Northern Pakistan holiday

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2018: 12 May, 18 Aug
2019: 11 May, 17 Aug
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Northern Pakistan holiday

Environment

This tour travels through some very remote regions, many of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns. Many people in Pakistan do not have the same approach to the environment as we would in western Europe, therefore it is not uncommon for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.

When exploring the landscape on foot we make sure that we stick to whatever tracks there may be, and when driving we stick to the dirt roads so as not to degrade the landscape.

In conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but as the northern regions of Pakistan are not as developed as the southern part of the country we hope that through gentle and sensitive advice we can have an impact upon this.

Community

On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we spend most of the time in Pakistan’s more traditional areas. Where possible we employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’. When visiting the Kalash people we brief our travellers on appropriate behaviour and ask that no matter how photogenic the people are, to be sensitive with regards to photography, always asking people if they mind and respecting their wishes if they prefer not to be photographed.

These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.

We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country.

Where possible we encourage our travellers to spend their money with local businesses; for example when visiting villages we usually make a point of stopping at a tea shop or buying supplies from shops, which helps to spread the economic benefits of tourism. It is not always practical to eat outside of the hotels and guesthouses but where possible we try to do this, again to make sure that a variety of businesses and people gain from our visit.

We employ drivers and local guides from within the areas that we visit, helping to provide income to a region that has traditionally been rather neglected from an economic point of view.

2 Reviews of Northern Pakistan holiday

3 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 31 May 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Drive through Shandu Pass and KKH to the China border, amazing scenery!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for VERY long days on the road

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not really

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Disappointing! Trip could have been condensed into about 8/9 days and (probably the worst guide I have ever had on an organised tour)

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Christine

We're very sorry and disappointed to read that you didn’t enjoy the trip. With regards to the drives, there are some long drives within the itinerary which we mention, and essentially the trip involves travelling between different places in the Himalayas – so driving is a key part of the itinerary, but the spectacular scenery on the way is usually seen as one of the highlights. However we understand that the guide didn’t allow sufficient stops for photos etc, which is of course integral to making these more enjoyable.

It’s clear to us that we need to better prepare future travellers for the nature of this trip regarding the drives, and we’ll be amending our information to make better mention of this in order to avoid future disappointments.

You also mentioned the guide. We’ve worked with this guide before and to be perfectly honest he has received good feedback from other clients, so I was rather disappointed to read your comments about this.

As a result of your comments we’re conducting a full review of this trip to make sure that we avoid any problems when we operate this in the future. We’re also reviewing whether we should work with this guide again in the future – as mentioned, he has worked well with previous groups but your comments have given us serious concern and we need to take these into account.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the fact that you didn’t enjoy this trip – this certainly wasn’t our intention and I very much regret that this was the case. We take all feedback seriously and I’d like to assure you that we’re currently in the process of discussing all of this with our local team in Pakistan, to see how we can improve things for future travellers – I appreciate though that this doesn’t have any bearing on your own experience.

We’ve therefore been in touch with you with a view to making amends for this, and I do hope that you will take us up on our offer and travel with us at some point again in the future.


Kind Regards,

Jim

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The landscape/topography is breath taking, everywhere, everyday. The mountains and valleys do surpass the phenominal Pakistani hospitality. I had 15 breathtaking days.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Think about what you want before you are there. In this fantastic environment, you can also white water raft, trek, climb, mountaineer...4 wheel drive etc. I was more than content with the cultural touring, some walking/treking, however there is so much more there if you are younger and more active than me. Because it is so beautiful and unique you need to plan the other activities in advance.There is no security problem, the food is great and not overly spicy, accommodation is good.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


my holiday provided employment and enjoyment to many locals. They are aware of environment and conservation. They are using limited solar power in many places. Many locals I spoke to were imformed about environmental issues.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


For beauty 10 out of10.
For hospitality and friendliness 10 out of 10.
For adventure 9 out of 10, (I took it easy..), could be 11 out of 10 with minimal effort.
Comfort, 9 out of 10.
Food 8 out of 10, nothing wrong with that, the street food is particularly good, sometimes not a big range to choose from, but for isolated regions it is good.
Safety, 10 out of 10!

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