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Pakistan.. The Roof of the World

April 27 to May 10, 2018

Pakistan, which got its independence from British controlled India on 14th August 1947, shares an eastern border with India and a northeastern border with China. This tour will take you to the mountain villages to meet the hardy souls that live in stunningly beautiful scenery under harsh conditions. You will travel the Karakoram Highway to Hunza Valley, through Besham, Khoistan, Chilas and Gilgit. The high mountain valley of Hunza is located in the extreme north of Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is bordered by the Wakhan Corridor and surrounded by the giant mountain ranges of Karakorum, the Himalayas, Hindu-Kush and Pamir. Neighbors to the far north are the heavenly mountains of Tianshan and Kunlunsun and the historic city of Kashgar, which you will visit if you join our pre-tour to Western China. The legendary land of Hunza is most majestically placed on the roof of the world. It falls on a junction of the old Silk Route, now replaced by the Karakoram Highway or KKH, snaking into the People’s Republic of China through the Khunjerab Pass 15,528’, between the Oxus and Indus rivers.

Per person sharing in double occupancy (air and land from JFK): $8,550.00
Single Supplement: $800.00   

Led by Local guide

Credit for not using our included airfare $950.00

Price based on a group size minimum of 6 and maximum of 14 participants

Can be added as a post tour to our Afghanistan trip

Your tour does not include

  • Airport taxes, security charges and fuel surcharges (estimated at $500.00 at time of printing).
  • Airfare from cities other than New York City (price differs depending on gateway city) & air fare from KABUL (approx. $220.00)
  • Pakistan Visa (Currently $199.00, subject to change).
  • Trip surcharge to operate below required minimum participants.
  • Items of a personal nature (camera fees, laundry, phone calls, emails, beverages, excess luggage, etc.).
  • Transfers if not arriving/departing on scheduled flights/tour dates.
  • Dayroom/overnights necessitated by changes in airline schedules.
  • Travel protection insurance (HIGHLY Recommended).

Your tour includes

  • International airfare from New York into Islamabad.
  • Airport/hotel/airport transfers in every city.
  • Accommodation in hotels as per the itinerary (5* in Islamabad and 3-4* categories in the Hunza area).
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Sightseeing in each city as per the itinerary.
  • Services of English speaking guide.
  • Visas support letter.
  • Porterage at airports and hotels throughout program.
  • Entrance fees to all visited historical sites and museums.
  • Water and juices and snacks on board the bus every day.

Trip Grade:

III Challenging – Parts of the trip are physically challenging, involve hiking on rough terrain or in high altitudes. There may be very long drives on rough roads; weather conditions will be cold in the evenings. You may have simple picnic lunches, primitive bathroom facilities along the road and remoteness from modern towns or cities.


Lodging Level:

✶✶✶ - ✶✶✶✶ Superior: Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars with a couple of 5 star as well.)

Special trip notes and Trip Grade: Moderately Rigorous Touring:

Anyone wishing to join this trip must understand that in many places the tourist infrastructure (roads, restaurants and bathrooms) is very primitive. Some days are long and hard and the level of services will not match those offered in most tourist locations. Elevations vary from 5,000’ up to 15,000’. The hotels and lodges are comfortable but some lack the usual luxuries of the west. Security checkpoints can sometimes be annoying but one has to be flexible, and patient. Many roads are in a bad state of repair and hence journeys can be long and tiring. By signing up for this tour, participants are acknowledging their full understanding and acceptance of all terms and conditions and are admitting that they are in good physical and mental health and are equipped with an open mind, a sense of adventure and a tolerant and patient spirit to cope with the tour.

View Tour Itinerary

Friday-Saturday, April 27-28
USA to Islamabad

Depart USA, connecting flight to Pakistan’s Islamabad airport arriving the second day very late at night. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Sunday, April 29

The morning is free to rest. This afternoon explore Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, set against the backdrop of the Margalla Hills at the northern edge of the Potohar Mountain range. The city is lush, green and spacious. Tour Lok Virsa the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage. Next 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. Your welcome dinner tonight will be at the top of Daman-e-Kok hill, overlooking Islamabad and offering panoramic views of the city. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Monday, April 30
Islamabad - Gilgit

