Pakistan was once well and truly on the overland hippy trail from London to Kathmandu. However, following the terrorist attacks in 9/11 tourism in Pakistan halted almost overnight. Now though, tourists are starting to return to this beautiful country so I wanted to share 20 reasons to visit Pakistan in 2020.
I visited Pakistan in October 2019 as part of a two week trekking trip. The tour started in Islamabad and ventured along the KKH to the Hunza Valley, where most of our trekking took place. This fabulous tour was run by Karakorum Nature and Discovery Pakistan and I would definitely recommend them. Following the tour I travelled independently to Lahore and across the Waggah border into India. Our visits to Islamabad and Lahore coincided with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridges Royal tour of Pakistan.
If it’s good enough for William and Kate, it’s good enough for me!
- 1 1. They have the most beautifully decorated trucks in the world
- 2 2. It’s not full of terrorists
- 3 3. They have five mountains over 8000m
- 4 4. Even the small mountains are huge
- 5 5. Their beards are on point
- 6 6. The people are welcoming and generous
- 7 7. The music is entrancing
- 8 8. The meat curry game is strong
- 9 9. The trekking is spectacular
- 10 10. Visas are easy
- 11 11. There are some impressive historical buildings
- 12 12. And some modern ones too
- 13 13. Some of the roads are crazy!
- 14 14. And some of the bridges are too
- 15 15. The glaciers are incredible
- 16 16. The lakes are beautiful
- 17 17. You can rent a yak motorbike
- 18 18. Sunrises are worth getting up for
- 19 19. Sunsets are pretty awesome too
- 20 20. You can see the original Silk Road
Truckers here like some serious bling!
Contrary to popular belief, Pakistan is not full of terrorists waiting to kidnap the first foreigner they see. Granted Pakistan does have its issues when it comes to terrorism but this has improved in recent years.
“In 2018, there were an estimated 484,000 visits by British nationals to Pakistan. Most visits are trouble-free.” British Travel Advisory.
For more information on which areas are deemed safe to visit, see the official Government website.
Most people have heard of K2 – the second highest mountain in the world. But did you know it also has four other peaks that are part of the 8000m club? Don’t worry, neither did I. Nanga Parbat, which is the ninth highest mountain in the world is said to be the most easily accessible 8000m peak. During my visit we hiked to Nanga Parbat view point, which is just below Nanga Parbat base camp. You can read more about this adventure here.
There are so many peaks above 4000m and 5000m that nobody has bothered to count them and there are so many 7000m peaks that they haven’t managed to name them all.
Modern hipsters have got nothing on these guys!
During our visit we were showered with gifts. Everywhere we went we were offered food from local people. At one point we had more apples than we knew what to do with! Locals also seem genuinely pleased to see you. Pakistanis welcome you to their country with open arms, desperate to see tourism return to the glory years before 2000.
A local man playing the rubab (rabab), Hunza valley.
Unlike neighbouring India, meat curry is very popular in Pakistan. I honestly don’t think I had a bad one during my 16 days there. Not so great for vegetarians though.
In northern Pakistan three huge mountain ranges collide – the Karakorams, the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. With such vast mountains whichever way you look, you’ll struggle to find a hike that isn’t spectacular.
In an attempt to attract more tourists to Pakistan, the country has recently adopted a relatively cheap and easy e-visa system. In about two weeks you can have your visa approved and be on your way.
The Mughal era Badshahi Mosque in Lahore.
Shah Faisal Mosque built in 1986 still looks brand new.
Hussaini Suspension Bridge is also known as the most dangerous bridge in the world. I didn’t know this fact before I walked over it!
The Minapin Glacier in Nagar will take your breath away. You can get to this viewpoint by hiking Rakaposhi base camp.
Attabad Lake was formed in 2010 when a landslide blocked the flow of the Hunza river. The Karakoram Highway was flooded and had to be rebuilt. During this time all traffic had to travel across the lake on boats just like this one.
It’s worth braving the cold to see sunrises like this one in Fairy Meadows.
The Hunza Valley in all its glory.
I’ve travelled the Silk Road several times through Central Asia and Iran but I don’t recall ever seeing an actual piece of original Silk Road. In northern Pakistan the old Silk Road can be seen zig zagging its way all around the steep mountain sides.
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