Pakistan...The civilizations of the Indus Valley to the Roof of the World
March 08 to 28, 2021
Pakistan, a country located on the western side of the Indo-Gangetic Plains, has a rich, diverse terrain consisting of high mountain ranges, plateaus, and the Indus River Plain. Its long history includes a section of the ancient Silk Road (Karakoram Highway) that runs through the country over the famous Khyber Pass. There are many fascinating ancient archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage sites waiting to be discovered. On this amazing adventure, you will visit mountain villages to meet the hardy souls that live in a stunningly beautiful landscape under harsh conditions. Travel the Karakoram Highway through high-mountain valleys and passes. Explore ancient archaeological sites and wander through the streets of interesting and culturally enriched cities.
Tour can be combined with Afghanistan trip (March 26 to April 08, 2021)
Tour cost per person in double occupancy (Land only)
South Part only (March 08 - 22, 2021): $7,995.00
Single Supplement: $995.00
North Part only (March 19 - 28, 2021): $4,995.00
Single Supplement: $595.00
Extra pre night in Karachi: $250 per person in double & 350 per person in single
Extra pre/post night in Islamabad: $240 per person in double & $320 per person in single
Prices based on a minimum of 6 participants and a maximum of 16 participants
Escorted by Scholar Bruce Wannell
Your tour does not include
International airfare (approx. $1,000 from NYC)
Pakistan Visa (Currently $195.00, subject to change).
Beverages with or without meals.
Items of a personal nature (camera fees, laundry, phone calls, emails, 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
Domestic air Islamabad-Gilgit-Islamabad.
Airport/hotel/airport transfers in every city.
Accommodation in hotels mentioned.
All meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner).
Water on board bus.
Sightseeing in each city as per the itinerary.
English speaking guides.
Visa support letter and approval.
Porterage at airports and hotels throughout program.
Entrance fees to all historical sites and museums.
Gratuities to guides, drivers and porters.
III Challenging – Parts of the trip are physically challenging, involve hiking on rough terrain or in sand or at high altitudes. There may be very long drives on rough roads; weather conditions will be cold in the north and warm in the south. You may have simple picnic lunches, primitive bathroom facilities along the road, and remoteness from modern towns or cities.
✶✶ - ✶✶✶✶ Basic to Superior: Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards (2 or 4 stars in some small cities and a few 5 stars in the larger cities.)
About your lecturer...Scholar Bruce Wannell has been traveling for over 40 years through North and East Africa, the Levant, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, Northern India and the Deccan sometimes living in such places for an extended period of time. He possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of Africa, Asia, the Near East and the Islamic world and is a linguist fluent in French, German, Italian as well as Arabic and Persian languages. Mr. Wannell was educated at Wellington College near Sandhurst in Surrey and at Oriel College, Oxford, in the UK. His background has served him well as he regularly translates and gives lectures related to his field of expertise. He has also worked as a teacher with refugees. Bruce enjoys an eclectic array of pastimes, from gardening to French cuisine and chamber music (piano and harpsichord, accompanying instrumentalists and singers in the classical and Baroque style). We believe he is the perfect companion to accompany you across this rich historical crossroad of civilizations. His engaging, captivating personality and eloquent, narrative style will entertain as he seeks to enlighten you on the interdisciplinary subjects related to the history of Pakistan
Special trip notes and trip grade: Moderately Rigorous Touring:
Anyone joining 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 feet to 10,000 feet, and the Khunjerab Pass is 16,000 feet high. The hotels and lodges are comfortable but some lack the luxuries provided in the West. Security checkpoints can be annoying, but travelers 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 accepting of any necessary changes. By signing up for this tour, you acknowledge your complete understanding and acceptance of all terms and conditions and assert that you are in good physical and mental health and that you will maintain an open mind, a sense of adventure, and a tolerant and patient spirit during all aspects of the tour.
