Charles A. Barker
Hospitality Support & Consultancy Services
Hospitality & Tourism Sustainable Development - HSCS
There is so much to see and discover, that you could spend a lifetime exploring the many treasures that Pakistan has to offer. Below are listed just a few of the places you can visit but we will make bespoke tours to cover whatever you wish to see.
Heritage & Culture Tours
Sindh & The Indus Valley Civilisations
The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation, was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. Together, with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early civilisations of the Near East and South Asia, and of the three, the most widespread, its sites spanning an area stretching from today's northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, and into western and northwestern India. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River and along a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan.
The civilisation's cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, and new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving)and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). The large cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa very likely grew to contain between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, and the civilisation itself during its florescence may have contained between one and five million individuals.
Gradual drying of the region's soil during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but eventually weaker monsoons and reduced water supply caused the civilisation's demise, and caused its population to scatter eastward and southward.
The Indus Civilisation is also known as the Harappan Civilisation, after its type site, Harappa. The discovery of Harappa and soon afterwards Mohenjo-daro was the culmination of work beginning in 1861.
The Harappan language is not directly attested, and its affiliation uncertain as the Indus script has remained undeciphered.
We will visit many of these ancient sites, as well as more recent ones, including the dazzling Shah Jahan Mosque, the Makli Necropolis, the magnificent forts of Ranikot and Derewar and the Tomb of Bibi Jawindi in Uch Sharif. We will also take a boat trip on the River Indus and look out for the Indus Blind River Dolphins.
Tours take typically 5 days and 4 nights, start either in Karachi or Islamabad and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Spring's Blossoms & Autumn's Gold
Hunza and Swat Blossom Tour
(8 days - ask for details)
Skardu Blossom Tour (5 days - see details below)
Our journey will include breathtaking aerial views of the Karakoram and Himalaya Mountain ranges, sparkling lakes and the enchanting Chundha and Shigar valleys. We will visit the frozen Katpana Desert and the 17th century Shigar Fort and see the massive plains of Deosai, home to brown bears and known for its peacefulness and ear-shattering silence. We will journey through Khaplu and see its ancient fort while feasting on regional delights, while all around the blossoms will embrace you in their beauty.
Day 1 – Departure from Islamabad for Skardu by air and see the splendour of the Karakoram and Himalaya Mountain ranges. Visit the Shangri-La and Kachura Lakes, surrounded by beautiful trees dressed in blossoms and the mighty, snow covered mountains as their backdrop.
Day 2 – A trip through the spectacular Chundha Valley with its lush farms and carpets of blossom trees will precede a foray to the Cold Desert, also called the Katpana Desert.At a height of 2,226 metres above sea level, this high-elevation desert with its huge sand ridges, is one of the highest in the world. We will then carry on to Shigar, gateway to five of the worlds 8,000 metre + mountains, including K2.
Day 3 – After seeing the restored Shigar Fort and museum, we will travel through the Shigar Valley towards the wild, open Land of Giants, the Deosai plain. Here, where the brown bear roams, we will also see the Manthal Buddha Rock before going on to the turquoise blue, fairy-tale lake of Satpara.
Day 4 – The Khaplu Valley and its ancient Fort beckon us on the last full day of our tour. Staying in the village, we will enjoy exquisite food for which the area is famous, and stroll through the fields of blossoms
Day 5 – Leaving the lordly Karakoram’s behind us, we will meander back through the orchards and blossoms to Skardu, where our plane will return us to Islamabad.
In The Footsteps Of Genghis Khan and
Alexander the Great
We Will Introduce You To The Gandhara Civilisation
Gandhāra was an ancient region in the Kabul, Peshawar, Swat, and Taxila areas of what are now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. The cultural influence of "Greater Gandhara" extended across the Indus River into the Potohar Plateau of Punjab, westward into Bamyan, and northward up to the Karakoram range.
Famed for its unique Gandharan style of art which is heavily influenced by the classical Greek and Hellenistic styles, Gandhara attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century CE under the Kushan Empire, who had their seasonal capitals at Bagram (Kapisi) and Peshawar (Puruṣapura). Gandhara "flourished at the crossroads of Asia," connecting trade routes and absorbing cultural influences from diverse civilizations; Buddhism thrived until the 8th or 9th centuries, when Islam first began to gain sway in the region. It was also the centre of Vedic and later forms of Hinduism.