An early breakfast and take the flight to Gilgit. Upon arrival we will check in at the hotel, and freshen up. Later on we will proceed to Aga Khan Rural Support Program head office. A senior development manager will give us a briefing regarding the role of AKRSP in overall socio economic development of Gilgit Baltistan. After the lunch we will visit 7th century Tibetan style Buddha that is carved on the rock face of a cliff in Kargah. Hinduism began to filter the north from India in the 8th century and probably reached Gilgit in the 10th century on the sabre-tips of a force of Shins invading from the lower Indus. Upon return from Cargah Valley we will visit the graveyard of British explorer George Hayward who was murdered in July 1870. He was one of the many players of the classical Great Game between the British Raj and the Russian Empire. We will explore Gilgit Bazar on our way back to hotel. Gilgit has been a central town since the ancient times. Buddhism to China spread through Gilgit and Baltistan from Texila. Also being the central town on Silk Road it has played a major role in trade and politics between China, Central Asia and India during the medieval and colonial times. Proceed to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)

In case of flight cancelation from Islamabad to Gilgit on 28th of April, we drive on Karakorum Highway to Chilas (525 km, 9-10 hours – altitude 1200m). Overnight at Shangrila Midway Hotel.

Tuesday, May 01
Gilgit - Hunza

After breakfast we drive to Hunza on the Karakoram highway which is only 2 hours from Gilgit. We will have several stops along the route and one of the thrilling spectacular views of Mount Rakaposhi (25,551’). If the weather cooperates you will see the dramatic color change of its snowy peak caused by the play of light against the bright white of the snow. Another interesting stop will be at the Chalt which is known as the continental collision where the Indo-Pak meets the Eurasian plate. This event occurred about 60-70 million years ago and was the cause of the formation of the Karakoram and the Himalayas, the youngest and highest mountain ranges in the world. We will also stop at the place called Nilt, where in 1890 British crossed over to Hunza. Before entering to Hunza at Minapin Village of Nagir we will have a Tea/Coffee break at the scenic viewpoint of Rakaposhi. Here you see Rakaposhi and its watershed from top of the mountain to the river Hunza which is attracting visitors to stop. We further continue to Hunza. After checking in and lunch at Serena Hunza, we will have short break of an hour or so to settle down enjoy the surrounding. Afterwards we will head to Baltit Fort. It was the residence of local Mirs, (local rulers) for the last 750 years. When a new palace was build 1945 old fort was gradually abandoned. Enjoy cultural show and dinner inside the fort. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, May 02

After Breakfast we will walk through the Karimabad Bazar and visit the craftsmanship and skill development center of Karakoram Area Development Organization. We will also visit Aga Khan Higher Secondary School for Girls. Our next stop will be the Altit Fort and CHIQAM project which means green in Burushaski language. Here carpentry skills and use of greenwood has been taught to the women. After the visit to the carpentry shop we will have lunch break at the restaurant inside Altit Fort Garden. A beautiful small restaurant is run by local ladies, serving local and national specialties. After Lunch we will visit Altit Fort itself. Altit is the second oldest settlement of in Hunza. Same as Baltit the ruler build the new and modern residences with time, and these cultural icons were neglected for quite some time by the new generations of the rulers. It has been built on a solid rock bed along the sheer cliff. Very strategic location from the defense point of view but now it is a great location to enjoy the pure nature around, and the flowing of two roaring rivers Hunza and Nagir, at the bottom. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Thursday, May 03

Today after breakfast we will take water channel walk known as Hunza Panorama. We take people inside of the valley to show the real everyday life in the villages, and also show the most spectacular spots for photography. We will take an easy inspiring walk along the water channel across two villages of Hunza which is starting at Karimabad near our hotel. Our options are not limited and we can stop walking at any time, by calling one of our standby 4x4 wheel drive vehicles. By the lunch time we will reach village of Haydarabad and have a lunch at a local home. Return to the Hotel for freshen up and afternoon is free to explore the local bazaar. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Friday, May 04
Hunza Valley - Nagir Valley - Hoper Village

Today we will have several beautiful photo stops at various points before we reach the village of Hoper, which is cup shaped village encircled by many water channels. This village is known for very fertile land. We will also visit a school. It is interesting to see the contrast as this village had strong influence of Shia religious clerics. After visit of the school we will head towards the panoramic view point at the small hotel known as Hoper Hilton. After Tea/Coffee we will walk towards the view point of Barpu Glacier. From here you can see several tall glaciers above 7000 meters tall which are named as Barpu, Spantik, Hispar and on Hunza side just above Karimabad the famous mount Ultar. Below in the valley you will notice a large glacier moraine flowing between the two deep gorges. It is a unique experience to sit quietly for a while and listen to quakes and squeaks inside the glacier because of the movements of ice, water and rocks. Return to Hotel for lunch. After lunch we will take a short walk through village and then catch our vehicles and head back to Hunza. Today we are going to stay at the Hotel called Eagle’s Nest at the village Duikar which is located just above Altit Fort. (B,L,D)