Suggested air and post tour extensions:
We recommend using Qatar Airways or Emirates Airline with connecting flights through Doha or Dubai for a possible pre-or post-stopover at either of these amazing cities. Both cities feature world renowned museums, stunning architecture, a delectable cuisine, and exceptional accommodations and in Dubai, the ultimate shopping experience. The other ideal air option is using Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. Contact us for details.
View Tour Itinerary
Monday, Mar 08
On arrival in Karachi, our staff will be ready to greet you and assist with the transfer to your pre-booked hotel for check-in. Overnight at the Pearl Continental Hotel or similar.
Tuesday, Mar 09
Karachi “ South”
After breakfast, head out on a tour of Karachi beginning with a visit to the Mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. Continue on to the National Museum of Pakistan with its numerous galleries featuring a multitude of artifacts including objects from the pre- and proto-history of the region (5000 to 1500 BC). After lunch, tour the Mohatta Palace Museum near Clifton Beach where there are unique collections of art and textiles on display. The Palace was built in 1927 by Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, a Hindu Marwari merchant from modern-day Rajasthan in India. In 1995, the Sindh government converted it to a museum and meticulously restored it to its former glory. Time permitting, visit the Saddar Bazaar (Empress Market) then return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Mar 10
Today you'll drive to Sehwan via Hyderabad. Your first stop will be at Chaukhandi to see the tombs that are thought to date back to the 13th-16th century and are attributed to the Jokhio and Baluch tribes. These superbly carved sandstone tombs are built out of rectangular slabs placed one on top of the other in pyramidal fashion, some as tall as 13 feet. They stretch for several miles along a low ridge with two large domed mausoleums in the center. This style of the tomb is found only in the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces, particularly along the coast of Makran. Their intricate designs are still applied to the textiles, pottery, jewelry, and woodcarving in those regions. Continue driving to Thatta, the medieval capital of Sindh, and visit the 17th century Grand Mosque of Shah Jahan (Jamia Masjid of Thatta). This mosque was a gift from the shah to thank the Sindhs for the hospitality he received in Thatta while seeking refuge from his father, Jahangir. It has some of the most elaborate tile work in South Asia and is known for its geometric brick work. Nearby are the historical monuments at Makli, one of the most visually stunning archaeological sites in Pakistan. Covering almost six square miles and said to contain over one million tombs, it is considered to be the world’s largest necropolis. Tour the tombs of Jam Nizammudin, Isa Khan Tarkhan, Jan Baba, and Diwan Shurfa Khan. Continue to Sehwan Sahif where you'll check-in at the Sehwan Divine Hotel. Time permitting, see the evening procession at Lal Shehbaz Qalandar Shrine. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Mar 11
Sehwan – Larkana
In the morning, visit the impressive Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, as the 13th century Sufi saint and religious poet Syed Usman Marvandi was known. His writings are still celebrated in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afterwards, drive to Larkana stopping to visit the museum and explore the famous site of Mohenjo-Daro (Mound of the Dead Men), one of the most important archaeological sites in South Asia. Built in 2500 BC, it is also one of the best preserved prehistoric sites in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was first excavated in 1922 by Sir John Marshall. Here you'll tour the great bath, the granary, the College Square and Pillared Hall, private homes, and the Mohenjo-Daro Museum. Continue on to the Sambara Inn or similar in Larkana for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Friday, Mar 12
Larkana – Sukkur
After breakfast, drive to the Kot Diji archaeological site to visit the famous Fort of the state of Khairpur. This site stands on one of the rare outcroppings of limestone that are part of the Rohri Hills to the north. Kot Diji dates between 3500 and 2500 BC and has two distinct parts to the site. Excavation of the upper level revealed pottery from the Harappan civilization, while the lower levels showed evidence of an unknown pre-Harappan culture, designated as Kot Diji. Continue on to Sukkur and check-in to the Hotel One or similar for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Mar 13
