Best Views of Nanga Parbat! PIA Pakistan International Airlines ★ Skardu Flight

A panoramic view of the Nanga Parbat massif from a flight from Islamabad to Skardu

These mountain flights in northern Pakistan are often canceled. The reason is, of course, the quickly changing weather in the mountains. Considering that, in the last few years, the flight rate has improved considerably. In particular, if you were to try to move by car the distance of the Skardu flight, it would take two full days by land. But taking this “picturesque flight” it only takes one hour to travel the same distance.

You should really see this scenery from the Skardu flight! For the Skardu line, if taking the regular route (depending on the weather), you will see Nanga Parbat on the right and K2 on the left (if you are lucky!) just before arriving in Skardu. K2 is often hidden by the clouds and is only visible a little at the very end of the flight. So sitting on the Nanga Parbat side will give you more time to enjoy the mountainous view.

When you take off from Islamabad, you will increase altitude while slowly circling up in the Punjab Plain. Soon, you start to see the mountainous view at the western end of the Himalayas. If you look closely below, you can also see the Indus River and the Karakoram Highway running alongside it.

 

Nanga Parbat is seen as a gigantic mass of mountain. It is 8,126m, the 9th highest peak in the world.

 

My personal favorite is to see both the Indus River and Nanga Parbat. It’s hard to see in the photo, but below you can see the Indus River and the Karakoram Highway. The Indus River is a large river that crosses the border from Ladakh, India, and enters Pakistan passing through Skardu, and flows beyond that into the Arabian Sea.

This great mountainous region of Pakistan borders the Indus River. The Himalayas to the south of the great river and the Karakorum Mountains to the north of it. This is where the ancient Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate collided to form these vast mountain ranges.

 

And in this photo, at the bottom, the altitude of the riverbank of the Indus River is 1,100-1,200m, while at the top, the summit of Nanga Parbat is 8,126m. If you draw a straight line, there is a height difference of 7,000m in a distance of about 23km!

 

Shortly after the view of Nanga Parbat disappears, you enter the Skardu Valley. Surrounded by the mountains of Karakorum, the open valley of Skardu contrasts so much. It is a magnificent view shaped by the Indus River.

 

Pakistan International Airlines circles around the town of Skardu, which is like an oasis lined with poplar trees. You will see Satpara Lake and finally land at the airport in Skardu.

 

Arrived safely in Skardu.

Can you see the mountains if you can’t get the window side? ···Nope!  There is no choice but to take turns looking out the small airplane windows. And…should your flight be cancelled, you have to stay flexible and just be content to enjoy the views of the Karakoram Highway and the mighty Indus River from the car!

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA

*The photo is taken from the right seat of the actual Pakistan Airlines Skardu flight.

Category : - Skardu > ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Nanga Parbat / Himalaya Range > ◇ Mountain of Pakistan
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Crossing the Gondogolo La Pass from the Baltoro Glacier

The quiet peak of Karakorum before dawn seen from Gondogolo La (pass). From the left, K2, Broad Peak, G4, G3, G2, G1.

 

The route over Gondogoro La (at 5,680m), considered to be the ultimate trekking route to see K2, the second highest mountain in the world. As it requires snow wall climbing gear, make sure to check the rope work skill  thoroughly.

 

Taking glimpses behind us at K2 and Broad Peak, every now and then, we head toward  our base camp, Ali Camp (5,010m), to get over Gondogoro La. Checking in with the Islamabad office by satellite phone, we get the weather report. Fortunately, it will be clear tonight, so without hesitation, we decide to make our climb before dawn.

 

Our porters always carry the heavy equipment that we all use. This elderly man passed us quickly as we all crossed the Gondogoro La Pass, without much difficulty and waited for our mountain descent back at the camp. The local staff are always amazing through it all. Hats off to them for sure.

 

1am: Head out from base camp. Climbing up a snow wall using jumar, with an average slope of 50 degrees.

 

At last, 5:20 on July 6, 2012, we arrived at top of Gondogoro La!
A photo of my youthful self and the ridgeline behind me are K2 and Broad Peak.

