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Pakistan
 

For those who wish to have an authentic cultural experience, set in an unspoiled natural beauty, Pakistan is the place to explore. The people proudly retain their cultural character of hospitality and generosity. Here you have ample opportunities to experience the genuine warmth of a typical Pakistani home.

For the best of Pakistan we recommend the following journeys:

  • Silk Road and Mighty Kingdoms of the North
  • Hindukush trail and the Shandur Polo Festival
  • Yak Safari along the Batura Glacier
  • The K2 Trek
  • Kite Flying festival and the Mystic South
Introduction:

Pakistan’s deserts, seaside, rushing rivers, irrigated farmland, and mighty mountain ranges offer you spectacular scenery and many adventures, such as camel treks, mountain climbing, tonga rides through its bustling marketplaces, and sailing in traditional boats. It is a land of rich cultural heritage, boasting one of the earliest civilizations in the world, fed by the mighty Indus River. Follow the route of Alexander the Great, the wake of the Mongols, the way of the Buddhist pilgrims, the path of the Gurus, the steps of the Sufis, and the treks of the Silk Road merchants into the crossroads of History—Pakistan.

Geography: Top
Pakistan shares borders with Iran, Afghanistan, China and India as well as a natural border with the Arabian Sea. For travelers, Pakistan offers diverse geographical regions in one small package: the Cholistan/Thar Desert; the fertile plain watered by the mighty Indus River (2500 km long) and its tributaries (the province of Punjab is named after these—panj = 5, ab=waters—the Indus, Jhelum, Sutlej, Chenab, and Ravi); the Suleiman and Kirthan Mountain Ranges, where the Khyber Pass of Great Game legends leads to Afghanistan; the Northern Plateau, where the Salt Range conceals the interesting formations in the Keora Salt Mine; and finally, the Northern Mountains, where the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Himalaya ranges meet and where the crown of Pakistan’s mountains and the second highest peak in the world, K2, can be found.
Climate: Top
Pakistani climate is diverse and varies from place to place in various seasons. In the northern parts, which are dominated by mountains, temperatures are extremely cold in the winters while summers days can be pleasantly hot. In the temperate regions the weather is mostly pleasant through out the year. South and the Indus valley is very hot during the summers while temperatures can easily climb above the forty mark. Winter nights can be cold in the south as temperatures can get close to 0C but days are very pleasant.

From July until mid September monsoon brings heavy precipitation mainly in the Pujab, Sindh and some parts of the North Wetern province. The lower hills of the Himilays receive the most precipitation, more than 500 mm (20 in) per year. The arid regions of the southeast and southwest receive less than 125 mm (5 in) annually.

 Region Season Min Max
Southern Regions Cholistan, Balochistan, Northern Sindh and south and central Punjab Winter 0 to 5 C 15 to 25C
Summer 20 to 30C 40 to 50C
Lower Hills (Northern Punjab and parts of North West province) Winter 0 to 5 C 5 to 15 C
Summer 10 – 20 C 20 to 35 C
High Mountains (Himalayas and Karakorams Winter -10 to -40 C -5 to - 15 C
Summer 0 to –15 C 35 to –10 C

People and Culture: Top

Millennia of migration and invasion have left present day Pakistan with a rich cultural heritage. This heritage is reflected in the handicrafts, architecture, food, music, literature, customs and languages of the people. The past is very much alive in Pakistan.

The traditional national outfit, shalwar qamiz, is an adaptation in dress brought by the Moghuls, horse riders descended from the Mongol hordes. Sufis, who came to teach Islam in the 13th century, brought Persian and Arabic influences to local music. These influences and those of Punjabi folk music, for example, are still heard in the modern film and pop songs. You can trek through one of Pakistan’s deserts on the back of a camel and listen to the camel drivers sing the legends of long-ago desert lovers. You’ll wake to the musical call to prayer (the first azan of the day states that prayer is better than sleep!) and hear the “plip plap, plip plap” of dough being patted back and forth between skilled mothers’ hands as they prepare the breakfast rotis (flat bread). Don’t be surprised if you see a tiny donkey pulling a cart carrying a satellite dish!

Pakistan is a crossroads of religious and cultural influences. The Hindu Mauryan Empire was the first empire ruled by the region’s own people and not invaders.  The emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism and many Buddhist pilgrims left graffiti at Chilas on the way to their destinations. Under the Buddhist Hun, Kanishka, the Ghandaran Kingdom became a center of Graeco-Buddhist art.  Islam came here in 8th century and most of the subcontinent’s famous rulers were Muslim. It is said that the Apostle Thomas came here to teach about Christianity (which is Pakistan’s largest religious minority). Guru Arjan Dev, the 5th Guru and the one who completed the Sikh holy book. The Kalash, in the Chitral Valley, have unique religious practices, centering around one god, but also showing devotion to certain spirits. They believe they are descendents of Alexander the Great’s Generals.

Whether traveling along the ancient Silk Road, or sailing down the Indus River; whether exploring the colourful markets in a tonga (horse and cart) or the desert on camels; whether visiting the houseboats of the Makran people or the apricot orchards in Hunza Valley; whether dancing with Punjabis or playing cricket with Pakistani children, you will enjoy Pakistanís rich culture and welcoming people.

Tourist Visas: Top

Canadian Nationals will require a visa to visit Pakistan. $100 per person for a 3 month visit visa will take about 7 working days to process.

Contact information:
Consulate General of Pakistan, Toronto
240 Duncan Mill Road, Suite # 402
Toronto, Ontario, M3B 1Z4, Canada
Tel # (416) 250-1255- 2 lines, 250-6654,
Fax # (416) 250-1321
E-MAIL: pareptoronto@sprint.ca

High Commission for Pakistan
151 Slater Street (Burnside Building, Suite 608)

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H3, Canada
Tel # (613) 238-7881-2 lines, Fax # (613) 238-7296
E-MAIL: pareptoronto@sprint.ca

For Details:
Website: www.pakmission.ca
Money: Top

Currency: 1 Pakistan Rupee (Rs) has 100 Paisa(s) or Paisay. The Rupee notes are in denotation of 1000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5, 2 and 1. There are also coins for 1 and 2 Rupees commonly in use.

Currency Exchange: US$’s can be exchanged at major banks, hotels and some large stores. There are many private money changers in nearly most cities. These money changers give the best rates. In comparison changing at the hotels can be expensive.

Travellers Cheques and Plastic:
Credit cards are only accepted at banks and large hotels and stores. There will be fee charged to you nearly everywhere other than banks. Only a few ATM machines at the larger banks like Citibank and some other international banks my accept Debit, Global Payment or Credit Cards. Similarly Travellers Cheques are accepted but not everywhere and there will be a fee or percentage charged on it. In rural areas the only accepted currency is Rupees. 

TIP: it would be wise to keep Cash US dollars, Euros or Pounds. and exchange them as you travel along. Your guide will be very helpful. If you don’t have a guide check with your hotel staff as mostly people who deal with foreigners will be willing to help you.
 
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