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Your Views

I want to thank you again for an amazing trip.  My favorite to date.  I can't believe how many incredible once-in-a-lifetimes experiences I had whilst in Pakistan, all thanks to you. My life...

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Your Views

Travelling to Pakistan these days may conjure up scary and dark images of terrorism, kidnapping, bombings and murder hyped up by the media who are always in search of a story - the more gruesome the better.

 

I went to Pakistan in May 2014 with a London based company called TravelPak. The planning and organising of all the complicated elements for this trip to materialise was well and truly well dealt with by TravelPak. I can safely say that I got value for money as well as constant updates plus communications before, on the actual trip time and after were readily available and extremely helpful.

 

Once in Pakistan and from the beginning to the end of the trip what I experienced was a totally amazing and worthwhile experience. The people of Pakistan for a start and as a general rule are hospitable and honourable people. The mountainous landscape and astonishingly beautiful deep valleys of north Pakistan are a treat to the soul and mind and if you are interested in photographing landscapes as well as photography in general as I am well then you are in for a seriously rewarding experience.

 

What is even more rewarding photographically as well as spiritually and visually is the Kalash Festival held in the Rumbur valley and this is a truly genuine and benign assault on the senses. There are many hours spent in 4 wheel drive vehicles driving on some decent roads as well as new tarmac roads but there are also the rugged roads, which are part of the surrounding terrain. I was also well taken care of by the TravelPak guide called Ehsan who is a remarkable host and a true ambassador for his country.

   

So the overall verdict is that I had an amazing and remarkable experience which I would recommend to anybody who is curious about travelling and willing to go to astonishingly beautiful places with rugged scenery and extremely hospitable people.

 

North Pakistan is a hidden jewel and still not touched and or tarnished by the commercial Westernised curse of holiday conglomerates. May it remain that way as I will be planning further trips to other parts of Pakistan in the not too distant future.  

Joseph Grima - Countryside Ranger - Lancashire, UK, May 2014

 

 

Joe Grima

Dear Sohail,

 

Writing from Punjab where All is Well!

 

Let me thank you, and ask you to pass on my thanks to Mr Javed and Mr Tahir, for enabling my father and I to have such a deeply memorable and enjoyable stay in Lahore.

 

We learned so much from these guys, and had some really great experiences that we did not expect to have. For example, listening to Javed sing in the walled city bath house was deeply atmospheric and moving, something we will not forget. Also, discussing the finer points of punjabi folk tales, with such a receptive audience, on the restaurant terraces above the mosque, was a real joy for my father.

 

Truly, we became very good friends at the end of 3 days. And our memories of Lahore, an enchanting city, were enhanced by the friendship.

 

I commend these guys for future work - they are first class

 

Thanks

 

Joe

Joe Ballard, UK

Lahore and Amritsar, India. November 2013

Joe Ballard

My Pakistan trip exceeded all my expectations. The scenery at times was awesome. Hunza was a delight, the Shandur Pass spectacular and the visit to The Kalash just special. 

 

Added to this, the expertise, knowledge and good humour of our guide, Ehsan and the drivers made us feel at home.

 

Despite warnings from our friends, we felt safe in Pakistan and found it a great place to visit.

 

Ken Edwards, Australia

The Kalash Spring Festival of Joshi, May 2013 

Ken Edwards

For anyone remotely interested in history and archaeology this was 15 days of wonderful visits.  My highlight was the visit to Moenjodaro, achieving a long-held ambition to visit one of the first planned cities in the world which had been neglected and forgotten for nearly four thousand years until its discovery in 1912.  

 

We made visits to other sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation - Taxila and Harappa, as well as to the even earlier Kot Diji.  We visited many fascinating Sufi shrines, as well as some huge forts, such as Derawar Fort in the Cholistan Desert.  

 

Many people in the UK interested in travel will be aware of Michael Palin's visit to the Pakistan-India border at Wagha, near Lahore.  We made a visit too - and what a fun experience it was. We had three cheerleaders, who encouraged us to make a huge amount of noise as we watched the daily ceremony of the lowering of the flag.  

Throughout the whole tour we came across nothing but kindness and interest from the Pakistani people.  Interest was often expressed by asking to have their photo taken with us, but this was never intrusive.    

 

There are obviously concerns regarding the security situation in Pakistan, but at no time did we feel even slightly threatened.  There doesn't appear to be any threat aimed at tourists.  We did have a police escort at times, which was a source of amusement to us and made for some good photos!

 

Our guide throughout the tour was friendly, flexible and very knowledgeable and the organisation by Travelpak was first class.

 

David Gadd, UK

Pakistan's Archaeology and Sufi Shrines (with expert guide), March 2013

David Gadd

Dear Sohail, Ali Yameen [guide] did a fantastic job considering there was major civil unrest in Karachi. Most of the main roads were blocked and it took us nearly 3 hours to do a normal journey of 15 minutes! The driver's patience was fantastic.

