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What’s it like on an Oasis Pakistan Tour?

Northern Pakistan is an incredibly beautiful and friendly place to visit and I was lucky enough to join our PAKISTAN Karakorum Highlights & Chitral Valley (21 days) tour.  Here are a few pointers on what to expect.

Safety

Let’s cover this one first as it’s most people’s biggest concern about travelling to Pakistan.    The FCO have advisories in place regarding certain areas of the country, some of which are included on our itineraries.  My only slightly unnerving experience occurred when a police truck appeared seemingly out of nowhere and escorted us for an hour on our drive approaching Chitral.   Driving in front of us, our view was of a police officer in the back of the pick up with AK47 at the ready.  The Gilgit-Baltistan Police (who cover the Karakorum Highway area) have established a new “Division” especially for the protection and safety of tourists.  In some areas it was compulsory that a policeman accompanied us although local people we spoke to felt it was unnecessary and more likely to put tourists off than encourage them. 

Personally I never felt unsafe anywhere in Pakistan but ultimately it’s for the traveller to learn about the risks of travelling to any country and to make an informed decision themselves. 

 People

The Pakistanis are amongst the most hospitable you will meet anywhere and we were regularly invited into people’s homes for tea.  You will find a lot of tourists from Karachi in the north of Pakistan and may well find yourself the biggest attraction with a queue of people eager to have a selfie taken with you!  As a female traveller I have often got a lot of unwanted attention when travelling alone in Muslim countries.  Although travelling with my partner this time, I did venture out alone on occasion and was never hassled in any way.  And although men would often prefer to talk to Steve than me, he received the same treatment when we met women who would totally ignore  him and drag me off to learn my name, look at my jewellery and attempt to teach me some Urdu.

 Willys jeeps

Our transport was in a 1970 Willys jeep which I loved, not just because it was the same age as me.  You really need an open topped vehicle to take in the mountain views as these tower sky high at close proximity.  The 360 degree outlook from the jeep is fantastic and when it’s slower going, you can stand up for an even better view.  There is a cover for when it’s extremely hot or cold or raining!  They are perfect for the rough roads you encounter in this part of Pakistan.

The mountains

What can I say… the mountains of the Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindu Kush ranges are incredible, impressive and stunning with an awful lot being over 7000m high.  Sometimes they are cloaked in clouds which is annoying but can’t be helped and can actually make a great photo.

 

 

Pakistani food

I’ve met would-be travellers to Pakistan that are worried the food will be really spicy.  Mostly it wasn’t, so don’t worry!  Porridge, eggs or sweet bread with jam were generally on offer for breakfast.  Chicken was commonly on the menu, occasionally mutton or fish and vegetables dishes were plentiful including okra, kale, potatoes and dahl and rice and chapatis accompanied every meal.  In the far north there are Chinese influences and in the west Afghan flavours.  Meals were huge and we usually had two tea stops each day – you will not go hungry or thirsty!

Clothing

On our Pakistan tours you are provided with two sets of Shalwar Kameez, the dress of choice for both men and women in Pakistan.  We wore ours all the time as they were so cool to wear in the heat (we travelled in August) and generally comfortable for travelling in.  In more conservative areas these are essential to wear to avoid being disrespectful.  I struggled a little to keep my headscarf from slipping off my head but a small child in Chitral gave me some helpful instruction which helped for the remainder of the trip!  Local people clearly appreciated us wearing traditional clothing and Steve was frequently complimented by strangers on how smart he looked.  We even wore it to our local pub on our reluctant return home, much to the amusement of the rest of the village.

 

If you are interested in travelling to Pakistan, take a look at our tours below or contact us with any questions.

Pakistan Karakorum Highlights (15 days)

Pakistan Karakorum Highlights & Chitral Valley (21 days)

Pakistan – Domes & Deserts of the Indus – Northbound (17 days)

Pakistan – Domes & Deserts of the Indus – Southbound (17 days)

Posted in All Blogs, Central Asia.


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