Put an adventure in Pakistan on your bucket list today! A little bit about Pakistan – From the 16th century Mughal fortresses in Lahore to the ornate mosques in Islamabad, there is so much to learn of the rich history country and ancient civilizations that have left their mark.
Traveling from north to south, we were stunned at the varied landscape as our guide Atta noted the wind-swept deserts of Sindh and beaches of Karachi in the south, to the mountain tops in the north. The natural beauty will leave you awestruck. Hikers trek to the rooftop of the world here, where there are over 108 peaks that reach 7,000 meter and 5 peaks that go above 8,000 meters.
The fertile Hunza Valley produces apricots, cherries, walnuts, honey, and visitors are dazzled by the colors of the four seasons with yellow poplar leaves in the fall to the pink apricot blossoms in the spring. The azure blue lakes and emerald green valleys on our journey, and the hospitable villagers and delicious cuisine left us wanting to return for more Pakistani experiences.
Sharing our adventures in Pakistan with our day-to-day itinerary from Islamabad to the north in Skardu, Shigar, our 2,000+-kilometer journey through the winding mountain passes of the Karakorum Highway (KKH) and the Old Silk Route, on our way south to Lahore.
We can’t wait to return to visit the Deosai Plains, the Kalash Valley in Chitral, see the ancient ruins in Sindh, the lake at Fairy Meadows, and perhaps even trek to base camp at K2 and/or Rakaposhi!
For more images, visit our Instagram account click here.
Want to book this trip? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Pakistan Adventure Itinerary
Day 1: Islamabad
On arrival into Islamabad you will be greeted by your Wild Frontiers representative and taken to your hotel for check in. *Check in typically from 14:00. Islamabad has been Pakistan’s capital since 1967 when it was moved here from Karachi. One of the youngest cities in the country, Islamabad does suffer from being somewhat sterile and characterless, and in all honesty is usually only used as gateway to the rest of the country. Islamabad is a good place from which to visit the bustling bazaars of Rawalpindi and the Buddhist ruins at Taxila and does hold some interesting sites, such as the Faisal Mosque. As the capital and diplomatic center of Pakistan it is also home to some of the country’s best hotels and restaurants.
Day 2: Explore The Twin Cities Of Islamabad & Rawalpindi
Right off during your Pakistan adventure you will take a full-day guided city tour of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Visit the Institute of Folk Heritage, known as Lok Versa – a small ethnological museum displaying numerous costumes and artifacts from all over Pakistan – and from here proceed to the Faisal Mosque.
When this house of worship was built in the 70’s it was the largest in the world. It also houses an Islamic university specializing in Philosophy and Law. After lunch at one of the numerous city center restaurants, you can proceed to Rawalpindi where you can visit the bustling Raja Bazaar and Raj-era Christ’s Church before finally visiting the Marghalla Hills to enjoy magnificent views over the twin cities.
Islamabad Serena Hotel, 1 Night,, Standard Room, Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 3: Islamabad – Skardu
Morning Flight Islamabad to Skardu – a highlight of this trip is the scenic flight over the rooftop of the world where you will see hundreds of snow covered peaks.
Continue with Skardu – Khaplu, Road Journey
You will be driven from Skardu to the ancient kingdom of Khaplu, located 105 kilometers east of Skardu, on a journey of about 2 hours. Stop for a bite on the drive to Khaplu.
You will initially follow the Indus east and then the Shyok River all the way to Khaplu. It is a spectacular drive, and the contrast of blossom and rugged mountain makes it even more dramatic.
Khaplu is a beautiful village just a few miles east of Skardu with picturesque, terraced fields growing all sorts of crops. Khaplu was once a famous and wealthy kingdom and the Khaplu Palace was once the residential fort of the local ruler. Recently the Aga Khan showed interest in the palace, which has now been renovated to an exquisite hotel and it is here that you will stay. Khaplu Serena Hotel Excursions
This afternoon you are free to relax and enjoy the hotel or partake in the many activities available from the hotel. Why not witness a polo game, visit the rock carvings at Saling, explore the 18th century majestic Khaplu Khanqah mosque, ride on horseback through the beauty of Baltistan, take a stroll through Khaplu or see one of the hotel’s many projects, such as the Bara wool spinning center and the Khaplu Women’s Vocational Training Centre. Or hike the trails of the Karakoram National Park.
Khaplu Palace, 1 Night, Standard Room, Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 4: Khaplu – Shigar, Road Journey
This morning you will drive approximately three hours from Khaplu to Shigar, and see all modes of transportation along the way, including families on motorbikes.
Shigar Fort Excursions
Located in the beautiful province of Baltistan in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, Shigar Fort Residence is the result of a unique heritage conservation project which offers guests the experience of restored original architecture of a 17th century Raja fort-palace.
This afternoon, you can explore the captivating beauty of Shigar Valley, visit the highest desert in the world (Katpana Desert), trout fish on Kachura Lake, soak in Chutron Shigar Hot Springs or embark on a historic village walk. Or attend a Polo Match!
