Rugged mountains and ravishing scenery form an awe-inspiring backdrop for fortresses, temples and tucked-away towns, where time seems to have stood still; and thriving cities add a contemporary cultural scene to this country of contrasts.
Opulent grandeur and unadorned simplicity, sleepy villages and busy cities, Himalayan peaks and verdant valley landscapes, all come together to shape the culture and colours of Pakistan; while monuments tell the tale of the country’s past with Hindu and Buddhist temples, mosques and Christian churches, and architecture of every era from ancient to Mughal Dynasty, Sikh Empire, British Raj, and 21st-century structures.
The young capital, Islamabad, is ranked among the most beautiful cities in the world. A remarkably green enclave, it is well planned, well organised and, unusually for a national capital, known as a quiet, peaceful place. The striking architecture includes the Pakistan Monument, a modern twist on the Mughal style, set on the city’s Shakarparian Hills; and the sharp white façade of the Faisal Mosque, the largest in South Asia.
Lahore is the capital of Punjab province and Pakistan’s second-largest city. Dubbed the ‘City of Gardens’ for its rich Mughal Empire heritage, it has always been seen as a seat of learning, art, and spirituality. Now an economic and commercial hub too, its cosmopolitan vibe complements colonial buildings, colourful mosques in the walled Old Quarter, and the UNESCO listed Shalimar Gardens.
A centre of Buddhism since the 5th century BC, Taxila’s UNESCO collection of 30 sites marks a triumphant stop on the road for Alexander the Great, and celebrates the Gandharan Buddhist heritage.
Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region is the launch pad for expeditions in the magnificent Karakoram Mountain range, home to the world’s 2nd-highest peak, K2. Covering a kaleidoscope of spectacular landscapes from rivers and evergreen forests to Alpine lakes and cold deserts, it is a magnet for mountaineers and trekkers, its sparsely populated miles punctuated by historic landmarks and time-warp towns.
In its isolated Skardu area, the small city of Khaplu is wrapped in surreal scenery, backed by jagged peaks, and popular as a trekking base. It displays its historic credentials with a mosque seven centuries old, and a former royal palace, now transformed as a heritage hotel.
With a thousand years of history, Shigar hems its eponymous river in a barely accessible valley, its former fortress / Raja’s residence was built in the late 16th century, and aptly nicknamed the Palace on the Rocks. The gorgeous Kachura Lakes embellish the landscape of Shigar’s ethereal surroundings.
And the Hunza Valley is home to the Silk Road settlement of Ganish, terrific panoramas from the Eagle’s Nest Viewing Point, the 1600 steps connecting Gulmit village to the Ondra Fort, and the Attabad and Borit Lakes. Prior to the arrival of the Islamic faith, the once-Tibetan area around Gilgit was a hub of Buddhism and is still dotted with long-abandoned, archaeological temple sites.
Pakistan has four seasons and four climatic zones, highland, lowlands, desert and maritime. Jules Verne’s journeys are focused in the north and north-western highland region of the country, where winters are long, cold and snowy; summers are short, warm, and sunny, largely dry in the western mountains, with more rainfall in the higher altitudes of the northern range; and generally pleasantly cool and dry in spring (March to May) and autumn (September-November). The best time for touring here is from April to October.
With tourism from the West only recently re-introduced, Pakistan will appeal to those with an adventurous nature, a curious mind, an enthusiasm for history and heritage, an enjoyment of hill walking, and, in rural areas with less developed infrastructure, a little patience and humour.
With an exhilarating mix of mountains and monuments, legends and local culture, Jules Verne’s journeys here are in sociable, small groups of like-minded travellers
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Highlights on our journeys in Pakistan include a performance of ‘Qawali’ music, the change of the guard ceremony at the Wagah border, a train into the Himalayan Salt Mine, a mountain walk in the Khaplu Valley, sailing on Attabad Lake, and the chance to visit Rawalpindi.
Our guided tours to Pakistan are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.