Sukkur – Bahawalpur
After breakfast, visit the Lodhi Barrage, built on the Indus River during the British Raj in the early 20th century. It is the largest single irrigation network of its kind in the world, providing water to Sindh Province. Next visit the famous Hindu pilgrimage center of Sadu Bala. This beautiful temple, considered sacred for Hindu pilgrims, sits on an island on the Indus River. Also visit the Shrine of Sadu Bala, then continue on to Bahawalpur and check in to the Hotel One or similar for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Mar 14
Enjoy a full-day tour of Bahawalpur, a city founded in the mid 18th century. There is evidence of ancient Indus Valley Civilization in the region as well as Yaudheya and Mahabharata Kingdoms. Visit the Cholistan Desert, locally known as Rohi, and the Deraward Fort, a large square fortress in Yazman Tehsil, gateway to the Cholistan Desert. Continue on the town of Uch Sharif, believed to have been founded by Alexander the Great during his invasion of the Indus Valley and renowned for the extensive tile work of its shrines dedicated to Muslim mystics. Time permitting, visit the famous library of the Abbasi family. Return to your hotel in Bahawalpur for your overnight. (B,L,D)
Monday, Mar 15
Bahawalpur – Multan
This morning, drive to the ancient city of Multan, stopping enroute at a factory that produces the famous blue pottery. In Multan, you'll visit the Tombs of Sheik Baha-ud-din Zakariya and Shah Rukn-e-Alam. The 13th century Shrine of Baha-ud-din is dedicated to the founder of the Suhrawardiyya order of Sufism and considered to be one of the most important shrines in the southern Punjab province. It is the original model for Multan's distinct architectural style. Rukn-e-Alam was an eminent Sufi saint from Multan and the grandson and successor of Baha-ud-din Zakariya. He was buried in his grandfather’s mausoleum but later transferred to the present mausoleum in the 14th century. His tomb is a pilgrimage site, drawing over 100,000 pilgrims a year. Also explore Hussain Agahi Bazaar, a huge market full of local color. Transfer to Hotel One or similar for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Mar 16
Multan - Lahore
After an early breakfast, drive to Lahore, stopping at the impressive archaeological site in Harappa along the way. Founded over 5,000 years ago, it is one of the world’s earliest cities. There is still a lot of mystery in the ancient and powerful culture that thrived here many millennia ago. You'll spend time exploring the site and visit the museum then continue on to Lahore. Check-in to the Sheraton Hotel or similar for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Tue, Mar 31
Multan – Lahore
After an early breakfast, drive to Lahore, stopping enroute at Harappa. Founded over 5,000 years ago, it is one of the world’s earliest cities. Visit the archaeological site and the museum. Transfer to Sheraton Hotel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Mar 17
Lahore, the capital city of Punjab, is the largest city in Pakistan and one of the country's wealthiest. As a major historic center of Pakistan, this ancient city contains a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today you'll spend time exploring Lahore's major sites including the 17th century Wazir Khan Mosque, built during Shah Jahan's reign and known for its elaborate kashi-kari tile work. Another interesting structure is the Shahi Hammam (Royal Bath), a Persian style bath built by Ilam-ud-din Ansari, who was also known as Wazir Khan. Next, visit the 17th century Badshahi Mosque, a marble structure and fine example of some of the most aesthetically pleasing architecture from the Moghul period. Continue on to the Lahore Fort, locally known as Shahi Qilla. Built in 1631 by Shah Jahan as a private apartment for his empress, it has several pavilions including Shish Mahal, the Palace of Mirrors. Also visit the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh, a 19th century building that housed the funerary urn of this ruler, and the Gurdwara Dera Sahib Temple, which marks the spot where Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth century guru of Sikhism, died. Return to your hotel in Lahore for another overnight. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Mar 18