 

As the sun rises, the down slope becomes a little loose and the risk of avalanche and rockfall increases. We rushed to get down the mountain.

 

A long, steep descent is more difficult than the climb up.

 

We arrived in a totally different world from the snow and ice world we just left high above. Camping in Khuspang, a lush campsite where so many alpine plants bloom.

I could finally let go of all the tension I was storing until now, and I slept like a log.

 

Photo & text :  Tomoaki  TSUTSUMI  from the expedition in Jun-July 2012

 

Category : ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Karakorum Range > ◇ Mountain of Pakistan
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Blue-throated barbet (Margalla Hills)

Blue-throated barbet observed at Margalla Hills, Trail No. 5 in Islamabad.

 

Blue-throated barbet is a barbet which can be seen in the forests spread throughout from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. It has a very distinct beautiful bright blue colored face and throat.

 

In Pakistan, Blue-throated barbet can only be seen in the forest around Murree hills.

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Observation : End of OCT, Margalla Hills National Park – Trail No5, Islamabad
Reference : Helm Field Guide “Birds of Pakistan”

Category : - Margalla Hills > ◆ Islamabad > ◇ Birds of Pakistan
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Rufous-bellied niltava (Margalla Hills)

This is Rufous-bellied niltava that I encountered at Margalla Hills, Trail No.5.

 

Rufous-bellied niltava is found in temperate forests from South China to Southeast Asia and South Asia.

In Pakistan, it is found in Murree and Kaghan Valley, which are the southern foot of the Himalayas at an altitude of 1,800m to 2,600m . In winter it descends down to a lower place.

 

I went on Saturday at 7 am, before going to Office, but already many people were walking on the trail.

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Observation : End of OCT, Margalla Hills National Park – Trail.No.5, Islamabad
Reference : Helm Field Guides “Birds of Pakistan”

Category : - Margalla Hills > ◆ Islamabad > ◇ Birds of Pakistan
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Sunrise at Gorakh Hill Station

Gorakh Hill is a popular tourist destination in Sindh.

Drive to west from N55 (commonly known as the Indus Highway), it is a plateau of 1,700m above sea level in the Kiltar Mountains. View is similar to mountainside of Balochistan and the people who live along the road are Baloch people.

The name of Gorakh is derived from a Hindu devotee who believes in Shiva. Yes, Sindh is the state where 94% of Pakistani Hindus live.

 

The altitude rose from the plains of Sindh and finally we came above the clouds! This is the trail which can be done only by 4WD and it took a lot of time, so we missed the sunset on this day.

 

Despite that bad road, it is a busy place for tourists coming from urban areas such as Karachi on weekends. Since we visited on weekdays, there were only a few groups, but sometimes it could exceed 1000 people. Coming from hot place to a cool plateau, watching sunset and sunrise, campfire at night … such a trip is very popular among young tourists.

 

We went to the Benazir viewpoint to see sunrise.

 

Good Morning, Gorakh hill !

 

A villa-like building was built in a nice view of the plateau. Will it eventually become like Murre in the suburbs of Islamabad? I wanted to leave a magnificent view of the Kirthar Mountains and it’s nature.

 

This is the viewpoint … located edge of plateau.

 

After the sunrise, breakfast was served in a restaurant run by Juman Jamali.
The experience at Gorakh hill …. I couldn’t think that I am in Sindh.

Photo  & Text : Mariko SAWADA * Some photos are taken by drone.
Visit: Nov 2019, Gorakh Hill Station, Dadu, Sindh

 

Category : - Gorakh Hills > ◆ Sindh
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How to apply for Pakistan e-VISA

Pakistan’s VISA is now available online.

We had a report from our foreigner client who traveled on an e-VISA recently. Below is the step by step process of application and precautions required, as of Oct 2019.

Necessary items:
PC, passport, credit card, face photo data, hotel reservation certificate.
Fee: $ 8.18 (as of October 2019)

Application site : https://visa.nadra.gov.pk

Access the above site from your PC.
**Note : Website is not displayed with browsers other than Google Chrome or Firefox.

