Pakistan.. The Roof of the World
April 21 to May 05, 2019
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): $7,995.00
Single Supplement: $795.00
Led by Local guide
Credit for not using our included airfare $700.00
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 $550.00 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.
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.
✶✶✶ - ✶✶✶✶ 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. Some of the drive days (especially if the flights to/from Gilgit do NOT operate) will be very very long ones through the picturesque, while not-very-well paved, Karakorum Highway.
View Tour Itinerary
Sunday-Monday, April 21-22
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.
Tuesday, April 23
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)
Wednesday, April 24
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. 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. 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. We will explore Gilgit Bazar on our way back to hotel. Return to your hotel for your dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
In case of flight cancelation from Islamabad to Gilgit on 24 of April, we drive on Karakorum Highway to Chilas (525 km, 9-10 hours – altitude 1200m). On the way we will enjoy the view of the Nanga Parbat the second highest Peak in the world. Overnight at Shangri-La Midway Hotel. On 25th of April we will depart from Chilas to Gilgit. On the way, we will visit historic carvings of Chillas. If the will permit we will explore Gilgit and continue to Hunza, otherwise upon return to Gilgit on April 26th, we will explore Gilgit.
Thursday, April 25
Gilgit - Hunza
Drive to Hunza, along the KKH, which is only 2 hours, but we will have many Stops, today, along the route one of the thrilling stop is when you see the first glimpse of Rakaposhi, 7778 meters, high, right. It is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, you can see from various angles, while you are in Hunza. Another interesting point is “Where two Continents Collided”Indian landmass collided against the southward moving Eurasian Plate about 55 million years ago. This collision process continued for another ten or 15 million years. We will also stop at a place called Nilt, where in 1890 British crossed over to Hunza. Hunza first ever fell to an invader. British were eager to scale Hunza as they did surrounding regions as part of their consolidation process forward policy. We will have a Tea/Coffee break at the scenic viewpoint of Rakaposhi, before interring to Hunza at Minapin Village of Nagir. Here you see Rakaposhi and its watershed from top of the mountain to the river Hunza a very unique point on the KKH, attracting visitors to stop. We further continue to Hunza. After checking in and lunch at Serena Hunza, Karimabad, there will be short break of an hour or so to settle down enjoy the surrounding. Afterwards head for Baltit Fort, for an exclusive visit in the evening followed by a cultural show and Dinner inside the fort. Baltit Fort 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. (B,L,D)
Friday, April 26
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)
Saturday, April 27
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)
Sunday, April 28
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)
Monday, April 29
Duikar - Gujal (Upper Hunza)
After breakfast, head towards Passu Village to explore upper Hunza; known as Gujal. In this region the Vakhi ethnic people live in most of the villages and in some villages mixed population of Brushaki speakers migrated from central Hunza and Vakhi Speakers in earlier time migrated from Vakhan corridor. Upper Hunza bordering with China in the North East Wakhan corridor in the North West. 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 tunnels. Encouraged by this achievement to revive the road between China Pakistan. We will do some boating in the Attaabadlake and also walk to classic hanging bridge in the village of Hussaini. Today we will call Passu Ambassador Hotel our Home. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, April 30
Gujal - Khunjerab - Gujal
Start your morning with visiting Khunjerab National Park includes the world highest paved border crossing at 4700 meters. The park area 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. 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 total prohibited. Time permitting 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 Passu for overnight. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, May 01
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)
Thursday, May 02
Gilgit - Islamabad
Fly to Islamabad. Check in at the hotel, morning at leisure at the hotel, and Afternoon visit to PNCA, Pakistan National Council of Arts hosts events as Gallery of Arts, Drama Festivals, Musical Nights, Puppet Shows, Sculpture Exhibitions, and Movie Screenings through various means. Afterwards return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
In case of flight cancelation from Gilgit to Islamabad, we drive to Besham via the Karakoram Highway. And via the Hazara division of KPK province, through the lush green Valleys and towns nestled in the lower Himalayan Region. At Mansehra we will visit King Ashoka’s edicts on a road side rock. On 3rd of May we have another long day ahead of you as you depart after breakfast for the 8-hour drive to Islamabad. Upon arrival free afternoon at leisure. Overnight at Hotel.
Friday, May 03
Islamabad - Taxila - Islamabad - Lahore
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. The 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. Return to Islamabad airport to take your evening flight to Lahore. On arrival, dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Saturday, May 04
Start by visit of Lahore museum - the biggest of Pakistan, which contains some fine specimens of Mughal and Sikh door-ways and wood-work and has a large collection of paintings dating back to the Mughal, Sikh and British periods. It includes a collection of musical instruments, ancient jewelry, textiles, pottery, and armory. There are important relics from the Indus Valley Civilisation, Gandhara and Graeco-Bactrian periods as well as some Tibetan and Nepalese work on display. The museum has a number of Greco-Buddhist sculptures, and Mughal paintings on display. Visit Samadhi of Ranjit Singh and Guru Arjun Dev (if possible), and the Shalimar Gardens before heading to the flag lowering ceremony at the Wagah border. Dinner and overnight at Lahore (B,L,D)
Sunday, May 05
Lahore - USA
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the US. (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.