thanks to BBC Planet Earth for this video
LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE, in Hunza
At the heart of this adventure, you will rapidly understand why he was referring to. Inconspicuous, perfectly camouflaged, silent like a dead leaf in the air, resilient and skilled hunter are some of the Uncia Panthera's incredible features. So incredible that Alexander the Great referred to the feline as a 'ghostly warrior'!
Today the big cat is mostly known for its beauty and rarity and it is turned therefore into one of Pakistan’s environmental conservation effort symbols.
Found between 3,000 and 5,500 meters in the Kingdom of Hunza's high mountain range of North Eastern Pakistan, snow leopards are very well adapted to the tough terrain and weather of this central Asian region: they are as agile on steep mountain faces as in deep snow or summer pasture land and forests.
To go where he hides, our team will drive along the Karakorum highway to the very remote areas or north eastern Pakistan. When in his territory we will undertake high altitude walks and long static observation period to allow us the magical encounter.
During this quest to find it, we will follow the mighty Indus River, next to the K2 and Nanga Parbat 8000m + peaks. We will pass amazing valleys, dry and lush landscapes, villages and towns, discover the Hunza Kingdom's jewels of Baltit and Altit and travel by boat across a turquoise lake created after an earthquake struck in 2010
At the heart of the ancient Silk Road Karimadad (capital of Hunza) we will walk through local bazaars, drink Pakistan's famous chaï, indulge in delicious paratas and spicy curries and enjoy the famous Pakistani hospitality. You can also try to answer an unresolved mystery: why do Hunza inhabitants have such a European complexion? Would this blond hair and blue eyes be a heritage from Alexander the Great..?
It is a rare journey to the heart of a discreet civilization to find one of the rarest and most beautiful feline still to exist.
27 September 2020
Other good departure dates are October to November or April to June.
10 days (09 nights)
3.Group Meeting Point:
Islamabad International Airport (Pakistan)
4.Who can go?
a.Min age: adults only
b.Physical condition: must be healthy as high altitude walking is involved
c.You will need to:
i.Cope with bumpy roads
ii.Cope with very dry climate
iii.Be in good physical condition as we will be tramping and observing from uncomfortable hide outs to sight the snow-leopard.
d.Group size: min 2 max 8 pax
5.Rating (1 to 10): Overall = 4
Difficulty = 4
Isolation = 5
Danger = 3
6.This activity involves (%):
Transport: Walking = 25% Van = 75%
Survival skills = 0%
Orienteering = 0%
Group Autonomy = 0%
Day 1, meet the guide at Islamabad International Airport. Transfer to the hotel. Evening city tour of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Traditional Pakistani BBQ dinner.
Day 2, Drive on the famous Karakoram Highway towards Chilas. En-route we shall visit outstanding sites (including stone carvings, alpines forests, viewpoints of Nanga Parbat and Rakaposhi peaks). Overnight at Hotel.
Day 3, Continue our drive on to the valley of the Kingdom of Hunza. Settle in our hotel for the next few days. Evening walk to the local bazaar. Dinner on the terrasse overlooking majestic Himalayan peaks.
Day 4-7, Early morning departure, visit Altit and Baltit forts before heading to the National Park. The drive takes us on the ancient silk route and close to Pakistan - China border. We spend the day hiking and ducking in observation posts to sight the Snow leopard. Overnight at hotel. Cultural night dinner with dances and food by villagers.
Day 8-9, drive back to Islamabad via a different route, weather permitting. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10, breakfast, farewells before international flights. End of journey.
8.Weather / local conditions / Terrain:
Weather in this region is continental dry to desert. Yearly average temperature is 10.3°c because Karimabad our base is at 2300m. During our journey, temperatures should be as follow:
April to June: The min average is 10°c and the highest average is 27 °C and rain average is 18mm for these 3 months; we should be very fine!
September to November: over that period, the lowest average is -2 (november) for a maximum of 24°c (september). November being the coldest of the 3 months with a minimum −10 °c. Rain is a bit more prevalent but winter is not yet there. Being a dry region we should be spared.
