Pakistan is one of the most beautiful countries that I have I ever seen, especially the northern regions are enchanting beyond bounds. Snow-clad peeks surround you, sparkling lakes stun you, green forests stupefy you and the hospitable people leave an impact on you; it is truly the Switzerland of the East.
The Northern region of Pakistan is home to three of the world’s biggest mountain ranges: Hindu Kush, Karakorum and the Himalayas. It is also an ideal area for treks and tours. Trekking is the most fun of all the two activities partly because it is very taxing on your body and often involves risks. There are numerous trekking and hiking tracks available throughout Northern Pakistan, and you can easily get all the required gear and a guide via the numerous expedition organizers in the region.
I, myself, have trekked from Chitral to Hunza just alongside the snowy Wakhan Corridor. It was a 19 day journey and was one of the most picturesque trip that I have ever been on. The alpine landscape was mind blowing and unlike anything I have ever seen before. This trip also got the adrenaline pumping through my veins especially when I was climbing up the Baltoro glacier utilizing an ice axe; just looking down from it caused my stomach to do wild flip flops!
The best view of my whole trekking experience was from Concordia (the confluence of the Baltoro Glaciar), you can see the great K2 (the second highest peak in the world), Gasherbrum I (11th highest peak in the world), Broad Peak (12th highest among the world) and other gigantic peaks. There are these towering mountains all around you and when the sun’s rays reflects off from their snowy peaks then it becomes a view that will leave your mouth hanging open!! Honestly, I never found a view this amazing and captivating anywhere else in the world and believe me I have been to a lot of places.
This expedition cost me $325 in total, but I have to say it was worth it.
Here are some general tips that I want to give to anyone who is planning to trek in Pakistan:
The best time for your expeditions is from June to September, out of this time period the extreme snowing in this region cuts it off from the rest of the country. Plus you don’t want to die by hypothermia in temperatures that can plummet down to a staggering 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Always get the Pakistani rupees you want beforehand. After you get on the Karakorum Highway (the main link road to the perilous North of Pakistan, although they call it a highway but by western standards it barely classifies as a road) currency exchanges are as rare as a blue sun.
- Always bring water purification tablets/ purified water bottles with you as drinking impure water at this altitude can cause debilitating stomach problems (one of the hikers in our group fell prey to an upset stomach due to drinking impure water and couldn’t continue.)
- Don’t forget to bring a good pair of sunglasses with you to curtail the blinding glare imparted by the snowy region during the day and a good sunscreen which will help protect you from the exponentially increasing UV radiation as you go up. A good quality lip balm is recommended too.
- People with respiratory or heart problems should refrain from going on high altitude treks. Plus people should not go trekking in a jiffy; you should allow your body to acclimatize to the conditions first to avoid any complications later on. Going on 300-600m walks a few days before going trekking also helps.
- Most Pakistanis in the Northern Regions can speak English quite well because of the constant influx of tourists but you should always prefer a translator to help your communication with the locals.
- Don’t shake the hands with women, it is not in Pakistani tradition to shake hands with opposite sexes. So a polite nod of the head will suffice. Plus “Salama Laikum” is the Pakistani hello, and, by experience, I can tell you that using it will increase the warmth and hospitality shown by the Pakistani people manifold.
North Pakistan TTE is one of the best places to book your trekking expeditions from because of their competitive rates and easy accessibility. They are located in the capital, Islamabad. Concordia Expeditions and Hunza Guide Travels are other good expedition organizers.
Pakistan is without doubt one of the most hospitable of nations. Every Pakistani you meet will try to invite you for lunch, dinner or offer you a bed to sleep in, it is easy to get all worked up at the bombardment of offers, but try to be polite with them as I have seen some foreigners getting all abusive and racist in response to these kind brotherly advances.
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