 

This screen will appear when you access it.
Click “Visit Visa” in the red frame.

 

Then click “Tourist Visa”.

 

Click “Apply Now”.

 

First, you need to create an account.
Click “CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT”.

 

Fill in all the blanks and check the checkbox at the end. Click “SAVE AND CONTINUE”.
* *Note: Password must contain at least 8 characters, including upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.

 


If such a screen is displayed, it is success till this point.

 


An e-mail like above will be sent to the registered email address.
Continue clicking “Continue Registration”.

 


Type in the 4-digit pin code you received via e-mail. Fill in the remaining blanks and activate your account. Click “VERIFY”.

 


Once your account is activated, login again with the email address and password you registered earlier.

 


Check and click “Accept and Continue”.

 

Select “Your Country” from the tab. Click “START E-VISA APPLICATION” … Finally from this step onwards you start applying for e-VISA.
Afterwards, fill the red stars blank space along the flow.

After entering all necessary items, you need to upload 3 documents.
1 Passport copy
2 Face photo
3 Hotel reservation certificate

(If you live in a third country, visa or work certificate of that country)

You can upload files up to 350KB, so adjust the size and upload one by one.

 

The application will finish once the payment through credit card is completed.

 



About 10 days after applying, I received a Visa approval e-mail.
Copy and Print e-Visa from the email link and take it with you.
**Note : You will be asked to submit at immigration and hotel / flight check-in, checkport etc.. . Keep it always with your passport.

 

When you arrive at the airport, first you have to go to the e-Visa counter.
It is necessary to have a sign and stamp like the image above.
After that, you will line up in the immigration counter for foreigners.
Pakistan has made easy access for individual travelers to obtain visa.
Please use it when you travel to Pakistan.

This information is what our foreign client has experienced in November 2019.
The content/condition of obtaining e-visa may change. Be sure to check the website https://visa.nadra.gov.pk by yourself and apply with enough time before traveling to Pakistan.

 

Text :Mariko SAWADA

 

* The article is based on information as of November 28, 2019. It does not guarantee the acquisition of a visa. In the future, e-VISA application sites and acquisition conditions may change. Please be sure to check the latest https://visa.nadra.gov.pk information. In addition, please make an application with enough time before departure.

* I have heard that the above site does not open in India. Please be careful  if you live in India or traveling in India.

Crossing India-Pakistan border and Flag ceremony at Wagha .

Category : ◇ Pakistan Travel Tip
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Stoat of Deosai Plateau

It is a Stoat, also known as a short-tailed weasel, which I observed at Deosai National Park, in October.
The morning and evening temperatures were below freezing point during this season. The Stoat was completely engulfed in white winter fur; protected from the predators and the harsh cold weather.

A Stoat is widely distributed in northern Eurasia continent and North America. In Pakistan, it is found in the northern mountainous areas.

There was no one where we stayed at Bara Pani campsite. A calm and peaceful place and only cold wind were blowing… Ultimately, a Stoat came quite close to us without any fear! Thus, we had the perfect opportunity to photograph it.

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Observation: Oct 2015, Deosai Plateau, Deosai National Park, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Deosai National Park > ◇ Wildlife of Pakistan
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Religion of Kalash Valley

The Kalash’s religion is considered to be closer to Vedic and Pre-Zoroastrian cultures, even though it has a valuable existence that retains the old form of the Indo-Aryan religion. There is a God of Creator “Dezau” and many gods. There are gods closely related to life and nature, such as “Balumain”, “Sajigor” and “Mahan Deva” which appear at the Chaumos Festival and the goddess “Jestak” who protects the house. The place of prayer is called Dewa, and in each village has small altar at temple of Jestak han and the outskirts of the village.

 

Temple of Jestak han

Jestak is a goddess who controls the family, housework, marriage and each clan has a temple, not every village.There is a sheep motif at the entrance, Laternendeke ceiling which is typical in Pamir architecture decorations. There is a wood carving on the back of the temple that shows “Balumain” and there is mural painting from the Chaumos Festival.


