Atta was born in the mountainous valley of Hunza where he grew up chasing goats on steep slopes and helping his parents with farm work. In the mid 80’s tourism was booming, and Atta started his
career as a trainee guide. Atta completed a mountaineering course at the Alpine Club of Pakistan. He was one of four licensed Pakistani River Guides who completed four years training under American
instructors. In the last three decades he has guided many popular treks in the Karakorum, Hindu Kush and Himalayas (on the Pakistani side).
Q: How did you fall into tour leading?
A: My late Uncle was a famous mountaineer who shared very exciting stories of his adventures, which always fascinated me as a young man. My home-town attracts many tourists visiting Pakistan. I used to work as a local guide during summer vacations which provided me the opportunity to interact, share and learn. I felt like I had found the door of a virtual university, and I decided to enter.
Q: What do you like most about tour leading?
A: Tour leading gives me opportunity to meet different people from around the world and learn about other cultures, history and customs. Through this job I have had the opportunity to meet celebrities and famous people like William Darlymple.
Q: Where is your favourite part of the world?
A: Hunza is my favourite part of the world, and those who have witnessed a sunset from Eagle’s Nest would second me.
Q: Where is your favourite travel highlight?
A: Once I was travelling to Khaybar Pass with a group of foreigners. On one of the bends of a winding road, suddenly a caravan of camels emerged - 20 camels were laden with Sonny Trinitron TV sets that were being smuggled from Afghanistan into ‘Smugglers Bazaar’ in Peshawar.
Q: What's the craziest request you've ever had from a client?
A: A client who had fallen and was rescued from a deep crevasse with a fractured ankle/injured hipbone utterly refused to finish, and wanted to complete the trek across 5151m high Hisper La. He said, “either carry me until the end of the trek or throw me back into the crevasse I had fallen into”.
Q: What's the one thing you couldn't travel without?
A: There is a long list of things that nobody travels without i.e. passport, money, cell/satellite phone, map, itinerary, guide book, first aid kit etc. I wouldn’t travel without handsome insurance.
Q: Which famous person would you like to travel with?
A: Michael Palin OR Mr. Bean (only to southern France).
Q: Have you ever made a cultural faux pas?
A: Once we were driving by a vast cemetery and an American client asked me how much a grave would cost? I spontaneously replied, “a life” and everyone laughed a lot.