Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas, is the northernmost territory administered by Pakistan. Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft) and is named as the home of the world’s most attractive mountains. Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan. The main tourism activities are trekking and mountaineering, and this industry is growing in importance. Following three things to do and not to do in Pakistan will help you to enjoy the Pakistan.
Things to do in Pakistan …
- Although the mountains of Northern Pakistan are some of the most accessible in the world, views of the seven, 7,000m peaks of the Hunza Valley all drivable to, there is also plenty of adventurous hiking to be done. From the open pastures of Fairy Meadows, hike into the foothills of Himalayan great, Nanga Parbat. Or Dosai Plateau which leads to Skardu, the gateway to the Karakoram Mountain range. You can even hike a glacier, aptly named climate change-wise, Hope Glacier.
- The Karakoram Highway, or KKH, is the Pakistani section of the ancient Silk Road. Most holidays are small group tours, starting in Kashgar in China and passing through the Karakoram Mountains; they’re not for vertigo sufferers. Although even the most hardened travellers will be rendered weak at the knees by some of the stupendous sights en route to Islamabad or Lahore.
- Visit the Kalash people of the Kalash Valley for a most humbling and uplifting cultural exchange. Completely different from other Pakistani cultures, they are a pagan people said to be descendents of four Greek soldiers of Alexander the Great’s army. Their subsistence husbandry, fruit farming, bright traditional clothing and festivals that celebrate natural wonders are all, in themselves, wonders to behold. As is their wine.
Kalash Peoples are highly diverse and welcome peoples always waiting to host the guests
Things not to do in Pakistan …
- Try and do it alone. You really need to travel with responsible tourism experts, who know the highways and byways like the back of their hands.
- Presume everything is basic. You’d be wrong. Pakistani tourism was booming pre 9/11 and there are many tourism providers not only switched on to sustainability but also quality. From boutique hotels in the Hunza Valley, overlooking infinitesimal peaks, to impressive roads along the iconic Karakoram Highway, superb museums in the likes of Lahore, as well as exemplary local guides.
- Ignore the fact that Pakistan is an Islamic country. Inform yourself of all the usual dress and behavioral etiquette before you go. At the same time, hospitality is a huge part of the culture, so be prepared to be showered with cakes, sweets and tea on arrival just about everywhere. Bringing some of your own gifts will go down well too.