There are two clans living in Karakal village in Bomboret Valley, and Jastak han has two entrances for each clan in one building.
The picture is Jastak han of Anish village. Designs and decorations inspired by goats and sheep. Laternendeke ceilings of typical architectural styles specific to mountains of Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor area.

 

The Gandao – Wooden statue

A wooden image created to admire the memories of dead person, contributions, and achievements. The production and rituals of this Gandao are very expensive and require a lot of goats, cheese and ghee. Thus, it can only be created by the rich men who are influential. In Bomboret Valley, two sons made two Gandao for their father and uncle, who died more than 10 years ago in Brun village in 2008. (It can still be seen in the Brun village cemetery).
The Gandao is at the center of the ceremonial place. People dance around it and after the ritual is completed, the Gandao is transported to the graveyard.

 

Cemetery Mandawjaw

The original burial of Kalash was to only put body in a wooden coffin and place in a cemetery. But about 50 years ago, they started practicing burial like Muslims. At present, things that seem to be whitening are old things about 50 years ago. In the past, it was said that if not covering the coffin, it was easy for the soul to free and naturally weatherable.

 

“Pure” and “Impure” concept

The Kalasha has the strong concept for “Pure” and “Impure” in their life. Therefore, there are many rituals to purify the things that they believe are impure.
The representative one is Bashari. It is a hut where women during menstruation gather and live together. Delivery is also carried out here, and after the delivery it is possible to return to the house where the husband is eagerly waiting after the purification ceremony. There is one in each village, and women in Bashari who are under menstruation should not touch others. For example, to pass the things to other person, She can throw it but cannot hand it over.

In short, it’s not easy to understand just by talking. You must visit here and see it for yourself !

Photo & Text  : Mariko SAWADA
※  The photo was taken during the visit between 2006 and 2014.

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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K1- Masherbrum from Hushe valley

The glorious K1 Masherbrum (7,821 m) seen from the Hushe valley. You can clearly see it from near the Hushe village, but we went towards the camp of Brumbruma a little further.

In June, a lush green beautiful village of Hushe. It is a village that is an another gateway to the Karakoram.

A camp of Brumbruma, 4,500 m above sea level. No doubt, it was a snowy year.

“The Snow Leopard’s trap”, I saw on the way to Brumbruma from the Hushe village. Unquestionably, Snow Leopards must be protected at any cost… This seems to be an old one, and there are a lot of Snow Leopard sightings in the Hushe valley. Villagers here proudly say, “Come in the winter, We will show you the Snow Leopard.”

Majestic figure of Masherbrum.

A series of beautiful and sublime ice walls.

From the camp of Brumbruma, Masherbrum in the golden colors of sunset.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit : Jun 2010, Brumbruma Camp, Hushe Valley, Gilgit -Baltistan

Category : ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Karakorum Range > ◇ Mountain of Pakistan
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Gondogoro-la from Hushe side, K2 appeared from the clouds

It is a record of a long time ago. In June, when there was a lot of snow, I climbed the Gondogoro La from the Hushe side.
The climbing on the Hushe side was long and challenging. Nevertheless, I continued to climb in the midst of the falling snow, and I was assuring myself not to expect the view of the mighty K2, “I may not see the scenery even if I go up”.
Indeed, it was enveloped in the clouds when we reached. I wanted to wait for a while but we couldn’t relax too much because we were worried about the risk of avalanche on our way back.

Suddenly, a miracle happened. The clouds ahead of the staff who went to Ali camp direction broke and K2 emerged from within.

View of K2 from Gondogoro La.

It was for a really short time, and a scene that I felt resembled “Space”.
The camera settings were also crazy during the climbing and the colors were a little funny. Nonetheless, every minute was rewarding.

Ali Camp side from Gondogoro La.

The way down to Hushe side, Khuspan Camp.

Finally, I went downhill at once to reach to our camp. At the camp, cook prepared some succulent “Tempura” for me…  it was quite heavy after the climbing!

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit : Jun 2010, Gondogoro-la, Hushe Valley, Gilgit -Baltistan

Category : ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Karakorum Range > ◇ Mountain of Pakistan
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