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10 Reasons to visit 'the wanderful' Pakistan

Over the last few years our Asia Representative, Miskola, has been lucky enough to visit Pakistan not just once, but twice! Here is what she has to say about this extraordinary country and why it should be at the top of your travel bucket list.


My first visit happened back in 2017 when I joined the K2 Base Camp Clean-up Project, run by PUAN and supported by the US State Dept. It was incredibly exciting as K2 was somewhere I had always dreamed of visiting and completely exceeded all of my expectations, leaving me longing for more. 


My second visit happened in 2023 when I was invited to lead the Fam Trip for the UK tour operators hosted by The Wander to explore the other beautiful areas of Pakistan. In both cases, my dad tried hard to convince me to cancel my adventure, and guess what…He was wrong both times! 


Here are just ten out of thousands of wonderful reasons why you should visit this extraordinary country at least once in a lifetime.


1. Jaw-dropping landscapes

Pakistan boasts a diverse range of landscapes waiting to be explored. Embark on a jeep safari through the desert of Cholistan, marvel at the otherworldly beauty of the Deosai Plains, or go birdwatching in the wetlands of Keenjhar Lake. Walk on the Baltoro Glacier or take the Karakoram Highway to Hunza, where every turn will astonish you with a gorgeous view. Whatever your interests, Pakistan offers something exquisite for everyone to see.



2. A beautiful mixture of cultures

Pakistan's rich cultural heritage is evident in its architecture, music, and traditions. Take a stroll through the narrow alleyways of Lahore's Walled City, marvel at the ancient ruins of Taxila, or attend a traditional Sufi music performance in Multan or a shaman dance performance, calling to the mountain spirits, in Hunza Valley. Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and unique traditions.


3. Mouth watering food

Make sure you take a pause before taking a first bite and think that it is a one in a lifetime

moment, and you probably won’t have the same taste again. Pakistani cuisine is a feast for your stomach and a challenge for your tastebuds. Aromatic spices, mouthwatering kebabs, flavorful curries, biryani and nihari, well-cooked fragrant rice and delicate meat, and of course freshly made chapati will vanish immediately from your plate, so make sure you don’t rush and you enjoy every bite. Make some space and indulge yourself with desserts like jalebi, halwa and zarda to complete your culinary experience.



4. Heartfelt hospitality of locals

To learn the most about a country, interacting with the local people is a must and in Pakistan, it won’t be an issue. Once you step off the aeroplane, you will be met by friendly and hospitable people. And if you have blond or ginger hair, you will feel like a celebrity, as everyone will want to take a photo with you. Of course, you will be asked for permission to do so. 


In every village and bustling city, you will be greeted with a warm smile and open arms, and invited for a cup of tea. Use this opportunity to immerse yourself in learning about the local culture and traditions shared by a family, whether you are invited to have a traditional meal, or pass the street with cricket players, lose yourself and join the game.


5. Authentic local experiences

One of the most fascinating experiences is attending a Truck Art workshop. You will be amazed to see brightly decorated trucks lining the roads of Pakistan. They are colourful and attractive, and being able to paint one of them with a local artist is a great addition to your trip. For locals, it’s not just a hobby or a long-established tradition, it's a true passion and competition!


Another ‘must-try’ experience is a cooking class with a local family. I attended a cooking class with a local family in Hunza Valley. I was handed a cap to put on my head and absolutely looked like a North Pakistani. The experience is made not just by learning to cook a foreign meal, but by the laughter and jokes you will share. 


Why not also try the poetry class experience? Even if you are not a person of the arts, this is something that should not be missed. Suddenly, with flowing words to a rhythmic beat, you will hear poems from a professor, sharing knowledge about culture, traditions, and much more while slowly luring you into a trance.



6. Pakistani textile

Stop at a local shop and try on a shalwar kameez, made from quality cotton, silk or chiffon with a variety of styles, colours and designs to choose from. Your body will be thankful, especially during the hot days! 


