Fitness Level: You do not need to be of superhuman fitness to come on this trip but a basic level of fitness is a must for anybody hoping to do the treks. Really, it’s your attitude that counts and the treks we do are achievable/approachable. However, it’s crucial that you break in your footwear before you come to Pakistan – do not rock up in new gear you have not tested and are not comfortable in. We recommend doing plenty of hiking/excersie before you come on this trip.
Who should apply?
The perfect candidate:
We want adventurers…
This is an adventure… things may not always go as planned and if they don't, we will be there to solve problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. You will get out of this trip what you put into it; a positive attitude, willingness to get to know the locals, and enthusiasm are all important.
While the tour itself is not very strenuous, please note that it can involve the following: somewhat long days, a good amount of walking, being in the sun in potentially hot temperatures, a few very long journeys by bus, early morning wake-ups, cold nights at altitude (we never sleep above 3,300 meters), and other similarly challenging scenarios. Hiking with your personal gear (should be no more than 5-10 kilos) is to be expected - porters available on the treks.
Epic Backpacker Tours staff are there to lead you into the mountains and provide you with an amazing experience through our unique contacts – we are not there to be your servants and we are not experts on the flora and fauna of Pakistan, though we do our best to provide as many insights and "fun facts" as possible.
Why do I need to book a Tour? Can I visit Pakistan on my own?
This tour is extremely good value, however it’s not as cheap as traveling in Pakistan on your own. We handle logistics, provide you with unique connections, and allow you to see the best of the country in a relatively short time-frame. We believe in paying our staff competitive wages and a sizable chunk of your tour fee goes directly towards a community project in Pakistan. If you want to visit Pakistan as cheaply as possible, go independently.
What is the food like in Pakistan?
Food in Pakistan is pretty repetitive – there’s a lot of daal, chicken, and rice. We will try to mix this up where possible by taking you to some great restaurants but if you want a luxury tour, this is not for you – please don’t apply.
Note: In general, the food in Pakistan is SPICY (especially in Punjab). Again, we always do our best to accommodate dietary needs, but keep in mind that options can be limited at times if you can’t do spicy food. There will ALWAYS be some decent vegetarian and non-spicy items, but you also need to have realistic expectations regarding Pakistani cuisine, which can be meat-heavy, and SPICY. Please let us know early on if you have any diet restrictions/preferences.
Will there be sweet, sweet WiFi on our trip?
Once we leave Karimabad, WiFi is non-existent. Whilst there may be small amounts of phone coverage on the trip, you should view this adventure as a chance to unplug. We have had instances of people complaining about the lack of WiFi on the trip - If you want to be connected to your phone the whole time, DO NOT APPLY FOR THIS TRIP. In today's world, disconnecting is an ever important necessity to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Coming on our Pakistan adventure is a chance for you to disconnect and breathe some fresh mountain air!
Once you have secured your spot, we will arrange a call so that we can have a brief debriefing/interview. The interview is a chance for your tour leader to get to know you better before the start of the tour. If we don’t think you’re quite right, we will refund 100% of your money. This is a real adventure; we want adventurers…
What kind of guides will we have?
The tours are led by one of two western leaders, all of whom are mountain leaders and are experienced outdoorsmen. Chris or Ralph are assisted by local Pakistani crew consisting of our driver, Mr. Kahn, and two other members of staff (Zehra and Rehman). Check out our meet the team page here.
What is the Accommodation like in Pakistan?
Prices are based on the sharing of rooms and single (same sex) members of the group will typically be put together. We will be using budget guesthouses/hotels that offer comfortable, but simple, facilities. Sometimes rooms might be without air-conditioning (although the rooms in Lahore and Islamabad, the two hottest places, will definitely have AC).
Whilst in Ghulkin, we will be spread amongst a very large communal/traditional guest room; these are clean, comfortable and a great way for us all to hang out. It is possible to arrange a (possibly shared) tent in Ghulkin (especially if you are prone to snoring!). In The Fairy Meadows; we will have two-three large wooden cabins which we will be sharing. Note: hot water is not always available in hotels, especially in the mountains.
Single supplement: If you wish to have a private room to yourself, we can arrange this - the single supplement cost is £300; accommodation in Pakistan is expensive. Please note that even if you do opt for a single room, this will only be possible in Lahore / Islamabad / Karimabad / Fairy Meadows / Passu. In the Eagles Nest and Ghulkin, accommodation is all shared (unless you bring your own tent).
Does EBT sort out my Pakistani Visa?
You will need to arrange your visa yourself before you arrive in the country.
Where do I need to apply for my visa?
Visas can only be arranged in the country your passport is from so if, for example, you have a British passport you must sort your visa in the UK. If you are out of your home country, we recommend posting your passport back to your home country and getting a friend or family member to do it. You can also usually get a visa in another country if you have a residency visa there. You will need a letter of invitation for your visa application and we will provide this, as well as tips on how to make the visa application as stress-free as possible, once your spot is confirmed.
Please note your LOIs, which you need for your visa applications, are included in the cost of this tour and will be sent out to you approximately three to four months before the start of the tour.
If I Visit Pakistan, Will I have Problems Visiting Other Countries?
We receive many questions about this topic, so let us clear the air. Travelers to India, Israel, the USA, Europe, etc have never faced any particular restriction or been denied entry just because they have visited Pakistan. We have been to Pakistan more times than we can count at this point, and we have never faced issues returning to the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, Europe or going to India . There are no official rules saying that if you visit Pakistan, then you can't enter India, Israel, etc. You can simultaneously hold Indian and Pakistani visas in your passport also without issue.
What sort of equipment do I need to come on this trip?
We will provide a full kit-list a little closer to the time. You will not need to spend a fortune on expensive gear but decent multi-purpose hiking shoes, proper clothing, sun protection (hat), trekking poles, and a decent jacket are a must.
Is Insurance included in the tour?
No it is not. To travel on this tour, you must have travel insurance. We will provide recommendations closer to the time. If you don’t buy travel insurance, you will not be allowed to come on the tour.
WIll the trip run exactly as the itinerary is planned?
Keep in mind that the above itinerary and activities are subject to change. Travel almost always involves unexpected situations so things might need to be re-arranged at times. However, it is important to remember that travel is all about the journey, and so even the unexpected situations we may face should be treated as part of the overall experience. If we encounter issues we will get them sorted to the best of our ability.
Where will I need to fly into to start the tour?
You need to arrive into Lahore and be at the hotel by the morning of day 1. Ideally you will arrive a day early to rest and gear up for the start of our adventure. You will be picked up from the airport by a member of our team providing you arrive within 24 hours of midday on day 1. If you arrive outside of the 24 hour period leading up to the start of the tour, you’ll need to sort your own transfer – advice will be provided.
Is pre-tour/post tour accommodation provided?
No it is not. You are not covered for accommodation for the days leading up to the start of the tour or the days after the tour has ended. Day 1 is the first day accommodation is included. If you need an affordable place to stay before or after the tour starts/ends, we can provide recommendations.
Do I need to sign a release waiver?
All tour participants will be required to sign an industry-standard waiver releasing Epic Backpacker Tours from any liability related to any aspect of this Hunza Region Northern Pakistan Tour.