Pakistan: Women’s Expedition
from $4775
Duration: 15 Days
Discover what life entails for women living in Pakistan’s vibrant capital city and ancient mountain villages. Join a local female leader as she takes you on a unique journey to the Hunza and Yasim valleys. See the communities and landscapes associated with the hallowed Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains and meet pioneering women working on female empowerment projects throughout the region. Trek to alpine lakes, ancient glaciers and the remnants of ruined empires, then witness the evolvement of modern Pakistan in the country’s capital of Islamabad. From cooking classes to village homestays, this women’s only expedition will have you sharing more than photographs (though there’ll be plenty of those too).
  • This is a rare opportunity to travel through Pakistan with a local female leader. Her knowledge and insights will make this an eye-opening and unforgettable expedition.
  • Get spoiled at a unique female-only salon, owned by a local woman and run out her home in Gulmit, a town that has existed for hundreds of years and is surrounded by mountains and glaciers.
  • Breathe in that cool, crisp air as you tick off two of the world’s great mountain ranges: the Karakorams and the Hindu Kush.
  • Spend time with the inspiring women working to empower their communities through local projects including carpet-weaving, cooking schools and cafes.
  • Immerse yourself in remote mountain villages while staying overnight and sharing food and stories with a local family.
  • Drive the world-famous Karakoram Highway to Khunjerab National Park in search of yaks, Himalayan ibex and the elusive snow leopard.
  • We will get deep into the remote areas of Pakistan’s beautiful mountainous regions and stay in traditional, both architecturally and culturally, homestays. While your hosts will be unbelievably warm and welcoming, it would be culturally inappropriate for male guests to overnight in some of the homestay we visit on this trip.
  • Islamabad - Faisal Mosque
  • Islamabad - Taxila museum and ruins
  • Gulmit - Rakaposhi viewpoint
  • Karimabad - Local market
  • Karimabad - Attabad Lake
  • Gulmit - Women-run carpet weaving center
  • Gulmit - Ondra Fort ruins
  • Gulmit - Treatment at Local Beauty Salon
  • Gulmit - Orientation Walk
  • Ghulkin - Trek to Passu Glacier
  • Gulmit - Local musical performance
  • Ghulkin - Trek to Borith Lake
  • Ghulkin - Passu village walk
  • Ghulkin - Passu's famous apricot cake
  • Ghulkin - Pakistani Home Cooking Class
  • Ghulkin - Khunjerab Pass drive
  • Karimabad - Sunset walk to Eagle's Nest
  • Karimabad - Women's Project Visit
  • Karimabad - Walk to Baltit & Altit Fort
  • Fairy Meadows - Overnight trek
  • Day 1 Location: Islamabad
    Welcome to Pakistan’s capital city: Islamabad. The ‘City of Islam’ was built in the 1960s to replace Karachi as the nation’s capital and is divided into eight zones including the commercial district, educational sector, diplomatic enclave, residential areas and green area. It is an extensively (and successfully) planned city on a site chosen for its accessibility to the rest of the country and its location close to the army headquarters and disputed Kashmir area. Your expedition begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm but if you arrive early it is worth checking out Lake View Park and the Lok Virsa Museum, which is dedicated to the preservation, documentation promotion of Pakistan’s cultural heritage.
    Day 2 Location: Islamabad
    Today presents an opportunity to explore Islamabad with your local female leader, who will speak with you about the history of both the city and Pakistan as a whole. There’ll be a chance to shop for local clothes, so keep an eye out for the ‘shalwar kameez’ – the traditional dress incorporating loose-fitting trousers and a long shirt, worn in various forms by men, women and children. Be sure to cover up for a visit to Faisal Mosque, which was the largest mosque in the world upon its completion in 1986 and is said to hold 10,000 worshippers. It’s a vast building and at odds with the Taxila ruins, a World Heritage-listed complex that’s not only the largest Buddhist site in the country, but also an important witness to years of cultural evolution thanks to the Persians and Greeks. In the evening, head to the hills and Monal Restaurant for a group dinner overlooking the city lights below.
    Day 3 Location: Gulmit
    Depart Islamabad this morning on a flight to Gilgit then transfer to a private vehicle and travel north on the Karakoram Highway. Also known as the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway, the road was built, believe it or not, in conjunction with China and connects the two countries at Khunjerab Pass. It passes through the Karakoram mountain range and is sometimes referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World thanks to the level of engineering that went into its construction, not to mention the phenomenal views on either side of the road. Stops en route include a viewpoint, where you can see the 7788-metre Rakaposhi mountain, as well as the Karimabad market for some local shopping. Karimabad is the hub of the Hunza Valley region. You’ll also visit Attabad Lake, which is famous for both its unbelievably blue surface and the sad story behind its recent formation as a result of a deadly landslide.
    Day 4 Location: Gulmit
    Spend the day exploring the village of Gulmit with the other women in your group. Located in a deep valley by the Hunza River, Gulmit has existed for hundreds of years and is surrounded by mountains and glaciers. Take a walk through town and visit a carpet-weaving centre run by the local women in one of the oldest houses in town, then take advantage of an opportunity to be pampered at a one-of-a-kind salon. You’ll also trek out to the ruins of Ondra Fort, a walk of approximately three kilometres. The fort sits atop a rocky outcrop above Gulmit and would’ve once commanded views of several strategically important passes in the area, though there’s no doubt the sentries of old were just as distracted by the jaw-dropping scenery as you will be.
    Day 5 Location: Gulmit
    Enjoy some time in Pakistan’s fresh mountain air today as you trek out to Borith Lake and Passu Glacier. The lake sits at an altitude of 2600 metres and is a quiet, peaceful spot to relax, not to mention a good opportunity to recharge after a few adventurous days. Read a book, soak up some sun or go for a swim (it’s saltwater) before trekking to Passu Glacier, a round-trip of approximately six kilometres. It wasn’t so long ago that walking was the primary means of transport in these parts, with some villages in the region only gaining road access as late as 2003.
    Day 6 Location: Ghulkin
