Pakistan is blessed with abundant natural and historical riches but has been off the radar for all but the most hardened explorers for many years. With the recent stability and acknowledgment of the benefits of tourism, it is now listed as one of the leading tourism hot spots in the world for 2020. Visitor numbers, while still low, have been doubling every year for the past 3 years and it’s no wonder as it remains one of Asia’s most fascinating destinations. We explore the wild frontier of the ancient cities in the rugged north that have changed only superficially since Mughal times. Along the route are scatted ruins and arid deserts, with the western spur of the Himalayan mountain range to the North and stunning glaciers to the East.
For motorcycle adventurers, Pakistan’s number one attraction is a sliver of serenity stretching north from the Northwest Frontier to Kashgar in China, the Karakoram is one of the world’s most epic highways, an astonishing feat of engineering forced against the odds through the tortured bedrock of the Karakoram mountains. North of Gilgit, the primary safety concern is the risk of veering off the road while entranced by the natural beauty of the Hunza Valley or the snow-capped summits of the Passu Cones.
We’ll discover a country full of contradictions, where simmering tensions coexist with remarkable friendliness and hospitality, set against an Arabian Nights backdrop of desert forts, sultans, and genies. From the capital Islamabad, north through the infamous town of Abbottabad and into the incomparable Hunza Valley, the adrenaline rises along with our latitude and altitude. The Deosai national park is wondrous and demands more time but we must move on to our goal of reaching Khunjerab Pass.
With the climax of the adventure attained, we turn around and have some fun on the dirt roads out to the Shimshal glacier where you’ll stand atop it for the ultimate selfie. Relaxing as we make our way back to Islamabad through the stunning beauty of Gilgit and Besham City before searching out the hills of Nathia Gali for our last twisty mountain roads.
You might have doubted your decision to come to Pakistan and ride the Karakoram Highway but by the halfway mark of the adventure, you’ll know you made the right call.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Islamabad – Pakistan|
|ADVENTURE DATES||2022 – August, Wednesday 3rd – Monday 15th
2023 – August, Thursday 3rd – Tuesday 15thOther dates by request
|PRIVATE TOURS AVAILABLE||This motorcycle tour is also available as a private adventure for solo adventurers, a couple, a club, or even just a group of mates. This can be any combination of riders, pillions, sidecar passengers, or even a family in one of our expedition support vehicles. The tour can be shortened or lengthened to suit your desires. Please contact us to discuss your needs.
The best months are from mid-March to the end of October
|PRICES||Rider: US$3,990 per person
Pillion: US$3,390 per person
|WHAT’S INCLUDED||Transfers to/from Islamabad Airport and Hotel
A low kilometre, well maintained adventure motorcycle
Quality Accommodation on a twin share basis (Comfort hotels/guest houses/Camping)
3 meals a day for the entire tour
English speaking guide
Medical kit available and Oxygen in the support vehicle
Mechanics with all the necessary spare parts
Support vehicle to carry all luggage (if riders are injured, feeling unwell, or just want a break then they can jump into our backup vehicle to relax)
Bottled water throughout the adventure
Tea/Chai & snacks en-route
Permits for restricted areas
All entrance fees en-route
|NOT INCLUDED|| International flights
VISA (details sent with rider pack)
Travel Insurance (compulsory)
Tipping (US$100 suggested)
NOTE: The prices above are based on a twin share basis. If you’d like your own room, then there is a US$650 supplement.
Payment terms: A US$500 deposit must be made at time of booking. Balance payment must be paid 8 weeks before the tour start date. Payment plans are available upon request.Terms & Conditions What To Bring Price Guarantee
Upon arrival at Islamabad airport, you’ll be greeted by a member of the Himalayan Heroes team who will transfer you to the hotel to check in. If you arrive in the morning then you’ll have time for an excursion to visit the majestic Faisal Mosque, a perfect mix of old and modern Islamic architecture. We’ll endeavour to see the parliament buildings and the folk heritage ethnological museum which depicts all cultures of Pakistan. We’ll head to Shakarparian Hill for a panoramic view of both Islamabad and Rawalpindi, stopping by The Pakistan Monument Museum which represents four provinces and three territories of Pakistan. If we have time, we’ll head to Jinnah Market for some authentic street food…if you’re game.
After a late breakfast, we’ll meet our bikes and the support team who will be our trusted companions for the next 10 days. We’ll head to the hills to get into the groove and continue to see the many sights of Islamabad and its surrounds.
Today, rather than head for the hills, we’re going to take the Grand Trunk road to Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden was found. With lunch at a local restaurant and many breaks along the way, we’ll be refreshed enough for a detour to Lake Saif-ul-Malook before we make it to our destination for the night. A comfortable bed awaits at a hotel in Naran.
We’ll tackle the famous Babusar Pass (4100m) and stop for the obligatory photos before heading down into the valley where the temperature drops. We finally meet the Karakoram Highway and follow it until we turn right towards the Astore Valley. A hearty hot lunch and many opportunities for photos as we search for our resting place for the night in Rama.