Serena Shigar Fort, 1 Night, Standard Garden Room, Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 5: Shigar – Hunza, Road Journey
About halfway through your Pakistan adventure! Today you will take a day long drive through Gilgit on up to Hunza.
Following the Indus to Gilgit, then join the Karajoram Highway heading North to Hunza through some spectacular mountain scenery.
Day 6: Hunza
The area known as Hunza lies on the ancient Silk Road to Kashgar and today the Karakoram Highway follows the same route, with Karimabad being the region’s main town. This small, mountainous region was until recently a semi-autonomous state but is now fully unified with Pakistan.
It is named after Prince Karim Agha Khan, the spiritual head of the Shia Ismaili Nizari community and is one of the most beautiful areas of Pakistan. Cricket, Pakistan’s national sport, is often played in the streets. The people are famed for their friendliness and hospitality you might be asked to take part in a few overs. The main language here is Brushuski although most people understand some English and Urdu. The majority of the region’s peoples are Ismaili Muslims.
The2Magpies, 2 Nights, Standard Room, Breakfast
Day 7: Hunza Full Day Excursion
Take a full day during the Pakistan adventure to explore Karimabad and the surrounding countryside. First off, visit the famous Baltit Fort, now renovated to a very high standard by UNESCO.
Next, visit Altit Fort in the adjacent village followed by a stroll through the town’s quiet bazaar. From here visit the petroglyphs at Ganesh before driving to Nagar Valley to take a short walk on the Hoper Glacier. After lunch at a local café you should drive back to the Karakoram Highway and from here drive an hour further north to visit the newly formed lake at Attabad.
In January 2010 a massive landslide blocked the Hunza River, which submerged 22km of the KKH by forming a beautiful azure lake. Here you can take boat ride towards the northern shore giving a great opportunity to photograph the famous cathedral peaks. Or dare to cross the Hussein Suspension Bridge!
Day 8: Hunza – Besham, Road Journey
Today you will head south down the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit. Your route will take you via the Rakaposhi viewpoint providing an opportunity to view this mountain basking in the sunlight. From Gilgit, follow the up-stream course of the River Indus stopping at Nanga Parbat viewpoint, another spectacular position where three mountain ranges, the Karakoram, Himalayas and Hindu Kush meet.
The views here are breathtaking and the drive continues through spectacular mountain scenery. Pause at the Chilas and Shatial rocks and see the ancient graffiti before arriving in Besham, historically a stopover point on the Highway and now rapidly developing into a busy commercial town. Throughout our journey, you’ll see hundreds of “Jingle Trucks” pass by, each unique and colorfully decorated, carrying all kinds of cargo. Their name comes from the jingle noise the truck makes, when its metal adornments cling and clang.
Besham Hilton Hotel, 1 Night, Standard Room, Breakfast
Day 9: Besham – Lahore, Road Journey
From Besham it’s off on the final leg on your Karakorum Highway journey towards the Pakistani capital and Taxila, a journey of around 4 hours. Stop for lunch in Taxila before continuing south to Lahore via the Grand Trunk road which is about 4 or 5 hours. Upon arrival in the old Moghul capital of Lahore you will be transferred to your hotel.
Day 10: Lahore
Other than the many famous historical monuments, this city, the second largest in Pakistan, is also known for its beautiful gardens mostly laid out during the Moghal Empire and the British Raj. Its faded elegance, busy streets and bazaars, and wide variety of Islamic and British architecture make it a city full of atmosphere, contrast and surprise during the adventure in Pakistan.
The people of Lahore, when they want to emphasize the uniqueness of their town, say – “Lahore is Lahore”. The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, it had been the cultural centre of Northern India extending from Peshawar to New Delhi.
Avari Hotel, 2 Nights, Avari World Traveller Room, Breakfast
Day 11: Full Day City Tour
Today you have got a full day of guiding in Lahore – the historic capital of the Moghul and Sikh empires, the city also played a significant part in the British governance of the Punjab. Home to a remarkable collection of cultural and historic highlights, your tour today will include the wonderful assortment of artifacts and national history displayed at the Lahore Museum, the striking Badshahi Mosque built from red sandstone and the neighboring Lahore Fort.
In the early afternoon head to the walled city of Lahore to view the day-to-day life in this city. If you walk through the busy bazaar, you can also visit the spectacular and recently restored Shahi Hammam as well as the Wazir Khan Mosque. Following this, drive to the Shalimar Gardens and then on to the Wagah border where you will join the patriotic crowds to witness the extraordinary – and very bizarre – Wagah Border Ceremony.
Watch the spectacle of the frontier guards of Pakistan squaring up to the frontier guards of India in an act of great bravado, pomp and ceremony, closing the gate between the two countries, each lowering their flags. This is a wonderful introduction the relationship between the two great foes.
Day 12: Lahore Tour Of Mughal Architecture
The final part of the Pakistan adventure is Lahore! Lahore is one of the great centres of Mughal Architecture. With its magnificent Islamic monuments, spectacular reminders from the era of British rule, chaotic old city bazaar and modern status, Lahore remains high on the list of Pakistan’s un-missable sights.
