Concordia Expeditions - Classic Trips to Pakistan

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The Silk Road Tour

Altitude: 4833m 15,800ft Max / June-Oct / 18 Days
Krakoram HighwayGilgit Polo

Silk Road to China

Pakistan Itinerary

 
Islamabad
 
Besham
 
Gilgit
 
Hunza
 
rest day
 
Hoper
 
Sust
 Tashgurghan
 Kashgar
 Sunday Bazaar
 Tashgurghan
 Sust
 Gilgit
 Besham
 Swat Valley
 Peshawar
 Khyber Pass
 Islamabad

 

Polo in Gilgit

POLO IN GILGIT--1949

The Silk Road Tour takes us through the land of "a thousand and one nights!" Our goal is the oasis city of Kashgar located in Chinese Sinkiang province. Our journey will take us through the beautiful Hunza valley on the KKH.

We will time our arrival in Kashgar to coincide with the weekly Sunday Bazaar. This is a spectacle to behold. You will be transported to another time and an another place! The adventure to Kashgar, China begins in Islamabad, Pakistan. We will follow the wild Indus River all the way to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway. Here we have ample time to shop the local Central Asian bazaars.

From Gilgit we proceed to the highest paved road border crossing in the world called the Khunjerab Pass (4833 m.). After cresting the pass, which is also the watershed of the Indian Sub-continent, we descend into the deserts of Central Asia.

Double humped Bactrian camels can be seen along with wild yaks on the route to Kashgar. Our return journey will take us through Swat valley in Pakistan and we will also visit the famous Khyber Pass located near the city of Peshawar.

The scenery throughout this trip is outstanding. Perhaps, there is no other place on this planet which can rival what this trip has to offer. The hospitality of the people from Hunza will warm your heart. This is a classical overland trip traversing two vastly culturally different nations. The views are also as diverse as these two nations are!

Detailed Itinerary - Silk Road Jeep Tour

Day 1:  Arrival Islamabad

You will be met at the airport and transferred to a comfortable centrally located hotel.  The remainder of the day is free for you to relax and recover from the long flight to Pakistan.  In the afternoon, for those who desire, there will be a tour of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, and the bustling bazaars of Rawalpindi.  In the evening, we have a welcome dinner where you will have the opportunity to meet your guides and the other members of the group.  Overnight stay at Pearl Continental or Shalimar hotel.

Day 2:  Besham

Our first stop outside of Islamabad is the ancient Greek city of Taxila and its accompanying museum, which houses excellent relics from the Gandhara and the Greco-Buddhist periods that date back to the 5th century BC.  Next we turn north on the famous Karakoram Highway (KKH), moving into the mountains, crossing the swinging bridge at Thakot, and stopping in Besham on the shore of the mighty Indus.  Overnight stay at Shangrilla or Panorama Hotel.

Day 3:  Gilgit 

This is a long day but the scenery en route more than makes up for it.  Following the Silk Route alongside the Indus River, we reach the famous town of Gilgit at the spectacular entry point to the Karakoram mountains.  For centuries, Gilgit has been the stopping point on the Silk Route as caravans journeyed south from Kashgar.  Chinese monks returning from pilgrimages in India in the 5th century found Buddhism widely practiced in Gilgit.  Hinduism came to the area around the 10th century, followed by Islam two hundred years ago.  Overnight stay in good, tourist-class hotel.

Day 4:  Karimabad

For half a day, we drive along the beautiful Hunza river valley, one of the most special parts of Pakistan, on our way to the Hunza region.   As we approach Karimabad, the peak Rakaposhi (7788m) dominates the skyline to the east.   Above Hunza stands the prominent rock spire Bubulimating (6000m) and the impressive Ultar peaks.  The former Mir of Hunza now lives in a modern palace in Karimabad.  We will have time to explore the shops and city of Karimabad.  Overnight stay at Hunza View or Hill Top Hotel.

Day 5:  Hunza/Karimabad/rest 

This is a full day of exploring the mystery and charm of the Hunza valley.  The people here belong to the Ismaili sect of Islam and commercial barter transactions are still the norm with them.  One of the highlights of this day will be our meeting with the local Hunzakuts who are known for their longevity.  We will also visit the famed forts of Baltit and Altit.  Overnight stay at Hunza View or Hill Top Hotel.

Day 6:  Hoper/Karimabad 

Today we will drive southeast across the Hunza River to enter the mountain kingdom of Nagar.  The drive takes about 2 hours each way and we will have ample time to discover this unique village next to the Bualter Glacier and to see the glacier up close.  Overnight stay in Karimabad at Hunza View or Hill Top Hotel.

