AttabadLake

Pakistan is a land blessed with enormously rich historical heritage, diverse culture, high adventure and unmatched natural beauty. From the relics of ancient civilizations to gigantic icy peaks, lush green valleys, meadows and lakes of crystal clear waters, Pakistan offers a unique and contrasted destination to behold the caravan of mankind across the ageless and precious beauty of nature. Somerset Tours & Travel now invites you to join us on an amazing journey through this extraordinary country.

Departing from South Africa on 06 October 2018 we’ll fly on Emirates via Dubai to Islamabad where we’ll spend one night with time to explore this fascinating city before heading west towards Peshawar visiting the ancient site of Taxila en route. Taxila is an archaeologist’s paradise. From the ancient Neolithic tumulus of Saraikala to the ramparts of Sirkap (2nd century BC) and the city of Sirsukh (1st century AD), Taxila illustrates the different stages in the development of a city on the Indus that was alternately influenced by Persia, Greece and Central Asia and which, from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century AD was an important Buddhist centre of learning.We’ll have a night in Peshawar and cross the Malakand Pass to visit Churchill Picket battlefield where Winston Churchill almost lost his life fighting the forces of the “Mad Mullah of Malakand”. We’ll continue on to Dir for the night.

We’ll have a night in Peshawar and cross the Malakand Pass to visit Churchill Picket battlefield where Winston Churchill almost lost his life fighting the forces of the “Mad Mullah of Malakand”. We’ll continue on to Dir for the night.

We’ll continue onto Chitral. Entering through the Lowari Pass, the landscape inspires the visitor. Chitral is gifted with steep mountains, lush green valleys, beautiful meadows and huge glaciers. From ancient times, Chitral was an important point on the trade routes from northern Afghanistan (ancient Bactria) to India. Chitral remained an independent state for centuries with its own culture and language. In the late nineteenth century it becam part of British India. It was a princely state in 1947, which acceded to Pakistan in the same year. We’ll spend two nights in Chitral and we’ll have a full day excursion to the Kalash community in the Bumbaret valley where we’ll explore their unique culture.

The following day we’ll drive to Mastuj where we’ll visit Mastuj Fort and overnight. Mastuj Fort was built over 300 years ago, but due to frequent earthquakes in the area, it was rebuilt a couple of times until in 1883, it took the shape of the present fort.

From Mastuj we’ll drive to Gupis crossing the mighty Shandur Pass. The views and magnificent scenery are breathtaking.

From Gupis the road continues on to the fabled Hunza Valley. Eric Shipton called the Hunza Valley “the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur”. Mt Rakaposhi (7788m) is the valley’s most famous peak. The huge massif dominates the skyline for vast stretches of the Karakoram highway.

We’ll base ourselves in Hunza for two nights to explore the legendary Karakoram Highway, Attabad Lake, Passu Glacier and the Khunjerab Pass. The KKH (as is is fondly known), runs 1 300 km from Abbottabad in Pakistan to Kashgar in west China and was one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century. Today it is the world’s highest international border at 4 800m.

From Hunza it’s a short drive to Gilgit. En route we’ll visit the Nagar Valley, Hoper Glacier and the ancient Baltit and Altit forts, the traditional residences of the Mirs of Hunza, in their dramatic mountain settings.

Heading south towards Besham, we’ll travel along the Karakoram Highway to Besham passing through the deep valleys of the Himalayas, the Karakorum and Hindukush mountain ranges. En route we’ll see the second highest mountain of Pakistan, Nanga Parbat (8 126m).

Our journey continues west into the Swat-Saidu Sharif valley. Swat offers several hundred archaeological sites spanning 5 000 years of history. The people of Swat are Muslim Pathans, Kohistanis and Gujars. Some have very distinct features and claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great. We’ll have two nights in Saidu Sharif.

The group will then proceed to Islamabad for the night, crossing the historical Malakand Pass and visiting the archaeological site of Takht Bhai. The ostentatious structure and imposing relics of this Buddhist monastery have captivated the imagination of tourists who flock to see the ancient site which dates back to the early 1st century AD.

From Islamabad the tour continues south towards Lahore visiting the Khewra Salt Mines en route. Khewra is the world’s second larges salt mine, said to have been discovered by Alexander the Great’s horse in 320 BC. The salt mine boasts a mosque made from salt, an electric train and an asthma clinic offering salt therapies. The cumulative length of all the tunnels is more than 40 kilometers.

We’ll have three nights in Lahore with two full days of sightseeing including a visit to the Wagha Border to witness the flag-lowering ceremony at the Pakistan-Indian border and a day a leisure before returning to South Africa on 24 October 2018.

Liz Cotton, who has been accompanying tour groups to exotic destinations since 1995, will be accompanying the group from South Africa and professional local guides will be escorting the group throughout the region.

Regarding safety and security, there have been a couple of incidents in Lahore this year (2017), however these have been in crowded places and targeted policemen, the courts and the provincial assembly. The mountainous areas of Hunza, Gilgit, Chitral, Swat, Karakoram Highway are very peaceful and safe and there is no violence or any major trouble in these areas. Karachi, the tribal lands of Baluchistan and the border areas which we will not be visiting, are sensitive areas. The media have done much to bring Pakistan into bad repute, but we urge you to forget the negative press and join us as we journey into this beautiful and hospitable country. It will be a journey that transcends all others and will remain with you forever.