Never would have I imagined Pakistan to be the way it was! I had pictured something similar to India and Bangladesh. But it is far from it! It has its very own flavor and culture, its people are particularly friendly and its landscape is breath-taking! Kind of a mix between Iran, Afghanistan and India and Nepal at the same time. What I hadn’t imagined is how big of a role the mountains take place in their country. It is very much their pride and each holiday local tourism rush to the north to enjoy their Kashmir region. I have seen the Himalayas from different angles before in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, but the mountains in Pakistan are in my opinion the most stunning!
If Pakistan could take a breath with all the hate and bad news it endures around the world, it could rival with countries like Switzerland, Argentina or even Canada in terms of Adventure mountain destinations.
Pasu near Hunza Valley
I had the opportunity to go to Hunza Valley in the Pakistani Kashmir region which had been highly recommended. The ride wasn’t easy, but well worth it. Beautiful mountain peaks of the highest in the world surrounded the valley, surrounded by charming silk road style little villages as old of 1200 years old. Things really feel like it didn’t change much in a thousand years!
On my way back to Islamabad, I had the chance to take another route through the Nagan Kaghan valley, which was probably my favorite of the country. I felt at times in Colombia’s coffee Mountains, at times in Nepalese highlands, at times in China. This road is a must for any Traveller going north and sadly those taking the Natco bus won’t see. This I invariably recommend to higher a shared private car to go through the valley at least for one leg of the trip.
Badshahi Mosque in Lahore
Other than that, I really enjoyed Lahore in the Punjabi Region. The Badshahi Mosque is truly magnificent and the Fort of Lahore is well worth a visit. Even the more upscale neighborhood of Lahore is interesting to see. Lahore is also very practical in terms of transport. It is the very first city in the world I have ever seen that has eliminated Taxis, thanks to Uber and other ride-sharing apps! That was such a relief as bargaining non-stop with taxis as a foreigner is a pain… I can’t wait to see more cities do the same!
Locals at the Badshahi Mosque
I enjoyed a few days in Islamabad at a local friends place. Thanks to Zee I could see Islamabad in a more local way, meeting his friends and even taking part on a road trip to Peshawar for a day, where I had the opportunity to get interviewed in The Frontier Post, a local newspaper.
One thing to that impressed me was the food. I had amazing food in Pakistan and I like to see it as a more “meat lovers” version of Indian food, which I already love. That is if I could find a place that has clean food I could trust. That’s probably one of the few critics that I have about my time in Pakistan, the fact it was very hard to find proper hygienic restaurants that wouldn’t get me sick. It is widely known by travelers in Pakistan that everybody gets sick at one point… Fortunately, I didn’t because I was on my guard. Manipulating food by hand here seems a normal thing, even locals I have met were cautious whether they would eat or not in the restaurant stops on the bus to Hunza. Proof to the fact, on my way back in a 4 people shared car we stopped for food and 2 of the Pakistani that had eaten in a street side restaurant got really sick about an hour later! I bit sad because I felt like I missed out on some fabulous meals…
Attabad lake the bluest glacier lake in the world
Overall, I would highly recommend Pakistan without hesitation to any traveler wanting some stunning nature and friendly people. I will definitely be back and next time I will be equipped with a tent and hiking equipment to get more of what these mountains have to offer!
Local Pakistani Kids Playing