The environment is rich in wildlife: foxes, ibex, marmots, mountain deers and eagles. The landscape is made of pine trees, spruces, apricots trees and high peaks, rock fields, agriculture terrace and beautiful mountain carved water channels flowing to villages from distant glaciers. Most of mountain faces there are very dry and barren.
Along the way and in Karimabad hotels are 3 to 4 stars.
This program has a full board plan. Pakistani cuisine is a refined blend of various regional cooking traditions of South Asia. It is a cuisine very similar to North Indian cuisine, but incorporates Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences and is more meat-oriented. Curries, spices, kebabs but also great Vegetable dishes are very popular. Street food is delicious and often 'safer' than restaurants! The Hunza Valley is renowned for its stone fruits; apricot trees are everywhere there, so that apricots, apricot kernels, and apricot kernel oil are an important feature of the diet. Traditionally meat from cows, yaks, sheep and goats they herd is also eaten but in lesser quantities than other regions of Pakistan. Finally traditionally-fermented cheese and butter, from goats, sheep, cows and yaks are staple food. Interestingly clarified butter (i.e ghee) is also used for cooking. All in all, it is delicious, hearty and 'south continent' flavored food.
Airport pickups and drop offs are made in mini vans.
The road journey is made in comfortable Toyota Hiace like van. 90% of the driven itinerary is on sealed road with the occasional unsealed section. Views and landscapes are breathtaking along the way particularly when following the Indus River.
Note: It is possible to fly by airplane from Islamabad to Gilgit (1h) cutting short half of the 11h drive. From Gilgit it is also possible to fly by helicopter to our base in Karimabad in the Hunza Valley. Both are weather dependent. For any of these options please ask us.
12.What to expect
This journey is about finding the snow leopard. We are not going to the zoo, so to find him we have to go to his natural habitat, in the very very remote areas of the himalayas. Because there are no easy way to get there, we take this travel as an opportunity to immerse ourselves in a different culture. It is a slow journey to slide into a particular mindset. Some would love to get there in a flash, but the reality is even if we could, it would probably ruin the magical encounter. We work hard to make sure you enjoy every minute of this journey, and to ensure this we want you to be surprised, by what you see, who you meet, what you eat, where you stay. We dont intend to create a 5* itinerary (though we can if you want) but rather to make sure you take the time to understand and fulfill your thirst for discovery. It is about enhancing a cultural feeling and NOT rushing to go from one place to another.
This itinerary is far from your usual landmarks. Mountains are very high, vistas and landscapes are breathtaking, people are extremely varied. Your guide and your host know very well the area, its culture and the people. Each hike will bare its difficulty mainly because of the altitude rather than the terrain. Some days will be harder than others. But we adapt our itinerary, its rhythm and the hikes to the group's capacity.
Finally we are in the sub-indian continent, and people have different cultural and religious habits, this includes wearing headscarves for women in some areas.
13.Safety and security
We take safety very seriously.
We minimize risks by preparing for them. But the best is to act mindfully and carefully during the trip. The area is well known to your experienced guide, and the route could differ depending on local conditions.
Should an incident happen, rescue protocols are well established and local rescue operators can be contacted via mobile phone or VHF.
per person in a group of 6 (twin share)
= from AUD 2900 or AUD 290 p/day
a.For more or less passengers please contact us
b.For airplane/helicopter links please contact us too
15.Inclusions and exclusions
i.accommodation for 09 nights
ii.all food and meals
iii.one English speaking host
iv.one qualified guide
v.permits to local area, toll taxes and parking fees
vi.all transport and drivers as per the schedule
vii.letter of invitation to obtain the Pakistan Tourist Visit Visa
i.international flights to 'meeting point'
ii.airport departure tax
iv.personal expenses (bottled water, beverages, entertainment, phone calls, laundry, etc)
v.tips to local guides
vi.charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of NLJ
Should you have any questions please contact us