 

I am so grateful for your help. Without you my father would not have seen his fathers grave.

 

Many thanks, Alan

 

Alan Perry and Peter Perry, UK

Karachi, Feb 2013

Alan Perry

We are just writing to you on return from our month in Pakistan to say what an absolutely unforgettable time we had.

 

As you know we had been seriously considering taking this trip for the past three years but each time, despite your reassurances, something happened that made us chicken out. However every time we read the testimonials of returning ttravelers on the very trips we ourselves could have taken we kicked ourselves and wished we had been brave enough to go. 

 

It wasn't so much the danger as we had visited many unstable countries in the past, just the shear unpredictability of the Taliban, the US forces and the increasing number of random suicide bombings not even targeting westerners but Pakistanis themselves, we could quite simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why put ourselves through that, go against home office and insurance companies advice, when there are so many other beautiful countries in the world we have yet to visit. But each time we asked ourselves that your pictures of Fairy Meadows, Hunza valley, and our love of high mountains and untouristy villages floated in front of our eyes and we couldn't resist.

 

Having booked we tried to put all our concerns behind us and just look forward to the trip ahead but this wasn't made any easier when just before our departure the Americans found and killed Bin Laden on Pakistan soil in one of the very towns we  were due to visit!!

 

That said go we did and from the moment we meet our guide at the airport to the moment we left we could not have asked for a better, more beautiful, experience. The second we got out of Islamabad and headed through the beautiful, ever changing scenery we were met with smiles and waves. With young men crowding round us to see why we were there, what we thought of Pakistan and its people, where we were from and children running to the road side to wave and shout hello. We were made to feel really welcome and we didn't feel the least bit unsafe even when we ventured off on our own to explore.

 

The highlight for us however has to be the scenery. We have been fortunate to trek in many different countries including Nepal, Bhutan, and Northern India but Fairy Meadows, the Hunza valley and the Rush lake trek were all absolutely stunning. Everywhere you looked on every day you were greeted with a vista of fabulous snow capped mountains which quite frankly we never tired of looking at (or photographing!!).

 

As a final thought I just want to say that we NEVER return to the same country twice as we have too little time left to see everything we want to but even on the way home on the plane we were already discussing what we would include in a future visit to the amazing country that is Pakistan.

 

We would like to thank you for organising such an amazing trip, for introducing us to your country and your family, and for giving us that gentle but firm shove we needed to sign on the dotted line, we'll never regret, or forget it.

 

Sally Jackson and Jim Bolton, United Kingdom

Northern Pakistan, August 2011

Sally & Jim Bolton

I was enthralled by Jini Reddy's article in today's Guardian on her visit to Multan and other places in Pakistan.

 

As representative of the High Commission I really wish to highly appreciate your extremely good work for the projection and promotion of Pakistan and its image building. Jini's article is one of those rare positive picks which complete Pakistan's real picture as others mostly tend to present only the negative side - not peculiar to Pakistan alone.

 

I owe this change of perspective of a British journalist to you and express my gratitude for sharing the objective which is our collective responsibility.

 

Profound regards,

 

Nafees Zakaria
Minister (Political)
High Commission for Pakistan, London, May 2012

Nafees Zakaria

I have been a fan of adventure travel for quite a few years.

 

About fifteen years ago I read an article about the Hunza Valley and the Karakoram Highway and had always envisaged cycling in that area. The years rolled by without opportunity and then came 9/11 which rather prejudiced (I thought) my chances of ever seeing it.

 

Then last year I decided that I was not to be put off and that to take the chance was now or never. 

 

I was certainly not disappointed. The scenery  and sights were fantastic. I have to say that as a caucasian I stood out like a sore thumb, there were few of us around but at no time did I feel threatened or ill at ease. The locals were so friendly and welcoming everywhere we went.It certainly helped having Sohail and his "family" to guide us and take care of all the arrangements. He even supplied a bike for me to ride down the Highway from the Chinese border.  

 

The test of a good company is how they respond to adversity which on all these sort of trips you cannot avoid and it is how they react to the situations - TravelPak and Sohail handled them magnificently.

 

Far from the locals being anti-european,they were obviously so pleased to see some tourists around and made it quite plain that Al-Q and the Taliban were to be derided rather than supported. They were well aware that both organisations had truly ruined so many people's livelihoods in the area.

 

Another upside of the trip was value for money compared with other countries. So, so cheap - I returned with most of my spending money intact.

 

Overall Pakistan and the whole holiday was a wonderful adventure, certainly worth every penny of the price. In fact I cannot remember having such a "value for money" experience since youth hostelling on my bike 55 years ago

 

Richard Hubbard

The KKH - Pakistan's Road to Adventure, Sep 2011

Richard Hubbard

Pakistan is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The country has intrigued me for several years now, which has driven my desire to see its various regions.