Saturday, May 05
Duikar - Gujal (Upper Hunza)

After breakfast we will checkout from the hotel and leave for Passu Village to explore upper Hunza known as Gujal. In this region the ethnic people “Vakhi” live in the most of the villages, and some villages are mixed with population of Brushaki speakers who migrated from central Hunza. However, Vakhi Speakers in earlier times migrated from Vakhan corridor. The Upper Hunza borders with China in the north east, and the Wakhan corridor in the northwest. Mir of Hunza use to send caravan raiders from Hunza through the secret passes to raid the trade caravans between Kashmir and Yarkand, via Ladakh. Today we will cross Attaabad lake which was formed by a huge landslide falling into Hunza river in 2010 blocking Hunza river 15 km of north of Hunza. Today we will pass through these amazing newly constructed tunnels, known as China – Pakistan Friendship tunnel. We will do some boating in the Attaabadlake and also walk to classic hanging bridge in the village of Hussaini. This evening we will have a presentation at the hotel about the conservation efforts and environmental challenges in the region. An expert from IUCN or WWF combined with community activists and wildlife department experts will be doing their presentation. At the end of presentation we will have a session for questions and answers. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Sunday, May 06
Gujal - Khunjerab - Gujal

Today we will explore Khunjerab National Park. The total area of the park is around 2270 sq. km, and it is one of the highest altitude national parks in the world. It was established 1979 by Z.A Bhutto and it consists of three deferent valleys: Khunjerab, through which the KKH passes, Ghujerab and remote Shimshal valley. It is home to a number of endangered species, like the Snow Leopard, Himalayan Ibex and Blue sheep. There was a considerable number of 400 Marco Polo sheep in the area, but over the time, they have been disappeared from the area, long before the hunting was banned. But in some nearby valleys small herds are seen recently. Only few trophies are allowed to hunt every year, outside the jurisdiction of the National Park. Inside the National Park hunting is totally prohibited. If the time will permit we will make a short stop at Sost dry port as it is a vital component for the development of regional trade with China and possibly in coming years with Central Asian countries. Drive back to the hotel for overnight stay. (B,L,D)

Monday, May 07
Gujal - Gilgit

After breakfast in the morning we will take our scenery drive back to Gilgit. Upon arrival to Gilgit free time at leisure and overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, May 08
Gilgit - Islamabad

We will take short domestic flight from Gilgit to Islamabad. Check in at the hotel and the morning at leisure. In the afternoon we will be visiting the PNCA. Pakistan National Council of Arts hosts events. Events like Gallery of Arts, Drama Festivals, Musical Nights, Puppet Shows, Sculpture Exhibitions, and Movie Screenings through various means. Dinner ond overnight at the Hotel. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, May 09
Islamabad - Taxila - Islamabad

Our day will start with excursion of Historic city of Taxila, National Museum and see some of the best known archeological sites. Taxila Museum was built during the time of Sir Mortimer Wheeler who was an archeologist and also British military officer. In 1944 he was Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India and later an archeological advisor for the government of Pakistan. The excellent Taxila Museum is home to some of the finest Gandharan artwork, found in this region during excavations. Taxila has one of the most important and best known archaeological treasures, with the remains of three great cities and dozens of Buddhist monasteries dating from 600 BC to AD 600. It also had places of learning (from 5th century BCE to 5the century AD). It was strategically located at the junction of trade routes linking China, India, Central Asia and the west. Taxila survived through many empires, namely Achaemenids, Greeks, Mauryans, Bactrian Greeks, Scythians, Parthian, Kushan, Hunz, and eventually Muslim. It became the cultural crossroad of the ancient world. Buddhism took hold in the region around 275 BC and from here the religion spread to Central Asia, Tibet and China. Jualian, Dharmarajika, Jandial and Skirkap are some of the best-preserved archaeological sites. If the time will permit we will visit several sites. However, Julian, monastery and Bactrian Greek city Sirkap site are must. Return to your hotel for the dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, May 10
Islamabad to the US

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the US or head to the immigration and customs office to meet your guide from Afghanistan. (B)

We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, lecturers or the order of activities if/as needed. The program is also subject to further and renewed changes based on the schedule of internal flights within Pakistan and we will do our best to make all possible substitutions when and if needed to the best interest of our clients