Highlights of Pakistan
Fairy Meadows National Park
After a tricky 4x4 drive up narrow, winding mountain roads, we arrive at Fairy Point, where we begin our five-kilometre walk to Pakistan’s Fairy Meadows National Park. We work our way up the valley along the shores of a meandering river, surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of snow-capped peaks. Crystal clear lakes reflect mirror images of the dramatic landscape in their tranquil waters, and alpine forests frame the magnificent view.
Step back in time as you wander around the 700-year old ramparts of Baltit Fort in the ancient kingdom of Hunza. Set upon a rocky hilltop, the fort’s Tibetan-inspired architecture dominates the landscape and views of jagged mountains stretch towards the horizon. Far below the fort, market stalls and shops, crammed full of colourful scarves, handmade bags and traditional rugs, line the cobblestone streets of Karimabad, and food stalls entice you to try some delicious mamtu dumplings.
The Khunjerab Pass in Pakistan is the highest paved border crossing in the world. This gateway to China from Pakistan was intentionally made harder to reach to protect it from airstrikes in the 1960s. This ‘Friendship Highway’ is a pivotal link road that stretches over 1,300 kilometres from Abbottabad, twisting and turning up through the Karakoram range before continuing to the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar in China.
Deosai National Park
One of the world’s highest alpine plains, the Deosai Plateau sits at 4,100 metres above sea level, above the Skardu Valley. The Bara Pani River snakes its way through the park, its banks lined with wildflower meadows. Keep a look out for Himalayan Brown Bear as you explore these remote highlands and stop for a well-earned rest on the peaceful shores of the glacial Satpura Lake with its glistening turquoise waters.
Set off early for a full day of exploring the Hopar Valley and discover three glaciers - Hopar, Barpu and Mier. Making our way in a 4x4 jeep, the narrow dusty track draws us further into the mountainous sierra, and we barely see another soul as we climb higher into the gorge. Once at the foot of the Hopar glacier, we hike over contorted ice that cuts through the jagged mountains and stop for a picnic lunch at the foot of the giant ice floe towering above.