Pakistan: Under a Pagan Moon

Group Tour


This is quite simply the one of the most amazing, original and wild trips we do. Run for the first time in 2006, our small group of intrepid travellers was the first to experience the Kalash winter solstice festival of Chawmos and probably one of the first to see the rare snow leopard in the wild. This is the most important time of year for the Kalash, when life, the gods and ancestors are celebrated in a weeklong party and joining them for their celebrations is a privilege to which very few ...

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At a glance


11 x Breakfasts
11 x Lunches
11 x Dinners


Local Prado or classic re-conditioned 1970s Willys jeeps between Chitral and Hunza; coasters everywhere else


Maximum: 12


The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate


All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary


All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary


Low / Moderate


This tour will earn you 7514 Wild Miles


As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this trip the accommodation varies hugely from nice 2/3* small hotels, and the local guesthouses in the Kalash valley.


LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Wild Miles Club

When you book a trip with Wild Frontiers you are awarded points, which are based on the return distance from London to the arrival city of your trip. Points are awarded for all our holidays, including both our escorted group tours and tailor-made trips. When you accrue points, you will qualify for the following discounts on all future bookings:

Blue More than 10,000 points 2.5% discount
Bronze More than 30,000 points 5% discount
Silver More than 45,000 points 7.5% discount
Gold More than 60,000 points 10% discount

Positive Impact of this Trip

Ten trees are planted per passenger on this trip
Supports Wild Frontiers Foundation community projects
Wind Turbine
A contribution to renewable energy projects

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Pakistan: Under a Pagan Moon

Day 1 Tour Starts In Islamabad

Day 1 Tour Starts In Islamabad

Today the tour starts in Islamabad, 'City of Islam', Pakistan's capital city. It replaced Karachi back in the 1967 and is now the political and commercial heart of the country. Situated against the lush backdrop of the Margalla Hills it is a city where old and new collide. Leafy green boulevards are home to modern buildings, and shopping malls, but also dotted with traditional homes and mosques. The group flight doesn't arrive until late evening so anyone arriving early might want to take a stroll and familiarise yourself with the city.

Lunch, Dinner

Day 2 Islamabad -  Swat Valley

Day 2 Islamabad -  Swat Valley

Today we will start our journey north by driving through the Northwest Frontier and into the beautiful Swat Valley. Until quite recently this region was out of bounds to foreign tourists, but now it has opened up again offering us a great chance to explore the regions ancient Buddhist past. Once we have checked into our hotel we’ll visit the local museum, packed with many fine Gandharan artefacts, and other Buddhist sites.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 Swat Valley - Chitral

Day 3 Swat Valley - Chitral

After breakfast we will have a spectacular drive, passed Chakdarra – where a young Winston Churchill saw action back in the 1890s – before continuing through the Lowari Tunnel into the ancient kingdom of Chitral. Lather this afternoon we will have time for some local sightseeing. The Chitral Fort was the location for the besieged British Garrison in 1895 and now houses the cannons dragged over the high passes of the Hindu Kush used to break the siege. Next to the Fort is the intricate Grand Mosque. However, our main focus will be wandering around the bazaar with its mixture of traditional and modern goods being sold by the predominantly Pashtun population. Dinner will be at our hotel.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Chitral - Chitral Gol - Chitral

Day 4 Chitral - Chitral Gol - Chitral

Today our wildlife adventure begins as we move up to the area around the old hunting lodge in Chitral Gol, the region’s National Park. Roaming in the wild will give us great opportunity to observe the rutting season for the famous Markhor wild goat and we will see hundreds of them fighting and playing – indeed it is the young of the Markhor that interest the elusive snow leopard. If we are really lucky we may catch a glimpse of one of these exquisite animals. We will return to Chitral in the evening to the comfort of our hotel.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 Chitral - Balanguru

Day 5 Chitral - Balanguru

Today after completing some registration formalities we head into the Kalash Valley of Rumbor and the village of Balanguru. Here we stay with our friend Saifullah Jan, the chief spokesperson for the Kalash. After checking into our guesthouse, we will go with our friends to visit their extended families and their houses in the valleys of Grum or Kalashagrum.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 6 - 8 Balanguru - Chawmos Festival

Days 6 - 8 Balanguru - Chawmos Festival

For the next three days we will enjoy this extraordinary festival that precious few Westerners have ever seen. As well as dancing, singing and feasting we will also witness the religious priests (or Qazis, as they are known) summon up the spirits and ask for their blessing. On one of the days the women of the valley – including those travelling with us – must cleanse their souls by performing certain purification rituals, but don’t worry, it is nothing too drastic, just a bucket wash followed by offering up some pure chapattis at the Temple of Jastak Khan. On another day it is the turn of the men to cleanse themselves, this time with goats’ blood at the temple of Sagi Gor. For religious reasons your tour leader will not be able to enter all of the areas that you can, but they will never be far away if you need them. More than 40 goats will be sacrificed as an offering to the gods, wine will be drunk and preparations for the dancing will start. From here on men could wear the shalwar kameez. In the evening we will join the Kalash for a spectacular night of dancing in the village.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Balanguru - Ayun