Today you'll visit the Lahore Museum, Pakistan’s largest museum. Established in 1894, it contains fine examples of Mughal and Sikh doorways and woodwork, and has a large collection of paintings dating back to the Mughal, Sikh, and British periods. There are also collections of musical instruments, ancient jewelry, textiles, pottery, and armor. After lunch, visit the Mughal style Shalimar Gardens before heading to the flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border with India. Known as the Beating Retreat Border Ceremony, it is famous worldwide and the subject of many YouTube videos. Afterwards, return to the hotel for a final night in Lahore. (B,L,D)
Friday, Mar 19
Lahore – Islamabad
After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for a flight to Islamabad. On arrival, head out to Taxila, one of the subcontinent's most important archaeological treasures. Strategically located at the crossroads of trade routes linking China, India, Central Asia, and the West, it contains the remains of three great cities and dozens of Buddhist monasteries dating from 600 BC to 600 AD. It was here that Buddhism took hold around 275 BC and spread to Central Asia, Tibet and China. Among the best-preserved sites are the well-preserved fifth century Jaulian Monastery, the third century BC Dharmarajika Stupa, the largest stupa in Taxila, the Jandial Complex, thought to be the location of a Zoastrian tower, and Sirkap, an ancient walled city founded in the second century by the Greek King, Demetrius I. You'll also visit the Taxila Museum with an extensive collection of Gandhara art, most dating between 600 BC and 500 AD. Afterwards, transfer to the Pearl Continental Hotel or similar for check-in and overnight. This evening, explore Islamabad by night with a visit to the world’s second-largest mosque, Shah Faisal, to see it beautifully illuminated. Dinner will be at a restaurant located at the top of Daman-e-Kok Hill. Here you'll say goodbye to other members of the group not continuing on to the north of Pakistan. Return to your hotel for a final night in Islamabad. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Mar 20
Islamabad - USA
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to the USA. (B)
Friday, Mar 19
Arrive Islamabad "North"
On arrival in Islamabad, our staff will be ready to greet you and assist with the transfer to your pre-booked hotel for check-in. Overnight at the Pearl Continental Hotel or similar.
Saturday, Mar 20
Islamabad – Gilgit
In the morning, transfer to the airport for the flight to Gilgit and transfer to the Serena Hotel or similar to check-in and freshen up. Gilgit was once a major Buddhist center and an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. Your first visit will be the colorful Bazaar, followed by the archaeological site of Kargah with its large-standing seventh century Buddha carved high on a cliff face. Return to your hotel in Gilgit for your overnight. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Mar 21
Gilgit – Karimabad
Today you'll make the drive to Karimabad in the Hunza Valley. On the way, visit the Chinese Graveyard, known locally as China Yadgar, which is the final resting place of the Chinese engineers and workers who lost their lives during the construction of the Karakoram Highway. You'll also stop at a viewpoint to admire Rakaposhi “Snow Covered”, one of the world’s most beautiful mountains and over 25,500 feet high. Arrive in Karimabad and check-in to the Serena Hunza Inn for your overnight. (B,L,D)
NOTE: If the March 20 flight to Gilgit is canceled, the itinerary for March 20 and 21 will change as followed:
Saturday, Mar 20
Islamabad - Chilas
After breakfast, head out on a 10-hour drive to Chilas and check-in to the Shangrila Midway House Hotel or similar for your overnight. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Mar 21
Chilas – Gilgit - Karimabad
Today's estimated four-hour drive takes you to Gilgit where you'll check-in to the Serena Hotel or similar for a chance to freshen up. Visit the colorful Bazaar, and the archaeological site of Kargah with its large-standing seventh century Buddha carved high on a cliff face. Continue on to Karimabad, capital of the Hunza Valley, and check-in to the Darbar Hotel. (B,L,D)
Monday, Mar 22
