Pakistan with Hunza Explorers

By Linda Huetinck
This item appears on page 26 of the August 2019 issue.

Kalasha women wear elaborate dresses like these daily — Chitrāl district, northern Pakistan. Photos by Linda Huetinck

Three of us, all over age 80, took a fabulous private tour of Pakistan with Hunza Explorers (Village Ghulkin, P.O. & Tehsil Gulmit Gojal Upper Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan; phone +92 333 5 626529, www.hunzaexplorers.com). My friends each paid $4,390 per person, double occupancy, which included all meals. I paid that plus a single supplement of $335.

We had contacted the company owner, Karim Tajik, and, after quite a few emails, agreed on an itinerary. He always answered promptly.

During the 23-day trip, April 30-May 22, 2019, we traveled through both southern and northern Pakistan, going by van from Karachi to Lahore to Islamabad, then flying to Chitrāl and back to Islamabad before heading home.

Southern Pakistan is rich in mausoleums, palaces, tombs, castles, forts, museums and archaeological sites.

Northern Pakistan has forts and other sights, but our greatest joy was the scenery, which was beautiful beyond description. The Hindu Kush mountains were luminous with snow beneath blue skies. We visited the entire length of the Hunza Valley, which contains over 130 peaks measuring more than 7,000 meters in height.

One place we had wanted to visit was the valleys of the Chitrāl district in the north, which is reached by bumpy and twisty roads and cannot be accessed by bus. A short flight took us from Islamabad to Chitrāl, and we continued by van to Bumburet, one of three valleys that are home to about 4,000 Kalasha people.

We waited while a truck and a car edged past each other on a hairpin curve on a one-lane road with no railing — Chitrāl district, northern Pakistan.

Comprising a group that sometimes self-declares to be descended from Alexander the Great, they have their own customs, culture and costumes found nowhere else in the world. The women’s dresses were gorgeous, with extensive embroidery on the shirts, girdles and headdresses.

During the trip, we enjoyed seeing brick factories, bazaars, tailors making traditional wool hats, rug weavers, potters, masons making stone caskets, and shops selling live chickens, fruit, vegetables and clothing. Terraced, bright-green farms grew wheat, potatoes and tomatoes, often watered by ingenious irrigation channels.

We were welcomed by one and all. I am in at least 40 different selfies taken by locals on their cell phones. Everyone seemed to know “Welcome,” “Hello,” “Good morning” and “How are you?,” even if they weren’t fluent in English.

Our trip was fantastic in every part. Pakistan is a must-see country for experienced travelers.

We cannot praise Hunza Explorers enough; our guides and driver were excellent. For more information, contact Karim Tajik at hunza explorers@gmail.com or email me at lindahuetinck@hotmail.com.

LINDA HUETINCK
Alhambra, CA


South of Larkana, we saw this truck loaded with wheat chaff for animals — a common sight in southern Pakistan.

Kalasha girls showing off their elaborate headdresses, with buttons, bells, embroidery and conch shells — Chitrāl district, northern Pakistan.

Scenery in the Hunza Valley of northern Pakistan.

A loaded truck heading from Pakistan to China on the Karakoram Highway.