Day 9 Balanguru - Ayun

Having observed the festivities we may take one last walk around the Kalash Valley and then head on to Ayun where we’ll check into the wonderful home of Maqsood Ul Mulk, one of the princes of Chitral in the afternoon. Depending on the weather we may have time for a short walk around one of the local villages nearby.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 Ayun - Islamabad

Day 10 Ayun - Islamabad

This morning we’ll start out early for our return journey towards Islamabad. Dependant on traffic this may take a good twelve hours. We will stop en route at Dir for lunch and then continue on this full day’s scenic drive to the capital, now possible due to the Lowari tunnel. (NB Flight schedules to Islamabad are erratic and unreliable at best at this time of year, hence the reason we drive)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 Islamabad - Taxila – Islamabad

Day 11 Islamabad - Taxila – Islamabad

We will spend our last full day exploring Taxila, a fascinating Buddhist university town, dating back to the Gandaharan era of Alexander the Great. We’ll then return to Islamabad in the late afternoon where there may be time for some last minute shopping before our farewell dinner.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12 Sightseeing Around Islamabad and Tour ends

Day 12 Sightseeing Around Islamabad and Tour ends

Today we have the chance to visit some of the famous sights of Islamabad including the Faisal Mosque, the largest in South Asia, and 5th largest mosque in the world. We will also take time to visit the Lok Virsa Museum and Pakistan Monument. If time allows there will also be a chance for some last minute shopping before our farewell dinner, after which the tour ends. Wash and change facilities will be made available to those on the group flight, which departs in the early hours of the following day



All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details


The Chawmos Festival

The Chawmos Festival

This Kalash Festival is celebrated over the winter solstice period. To attend all locals and visitors must go through a purification of washing and a fire ritual. There are offerings of food and sacrifices to the Gods, followed by feasting celebrated with dancing and music. There are also inter-village ball games and competitons. It is considered to be the most important of the Kalash Festivals

Responsible Travel

With local people, culture and eco-systems in mind, responsible travel and sustainable tourism are at the core of Wild Frontiers. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our travellers but also benefits the people and places we visit.

When designing our tours, we actively seek out experiences that have a positive impact on the communities and precious environments we visit - from supporting social enterprises; resting our heads in rural homestays; and eating at locally owned restaurants; to helping fund conservation projects that protect wildlife and their habitats. 

Visit the Responsible Travel area of our website to read more, including the work of the Wild Frontiers Foundation through which we fundraise to aid community empowerment and education projects.

Kalash Valley Visit

On this tour you will have the privilege of staying with the people of the Kalash, a minority pagan tribe who live high in the mountains of the North West Frontier. The Kalash is a community that have been at the heart of Wild Frontiers from the very beginning, welcoming us and our travellers into their community and homes and inviting us to join in their festival celebrations. Staying in a locally owned guesthouse, usually in Balanguru Village, for a number of days we are supporting the local economy, while enjoying invaluable cultural interaction.

Through the Wild Frontiers Foundation we have supported the people of the Kalash on a number of community projects, including the purchase of land, in a safer area, to rebuild the Balanguru Village primary school after devastating floods washed the small school building down the valley in 2013. With further floodwaters destroying an already fragile infrastructure including homes, communal buildings, water channels and crops, in 2017 our foundation raised the funds to build a 100ft flood defence wall to help protect the village and community from future loss.



Reducing Single Use Plastic

We recognise the environmental issues and challenges around single-use plastic in many countries we visit and are actively working with our partners on the ground to reduce plastic waste on our tours and within the hotels and restaurants we visit. You can help to reduce your personal plastic waste by taking a refillable, filtered water bottle with you on your trip. Filtered water bottles can be refilled from water sources including your hotel room and restaurant taps, drinking fountains and refill stations. Every time you refill your bottle without the use of single-use plastic, you will be helping to reduce waste and protect the environment. Filtered Water Bottles | Wild Frontiers (

Supplementary Information

Lahore Post Tour Extension

Day 1 –

This morning you will be driven from Islamabad to Lahore.

En route you will stop off at Rohtas Fort, also known as Qila Rohtas, an exceptional example of early Muslim military architecture in Central and South Asia. Following the defeat of the Moghul Emperor Humayun in 1541, Sher Shah Suri built the strong fortified complex at Rohtas, a strategic site about 16km north-west of the city of Jhelum. On arrival in Lahore, you will be taken to your hotel for check-in.

