to make your vacations a memorable time spent. With in-house facilities for guests like mountain bikes to explore the vicinity, ... tackle & rods with fishing guides, trekking & hiking guides, white water rafting and a lot more to enjoy.
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Serena Altit Fort Residence
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Hunza
Country: Pakistan
Serena Altit Fort Residence is a unique accommodation in Hunza Valley that will immerse you into the sights, sounds, tastes and history of Hunza, whilst offering an enchanting rendezvous with Nature. Situated ... the footsteps of the 1100 years old Altit Fort, the Residence is surrounded by the enchanting Royal Garden and the medieval village of Altit-Khun, which has been restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture through its Historical Cities Programme.

Serena Altit Fort Residence is tucked inside the sprawling Khabasi or Royal garden, the former picnic spot of the royal Mirs of Hunza, with its abundant apricot, peach and apple trees, happily flitting magpies and breathtaking views of the snow-capped Lady Finger, Ultar, Rakaposhi and Diran peaks.
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Eagle’s Nest Hotel
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Duiker
Country: Pakistan
Perfectly located on the top of Hunza Valley, Hunza Eagle’s Nest Hotel offers guests with an experience that attracts them to visit again and again. Whether you are traveling in a group ... individually with a small or large budget, Eagle’s Nest Hotel offers accommodation for everyone in a truly peaceful and relaxing environment.
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Passu Ambassador Hotel
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Passu
Country: Pakistan
Passu Ambassador Hotel is a picturesque hotel located just beneath the majestic Passu Cones. The exquisite view of Tupopdan Peak (Passu Cones local name) just in front of the eyes gives it ... unusual charm. It is a family owned business and run by the family itself, this way renowned to give a friendly and generous hospitality to its guests.
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Gilgit Serena Hotel
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Gilgit
Country: Pakistan
Classic comfort meets modern elegance in one of the most stunning settings in Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit Serena Hotel offers new experiences and discoveries amid an ancient setting. Where nature lovers explore the snow-capped ... of the Karakoram mountain range, groups gather in refined intimacy, and all – business and leisure travellers alike – enjoy superlative local cuisine, heritage-style accommodations and personalised service in a safe, secure environment.
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Shangrila Resort Hotel Skardu
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Kachura
Country: Pakistan
Shangrila Resort Hotel Skardu started its business in 1983 with the opening of the first Resort Hotel in Skardu, Baltistan. It was first ever Resort established in the northern areas for tourism. ... was named “HEAVEN ON EARTH” due to its stunning beauty, breathtaking view and peaceful ambiance.
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Serena Khaplu Palace
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Khaplu
Country: Pakistan
The royal standard of living endures at Serena Khaplu Palace Hotel, one of the finest surviving examples of a royal residence in Baltistan. Immersed in breathtaking scenery, culture and heritage, our hotel ... a spiritual sanctuary encompassing five buildings dating back to the 1840s.To step into the hotel is to step back in time to the Raja Palaces of the mid-19th century, beginning with the intricate woodwork in the charming reception area and courtyard and carrying on to 21 rooms and suites designed to be quiet, contemplative retreats where guests can feel close to nature.
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Serena Shigar Fort
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Shigar
Country: Pakistan
Graced by the extreme beauty of Baltistan’s Karakoram Mountain Range and four centuries of folklore and legends, Serena Shigar Fort is a one-of-a-kind heritage boutique hotel situated within a peaceful natural setting. ... refuge and find adventure in a 400-year-old fort and the 17th-century Palace of the Raja of Shigar, which, along with the more recently added "Old House" and "Garden House," encompass 20 rooms and suites steeped in Balti culture.
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Pearl-Continental Hotel Lahore
5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation
Location: Lahore
Country: Pakistan
Surround yourself with serenity in the heart of the bustling city as you are welcomed to the Pearl-Continental Hotel Lahore. Experience the comforts of home by staying in the hotel's modern rooms ... suites. Enjoy delicious food at signature restaurants serving both international and local cuisines. Relax in the fitness centre, spa or swimming pool. With round-the-clock services, Pearl-Continental Hotel Lahore ensures making your stay pleasant and comfortable, each time you visit.
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Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
