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Pakistan

Destination Guide: Northern Pakistan

Northern Pakistan, a land of soaring peaks, lush valleys, and rich cultural heritage, offers an unforgettable experience for adventurers and explorers. Known for its dramatic landscapes, warm hospitality, and unique blend of traditions, this region is perfect for nature lovers, culture enthusiasts, and thrill-seekers alike.

Highlights & Must-See Attractions

  • Hunza Valley: Often referred to as “Heaven on Earth,” Hunza is renowned for its stunning scenery, with snow-capped peaks, lush terraces, and charming villages. The valley offers breathtaking views of Rakaposhi and hiking opportunities to explore its pristine beauty.
  • Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat: Fairy Meadows is a picturesque destination that offers spectacular views of Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-highest peak. It’s a haven for trekkers and campers, offering a chance to immerse in nature’s splendor.
  • Skardu: Known as the gateway to the Karakoram Range, Skardu is surrounded by soaring mountains, serene lakes, and vibrant bazaars. The stunning Shangrila Resort and the majestic Shigar Fort are must-see attractions.
  • Swat Valley: Often called the “Switzerland of Pakistan,” Swat Valley is famous for its alpine scenery, ancient Buddhist sites, and welcoming communities. It’s a great place for trekking, fishing, and exploring ancient ruins.
  • Chitral: This remote valley is home to the Kalash people, an ancient tribe with unique traditions and vibrant festivals. Chitral also offers access to the stunning Hindukush mountain range, perfect for mountaineering and trekking.

Our Lesser-Known Favourites

  • Deosai National Park: Known as the “Land of Giants,” Deosai is one of the highest plateaus in the world, offering unique wildlife, stunning landscapes, and an otherworldly atmosphere.
  • Passu Cones: These dramatic, needle-like peaks in the Hunza Valley are a photographer’s delight, providing a spectacular backdrop for hiking and exploring the surrounding areas.
  • Khunjerab Pass: The highest paved international border crossing, Khunjerab Pass offers stunning views and a unique experience at the top of the Karakoram Highway, connecting Pakistan with China.
  • Shimshal Valley: A remote valley known for its beautiful trekking routes and traditional Wakhi culture, Shimshal offers an off-the-beaten-path adventure for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.

Did You Know?

  • Northern Pakistan is home to five of the world’s fourteen highest peaks, including K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth.
  • The Hunza Valley is popularly believed to be one of the sources of inspiration for the mythical valley of Shangri-La in James Hilton’s 1933 novel

Food and Cuisine

  • Chapli Kebab: A specialty of the region, these spicy beef or mutton patties are a must-try for any meat lover.
  • Shinwari Karahi: A simple yet delicious dish made with meat, tomatoes, and spices, cooked in a traditional karahi (wok).
  • Yak Meat: In high-altitude areas like Hunza and Skardu, dishes made with yak meat are popular, offering a unique taste of local cuisine.
  • Chitrali Cuisine: Unique to the Chitral region, this cuisine includes specialties like green tea with salt (sheer chai) and traditional bread (khem).

Practical Information

Best Season to Visit:

  • The ideal time to visit Northern Pakistan is from April to October when the weather is mild and the landscapes are lush and green.

Temperature:

  • Summer: Typically ranges from 20°C to 30°C.
  • Winter: Can drop significantly, especially in mountainous areas, so warm clothing is a must during this time.

Visa Requirements:

  • Most visitors need a visa to enter Pakistan. The application process is straightforward, and e-visas are available online. Check the latest requirements before traveling, or ask us!

Getting Ready for Departure

  • Local Currency: Pakistani Rupee (PKR). ATMs are available in major towns, but carrying cash is recommended for remote areas.
  • Culture & Dress Code: Modest clothing is appreciated, especially in rural areas and when visiting religious sites.
  • Language: Urdu is the national language, but regional languages like Pashto, Balti, and Wakhi are also widely spoken. English is common in tourist areas, but downloading a translation app is advisable.
  • Electronics: Pakistan uses types C and D plugs. A universal adapter is a handy travel companion.
  • Local emergency numbers: Police: 15; Ambulance: 115.

Before you set off on your Northern Pakistan adventure, be sure to consult our Ultimate Packing List to prepare for this remarkable journey. For souvenirs, consider bringing back traditional handicrafts, woolen garments, or dried apricots to remember your time in this extraordinary region.