    Travel this morning to the village of Passu on the banks of the Hunza River. Explore the cute town filled with stone houses and fruit trees and take tea at a local house before trying the region’s famous (and delicious) apricot cake. Visit the Hussaini Hanging Bridge, described by some as the most dangerous bridge in the world, which was made by the locals using wooden planks – it’s not for the faint-hearted. But though the bridge’s condition is questionable its location is enviable, suspended above Borith Lake and surrounded by jagged mountains. You’ll spend the afternoon learning how to cook Huzai food in a local’s home, then it’s time to say goodbye and travel to your evening homestay in the nearby town of Ghulkin.
    Day 7 Location: Gulkin
    Take a scenic, leisurely drive out to Khunjerab National Park, which was established in 1975 to protect the region’s wildlife. Animals documented as being in the park include snow leopards, blue sheep, the Tibetan wolf, Marco Polo sheep, and the Eurasian lynx, to name but a few, and if you’re lucky you may spot the Himalayan ibex or a trusty yak on your way through. The park sits at an altitude of approximately 5200 metres and is close to the Khunjerab Pass – the border crossing from Pakistan to China. This Is the highest paved border crossing in the world (approximately 4700 metres) and marks the end of the Karakoram Highway and the start of China’s 314 National Road. Fun fact: this is a rare international border where traffic changes from driving on the left (Pakistan) to the right (China) side of the road. See it for yourself before returning to Ghulkin for the evening.
    Day 8 Location: Minapin
    Travel today to Karimabad, the capital of the Hunza District, known for its locally made handicrafts and take-your-breath-away views. Lace up your hiking boots and trek out to Baltit and Altit forts, which were restored by the Aga Khan Foundation and have stood in the region for over 700 years. These forts are a testament to the valley’s past strategic importance and were used to control the ancient Asia trade routes, with Baltit Fort holding a particularly commanding position above the local village. The Aga Khan Foundation also runs several projects focusing on empowering local women. There’ll be an opportunity to visit one of the groups and chat to them about their work, followed by lunch at cafe run by the local women. In the evening, drive up to Eagle’s Nest for sunset views of the surrounding peaks including Ultar, Rakaposhi and Ladyfinger Peak, then continue to Minapin for tonight’s homestay.
    Day 9 Location: Minapin
    Located deep in a valley by the Hunza River, the village of Minapin is stunning settlement surrounded by peaks, glacial run-off and green hills. Spend some time exploring the village with your leader and getting to know a few of the locals, then take off on a few short treks to some of the nearby view points to gain a better understanding of the area's topography. On a clear day you'll enjoy unforgettable views of Rakaposhi. Spend another evening in your local home stay tonight, sharing food and stories with the other travellers and locals.
    Day 10 Location: Fairy Meadows
    Say farewell to your local host in Minapin and drive to Raikot Bridge in a private vehicle. This bridge is the gateway to the base camp at Nanga Parbat, the 9th-highest mountain in the world (8126m). The next section of the journey takes you high above the Indus River, so the group will transfer to jeeps to drive the winding road up to the remote Tattu Village. From here you'll swap the 4WD for your own two legs and trek to the appropriately named Fairy Meadows, a magical grassy meadow with views all the way to Nanga Parbat.
    Day 11 Location: Fairy Meadows
    Wake up in the beautiful Fairy Meadows, a slice of flat land among steep hills, forests and brilliant white mountains. You can approach today however you'd like. There's the option to trek to Nanga Parbat Base Camp, with your leader gauging the route and timings based off your group's interest, or you can take things a little easier and relax in the meadows. Drink tea, read, draw or write, or maybe trek around and meet a few of the locals, visiting some view points along the way to take in the majesty of Nanga Parbat.
    Day 12 Location: Gilgit
    Depart Fairy Meadows and trek back to Tattu Village before jumping back into the jeeps to drive down to Raikot Bridge. From here you'll drive by private bus to the town of Gilgit, visiting the Kargah Buddha along the way. The town was a Buddhist centre in the region for many hundreds of years and its most famous sight is the Kargah Budda – a 15-metre-tall image of the Buddha carved into a cliff-face. The carving is thought to date back to the 7th century, though local legend has it that the figure is actually a man-eating witch who was pinned to the cliff by a holy man to protect the valley. This, perhaps, is an indication of both how women have been traditionally viewed in these areas and the struggles they still face. Spend some time walking around the Gilgit markets before enjoying your final night in the region.
    Day 13 Location: Islamabad
    Enjoy a final morning in the beautiful Hunza Valley before boarding a flight to Islamabad. Settle in at the hotel upon arrival then head out to see some more of Islamabad’s sights. You’ll visit the historic, 400-year-old Saidpur village, which is home to an old Hindu temple and a good reminder of the different religions and cultures that have called this region home, including Buddhism. The Shah Allah Dita caves are where the Buddhist monks used to meditate when the religion was widespread, dating back some 2500 years. Evidence of the British colonial period can be seen at Golra Railway Station, which was built in 1882 in a Victorian style and operates as a working station and popular museum. The museum was established in 2003 and contains artefacts from the British Raj, celebrating the past 150-odd years of rail travel in Pakistan.
    Day 14 Location: Islamabad
    Spend your final full day in Pakistan exploring the nearby city of Rawalpindi. Visit the truck-art market, home to Pakistan’s intricately decorated trucks that could well be considered moving art installations, then head to Markazi Jamia Masjid – one of the oldest mosques in Rawalpindi. With beautiful frescos, mosaics and paintings, the mosque is a cultural icon and its colourful interior can’t be missed. Speaking of colour, there’ll be plenty at the Rawalpindi markets so shop up a storm before heading to a local’s house for a cooking class. Don’t let the mouth-watering smells distract you – you’ll need to pay close attention so you can cook up some Pakistani grub when you return home.
    Day 15 Location: Islamabad
    Your Pakistan expedition comes to an end today. You are free to leave the accommodation at any time after breakfast, but please ensure you check out by 12 pm.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    01OCT2020
    Return Date:
    15OCT2020
    4775NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    25OCT2020
    Return Date:
    08NOV2020
    4775NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    01OCT2021
    Return Date:
    15OCT2021
    4775NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    25OCT2021
    Return Date:
    08NOV2021
    4775NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    06 Apr 2020

