Environment: Pakistan is a country composed of towering peaks (it is home to the second-highest
peak in the world, K2 8,61lm/28,245 ft), dry and scrubby mountains in the west, an inhospitable plateau in the southwest, barren deserts in the south east and alluvial
plains everywhere else. Coursing through all this is the great river Indus, which falls fram Tibetan mountains then travel 2500km south before emptying through an immense
delta into the Arabian Sea.
Natural fauna in Pakistan's lowlands is patchy - mostly scattered clumps of grass and stunted woodlands. However, as the landscape rises, there are quite large coniferous
forests and carpeted slopes of multicolored flowers in the northern mountains. Fauna includes bear, snow leopard, deer and jackal. Pakistan's 800km coastline is rich in
shark, shellfish and Sea turtle, while the Indus delta is home to marsh crocodile.
Pakistan has three seasons: cool (October through February); hot (March through June); and wet (July through September). There are big regional variations. In the south,
the cool season brings dry days and cool nights, while the northern mountains get drizzle and plummeting night-time temperatures. The hot seaSon means suffocating hot and
humid conditions in the south but pleasant temperatures northwards. During the wet season, the tail end of monsoon dumps steady rains mostly in the narrow belt of the
Punjab (largest province). But further north, the high mountains block all but the most determined clouds, which mean relatively little rain there.
History and Culture: Geographically Pakistan was the meeting place of different religions. The
pleasures of Pakistan are old Buddhist monuments, Hindu temples, Islamic places, tombs and pleasure grounds, and widely spaced Anglo-Mughal Gothic mansions. Greco-Buddhist
friezes dominate sculpture, and crafts by ceramics, jewelry, silk goods, engraved woodwork and metal work. Traditional dances are lusty and vigorous; music is either
classical, folk or devotional; and the most patronized literature is a mix of the scholastic and poetic. Field hockey is the national sport but cricket is the obsession.
Pakistan ruled the world of squash for last fifty players producing many great players including Jehangir Khan, Jansher Khan, Hashim Khan etc.
Nearly all Pakistani are Muslim and Islam is the state religion. Christians are the largest minority, followed by Hindus and Parsees (descendents of Persian Zoroastrians).
It is preferred that a woman visitor shauld fallow the Islamic dress code, which include knee length dress with full sleeves.
Pakistani food is a combination of northern Indian and Middle Eastern influences. This means menus peppered with baked
and deep fired breads (roti, chapatis, puri and nan). Meat curries, lentil mush (dhal), peas and rice. Street snacks (samosas and tikka) are made of either potatoes, meat
or chicken. The most common sweet is barfi, which is made of dried milk solids and comes in a variety of flavors. Though Pakistan is officially dry, it brews its own beer,
which is very popular among foreign visitors. Besides there are specially designated bars and topend hotels which can cater to any taste.
Events: Nationwide celebration include Ramadan, Muslim fasting month from sunrise to sunset; Eid ul Fitr two to three
days of feasting and goodwill that marks the end of Ramadan; Eid-ul-Azha when the animals are slaughtered in the memory of Abraham's sacrifice of his beloved son to God;
Eid Millad un Nabi which celebrates Muhammad's PBUH birthday. Besides these religious festivals Pakistani's celebrate their Independence Dayan 14" of August with much
Money & costs: : This is the brightest side
of visiting culturally rich Pakistan. By economizing on your selection of boarding and lodging u can easily get by on as little as US$ 10-15 a day. If you were looking
for luxury your costs can exponentially rise to US$ 30-40 a day. Its worth noting that rooms and food costs are cheaper in the north than in the south. Both traveler's
checks and cash are easy to change throughout the country, but commissions on checks can be high. To get local currency it is advisable to use roadside moneychangers
who are authorized by the state Bank of Pakistan for this business. This will help you get a better rate than any bank. Credit cards are widely accepted at major
cities but you might experience some difficulty in using it in suburbs and small towns. You can overcome this problem by getting cash advances at western banks.
Occasionally a tattered note will be firmly refused as legal tender, and in smaller towns it is better to carry rupee notes of smaller denominations. Most top-end
hotels will automatically add a 510% service charge to your bill so any extra tipping is entirely up to you. Taxi drivers routinely expect extra 10% af the fare,
and railway parters charge an officially set Rs. 15, The only time that a gratuity might not be welcome is in the rural areas where it runs caunter to Islamic
obligatian to be hospitable.
Bargaining is a matter of style, particularly in the many Pakistani Bazaars. Unlike western hesitancy for bargaining, shopkeepers in Pakistan lave to bargain as long as
it is done with style and panache. Bargaining usually begins with an invitation to step inside for a cup of tea followed by a little bit of small talk, a casually
expressed interest by yourself in a particular item, a way too high price mentioned by the seller, a way too low counter offer by yourself and eventually, after much
comic rolling of eyes, a handshake and mutual satisfaction for both parties. Smiles, good humor and an ability not to get fixated on driving the price into the ground
should always accompany bargaining.