 

I've traveled to India and Nepal. Each country is unique, but Pakistan has a special place for me because its nature is so pristine. There are very few places you can go where you feel like it’s just you and the mountain, but Pakistan is one of them and Fairy Meadows is my new favorite place.

 

The rest of the world focuses on Pakistan because of security, so the country is abound with assumptions. I also was concerned about going because of the security situation but the view from inside is different. What always strikes me each time I go to Pakistan is how much I have yet to learn - I always end up going to a new place or going to the same place and realizing there's more to it. This time, our group had a chance to meet the Kalasha, an ancient, animist group of people. We also met people who lived extremely simple lives in Fairy Meadows and we met cosmopolitan Pakistanis in the cities. They all differ in their language and lifestyles, but across the board, we were always welcomed.

 

TravelPak took care of me the moment I landed. I didn't have to worry about a thing except enjoying Pakistan, which is what you want to focus on when you're on one of the most beautiful places on earth.

 

This was my second time traveling with TravelPak and I chose to because of Sohail's professionalism but also because he is so personable and warm. The company will create a package for you based on what you want or adjust to your needs.

 

It is difficult to get over security concerns, but I'd tell potential travelers that TravelPak is cognizant about them and addresses them. I never once felt uncomfortable or insecure traveling, even in remote areas. I'm so glad in the end that my concerns did not stop me from going.

 

I'm looking forward to my third TravelPak trip!

 

Nadia Shoeb, Washington USA

The KKH - Pakistan's Road to Adventure. Sep 2011

 

Nadia Shoeb

I am sending this note to express my gratitude to you for organizing and guiding a trip of a lifetime for me.  The 16 days I have spent in Pakistan are among the most memorable experiences of my life.  I went into this trip with much hesitation and fear, I came out filled with awe and admiration - for this land, for its people, for the brilliant histories and cultures that have flourished there, for the eternal natural beauty beaming through its high mountains and deep valleys.

 

This trip has become the most memorable trip of my 15 years roaming around the world.

 

There is nothing sufficient to express my satisfaction with the trip, delight with the country, and gratitude to your hard work.  I can only say that I will be back.

 

Take good care Sohail, you have ignited my Pakistan fire

 

Aida Kidd, Switzerland

Pakistan’s Archaeology and Sufi Shrines. Feb 2011

 

Aida Kidd

I want to thank you again for an amazing trip.  My favorite to date.  I can't believe how many incredible once-in-a-lifetimes experiences I had whilst in Pakistan, all thanks to you. My life is greatly enriched from the knowledge and wisdom I've gained.


I had an amazing time in Pakistan.  The people are lovely, friendly, and hospitable to excess.  I was welcomed with open arms, as I am.  It is my favorite country that I've been to, and I hope to go back in the near future. It has been an extremely enlightening trip, and I've learned a great deal.

 

Indeed I've gained a fresh perspective on our own culture, and the world at large.  The real Pakistan exists far beyond the headlines, and is far more rich, vibrant and complex than a short, single-minded, sensational phrase can ever hope to convey.

 

Ryan Tretter, Compliance and Property Manager, Washington USA

Hunza, Chitral, Lahore and Southern Punjab. September 2010

 

Ryan Tretter

I can highly recommend Sohail Azhar and TravelPak. I was on a trip arriving from China and TravelPak were wonderfully helpful with travel advice, and practical assistance in getting the correct information about visas for me from back in the UK. I cannot thank the company enough for making what would have been very difficult to do remotely a smooth and painless process. 

 

As for Pakistan, Go! Go if you have the opportunity. It can be a difficult place to travel as we all know but with a good guide and careful planning through TravelPak you will have a wonderful journey. I returned from my visit thrilled by the colour, mosques, patterns, food, welcoming people not to mention beautiful landscape. I am an artist and the country provides plenty of visual food for thought.

 

Helen Couchman, Artist, China. February 2011

Helen Couchman

When I first met Sohail at the Destinations show in London in 2008, I had a feeling that TravelPak had something a little different to offer than your average tour company and I was certainly not mistaken. TravelPak were and still are, in short, the best tour company I have ever encountered and I highly recommend a visit to Pakistan with a company which will throw any unfounded preconceptions of Pakistan out of the window and show you the time of your life!

 

The language skills of the TravelPak staff was fantastic for engaging with local people and understanding local practices, as well as helping to realise the real situation in Pakistan, especially that of the North, from those 'on the ground' rather than the BBC. Sohail was able to calm my unnecessarily worried mother reliably by email and phone, day and night, with his extensive knowledge of Pakistan and vast network of in-country contacts, who took great care of me every step of the way up to the check-in at Benzir Bhutto International Airport for my flight to Kabul.