    Trip title

    Pakistan: Women's Expedition

    Trip code

    HQSW

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Discover what life entails for women living in Pakistan’s vibrant capital city and ancient mountain villages. Join a local female leader as she takes you on a unique journey to the Hunza and Yasim valleys. See the communities and landscapes associated with the hallowed Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains and meet pioneering women working on female empowerment projects throughout the region. Trek to alpine lakes, ancient glaciers and the remnants of ruined empires, then witness the evolvement of modern Pakistan in the country’s capital of Islamabad. From cooking classes to village homestays, this women’s only expedition will have you sharing more than photographs (though there’ll be plenty of those too).

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Women's Expedition

    Transport

    Private Vehicle,Plane,Jeep

    Physical Rating

    3

    Joining point

    Grand Islamabad Hotel

    Street#1, E-11/1, MPCHS, Islamabad

    Islamabad

    PAKISTAN

    Phone: +92 51 2304846

    Fax: +92 51 831 6786

    Finish point

    Grand Islamabad Hotel

    Street#1, E-11/1, MPCHS, Islamabad

    Islamabad

    PAKISTAN

    Phone: +92 51 2304846

    Fax: +92 51 831 6786

    Important information

    1. This is an expedition trip and is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’. 2. An optional single supplement is available on this trip, however, this excludes the nights spent in homestays on Days 3 - 9 & 12, where we will share one common sleeping space, just how the local people sleep. 4. Passport scans are required at time of booking for visa invitation letters.

