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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Pakistan by Esitima on 6 January 2005 3:00pm
I am planning to go to Pakistan next May/June, especially the North, the Karakoram Hwy (possibly all the way to Kashgar in China), then back to Chitral and Peshawar too before heading to India by road (maybe not in that order!).
Has anyone been there recently?
Any advice or security info especially near the border with Afghanistan?
Thank you all.
Re: Pakistan by Godfather on 6 January 2005 5:15pm

My last visit to Pakistan was June/July 2003. On that occasion i spent time in Peshawar again and for the first time went up to Chitral (previous trip had been Peshawar,Swat Valley,Hunza,Gilgit,Karakorum highway intoto China). In 2003,things are a little different from a few years back. Many Afghans in Peshawar have gone home nowadays. So an ingredient in the cultural spice of the place has departed. But some remain, and it's still fascinating to visit.

As for Chitral,it's a wonderful little spot. Very serene little town. The road up there is pretty gruelling at times. But amazing. I initially flew up to Chitral on PIA because i had been quite sick in Peshawar and just needed to get up to the mountains quick to recover. Couldn't face the long journey up in that state. But i came back down to Peshawar on the road later on,by the road in jeeps. Lowari pass etc. It's alright if you're feeling ok. Rough road and swervy.

Chitral has the main town (more of a village) and then the villages of it spread out all along the valley. It's a real agricultural oasis with a surreal light. A very nice area which doesn't see as much tourism as say places like Hunza and Gilgit. Even though Ex-Taliban still hang around in the Bazzar,they dont bat an eyelid really. Their fight was always with the Governments. So you dont concern them. Most have moved on with thier lives now. Safety is'nt a problem.

You still have to register with the police when you arrive in Chitral though (involves filling out one of those gigantic ledgers, over a laid back cup of tea). It's just a formal procedure for your own safety really,and a way for them record numbers of visitors. The permission has a duration on it,so if you wish to stay in the Chitral region longer than that,you have to go back and renew it every month or so (i think). It's a simple procedure to extend it.

Although it's always touted as being close to the Afghan border,Chitral is still quite a long way from the border areas. The nearest ares of Afghanistan you'd come to are Nuristan in Afghanistan's North East. People can go in from the Kalash valleys. But it's not quite right on the edge as is commonly believed. Chitral is a sleepy town overlooking the wonderful Tirich Mir mountain area. Happy travels :)

As for the people. The Pathan and Chitrali hospitality is as it has always been. Profound. They will guard a visitor with their life. So dont worry about your safety in Pakistan (apart from far away areas such as Karachi and Baluchistan). The NWFP and Northern areas have some of the most friendly,genuine, honest,and most hospitable people in South Asia.

Re: Pakistan by Esitima on 7 January 2005 2:52pm
Thank you Godfather.
Do you know if it is possible to do the return trip to China from and back to Pakistan? I mean I am not sure whether I can get a multiple entry visa for Pakistan, if not once on the other side, how do I get one to come back (since they don't deliver any at the border post)?
Lonely Planet (2004 edition) quotes quite an astonishingly high bus fare from Sost to the border (around 12,000
roupees) do you know anything about it or one has to assume it's a misprint?
Thanks a lot for your advices.
Re: Pakistan by Godfather on 7 January 2005 4:21pm

Hi Esitima,

I went straight through into the rest of China once i crossed the border. But yes i do think there is a way that people can go up to Tashkurgan and Kashgar,and come back again without having a multiple entry Pakistani visa (which are rarely issued anyway).

Both countries are aware of how popular the side trip to Kashgar is. So there is some kind of permit for a few days, which you can get on the Pakistani side. It means you cannot continue onwards from Kashgar if you decided you wanted to though. But i dont have exact details about this permit. If you go to the Lonely Planet "Thorn Tree" forum page,and go onto the Indian Subcontinent thread,somebody will be able to answer your question with up to date info.

My trip into China through Karakorum was 1999. So what i say here must be taken with a pinch of salt because so much changes in that time. I seem to remember that the bus was not that much though (then). I think it was fairly expensive compared to elsewhere. Because that whole crossing from Pakistan to China involves covering the distance of a large piece of "No mans land" (which the chinese are famous for), and the people with transport have a monopoly on it. It's usually a combination of bus,jeep,and then a big bus once you've crossed into China. But i certainly dont think it was 12,000 rupees. But if you post that question on the LP thorn tree you'll no doubt get up to date information about it.



Re: Pakistan by Esitima on 11 January 2005 2:23pm
Thanks a lot, I will try that, I will find a way I am sure.

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