When to go: The best time for traveling to Pakistan depend on which part of the country you intend to visit. Generally
speaking the southern part of the country including Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab and southern NWFP are best visited in the cooler months between November and April. After
that it gets uncomfortably hot. The northern areas like Azad Jammu & Kashmir, northern NWFP are best seen during May to October before the area becomes snowbound. The
weather may be a little stormy during this time but the mountain districts are usually still accessible.
Karachi: is the capital of Sindh province. Karachi was the Capital of Pakistan before Islamabad. It is also
considered as the commercial capital of Pakistan. It is the largest city a sprawling place of bazaars, hi-tech electronic shops, scurf infested older buildings and modish
new hotels. Its sights are spread far and wide so a taxi or rickshaw is necessary to travel between them. Good place to start is the Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum, a monument to
Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Another impressive site is the remarkable white-marbled Defense Housing Society Mosque. The single dome, claimed to be the largest of
its kind in the world, will make your gum cleave to the roof of your mouth. Above the mosque is Honeymoon Lodge, birthplace of the Aga Khan. Other sights include the Holy
trinity Cathedral and St. Andrew's Church, and the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, hills where the dead is traditionally exposed to vultures. South of the city is Clifton,
a former British hangout and now an exclusive coastal corner for the local wealthy, popular Clifton beach, and Manora Island, a less-crowded beach resort. Saddar, the city
center, is the main shopping area with thriving markets selling carpets, fur coats, leather jackets, snake skin purses, silk scarves and the country's biggest range of
handicrafts. It also has a number of food stalls and cheap restaurants and the majority of budget hotels. All major hotel chains including Sheraton, Marriott, Ramada
is in the close proximity to Saddar. If you are an archaeological fan Moenjodaro- once a city of an Indus valley civilization- and the Chaukundi tombs are well worth
a visit. Flights in and out of Karachi are numerous but it's worth checking the ETA of your flight. If your flight touches down in the middle of the night it would
be wise to wait until sunrise before catching a taxi. Trains run from Karachi to most major destination. Bus travel is not advisable due to discomfort.
Quetta: :The provincial capital of Baluchistan is a place of ancient monuments, wide tree-lined boulevards and
sterling British architect. Even more compelling, Quetta has a dramatic setting, with a mountainous backdrop on all sides. Most sights can be easily walked in a day.
Don't miss the impressive Archaeological Museum of Baluchistan, the fort or the city's many colorful bazaars-great places to pick marble, onyx, and some of the finest
carpets in Pakistan. Just outside Quetta are the postcard perfect Hanna Lake, plenty of picnic spots in Urak Valley, and the protected Hazarganji Chiltan National Park.
Also near Quetta is the refreshingly cool hill station of Ziarat, which are both a restful destination and a good base for walking of mountaineering.
Lahore: The capital of Punjab province is Pakistan's cultural, educational and artistic center and easily the most
visited city. With its refuge of shady parks and gardens, it's a meeting place of Mughal and colonial architecture, and the exotic thrill of its congested streets and
bazaars; it's not hard to see why. The collection of some of the city's attractions include: the mall, an area of parks and buildings with decidedly British bet, Lahore
Museum is the best and the biggest museum in the country, Kim's Gun cannon immortalized in Kipling classic Kim; Lahore Fort filled with stately palaces, halls and gardens;
and the Old City where processions of rickshaws. pony carts, hawkers and veiled women fill the narrow lanes. The city has too many tombs, mosques and mausoleum to mention.
Lahore is serviced by a plethora of international and domestic carriers. Long haul overland can be done in the comfort of reliable, air-conditioned buses, and smaller trips
in the ubiquitous minibuses. Lahore lies on the main national line between Peshawar and Karachi and there are frequent direct services to all major destinations.
Peshawar: capital of, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan. The city lies just west of the Bara River, a tributary
of the Kabul River, near the Khyber Pass. The Shahji-ki Dheri mounds, situated to the east, cover ruins of the largest Buddhist stupa in the subcontinent (2nd century AD),
which attest the lengthy association of the town with Buddha and the religion founded about him. The city was known variously as Parasawara and Purusapura (town, or abode,
of Purusa). Also called Begram, the present name, Peshawar (pesh awar, "frontier town"), is ascribed to Akbar, the Mughal emperor of India .
A great historic centre of transit-caravan trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, Peshawar is today connected by the Grand Trunk Road and rail with Lahore, Rawalpindi,
Hyderabad, and Karachi and by air with Rawalpindi, Chitral, and Kabul, Afghanistan.
Peshawar's historic buildings include Bala Hissar, a fort built by the Sikhs on the ruins of the state residence of the Durranis, which was destroyed by them after the
battle of Nowshera: Gor Khatri, once a Buddhist monastery and later a sacred Hindu temple, which stands on an eminence in the east and affords a panoramic view of the
entire city: the pure white mosque of Mahabat Khan (1630), a remarkable monument of Mughal architecture: Victoria memorial hall: and Government House.