This morning your tour includes visits to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Jahangir Tomb, Asif Khan Tomb and Noor Jahan Tomb once richly decorated with floral fresco paintings on lime plaster. You will then visit Data Durbar, a shrine of Data Ganj Baksh who was a renowned Islamic scholar who came to Lahore in the early 11th century and remained there till his death. If time permits, you can also visit the shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir who was a famous Sufi Muslim saint who resided in Lahore.
Lahore – Islamabad, Road Journey This afternoon, your guide and driver will pick you up and drive you through the Punjab to the capital, Islamabad. The journey will take approximately 4 hours.
Islamabad Serena Hotel, 1 Night, Standard Room, Breakfast
Pakistan Adventure Accommodations:
Islamabad Serena Hotel – The Islamabad Serena Hotel stands at the foot of the Northern Hills in six acres of landscaped gardens in the center of Islamabad. The Moorish and Mughal architecture and interiors have been achieved using indigenous marbles and fabrics.
The 197 rooms and suites are well furnished in a distinct Punjabi and Swati style, and they afford magnificent views of the Margalla Hills and Rawal Lake; all have air-conditioning, internet access and flat screen televisions. Leisure facilities include a fully equipped gymnasium and an outdoor pool. A variety of dining options is offered at the five in-house restaurants accompanied by folk and music shows in the evenings. Perfect stay for the Pakistan adventure.
Khaplu Palace – This 19th Century Fort has recently been restored to its former glory by the Aga Khan Foundation and as such is an excellent escape in this rural area of Baltistan. Located just outside of the town, the combination of idyllic surroundings, beautiful courtyard and gardens as well as wonderfully authentic rooms makes Khaplu Fort a brilliant place to pause if travelling through this area.
There are several atmospheric lounges with views over the surrounding countryside while the flat roof also makes for an excellent place to relax with a good book. A little bit of luxury in this remote area which is also just a short distance from the Wild Frontiers supported school at Baylegon.
Serena Shigar Fort – Located in the beautiful province of Baltistan in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, Shigar Fort Residence is the result of a unique heritage conservation project, which offers guests the opportunity to experience the restored original architecture of a 17th century Raja fort-palace.
Opened as a guesthouse in 2005, following an intensive six-year restoration undertaken by the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, the original 400-year-old building was brought back to life following a careful strategy of adaptive re-use and restoration. The result is a combination of authentic original 17th century architecture together with the modern amenities and services of a modern guesthouse.
There two separate buildings; the original old fort palace – where architecture style and features have been meticulously restored – and the new garden house building with rooms built using traditional materials and techniques.
Facilities include a gift shop, guest kitchen, overnight laundry service and a restaurant that specializes in local Pakistani dishes, including traditional BBQ and Iftar dinners, featuring organic produce, fish, and meat.
The2Magpies – The perfect option for those wanting to immerse themselves in some of northern Pakistan’s most beautiful natural habitats, The2Magpies is a wonderful addition to the region.
Set within an apricot garden in the heart of the Hunza Valley, guests can enjoy stunning views of Rakaposhi in this peaceful setting, located just 15 minutes from Hunza’s main historical sites. Rooming options vary from simple rooms to more spacious ‘huts’, offering beautifully furnished accommodation and private outdoor seating areas, each with an en suite bathroom.
The lodge’s restaurant highlights some of the region’s freshest home-cooked dishes, which can be enjoyed in a quieter private setting or in the communal eating areas. Beautifully decorated throughout, you can also enjoy downtime in the cozy lounge area or soak up the epic views form the rooftop terrace. Highly recommend during your adventure in Pakistan!
Besham Hilton Hotel – The Hilton Hotel in Besham is a fairly basic stay for your Pakistan Adventure, however this is currently the best option in town. The cozy hotel has fifty rooms, all with comfortable beds, a television, seating and running hot and cold water. There is an onsite restaurant and lovely garden for guests to relax in.
Avari Hotel – The award-winning Avari Hotel in Lahore is restored from 1908 and is easily accessible from the airport. This grand and glitzy hotel is reflective of the city’s many Mughal palaces and gorgeous mosques.
Choose between the six restaurant options each individually designed to reflect the cuisines country of origin. A favorite among guests is the al fresco traditional Pakistani barbeque at Tollington, set amidst the hotel’s beautiful back lawn. The bamboo furnishings of the Fujiyama are your backdrop as you sample the excellent seafood and authentic Japanese dishes served with flair by chefs at the Teppanyaki counters. Enjoy the outdoor pool and the wellness center. The rooms are comfortably designed and include lots of natural light. Other restaurants in the hotel serve Persian, European and Chinese cuisine.
Huge thanks to Wild Frontiers for creating this incredible itinerary, to Atta our knowledgeable and patient guide and Riaz, best driver in Pakistan!
Check out more adventures in Central & South Asia from Global Adventuress here!