    Group leader

    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/safety-guidelines

    WOMEN'S SAFETY: Women should exercise caution when travelling in Pakistan. While the risk of an incident occurring on your trip is very low, below are some things you can do for your safety and peace of mind when travelling: - Respect local dress codes and customs and dress more conservatively than you do at home. Please see section on conservative dress. - Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, unlit city streets and village lanes when alone at any time of day. - Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night. - If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. - If you’re being collected at the airport by a driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. For further information and advice, visit: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/pakistan/is-it-safe-to-travel-pakistan https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-british-nationals-overseas/2010-to-2015-government-policy-british-nationals-overseas#appendix-2-advice-for-women-travellers https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/before-you-go/who-you-are/women PERSONAL BELONGINGS: We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. FREE TIME: Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. SCAMS: Scams involving ATM and credit cards, train tickets, taxis, temple donations and tourist guides operate throughout Pakistan. If you are the victim of a scam, report it immediately to the nearest police station. Even though they may not be able to get your money or goods back, they can issue you with an official loss report for insurance purposes.

    Visas

    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking PAKISTAN: You must obtain your Pakistan visa in advance. We recommend applying for an Online Tourist Visa, available for select nationalities including but not limited to the following: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, UK & USA. Passport holders from these countries can apply for an e-visa by following the instructions at - https://visa.nadra.gov.pk/. We do not recommend applying for a Tourist Visa On Arrival as difficulties with this scheme have been reported. IMPORTANT: - E-Tourist Visas are available for Single Entry for visits less than 3 months (first time entry). If you plan to be in Pakistan longer you will need to apply for a visa extension. You must have a valid Pakistani Visa and already be in Pakistan to apply for an extension. - Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover. LETTER OF INVITATION FOR PAKISTAN VISA APPLICATION: You will need a Letter of Invitation to assist you in applying for your visa. This will be issued by our local office in Pakistan and sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent three to four months before departure. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details. Please note that this information can change at any time. Please always refer to https://visa.nadra.gov.pk/ for up to date information. This is the only official visa online site. There are other mirror sites that are run by visa service companies or scammers and may not be reliable.

    Why we love it

    This is a rare opportunity to travel through Pakistan with a local female leader. Her knowledge and insights will make this an eye-opening and unforgettable expedition.

    Get spoiled at a unique female-only salon, owned by a local woman and run out her home in Gulmit, a town that has existed for hundreds of years and is surrounded by mountains and glaciers.

    Breathe in that cool, crisp air as you tick off two of the world’s great mountain ranges: the Karakorams and the Hindu Kush.

    Spend time with the inspiring women working to empower their communities through local projects including carpet-weaving, cooking schools and cafes.

    Immerse yourself in remote mountain villages while staying overnight and sharing food and stories with a local family.

    Drive the world-famous Karakoram Highway to Khunjerab National Park in search of yaks, Himalayan ibex and the elusive snow leopard.

    We will get deep into the remote areas of Pakistan’s beautiful mountainous regions and stay in traditional, both architecturally and culturally, homestays. While your hosts will be unbelievably warm and welcoming, it would be culturally inappropriate for male guests to overnight in some of the homestay we visit on this trip.

    Is this trip right for you

    This is an expedition trip and is new to our range this year. Despite rigorous planning and research, new itineraries can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a welcome surprise, but every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’. 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 are advised to cover up, particularly when visiting religious sites. This trip visits places as high as 5200 metres above sea level, which can cause altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details on travelling at altitude and ensure you are familiar with signs of AMS. 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 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. The weather can be unpredictable in the Himalayas 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. Failing that, we will follow a contingency plan by private vehicle. This trip involves some long travel days, which can be tiresome but offer a quintessential experience of the beautiful landscape and hospitable people of Pakistan. While we would love to open up these unique experiences to all our travellers regardless of gender, it’s simply not yet possible to do so while operating in a socially responsible and culturally sensitive manner. If you're interested in travelling to Pakistan on a similar itinerary, check out our Pakistan Expedition (code HQSP) or consider booking a private group tour.

