Category Archives: Pakistan

Karakoram Mountains and Northern Pakistan

Islamabad

The BIG day finally arrived and we were in Islamabad, Pakistan. Ready for our adventure ride in the Karakoram mountains and Northern Pakistan.

Our local contact Salman was at the airport to meet us and presented us the customary Pakistani flower leis, much like in Hawaii. Although I get the sense that this is where the similarities end.

Islamabad may not look like the most welcoming city in the intense heat of the summer and remembering its violent history, but the people we meet are extremely kind and ready to help us in all possible ways. We are now in an Islamic country and although we have two women in the group, the people we meet are virtually all men.

Notable exception to this is the quite amazing mosque, which we visited the first night. 

After settling into our hotel, it was time to give a closer look at our bikes. We saw them briefly on the arrival and with a closer inspection, they turned out even more challenging than originally thought. Knacked Suzuki 250’s, although clean and apparently serviced for the trip, held together partly with wire and duct tape – Well, we all know that wire and duct tape often do the job!

These were really not the kind of bikes we would choose  for the kind of trip we were about to embark. The bikes  may be great for commuting but are not designed for off-roading or long distance riding. None of the gauges on my bike worked and turn signals had a mind of their own. It was going to be a very Pakistani experience, also in respect of the bikes. A mechanic followed us along the route and his skills were needed on daily basis.


At this point it is also worth mentioning that  Salman received new bikes soon after our departure, better suited for off road riding as well. To my understanding, acquiring bikes of one’s desire is not easy in Pakistan and the Suzukis were the industry standard. On the other hand, the Suzukis were familiar to Salman and his mechanic. They knew the bikes inside-out and would be able to fix anything on the road.

Heading north: Islamabad – Naran – Gilgit

Riding buddies

A chaotic first day riding, heading out of Islamabad in intense heat towards cooler air and the town of Naran, some 300 km north. A 12 hour day on the bikes getting used to the Pakistani road culture and the bikes with a temper of their own.

Most bikes had disc brakes in the front, some had only worn drums that were very difficult to control. Drum brakes slowed down the bike very little just before locking the wheel with a screeching sound. The result was two riders down the first day, luckily without any major injuries. Continue reading Karakoram Mountains and Northern Pakistan

The Beautiful Faces of Pakistan

Faces from a motorcycling trip from Islamabad to Karakoram mountains

The Pakistanis are the friendliest people and take a lot of photographs where ever they go. We were filmed continuously and must now be in thousands of selfies.

The Pakistani are also happy to pose for any photo opportunity they get. Just see the video!

Pakistan Karakoram Mountains

Now this is a trip I look forward to with great anticipation! Flight to Islamabad June 1st 2022 and an adventure ride on the Karakoram mountains at the western end of the Himalayas, northern Pakistan.

Pakistan

Officially the name of the country most of us know as Pakistan, is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and it is world’s 5th most populous country with some 227 million inhabitants, world’s second largest Muslim population. Neighbors include culturally similar India, Afghanistan and Iran. Other neighbors are China and Oman (maritime border) and it has coast line along the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea.

Pakistan is full of history and ancient cultures, too much to go through here.  Most will remember from several movies and tv series that Pakistan was part of the British ruled India and partitioned as the current state of Pakistan from India in 1947.  Pakistan is a Muslim state and religion was a key driver in its foundation, separating the population mainly from the Hindus in India.

As an interesting note, there is / was also East Pakistan or Pakistani Bengal, which is today since 1971 the country of Bangladesh by the Bay of Bengal next to Myanmar in the eastern NE corner of India with Indian Assam, Sikkim and Meghalaya in the north. You can read about my rides in Assam (Nepal-Bhutan blogs) and Myanmar in other posts on the Someday-site.

Skardu. Photo Salman Mushtaq

Karakoram

Per Wikipedia: The Karakoram is a mountain range in Kashmir spanning the borders of Pakistan, China, and India, with the northwest extremity of the range extending to Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Its highest peak is K2 is the second highest peak in the world at 8,611 m in Gilgit-Baltistan controlled by Pakistan.

The Karakoram has eighteen summits over 7,500 m (24,600 ft) height, with four of them exceeding 8,000 m (26,000 ft)

Karakoram extends into a popular adventure biking destination in Ladakh (controlled by India) and Aksai Chin (controlled by China).

Our Ride

We start from the capital, Islamabad and head north as the map above shows, touring close to China and Afghan borders. Our highest roads will take us to around 5000 meters.

Karakoram mountains. Photo: Salman Mushtaq

Weather will have extreme variations. Pakistan has been suffering a heat wave recently, which we hope will be subsiding before our trip. However, we expect to experience  from Islamabad heat of 45c/50c to freezing  -3c on the mountains.

Pakistan has also had its fair share of political troubles but now the country is moving “from terrorism to tourism”. Although Salman, our man in Islamabad just posted:

“Pakistan have political issue. May be Long March on your arrival in Islamabad. Don’t be scare. Feel it normal”.

This trip will be an adventure!!