You'll spend the day exploring the Hunza Valley, a princely state ruled by one family – the Ayashkutz – for over 900 years. The family’s rule came to an end in 1974 when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the prime minister of Pakistan at the time, eliminated all princely states. Visit the Baltit Fort, which was occupied by some of the elderly members of the Ayashkutz family until 1960, although the Mir of Hunza had moved to a new palace much earlier. In 1996, the fort was reopened after it was restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and has been transformed into a heritage museum. Next, visit the Aga Khan Academy, an initiative of the Aga Khan Development Network and part of a network of non-denominational schools around the world. You'll also visit the Altit Forts, built on a rock cliff by the people of Baltistan some 900 years ago. Legend has it that a local prince married a Baltistan princess that had a wedding procession that included 500 townspeople who accompanied her across the Biafo Hispar Glacier. Today, it is one of the most challenging routes for trekkers. Return to the hotel in Karimabad for another overnight. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Mar 23
Karimabad - Hoper – Duikar
After breakfast, visit the Hopar Valley, which is part of the Nagar Valley. It is also the location of the picturesque Spantik and Hopar Glaciers. In the evening, you'll visit Duikar, Hunza’s highest village at over 9,000 feet high, to enjoy the sunset over Rakaposhi, Lady Finger, and other majestic peaks. Return to your hotel in Karimabad for your overnight. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Mar 24
Karimabad – Passu
In the morning, drive along the Karakorum Highway to Sost, located just 56 miles from the China border and Pakistan’s northernmost town. Continue on over Khunjerab Pass in the Karakoram Mountains. At 16,000 feet high, it is the highest paved international border crossing in the world, and the highest point on the Karakorum Highway. The drive ends at the small village of Passu where you'll check-in at the Passu Ambassador Hotel or similar for your overnight. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Mar 25
Passu – Gilgit
After breakfast, make a very scenic drive to Lake Attaabad, also known as Gojal Lake. It was created in 2010 by a landslide and has since become a tourist attraction for its unique blue color and dramatic mountain scenery. Return to Gilgit and check-in to the Serena Gilgit Hotel. (B,L,D)
Friday, Mar 26
Gilgit - Islamabad - Rawalpindi
Fly back to Islamabad and transfer to the Pearl Continental Hotel or similar for check-in and a chance to freshen up. In the afternoon, explore the city of Rawalpindi, commonly known as "Pindi" to the locals. As Islamabad’s sister city, it shares strong social and economic links. This bustling town has a strong colonial influence and one of the only remaining Jewish Synagogues in Pakistan. Return to your hotel in Islamabad for the night. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Mar 27
The morning will be free for you to rest, shop, or explore Islamabad on your own. You'll spend the afternoon on a guided tour of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, Visit Lok Virsa Museum (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) featuring cultural displays from Iran, Central Asia, and China including textiles and costumes, jewelry, woodwork, block prints, and ivory work. Also visit Shah Faisal, the world’s second-largest mosque, which was designed by the Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay and financed largely by donations from Saudi Arabia. A farewell dinner will take place at a restaurant at the top of Daman-e-Kok Hill, which overlooks Islamabad offering panoramic views of the city. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Mar 28
Islamabad – USA
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to the USA.
NOTE: If the March 26 flight to Islamabad is canceled, the itinerary for March 26, 27, and 28 will change as followed:
Friday, Mar 26
Gilgit – Besham
After breakfast, head out on a long, 10-hour drive to Besham, a small town on the Silk Route that connects Pakistan with China. Check-in at the PTDC Motel or similar for your overnight. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Mar 27
Besham – Islamabad
After breakfast, drive for another seven hours to Islamabad through the lush green Valleys and towns of the lower Himalayas. At Mansehra, a market town surrounded by green hills, see King Ashoka’s edicts carved on a roadside rock. Continue the drive through Abbotabad, the town where Osama Bin Laden was captured. On arrival in Islamabad, check-in to the Pearl Continental Hotel or similar for your final night in Pakistan. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Mar 28
Islamabad – USA OR fly to Kabul, Afghanistan
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight back to the USA.
We reserve the right to change hotels, lecturers, and the order of activities if/as needed. The program is also subject to change based on internal flight schedules and driving conditions within Pakistan.