01. What is the maximum number of participants on a trip?
Most of our tours carry a maximum of 18 participants; some tours (ie hiking tours) top out at 16. In the event that we do not achieve our minimum complement by our 60-day deadline, we may offer group members the option of paying a "small-group surcharge" as an alternative to cancellation. If all group members agree, we will confirm the trip at existing numbers; this surcharge is refundable in the event that we ultimately achieve our regular minimum. If the small group surcharge is not accepted, we will offer a refund of your deposit or a different trip of your choice.
02. Can I extend my tour either at the beginning or end? What about stopovers?
Yes, you can extend your tour either at the beginning or the end and we can book accommodation in our tour hotel. Stopovers are often permitted, depending on air routing. Stopovers usually carry a "stopover" fee levied by the airline.
03. How do I make a reservation? How and when do I pay?
The easiest way to make a reservation is via our website; during office hours, you are also more than welcome to contact us by telephone. A non-refundable deposit is payable at the time of booking; if a reservation is made within 60 days, full payment is required. Some trips require a larger deposit. If international airline bookings require a non-refundable payment in order to secure space or the lowest available fare, we will require an increase in deposit equal to the cost of the ticket(s). Early enrolment is always encouraged as group size is limited and some trips require greater preparation time. Once we have received your deposit, we will confirm your space and send you a confirmation package containing your trip itinerary, any visa/travel permit related documents, invoice, clothing and equipment recommendations, general information on your destination(s), and forms for you to complete, sign and return to us. Your air e-tickets (if applicable), final hotel list, final trip itinerary, and instructions on how to join your tour, will be sent approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure.
04. What about cancellations, refunds, and transfers?
Please review our cancellation policy page for details.
05. I am a single who prefers my own room. What is a single supplement?
All of our tours have a single supplement for those who want to be guaranteed their own room at each location. This supplement is a reflection of the fact that most hotels around the world do not discount the regular twin-share rate for a room by 50% for only one person occupying a room. Most hotels will give a break on the price, but usually in the range of 25-30% of the twin-share rate. This difference, multiplied by each night, amounts to the single supplement. The conventional amount can also vary from country to country and some destinations are more expensive than others for single occupancy. In order to be "single friendly," the supplements we apply are not a profit centre for us and we do our best to keep them as reasonable as possible. On most tours we limit the number of singles available, not to be punitive, but rather because many hotels allow for only a limited number of singles; some smaller hotels at remote locations also have a limited number of single rooms available. Please note that most single rooms around the world are smaller than twin-share rooms and will likely have only one bed.
06. Do you have a shared accommodation program?
Yes! If you are single traveller and are willing to share, we will do our best to pair you with a same-gender roommate. On most of our tours, if we fail to pair you, we will absorb the single supplement fee and you will default to a single room at no extra charge. At some destinations, however, where single rooms are not significantly discounted, or not at all, we may apply a "mandatory" single in the event that we cannot find you a share partner. This is usually 50% of the usual supplement, but can be as much as 100%. If applicable, this proviso will be noted on each tour page on this website, on your invoice, and in our tour date/price book (available for download under "Resources").

 

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Countries Visited: 1

Pakistan.
Activity Level: 2

These are particularly busy tours that feature a lot of moving around, sometimes by train and short journeys on local transport. Walking tours of towns and cities are leisurely but you should be prepared to be on your feet for several hours. Some of our cultural trips that occur at high altitude and/or require greater independence with baggage handling (at hotels, airports, train stations) also fall into this category.
Tour Style: Cultural

These three- and four-star hotel-based, "soft adventure" trips concentrate on the culture, history, and natural attributes of our destination. Though there are no strenuous activities built into these tours, you need to be prepared for some full days with some early starts, plenty of walking on uneven surfaces through villages, cities and archaeological sites, and not a lot of "down time." Independence, reasonable fitness, and an ability to be steady on one's feet are critical in order for you to get the most out of these programs.
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