Pakistan holiday, Kalash winter solstice
Description of Pakistan holiday, Kalash winter solstice
This Pakistan holiday takes you the country’s northern mountain ranges in one of the most exciting expeditions on our books. We have the huge privilege of visiting the Kalash winter solstice festival, an event which very few Westerners have witnessed. This week long event is a celebration of life, the gods and ancestors, during which participants are invited to cleanse their souls.
On our first ever trip in 2006, our small group of adventurous travellers also got to watch a snow leopard for an entire afternoon, as she wandered the mountainsides and eventually made a kill. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness a similar scene on your trip.
These hidden valleys have become more accessible thanks to the relatively new Lowari Tunnel, so if you’re in search of true exploration this is about as close as you’re going to get.
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PlanetWe have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit are not damaged or spoilt in any way. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to this trip and as tour operators, it is something we are careful to promote. Your guide on this trip will have been trained to uphold this policy and all clients are fully briefed on appropriate/responsible behaviour whilst in wilderness areas.
We are very aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism can have on ancient cultures and fragile environments. We realise that taking clients through this region can have a negative impact on the environment if not handled responsibly and as such, on all of our trips we go to great lengths to minimise the negative and accentuate the positive - after all, there are also many good things that the traveller can bring.
By keeping the group size to a maximum of 12, we can also minimise the human impact on the fragile sites we visit – particularly important as this trip visits some delicate ecosystems.
PeopleThis itinerary is exclusive to our company and only possible because of our unique relationship with the Kalash. Prior to the running of this trip in 2006 we convened a meeting of village elders to discuss our participation in the festival and received their blessing. We will ensure clients are well aware how important it is that we observe the special rules that apply to us as honorary Kalash and must abide by them, prior to the trip departure.
In Pakistan we pride ourselves on working directly with as many local hotels, drivers, guides and cooks as possible, thereby putting money directly into the local community; to put this into perspective, a jeep driver, like Muktar Alam, that earns 30,000 rupees for one trip can with these wages educate two sons for a year and feed his family for 4 months. We also employ jeep drivers on a revolving basis and different ones in each area to ensure that the money we bring in is distributed evenly. With the small local guesthouses and home stays we use – like Saifullah’s in the Kalash Valleys – the money goes and stays in these pagan valleys rather than being siphoned out to rich, down-country hoteliers.
And on each part of the trip we employ local guides – like Dost Mohammed in the Peshawar bazaar – which again places funds directly in the pockets of local families. With our travels we also help support a number of educational trusts, and directly educate two boys from the Kalash Valleys.
In 2005 Pakistan was hit by a devastating earthquake that shattered the lives and homes of thousands of people. We contribute to the Pakistan Earthquake Fund that helped not only with distributing aid at the time, but also with helping people rebuild their lives after the event.
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