Day 7:  Sust

A few short hours of driving on the KKH along the river with high peaks all around will bring us to Sost or Sust, the former site of the Pakistan border check post.   The check post is now located a few km north of Sust and has the name Afiyatabad.  Sust is the jumping off point for people going to Kashgar and we will visit the bazaars of this border town.  Overnight stay in good, tourist-class hotel.

Day 8:  Tashgurghan 

Today is a full day’s drive over the Khunjerab Pass and into China on the Karakoram Highway.  This is a fantastic trip through a long, shallow high pass, which at 16,000 ft. is one of the highest international border crossings in the world.  On the other side of the pass we will reach the Chinese town of Tashgurghan, where we complete our immigration formalities and spend the night.  The town itself has a Tajik and Chinese population and a 14th century Chinese fortress that sits on a rise above the flat-bottomed Tashgurghan River valley.  Overnight at Pamir Hotel.

Day 9:  Kashgar

This morning we drive to Kashgar, stopping to visit Kara-Kul Lake located between China’s two Pamir mountain giants, Muztagh Ata (24,524 ft.) and Kongur (25,086 ft.).  We visit several small villages along the way and reach the interesting city of Kashgar in the afternoon and get settled in our hotel where we stay for two nights.  This interesting city has many other things to see in addition to tomorrow’s bazaar, such as a cottage industry market, a handicraft factory, a central mosque called the Id Kah and a beautiful mausoleum.  Overnight stay at Seman Hotel.

Day 10:  Kashgar Sunday Bazaar

A full day at the fabulous Sunday Bazaar in Kashgar.  This bazaar is the destination for a variety of colorful Central Asian nationalities who gather to barter everything from radios to horses.  Kashgar is truly a triumph of commerce over both nature and ideology.  Historically, it was the nexus of at least four branches of the Silk Route despite being surrounded by awesome physical barriers of mountains and desert.  For much of this century it has been controlled by one of the world’s two communist giants and Kashgar was aptly called the nest of spies of Central Asia.  Yet, within two years of the break-up of the Soviet Union, triangular trade between China, Pakistan and the Central Asian Republics again started to flourish in Kashgar.  Overnight stay at Seman Hotel.

Day 11:  Drive from Kashgar to Tashgurghan via Kara-Kul Lake.  Overnight at Pamir Hotel.

Day 12:  Drive from Tashgurghan to Sust  via Khunjerab.  Overnight stay in good, tourist-class hotel.

Day 13:  Drive from Sust to Gilgit.   Overnight stay in good, tourist-class hotel.

Day 14:  Drive from Gilgit to Besham.   Overnight stay at Shangrilla or Panorama Hotel.

Day 15:  Swat Valley

In the morning, we leave Besham and the KKH and travel over the enchanting Shangla Pass into the valley of Swat.  This is a very scenic route, and we stop en route in small rural villages to savor the panoramic views.   In Swat, we visit the ancient Buddhist site of Butkara (2nd century BC), followed by a visit to a Gandhara Museum.  Weather permitting, we dine at a buffet barbecue set under the stars.  Overnight stay at Sarina or White Palace.

Day 16:  Peshawar

Today we head south through the ruggedly scenic Swat Valley, passing Churchill’s picket of Takht-e-Bhai, an ancient monastery located in the arid hills and over looking the pastoral plain.  We arrive in Peshawar in the late afternoon.  Overnight stay at Pearl Continental or Greens Hotel.


Day 17:  Peshawar/Khyber Pass 

In the morning, we make an excursion to the top of the world famous Khyber Pass (subject to permits being available at the time) and gaze into the rugged landscape of neighboring Afghanistan.  En route, we pass through the tribal area with its famous Smuggler’s Bazaar - a bazaar that still lives up to its name.  If the Khyber Pass permit is not available, we will visit Darra Adam Khel near Peshawar whose inhabitants have been making their singular product of guns for over 100 years.  Later in the day, we visit the Gandhara Museum to learn more of this ancient and once influential civilization.  In the evening, we walk through the serpentine streets of Peshawar’s Story Teller bazaar visiting the vendors and the exquisite Mahabat Khan Mosque.  Overnight stay at Pearl Continental or Greens Hotel.


Day 18: Islamabad  In the morning, we take the historical Grand Trunk Road to the east.  En route to Islamabad, we stop at the confluence of the Indus and Kabul rivers and gaze upon the spot where Alexander’s armies crossed over 2,000 years ago on their march into the Subcontinent.  Overnight stay at Pearl Continental or Shalimar hotel

This is a tentative itinerary.  For the enjoyment of your trip a ‘go with the flow’ attitude is necessary.  Many factors will influence your trip, such as weather conditions, health, route conditions, etc.  Please do not take this itinerary very seriously!

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