A ride out to Rama lake is a great way to start a short day in the saddle. We continue to the second highest plateau in the world – Deosai Plateau. Deosai means “Land of Giants” in Urdu and it is only accessible in summer. It is one of the most unique places on earth. Keep an eye out for the highly endangered Brown Bears and Snow Leopards as well as Brown Marmots, Ibex, red foxes, grey wolves, Eagles, Falcons, Kestrals and a multitude of other birds, butterflies and wildflowers. We’ll stay in the national park
It’s only a short ride to our destination today so we dump the bags at the guest house, have lunch and then visit the cold desert – Biama Nakpo on the confluence of the Indus and Shigar Rivers. We’ll head off-road along the River, taking our time to enjoy being in the remotest part of Pakistan, before heading back to the hotel for a BBQ and a game of cards.
SHIGAR TO HUNZA (330 km / 10-11 hours)
It’s an early morning start as we not only have the longest day in the saddle in front of us but also the most challenging. Full concentration is needed, not only because the riding is challenging but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking and will by vying for your attention. As we ride through Gilgit, it’s beauty will have you wanting to stop but what lies ahead is often cited as the most beautiful place on earth. We spend the night in Hunza, safe in the knowledge that well be back to stay a night in Gilgit.
HUNZA TO PASSU (340 km / 9 hours)
Another big day in the saddle is required but this time the Karakoram Highway is smooth as it snakes along the Hunza and Khunjerab rivers. The scenery is breathtaking and we’ll stop often to capture it but it’s important to put the camera down at times and take a moment to realise where you are and what you’ve achieved so far. Our evening destination is only 50km up the valley but we have to continue to Khunjerab Pass on the border with China before returning along the winding mountain roads to Passu for the night. Home of the famous Passu Cones and tricky plank suspension bridges, it’ll be a place you won’t soon forget.
PASSU TO SHIMSHAL (70 km / 3 hours)
After some big days in the saddle, today will be a welcome respite…except we’re heading off-road for 60km of the best dirt roads of the adventure. We’ll dump our luggage at the guesthouse in Shimshal, have lunch and then head across the plains towards Yazgil Glacier. We’ll jump off the bikes and trek for a couple of kilometres to stand atop the glacier before heading back to town for dinner and drinks.
SHIMSHAL TO GILGIT (220 km / 6-8 hours)
We head south to Gilgit which serves as a hub for mountaineering expeditions in the Karakoram Range an was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. Today it serves as a major junction along the Karakoram Highway with road connections to China, Skardu, Chitral, Peshawar, and Islamabad
GILGIT TO BESHAM (320 km / 9-10 hours)
We continue south along the old silk route to Besham which is an important destination for traders till this day. The highlight of today is not the destination (Besham) but the journey along the Karakoram Highway as it meanders endlessly along the Indus River.
BESHAM TO ISLAMABAD (280 km / 8-9 hours)
As we leave Besham on the last riding day of the adventure, it will be hard to comprehend that we were in Islamabad just 10 days ago as it will seem like an eternity. By the end of the day, you would have cover over 2000 kilometres and everyone of them was special. Some of the best riding is yet to come though as we head towards Nathia Gali where the roads twist themselves into knots and as we round the corners, we get glimpses of the astounding city where we started. As we pull into the hotel, the elation and emotion will overcome you. Sad that it has finished but completely refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you. Bring it on!
UNTIL NEXT TIME
We’ll transfer you to the airport and shake your hand in thanks as we hope to see you on another Himalayan Heroes adventure. You’ve just completed a totally unique motorcycle adventure that many thought you were crazy to attempt. Now that you’ve conquered it, your life will never be the same. You’ve crossed Pakistan’s highest passes, stood on top of a glacier, seen a cold desert, spotted wildlife that can be seen no where else on earth, walked across rickety wooden suspension bridges, travelled the old silk route and of course you’ve conquered the Karakoram Highway.
Back on home turf, you won’t be able to explain the scale of this journey; photographs and videos will fail to do justice to your adventure. Your memories of this epic adventure however, will stay with your forever.
INSURANCE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
(PAKISTAN, INDIA, NEPAL, BHUTAN, TIBET & MONGOLIA)
In the countries we conduct adventures, commercial insurance on motor vehicles is either not available, or is of questionable value. 3rd party insurance will usually not cover foreigners and even if it does, it is generally worthless if one needs to make a claim. In the event of an accident in these countries, the situation is usually settled on the spot without the “assistance” of insurance companies. If insurance companies are involved, it can take days, weeks and even months before there is a resolution.
Damage Cap Option “DCO”
Himalayan Heroes offers its riders the option of capping the cost of your damage bill on the motorcycle you are riding. The cost of this damage cap option “DCO” is US$195, paid as a lump sum before the tour starts. In the event you damage the motorcycle, the DCO will cap your damage bill at US$200.
- If, like most of our riders, you do not damage the motorcycle then the total cost to you is only the cost of the DCO = US$195.
- If, like some of our riders, you put the bike down at slow speed and damage mirrors, levers, foot pegs etc and the damage bill is say, US$120 then you pay the US$120. The total cost to you is US$315 (US$195 DCO + US$120 damage bill)
- If you have a big off and damage the tank, forks etc and the damage bill is say US$750 then your damage bill is capped at US$200. The total cost to you is US$395 (US$195 DCO + US$200 damage bill).
The DCO is optional, so if you would like to carry the risk yourself, you are welcome to. At the completion of the tour, you will be presented with an itemised bill of the damage to the bike. Approximately 50% of our riders do not damage the bikes and of the 50% that do receive a damage bill, the majority of the bills are less than $300. Please send us an email if you’ve got any questions about the DCO.
The DCO is not an insurance policy and therefore any costs related to it cannot be claimed on a travel insurance claim.