Pakistan Expedition

Trip Code: HQSP

Why we love it

Learn about Pakistan – its turbulent past, fascinating present, and hopeful future – from a local leader who knows and loves the country best., Discover the jagged snow-capped peaks, bright blue lakes and traditional culture of the Hunza Valley, a little touristed but unbelievably beautiful region of northern Pakistan., From its ancient museums, gardens and forts to its fantastic food scene, Lahore has so much to offer. Spend three days discovering this dynamic city., Travel to the incredibly remote village of Shimshal where you’ll meet the local families who live in this challenging environment and hike through the surrounding mountains., Visit a women’s group supported by the Aga Khan Foundation to learn about their projects and have lunch at a cafe run by local women.

Is this trip right for me?

This adventure involves hiking and spending time at altitude and is recommended for those with a good level of fitness. Please bring comfortable footwear suitable for hiking.

Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. Pakistan is a conservative country and travellers of all genders are advised to cover up when in public.

This trip includes one or more overnight stays at 3200 metres (11500 ft) where there is a genuine risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). If left untreated AMS can be life-threatening. While the vast majority will only feel discomfort, it is not uncommon for a small number of people to need extra care which will be provided by our leaders and local staff. All our trips that spend time at high altitudes follow our standard altitude safety measures. A number of medical conditions and medications can also reduce your body's ability to acclimatise, and thus will affect your performance at altitude and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing condition (e.g. heart problems), or unsure of your physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking. You may also wish to discuss medication such as Diamox that may help aid acclimatisation. Read more about AMS here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/altitude-sickness

The diversity of the seasons here makes for incredible scenery, but the weather in this region can be unpredictable. It’s best to wear layers at all times of the year in case conditions change during the day. At night the temperature can really drop, so bring your warm clothes. Even in the warmer months, the temperature can be low in the mountains.

This trip includes extended time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates you are prepared for the realities of very long travel days.

The weather can be unpredictable in the mountains and a significant number of flights to/from Islamabad and Gilgit are delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions. If your flight is cancelled we will endeavour to get your group on the next available flight and follow our contingency plans. This may involve changes to the itinerary which will be communicated by your group leader.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. Passport scans are required at the time of booking to book domestic flights
3. We use Pakistan Airlines for the included internal flights.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps).

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, swimming suit, waterproof pouch/bag for phone, hiking shoes and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, ESSENTIALS:
- Pillow or travel pillow
- Travel towel
- Closed in shoes. We highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in hiking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking in the mountains, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings.
- Lightweight long clothing. You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings. Women must cover their legs at all times, and no sleeveless tops as Pakistan is a Muslim country. Men can wear shorts however it is very uncommon. Ex-military, camoflage or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.
- Warm fleece and beanie for morning and evening activities.
- Swimwear
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
- Insect repellent

RECOMMENDED:
- Optional sleeping bag/sleeping sheet for homestays. Your hosts will be providing mattresses and blankets, so it is based on personal preference. Note, it can get very cold at night in the desert and mountainous regions of Pakistan.
- A good quality, high-beam headlamp or torch.
- Waterproof/windproof jacket is a good idea for wet days, and early morning or evening activities when it can be cool.
- Personal medical kit. Large kits will be on hand at the lodges and from your leader (on trips that have a dedicated trip leader) but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and bandaids.
- Camera with spare battery or power bank.

OPTIONAL:
- Ear plugs to guard against snoring.
- A good book, a journal or smart phone with music player.

LUGGAGE LIMIT:
Please keep your luggage to a minimum. One small soft-sided bag plus a day pack (no more than 15-20kgs in total per person) is essential. We recommend against bringing hard/externally framed suitcases as they are difficult to store and can damage equipment and other travellers' belongings. If your trip is beginning and ending at the same location, excess luggage can usually be stored at your arrival/departure hotel and can be collected after your trip.

VALUABLES:
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

BATTERIES/POWER:
Our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery or powerbank just in case.

CONSERVATIVE DRESS:
Pakistan is a traditional Islamic nation and modest dress is required. Men can wear shorts but they are not very common and not allowed in religious areas. Loose fitting cotton pants are preferable for the heat. Tank tops should not be worn however short sleeve shirts that cover your shoulders are acceptable for men.
It is necessary for women to wear a headscarf when visiting mosques. It's perfectly acceptable for women to wear a headscarf that shows some of their fringe. We recommend always having a headscarf with you to cover up in religious places or conservative areas to avoid unwanted attention. Its acceptable for women to wear tights with loose long linen or cotton shirts, or even long light cardigans. These need to be long enough to cover your bottom. Your group leader will advise you of what attire is appropriate during the welcome meeting.
Open-toed sandals are acceptable for both sexes. Slip-on footwear is handy as you have to remove your shoes before entering mosques and homes.
You will be taken to shop for local clothing, headscarfs, salwar kameez (the local pants/top worn by men and women) on Day 2 of the itinerary., LUGGAGE LIMITS:
Domestic flights in Pakistan have strict weight limits - 20kg of check-in luggage and 5kg of carry-on hand luggage per person is included with your flight ticket.

Physical rating

4

Joining your group

Grand Islamabad Hotel, Street #1, E-11/1, MPCHS, Islamabad, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Phone: +92 512304846, Fax: +92 518316786

Alternate Joining Point


Joining instructions

Islamabad International Airport is approximately 28km from the city centre.