Don’t forget to treat yourself with a set of bed linen. Pakistan exports house linen to over 160 countries and it is guaranteed that every time you lay in bed at night, the breathable and natural cotton will feel great on your skin! Plus, it is a good value for many compared to Egyptian cotton. 


So, again, lose yourself browsing the colourful bazaars of Karachi, Islamabad or Lahore, and don’t forget to pick up a traditional embroidered shawl as well.


7. Other ways to keep busy - activity adventure

For adrenaline junkies, Pakistan offers a plethora of adventure sports opportunities. Go whitewater rafting in the rapids of the Indus River, paraglide over the scenic valleys of Hunza, kayak in Attabad lake or embark on a thrilling mountain biking excursion in the Karakoram Range. With its rugged terrain and breathtaking scenery, Pakistan is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.



8. Archeological wonders

For history buffs, Pakistan offers a treasure trove of ancient sites and archaeological wonders. Explore the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, one of the oldest civilisations in the world and the largest city of Indus Valley. Marvel at the grandeur of the 17th century Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, or wander through the ancient fortresses of Rohtas – the exceptional example of Muslim military architecture,  and Ranikot - the Great Wall of Sindh, believed to be the world largest forts. Visit the 1st century Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bhai is considered the most imposing remnant of Buddhism in Gandhara, or Amburiq Mosque in Shigar Valley – known as one of the oldest mosques in the Northern Pakistan region. Each of these sites and many more offer a glimpse into Pakistan's rich and storied past.


9. Paradise for trekkers and hikers

Pakistan is home to some of the world's most breathtaking mountain ranges, including the mighty Karakoram, Himalayas and Hindu Kush. Whether you're an experienced mountaineer or a novice trekker, there are trails for every level of expertise. A hiking route to the Fairy Meadows offers a well-maintained trail through the forest and a stunning view of Nanga Parbat peak. Many domestic tourists take mules or horses for this hike. 



For more of a challenge, visit Rakaposhi Base camp with the overnight trek from Minapin village. The trail is quite steep, with zig-zags going through forests and pastures. At the end you will reach the moraine and be rewarded with a stunning view of Diran and Rakaposhi peaks. Then in the early morning, be ready to hike on the glacier and take photos that will be sure to make all your friends envious!


If you have a chance, explore the iconic K2 Base Camp trek for a truly unforgettable adventure. In general, the trail is not as hard as you might think. Just be prepared to sleep on the ice for a few days with limited shower options, and a bottle of Coca-Cola which will cost ten times more in Concordia campsite. Be prepared for long days of walking in the wide and stunning terrain of jaw-dropping landscapes. It can be a little tough during the day as the ice melts and it gets slippery, so make sure you follow the guide and avoid falling into the crevasse like me! A good book is also very handy to help you settle into your evenings and the cooking tent at K2 Base camp, probably the warmest place in the entire camp, will always have a cup of hot tea with fresh bread and some sweets waiting for you.


You can check out this programme to K2 Base camp in July 2024 to find out more!



10. You will never be the same again

Once you complete your journey to Pakistan, you will never feel the same again.  


Visiting the home of one of the most pristine natural habitats in the world, teeming with diverse flora and fauna, exploring the lush forests and going wildlife spotting or camping under the stars in the remote valleys will change you forever. Whether you're a nature lover, adventure junky or simply seeking tranquillity, Pakistan's natural beauty and local hospitality are sure to make you a better version of yourself.

 

In conclusion, it is a country that I would visit again and again! Pakistan offers a wealth of experiences for travellers seeking adventure, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you're trekking through the mountains, sampling delicious cuisine, or exploring ancient ruins, Pakistan is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. So pack your bags and prepare for the journey of a lifetime in this extraordinary country.  


For an introduction to our excellent DMC partner in Pakistan, The Wander, please contact miskola@theadventureconnection.com. And to find out more about The Wander, please go here.


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