Contrary to its depiction as a backward desert full of terrorists, Pakistan is home to beautiful scenery and a few free-spirited travelers who explore the country in 4x4 vehicles. Baber Khan, editor of the car website PakWheels.com, shares his story and amazing photos. — Ed.
Pakistan could be known as the greatest tourism country in the world, rather than the agricultural country or terrorism breeding facility as it is known as today, as my friends discovered in a journey across one of Pakistan's majestic parks.
Click through the gallery to see the photos and read the story
If anyone asks me what the ultimate expression of freedom is I say it's the Pajero, Land Cruiser and other 4x4s. If I were the President of Pakistan, I'd pass an ordinance that everyone who owns one must keep them outside their homes to display that they are free people.
Me and my crew of friends were hypnotized by the mesmerizing beauty of Sindh's Kirthar National Park where our 4x4s worked hard to pass through almost every terrain. I believe these 4x4s are lions of off-road which, when kept in a city, is like caging a wild beast in a cramped zoo.
They are poised and bored. We don't even enjoy looking at them in the cityscape, but when you take them where roads end and adventure begins, the Pajeros and Land Cruisers are unparalleled in providing the ultimate adventure of sightseeing.
And they do it in the comfort of their well-supported seats as you drive them over dirt, sand, mud and rocks over the mountains to bring us to the tip of one of the best views in all of Central Asia.
Even a Mini Pajero with its tiny 1100cc engine (from a 3-door Pajero) impressed everyone as it followed effortlessly the trails of Land Cruiser and 5-door Pajero. The 70 series Land Cruiser led the way to the tip of the mountains while Pajero followed with six people in its cabin and the heaviest cargo in it's back.
Kirthar National Park, the second largest in Pakistan, has a pretty vast list of animals such as leopards, striped hyenas, wolves, ratels, urials, chinkara gazelles, rare Sind wild goats and Blackbuck antelopes. Sadly, the last leopard was shot in 1977.
Despite spotting very few animals the jaw-dropping-awesomeness of the entire Kirthar and Karchaat was hypnotizing. After recent rains there was pleasant weather. The color of the countryside was green. A beautiful landscape as far as we could see was our companion through out the trip wherever we went – it was so beautiful that we thought that God has welcomed us here.
It is best that we leave the rest for the pictures to speak for themselves but there are a few things we should mention. Our guides were awesome, friendly and welcoming, and the Government's Wildlife Department's guest houses were very well kept and built. Supported by the beautiful landscape around they could compete with the best hotels in the world and these guest houses are cheap too with rent around $20 USD a night.
Last but not the least, any journey becomes a pain if your fellow travelers are cold and impatient but my fellow travelers were wonderful; Hanif Bhatti, Aqeel Baig, Shahab, Naveed Merchant, Fahad, Dr. Yaqoob, Ejaz, Shakeel, Masroor, Shoaib, Jawad and the locals along with the welcoming residents of Kirthar, Karchaat and nearby villages and towns.
Today, our little 4x4 exploration group has a new slogan: "The best people to travel and be with."
(Hat tip to McNewbie!)
Photo Credit: Baber Kahn, Aqeel Baig, Hanif Bhatti, Muhammad Yaqub, Sync View,