 

David Lewis, Student, UK

Hunza, Peshawar and Lahore. May 2009

David Lewis

We arranged our holiday in order to see the outstanding scenery of North Pakistan and were not disappointed.  The trek and the jeep tours arranged by TravelPak took us to some of the most beautiful mountain regions that we have ever seen. Like most tourists before they reach Pakistan, we had some concerns about our security, but they were wholly unfounded. TravelPak carefully selected the areas we visited, and there are many safe areas in Pakistan, so that we never felt even the slightest threat.  To the contrary, what remains uppermost in our memory is the genuine warmth of the people we met wherever we travelled.  The TravelPak staff themselves were friendly, wonderfully helpful, and made us feel totally at home in their country. Indeed, they were more like companions than staff.  They were also highly experienced -  our trek guide had been on mountaineering expeditions to K2.  We left Pakistan with many new friends, and a deeper understanding of a complex country which deserves to be high on anyone’s list of travel destinations.

 

John and Victoria Pearce, University Professor and Teacher, UK

NWFP, Wakhan Corridor Trek, Hunza, the KKH and Lahore. September 2008

John and Victoria Pearce

 

I have been to Pakistan many times but this was my best trip ever, the scenery was breathtaking and I had good company and a very good time. Sohail, keep up the good work matey!

 

Tahir Malik, Businessman. SOT Himalaya Challenge Trek. August 2008

Tahir Malik

As a travel editor I go away at least once a month and my trip to Pakistan was one of the most fun, interesting and well-organised I’ve been on. While a large part of this is due to the destination itself, it’s unlikely my experience would have been so varied and colourful without TravelPak. Having a British Pakistani guide, who can understand where both locals and tourists are coming from, proved invaluable. It could have been a long night in our landslide-locked minibus had it not been for Sohail’s sweet-talking ingenuity.

 

Amy Adams, Travel Editor, TNT Magazine - The KKH and Rush Peak Trek 2007

Amy Adams

Before the trip, everybody asked me whether I wasn’t scared of going to Pakistan . Thinking only of the mountains we would see, I hadn’t even considered safety. Now, that I’ve been there I’m glad I didn’t. Pakistan is a wonderful (and safe!) country and Sohail – with his passion for the country, its people, its culture and of course its mountains – the best person to make the introduction! In addition we received such a warm welcome from everyone we met, that I’m sure to be back soon!

 

Andrea Sulzenbacher, Consultant, Accenture - K2 Base Camp Trek 2007

 

 

Andrea Sulzenbacher

I thought the trip was fantastic! Sohail was a brilliant conduit between the Western world and the Pakistani culture – I felt safe but also included in local life due to his language skills and evident passion for his roots. I liked the flexibility of the trip, and the relaxed pace – it felt unhurried but not like we were lingering unnecessarily

From clear views of K2 to Karakoram Highway landslides to sounding the horn of an iconic multi-coloured truck, this trip had it all – adventure, culture and jaw-dropping scenery in bucketloads. I would recommend Pakistan and TravelPak to everyone (to the point of boring them to tears)

 

Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor, Wanderlust - The KKH and Rush Peak Trek 2007

Sarah Baxter

I have travelled extensively and this is by far one of the best trips I have ever done. This trip offers everything the adventurous educated traveller can desire: history, culture and a breath-taking landscape that is, beyond any expectation.

 

When I look at my pictures I took, I wonder why Pakistan is not a popular destination such as, for instance, Nepal or Tibet. But it is actually a good thing that there are not so many other tourists around, because the country is unspoiled.

 

Most of the people at home advised me not to go to Pakistan, especially after the events of the Red Mosque of July 2007, and a lot of people still think it is a very dangerous destination. I felt safe, safer than most places I went to in the world, and although Pakistan is a conservative Muslim country, I felt very welcome, even as a foreign single woman. The people are welcoming and curious, and very keen to leave us a good impression to take home. You can really learn a lot in this trip.

 

Travelpak provided a fantastic organisation coupled with a very personal and “local” touch.

 

I strongly recommend this trip and, of course Travelpak.

 

Irene Mastelli, Sales Manager, Italy - The KKH and Rush Peak Trek 2007

Irene Mastelli

My trip with TravePak changed every pre conceived idea I had about Pakistan……for the better! 

 

TravelPak ensured I got the absolute most out of my 10 days in the country; whisking me up the KKH and back again; seeing the borders to China, Afghanistan and India in comfort and safety and visiting the wonderfully different cities of Lahore and Peshawar.  I love the mountains; and had not seen the Himalayas before; however wanted to enjoy the experience in relative solitude and not share the experiences with thousands of other backpackers!  Pakistan offered me this and more; providing me the experience of seeing the 3 highest mountain ranges in the world in the space of one day.

 

Mark Oliver, London – Lahore, The KKH & Hunza. 2006

 

 

Mark Oliver

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