Intrepid offers a pre-arranged transfer service option. Inquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met in the arrivals hall after clearing customs, your representative with sign board will be standing outside the entrance of the International Arrival Area. Please ask your driver to confirm your name.

The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel takes approx 45min and costs between PKR 500-1,500. Daewoo Cab and Metro Cab offer reliable intra-city taxi services. Ride share apps such as Uber or Careem are available in Pakistan.

If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative, or if your flight is delayed please call the following 24 hour numbers:
+92 320 8700800
+92 355 5023109

Failing the above please take a taxi to the hotel (using the instructions above) and advise your group leader.

Check in time at hotel is 2:00 pm.

Finishing your trip

Indigo Hotel, 3 C3 Noor Jehan Rd, Block C3 Block C 3 Gulberg III, Lahore, 54660, PAKISTAN

Alternate Finish Point


Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 14

Lunches included: 10

Dinners included: 8

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader or local representative will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

Though the food in Pakistan is no doubt delicious, it’s not necessarily the ‘clean-eating’ diet of your dreams. There’s a lot of oil, meat and bread, and a fresh Waldorf salad can be rather difficult to come by. Like India, Pakistan’s hygiene standards can sometimes be lacking and it’s not uncommon for travellers to experience stomach troubles at some point in their journey. This is just a part of travelling in the developing world. Your tour leader will be able to direct you towards restaurants that are known to have better hygiene, especially in tourist areas where they are travelling with our groups regularly.

If you are a strict vegetarian you may find travelling in Pakistan difficult at times. Meat is a daily staple, and things may be awkward if your host cooks up a feast and is unaware of your diet. Travelling as a vegan is particularly difficult as many dishes will include butter, ghee butter or yoghurt. Furthermore, vegetarian dishes are sometimes cooked with meat stock or in the same pot as meat. It’s possible, yes, but it’s important to be clear while understanding that veganism just isn’t a concept in Pakistan.

Climate & seasonal information

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

Intrepid’s Local Operator: Available for phone call or WhatsApp call on +92-311-5212996 and +92-320-8700800

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

ACCOMMODATION:
Some of the accommodation along the way is basic or simple, staying in local guesthouses and homestays. Some may have shared bathroom facilities with cold water only. We use a mixture of air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms. Some areas of Pakistan experience daily load shedding. This is where the power may be turned off at certain times of the day and usually occurs for a few hours in early afternoon. Most hotel properties have a restaurant or cafe serving local meals.

SHOWERS:
Showers at some hotels only have hot water at peak times (usually morning and evening). Outside of these times you may need to speak to reception to obtain hot water.

ROOM ISSUES:
If you have any issues with your room, please speak to the hotel and your tour leader right away rather than your travel agent so that the problem can be addressed without delay.

PAKISTAN HOMESTAYS
As a responsible travel company, we believe in facilitating positive and meaningful exchanges between our travellers and locals at the places we visit. Homestays are a great vehicle for us to facilitate this!

What will you do during a homestay? Well…it’s hard to tell. As you know a day in a family’s life varies from day to day. We don’t want this experience to feel forced (on you or on them) so we ask families to simply carry on with their lives and that, if there is anything that you may be interested in being part of, they ask you to join in. As such you may be invited to help cook dinner, or to go to the local market for groceries, or to join a soccer game! While your leader will give you some tools to interact with your family (such as some simple local words/phrases) big smiles and lots of sign language can go a long way!

That said, it’s also important that you understand that you are not obliged to participate in these activities. We believe that the more you put in the more you get out of an experience, but we also understand that you may just want to chill out, grab a book or your camera and go for a wander – and that is fine too.

Ultimately, we believe that by simply being there, observing family and friends dynamics is a step forward towards understanding the local way of life.

In homestays we will sometimes share one common sleeping space, just how local people sleep. Plenty of blankets are provided. Ask for more if you are cold. Layering up with thin thermals and a fleece material will help during very cold nights too.

Lastly, be aware that some homestays in Pakistan have shared drop toilets and no showers. So mind your step and bring your biodegradable wet-wipes!

Transportation

TRANSPORT IN PAKISTAN:
Main roads in Pakistan are usually very busy with an assortment of vehicles from the biggest trucks (who always have right of way) down to bikes (and animals!). Overtaking on blind corners at speed is common as is the total use of the horn as a form of communication. Our leaders have complete authority to remove groups from local transport if the driver is not driving safely. Drivers of our private vehicles are experienced and well trained. if you are uncomfortable with your driver, please always let your tour leader know immediately. Please ensure you wear your seat belt at all times.

TRAVEL TIMES:
Distances in Pakistan do not reflect the driving time and to cover 100km may take much longer than you would expect at home, even if much of the route is on a highway.

AUTO RICKSHAWS:
On this trip we travel on local style of transport called an auto rickshaw. These small, motorised three wheeled vehicles are a common form of transport in Pakistan and do not have seatbelts.

FLIGHTS:
International airports in Pakistan are becoming more modern (especially in the major and tourist cities). To enter the airport, you must have a copy of your flight ticket and passport. Schedule changes and delays do occur, especially when weather conditions make visibility poor.

INTERNAL FLIGHTS:
Flights between Islamabad and Gilgit are often delayed or canceled due to poor weather. Your local leader will give you the most up to date information regarding delays to flights. If your flight is cancelled we will endeavour to get your group on the next available flight. Failing that, we will follow our contingency plan by road using a private vehicle.