19th June 2019
There's never been a better time to visit Pakistan - well, unless you were an intrepid hippie in the sixties or seventies - but since this is very much 2019, for the first time in a long time, the stars seem to be aligning for tourists interested in this often misunderstood country.
A Wild Frontiers favourite, we've been running tours here for a good while, but things appear to be changing. These are the reasons we'd recommend going to Pakistan NOW...
In light of improvements to security within the country, as of this year, Pakistan has changed its visa restrictions in the hope that it might encourage tourists to visit. Citizens from 175 nationalities will be able to obtain an electronic visa online and visitors from 50 countries will be able to get a visa on arrival, when before, you had to apply for a visa from within your home country and it could potentially involve several embassy visits.
This isn’t just restricted to airport entry but also via land borders, which means that tourists can get a visa in a smaller time frame and at a reduced cost. Visiting Pakistan just got a whole lot easier.
After a more than a decade, on the 2nd June 2019 British Airways reinstated their direct flights from Heathrow to Islamabad, becoming the first western airline to do so. Running the service three times a week, fares start from £499 return.
BA has a long history of flying from London to Islamabad with the first service starting in 1973, but flights were suspended in 2008. With the overall security in the country improving dramatically in recent times, this move by BA highlights its faith in Pakistan rejuvenating its status as a popular tourist and business destination.
Usually, we’d advise that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspapers, especially where sensationalist stories regarding little-known, nor understood countries are concerned. But the tide is always changing and recently, you only have to look to the media to see that Pakistan is making its way back into the light.
Journalist Emma Thomson recently joined our Hindu Kush Adventure tour and wrote an article called ‘In search of the real Pakistan – can it become tourism’s next best thing?’ which was featured in The Sunday Telegraph. Chief travel writer for The Sunday Times, Chris Haslam, was similarly impressed by the country, having travelled the length of the Karakoram Highway with us, and in his article, entitled ‘Pakistan: in search of Shangri-La’, he implored travellers to forget Nepal or the Indian Himalayas, but head to Pakistan instead. Check them out. If that won’t convince you to visit, we don’t know what will.
Wild Frontiers was born in the mountains of Pakistan more than 20 years ago. We’ve witnessed the country’s popularity fluctuate from hugely desireable in the nineties, to suffering a blow in the wake of 9/11. Since then, things have improved but Pakistan, despite its status as the ultimate adventure destination, still doesn’t receive anywhere near the same tourists as more popular neighbours.
But Pakistan’s star does finally seem to be on the rise. Tourist numbers have more than doubled since 2010, approaching almost two million overseas visitors last year. It still has some way to go before hitting the kind of numbers enjoyed by India, which last year saw closer to nine million overseas tourists. But Pakistan’s popularity has all the potential to rival its neighbour, which is exactly why we’d recommend getting there now!
We’re lucky that this great planet of ours affords us the variety of landscapes, people and nature that gift us a constant source of inspiration. Music allowing wonderous escapism, books of Kafkaesque complexity, films, art and sometimes even business ideas, are the fires that rage from a tiny spark of inspiration. True beauty really does demand to be shared. So, let it come as no surprise that Pakistan is exactly where the idea for Wild Frontiers ignited.
Pakistan has everything from stunning mountain ranges to idyllic beaches, defying expectations at every turn. Yet somehow it appeared to be a hidden-in-plain-sight secret that only a few were aware of. Wild Frontiers Founder Jonny knew he had to let others in on that very secret. And from that time in the late nineties up until today, that’s exactly what Wild Frontiers aims to do with every far-flung destination we can get our hands on. However, none will hold a place in the heart of this company like Pakistan. It’s time to shout it from the rooftops.