    Health

    All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. AIR POLLUTION: During winter months (October-February), air pollution levels in parts of Pakistan can spike to problematic levels. Severe pollution can increase the risk of respiratory problems. Those with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly heart and lung conditions, may be especially affected. Your leader can assist you to obtain a face mask if required. ALTITUDE SICKNESS: Travellers to altitudes higher than 2,500m are at risk of altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS). This can be life threatening and affect anyone, even people who are very physically fit. There is a higher risk for those who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If your tour travels to high altitude, see your doctor for advice specific to you and your situation before you depart. It is important to be aware of the normal altitude symptoms that you may encounter BUT NOT worry about: - Periods of sleeplessness - Occasional loss of appetite - Vivid, wild dreams at around 2500-3800m in altitude - Unexpected momentary shortness of breath, day and night - Periodic breathing that wakes you occasionally - Blocked nose - Dry cough - Mild headache If you are feeling nauseous, dizzy or experience other symptoms, please be sure to let your group leader know immediately so that we can monitor your condition. Please be aware that should your group leader deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, they will arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/altitude-sickness MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES: Malaria is a risk in parts of Pakistan, including major cities. Cases of dengue fever are reported, especially in the period after the monsoon. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya fever, and filariasis) also occur. Take preventative measures such as as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. Consult a medical professional regarding prophylaxis against malaria. For more information, see the World Health Organisation's fact sheets: https://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/vector_ecology/mosquito-borne-diseases/en/ OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including meningitis, cholera, polio, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria and rabies) are common in Pakistan. Tap water is not safe to drink. Seek medical attention if you suspect food poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea. POLIO VACINATION: If you are planning to stay in Pakistan for 4 weeks or more, proof of polio vaccination, given 4 weeks to 12 months before departure from Pakistan, may be required on exit. If you are unable to provide this, you may need to be vaccinated before leaving Pakistan.

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader 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. There's no obligation to do this though. 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.

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). The official currency of Pakistan is the Pakistan Rupee (PKR). Please note you will not be able to pay for services in any other currency. CREDIT CARDS, ATMS AND MONEY EXCHANGE: Credit cards are generally accepted in tourist shops and some restaurants in big cities. Smaller venues take cash only. Foreign currency is easily changed at exchange bureaus and they generally offer the best rates. It is better to exchange currency in Islamabad. Rural areas have limited infrastructure in this regard. With ATMs being increasingly available in the many major towns and cities, credit or debit cards are a convenient way to access money. However, not all banks accept foreign cards (Islamic banks won’t take foreign cards) and ATMs in the mountains have been known to run out of cash. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. Throughout Pakistan, cards with the Visa logo are most readily recognised, although MasterCard is also accepted in most places. A charge is made for each international transaction - please check with your bank how much this fee will be. Check with your bank before leaving home that your card can be used as a debit card in Pakistan. You may also want to notify your bank that you are going overseas as it's not unknown for banks to freeze cards which show sudden transactions in other countries. DEPARTURE TAX: The departure tax is Pakistani Rupees 2,800 (approx. USD 20). You will need to have cash for this. TIPPING Tipping can be an appropriate way to recognise great service when travelling. While it may not be customary in your home country, it is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations and is greatly appreciated by the people who take care of you during your travels. It is always best to avoid tipping with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult rather than the goodwill gesture it is intended to be. OPTIONAL TIPPING KITTY On Day 1 of your trip, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of operating a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and your tour leader distributes tips for drivers, local guides, hotel staff and other services included on your trip. This excludes restaurant tips for meals not included in your itinerary. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any funds remaining at the end of the tour will be returned to group members. We have found that this is easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty is at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader. TIPPING KITTY Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping local guides and operators to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your leader and crew. YOUR TOUR LEADER You should consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. LOCAL GUIDES Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest around USD 2-4 per person, per day for local guides. GENERAL Restaurants: 8 -10% of the total bill amount is appropriate. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

    What to take

    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 you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. 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.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND CONTRABAND: Alcohol is restricted in Pakistan. Non-Muslim foreigners are allowed to order alcohol in restaurants and hotels that have liquor licenses, and foreigners can also apply for alcohol permits, however these can be tedious to obtain. The death penalty can and has been imposed for crimes including blasphemy, murder, drug offences, rape and unlawful assembly. If found, pork products, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do commonly occur.

    Feedback

    Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    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 our 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/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader 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. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ Intrepid's Local Operator: +92 320 8700800

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings 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. 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! DAY ROOMS & EARLY CHECK IN: Please note in some destinations we will provide use of day rooms. These rooms are provided for shared group use before or after overnight train journeys. We have some days where we arrive at our destination before check in time and a day room is not included. If you have booked a Single Supplement for your trip, it will not apply to these day rooms. Your leader may be able to assist you in booking a room for your sole use (depending on availability) until our regular trip rooms become available for an additional charge. Please talk to your leader at the Welcome Meeting if this is a service you would like to request.

    Transport notes

    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.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    Accommodation

    Hotel (4 nights),Guesthouse (3 nights),Homestay (7 nights)

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