Taken by Rob and now available on his Rob’s Journeys Flickr pages. So we get to enjoy his Skardu adventures (vicariously at least).
Day 1 (28 September 2006): Depart London on overnight BA flight to Islamabad
Day 2 (29 September 2006): Arrive Islamabad, drive to Peshawar
Day 3 (30 September 2006): Peshawar
Day 4 (01 October 2006): Khyber Steam Train up the Khyber Pass
Day 5 (02 October 2006): Drive over the Malakand Pass to Dir
Day 6 (03 October 2006): Drive over the Lowari Pass to Ayun
Day 7 (04 October 2006): Ayun town tour and into to the Rumbur Valley, staying with the Kalash at Balanguru
Day 8 (05 October 2006): Balanguru and hike to the Nuristani village of Shakanande
Day 9 (06 October 2006): Balanguru and hike to Pelaga, the Wild Frontiers hideaway
Day 10 (07 October 2006): Balanguru to Chitral town – sightseeing and shopping!
Day 11 (08 October 2006): Chitral town to Hindu Kush Heights hotel
Day 12 (09 October 2006): To Mastuj, via Buni Zom, for dinner with Colonel Khushwalalt Ul Mulk
Day 13 (10 October 2006): Over the Shandur Pass to Phander
Day 14 (11 October 2006): Phander to Gilgit, then on to Karimabad along the Karakoram Highway
Day 15 (12 October 2006): Karimabad (shopping!) and the Eagle’s Nest Hotel
Day 16 (13 October 2006): Karimabad to Chilas, back along the Karakoram Highway
Day 17 (14 October 2006): Chilas to Islamabad
Day 18 (15 October 2006): Early morning flight to UK
Note: those links will take you to the photos for each day – but they display in reverse order. If you go to my “Hindu Kush Adventure set, you’ll see my photos in the correct order.
Here is what to do if you want to download a copy of any of the photos:
1. Click on the photo you want to download so that only it is displayed on the page. Just above the photo and under the title, you’ll see a magnifying glass icon with the label “All sizes”. Click on this.
2. You’ll now be on a page for that photo that lists all the available sizes you can download it in. Click on the description of the size you want. It will display in your browser. I would choose “Original” – especially if you are planning to print the photo – as this will be the best quality. But it will take up the most room on your PC.
3. When you have decided which version of the photo you want, click on the “Download the X size” link.
4. Your PC will ask you where on your PC you want to save the photo. I’d create a new folder somewhere called something like “Mary’s Photos from the Hindu Kush Adventure”. Click on OK and the photo will save onto your PC.
And if you want to put faces to names:
Home from my 18 days on the Hindu Kush Adventure – shared plenty of both in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and Northern Areas with a bunch of crazy ladies (Ali, Amanda, Ann, Annie, Joan, Thelma, Trisha) , and honourary ‘girl’ Rob, with Benedict, Stan and Zafar guiding the way.
It’s a really beautiful part of the world, with a fascinating history and cultures – from Alexander the Great to the Great Game right up to the Taliban and the present day. The region’s emerging tourist industry was virtually wiped out by 9/11 – so the sight of 11 westerners was guaranteed to generate excitement, together with lots of smiles and hellos. Plenty of hiking high up into the mountains and shopping in the bazaars kept everyone happy, as did Kalash home brew, Mastuj apple brandy, Karimabad’s Chinese beer and red wine and pizza in Islamabad. And who said Pakistan was a dry country?!!
I only succumbed to vertigo once – looking out from Palaga, aka Jonny Bealby’s hut perched on a mountain top high up above the Rumbur Valley where we were spending the night – even lying down on my charpoy the world continued to spin, but not for long. With my lack of head for heights I wasn’t too keen on some of the roads either – particularly the KKH, which is chipped into mountainsides with sheer drops down to the Gilgit and Indus rivers a long way below. But it was worth it – I have returned with a rucksack of very dusty clothes, a collection of Chitrali hats, and lots of photos – edited highlights accumulating on Flickr.
I’ve been looking for a Big Trip for later this year for ages, and having re-read World Expeditions‘ Central Asia and Iran offerings I wasn’t so convinced that they were right for me. So back to the drawing board (aka going online), I took a look through my “Planning” links, and returned to the Wild Frontiers website that has elicited so much excitement a few weeks back.
Looking more closely at the scheduled departure dates and destinations, and realising that I’d only got 12 days holiday left until 31 December 2006, (too many weekday parties over the summer!!) I decided that a trip to Northern Pakistan was the answer, and the Wild Frontiers itineries, all-inclusive-pricing and not one, but two, conversations with Jonny Bealby himself clinched it.
Having just missed the last space on Hindu Kush Explorer II in September, I’m booked on Hindu Kush Adventure, which means I’ll be there over Ramadan, and – hopefully – in photogenic conditions (blue skies, colourful autumn leaves, turquoise melt water rivers). I would have liked to have done the Shandur Pass camp, which is the main difference between the two trips, but then again I am (inevitably) drawn to the journey up the Khyber Pass on the Khyber Steam Train…..
Day 1: Depart UK
Day 2: Arrive Islamabad
Day 3: Transfer to Peshawar, old town
Day 4: Khyber Steam Train up the Khyber Pass
Day 5: Drive over the Lowari Pass to Ayun
Day 6: Into to the Kalash Valley
Day 7: Kalash
Day 8: Kalash and Wild Frontiers hideaway
Day 9: Chitral Town
Day 10: Mastuj
Day 11: Mastuj and walk up the Yakund Valley
Day 12: Over the Shandur Pass to Kalti PTDC
Day 13: Gilgit
Day 14: Hunza
Day 15: Hunza
Day 16: Karimabad and Gilgit
Day 17: Fly to Islamabad
Day 18: Early morning flight to UK
To be honest, looking at the itineries on the WF website, I reckon that I could happily spend *months* on trips with them in Central Asia they’re offering Gateways to Tartary, Silk Road Odyssey, Trans Caspian Adventure, Silk Road Mountains and Towns. They have trips in Tibet/China, and even Afghanistan……
Sometimes, reading the travel section of The Guardian is a dangerous thing. Sometimes, you come across articles like today’s one on Pakistan unveiled by Ed Douglas, which ran with the teasertext:
To get to the remote Kalash spring festival, you first have to negotiate spectacular walls of ice and epic mountain passes
…. and You Just Want To Go.
Maybe I’ll just take a little look at the Wild Frontiers “guided 10-day Kalash Spring Festival Tour, departing May 10, from