Northern Pakistan isn’t just for mountain climbers any more
Tanya Adam Khan travels to Pakistan’s north from Lahore almost every year. On her latest trip, after she caught a glimpse of snow-capped mountains while driving up by jeep from Satpara Lake, a shimmering bluish-green natural body of water near the city of Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan, tears sprang to her eyes. “It hits you out of nowhere! After a sharp turn, all of a sudden you encounter this vast never-ending expanse of land dusted with snow in places. It’s unbelievable.”
This stretch of road that Adam Khan was driving along follows part of a journey toward Deosai National Park. The majestic high-altitude plains of Deosai, by some miracle, remain tucked away even from domestic crowds. Crowned by lofty peaks, the park features hundreds of varieties of colorful flowers and rarely seen creatures such as the Tibetan wolf, Himalayan ibex, Tibetan red fox, and golden-brown marmots.
Adam Khan wishes it would remain hidden in this way, but knows it won’t be long before word gets out. “These places are so raw and untouched, but the world has already descended on Hunza Valley, and it won’t be long before they discover the rest of Pakistan’s north.”
The Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan’s north has always attracted climbers and intrepid travelers from around the world. But the region is now rapidly emerging as a hotspot for softer adventure travel, with Hunza as the crown jewel for tourists that want a cultural experience and to explore the surrounding areas of the region.
Sharing a border with Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor Nature Refuge and China’s Xinjiang region, Hunza boasts mountains that beckon and lakes that gleam. Once a seasonal destination, it is now packed with holidaymakers year round. In 2017, 1.72 million tourists made their way to the area almost doubling figures from the previous year and the provincial government has estimated 2.5 million visitors for 2018. Only 30 percent of 2017’s visitors were domestic.
Source: Usman Khan(www.theglobeandmail.com)