Gandhara existed since the time of the Rigveda (c. 1500 – c. 1200 BCE), and was considered to be among the six most beautiful places on earth. Gandhara was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BCE, Alexander the Great in 327 BCE, and later became part of the Maurya Empire before being a centre of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The region was a major centre for Greco-Buddhism under the Indo-Greeks and Gandharan Buddhismunder later dynasties. Gandhara was also a central location for the spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and East Asia.
The region steadily declined after the violent invasion by Alchon Huns in 6th century, and the name Gandhara disappeared after Mahmud Ghaznavi's conquest in 1001 CE.
Our trip will tour the area and visit the sights and places of historical and religious interest, amongst them being Peshawar, Taxila, Khyber Pass, Madyan and Swat.
Hunza & The Great Mountain Passes
Day 1. Arrive in Islamabad & check in to hotel.
Tour briefing and dinner
Day 2. Early breakfast and depart for Chilas at 7
Journey on the Karakoram Highway through sensational scenery, following the mighty Indus River and the ancient Silk Road.
Dinner and night at the hotel .
Depart for Karimabad, also know as Baltit, at 8
We will follow the Indus to its junction with the Gilgit River and a lookout point where the three great mountain ranges of the Himalayas, The Hindu Kush and the Karakoram can be seen. After checking in to Offto Resort, we will go straight to Altit Fort, once the home to the hereditary rulers of the Hunza state, and now more then one thousand years old. A late lunch at the Kha Besi Café, will be followed by a visit the ancient village of Altit, a women’s furniture making cooperative and the Altit music centre.
The day will conclude with a leisurely dinner at the resort’s famous Wild Thyme restaurant.
A more relaxed day will begin with a visit to the Hunza Organic Farm, where we will meet some of the farmers who will talk to us about the challenges of food production in such mountainous areas, from dairy products to cereal and vegetable crops and fruit, a major industry in the region.
Later we will visit Baltit Fort, the foundations of which are said to be around 700 yearsold. In the 16th century, the ruler, or Thum, married a princess from Baltistan who brought master Balti craftsmen to renovate the building as part of her dowry. The architectural style is a clear indication of Tibetan influences in Baltistan at the time.
We will end the day watching the sun set over the mountains from the Eagle’s Nest, and watch the lights of Karimabad far below as we have dinner.
There is a choice of activity today.
For those feeling fit and adventurous, there is a 3 hour trek up the Passu Glacier. Lunch at the Glacier Breeze Café will be followed by a walk through Passu’s orchards and fields by the river, with the ever present Passu Cones forming the stunning backdrop. A walk across the Hussaini suspension footbridge will complete the adventure.
Alternatively, we will head straight for the Khunjerab Pass and the Chinese border, which at an elevation of 4,693 metres is the highest border crossing in the world, we will travel through the Khunjerab National Park, home of the Ibex, Yak, Marco Polo Sheep and the magnificent yet elusive snow leopard. We will still be on the Karakoram Highway, which at this elevation and considering the harsh conditions and environment in which it was constructed, is sometimes referred to as the ‘9th wonder of the world’. After stopping at the border, we will return to Passu and take a stroll through the orchards before visiting Borith Lake and the Batura glacier. Leaving the mountain peaks of Passu behind us, known as the ‘Passu Cones’, we will head for the huge suspension footbridge at Hussaini which the bold among us can traverse!
Back in Karimabad for dinner, there will also be time to explore the local bazaar.
Day 6.Saying goodbye to Karimabad, we will first go Attabad Lake, formed in 2010 following a massive landslide. In nearby Gulmit, we will visit a weaving centre, where carpets and rugs are made by a women’s cooperative and then head for once again for Chilas.
Day 7.We will climb high into the mountains once again and drive over the Babusa Pass, 4,173 metres before descending down through the Khagan Valley. We will stop for a lunch of fresh trout by a mountain stream before heading into the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad where we will overnight.
Day 8.The last day of our trip will take us on a beautiful journey through mountains and valleys, rushing rivers and thick forests to Bhurban and the hill station of Murree. After browsing the bazaar, we will then head for Islamabad where our tour will end.