Day 2 -

Lahore Full Day City Tour

Today you have a full day of guiding in Lahore. The historic capital of both the Moghul and Sikh empires, this city also played a significant part in the British governance of the Punjab. Home to a remarkable collection of cultural and historic highlights, your tour today will include visits to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Jahangir Tomb, Asif Khan Tomb and Noor Jahan Tomb, once richly decorated with floral fresco paintings on lime plaster. Following this, drive to the Shalimar Gardens and then on to the Wagah border where you will join the patriotic crowds to witness the extraordinary - and very bizarre - Wagah Border Ceremony. Watch the spectacle of the frontier guards of Pakistan squaring up to the frontier guards of India in an act of great bravado, pomp and ceremony, closing the gate between the two countries, each lowering their flags. This is a wonderful introduction to the relationship between the two great foes.

Day 3 -

Today your tour includes the wonderful assortment of artefacts and national history displayed at the Lahore Museum, the striking Badshahi Mosque built from red sandstone and the neighbouring Lahore Fort. In the early afternoon, head to the walled city of Lahore to view the hustle and bustle of day to day life in this city. If you walk through the busy bazaar, you can also visit the spectacular and recently restored Shahi Hammam, as well as the Wazir Khan Mosque. In the afternoon, you will visit the shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir, a famous Sufi Muslim saint who resided in Lahore.

Day 4 –

Early this morning, you will be transferred from your hotel to Lahore Airport in time for your flight.

Please note that this tour extension will be with a Local Guide and not a WF Tour Leader and may be shared with other clients booked on your group tour departure. Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis. Please contact our Sales team for more details and costs.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.



Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact a reputable visa agency. More details can be found here -

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Pakistan.

Passports should ideally be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the end of your tour.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.


A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is a mandatory requirement for travellers to Pakistan coming from countries at high risk of the disease. Also, if your travels are for 4 weeks or more, you will be required to show proof of a Polio vaccination on exiting the country.

For all destinations, please make sure you are up-to-date with any standard vaccinations (e.g. MMR, Hepatitis A, Tetanus) as recommended by your local health care provider. 

Malaria is present in some parts of Pakistan and precautions are essential.

For the most up-to-date information on all vaccination requirements and the most suitable anti-malarial tablets, we strongly suggest that you seek advice from your local travel centre or consult an official travel health website such as or

Covid Testing: No mandatory testing is currently required for vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers.

If necessary further details will be sent out to you upon booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas & vaccinations are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.


If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Alternatively, you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries*. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your requirements.

*Please note bespoke, tailor-made itineraries need to be a minimum of 7 days and we can only offer them in countries where we have a tailor-made expert

Lahore Group Tour Extension

Lahore Group Tour Extension

Why not add a 3 day extension in Lahore onto your Pakistan tour, and soak up the atmosphere, historical majesty and faded elegance of the Moghul and Raj eras, along with the bustling street life of Pakistan's traditional capital.

For more details refer to the Supplementary Information section.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.


The FCDO sometimes advises against certain parts of this itinerary.

Wild Frontiers has many years’ experience of running trips which contravene FCDO advice but these decisions that are never taken lightly and are always taken in conjunction with our local partners after extensive consultation. As part of the booking process, you will need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you have read the advice, that you are still happy to travel and that you will obtain travel insurance which is not invalidated by the FCDO advice.

For more information, please see the Insurance section or contact us. Non-UK clients should be sure to check the travel advice of their own governments as well as the small print of their insurance policies. Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Key Information


Cold, Cold Cold! Well at least it will be while we are in the Kalash Valleys. You are likely to experience snow on the ground with a daily temperature rarely climbing into double figures. That said, with the days bright and sunny, if active, you can keep quite warm. In Chitral standing around watching the Markhor and elusive snow leopard can be very cold as we are in a gorge where the sun doesn’t reach. In Islamabad at this time of year it is generally much more temperate with a daytime average temperature of 18C.


It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.


Anyone in a reasonable state of health who enjoys walking should enjoy this tour, but it should be made clear that adventure travel in this part of the world is not for the faint-hearted and fastidious, particularly at winter! Walks in the Kalash Valley can be steep and the festival area is up on a platform reached by many steps! Temperatures can be bitterly cold and the accommodation basic, but the experience will be unparalleled.

When travelling in jeeps, we open the roof when the weather permits to fully embrace the nature of adventure travel that this mode of transport allows and maximising our opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery.

For religious reasons your tour leader will not be able to enter all of the areas that you can during the Chawmos festival in the Kalash region, but they will never be far away should you need them at all. And during these days, you will additionally have a Kalash local guide who will be directly on hand to look after the group and to lead them through the manifold stages of the festival itself.


We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.


As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.
On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.


Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information


All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.


A 10% deposit is required to confirm your booking.


For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page


This tour will earn you 7514 Wild Miles


We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs


If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 


We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.