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Pakistan Adventure - winter solstice festival

  • Summary
  • Trip Notes
  • Dates & Rates
  • Operator
  • Enquiry Form

Trip Summary

This Pakistan adventure is quite simply the one of the most amazing, original and wild trips we feature. Run for the first time in 2006, the small group of intrepid travelers was the first to experience the Kalash winter solstice festival of Chamos 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 Westerners are invited.

Having liaised with the BBC Planet Earth team as to the whereabouts of the exquisite snow leopard, it was only fitting that on the second day of the tour they watched her all afternoon as she roamed gracefully over the mountainside and as dusk fell, make her kill. And now with the new Lowari Tunnel making access to these hidden valleys all the more accessible the trip can be offered without the hassles of the past.

So, if you are game enough to experience a true adventure you will witness events that will certainly stay with you forever. As the guide once said “This is as close to real exploration as us mortals are ever likely to get”.

  • Spend five nights with the Kalash and enjoying their amazing Winter Festival
  • Take a winder walk up to our own wild hideaway
  • Watch a game of frontier polo in Chitral
  • Visit Tushi and Chitral Gol National Park to search for snow leopards
  • Watch the wild Markhor goats

Enquire today for full details.

Trip Notes from the Operator


Day 1
The Pakistan adventure starts in Islamabad
Today is an arrival day and as such there are no activities planned. The suggested group flights arrive early on Day 2 but should you choose to fly in slightly early then your tour leader will be around to help out.

Day 2
In Islamabad
The tour starts in the morning at our joining hotel and for those who have just come from an international flight, there will be time to freshen up and have a rest. We will then head to Rawalpindi for lunch and take time to explore the bustling markets, before returning to our hotel to freshen up in time for dinner in the Margalla Hills.

Day 3
Islamabad – Chitral
This morning we take an early flight from the capital to arrive in the sleepy mountain town of Chitral. Here we will wander through the streets and markets of Chitral, absorbing the friendly local atmosphere, meeting the shopkeepers and sampling their wares. After lunch and a game of frontier polo – should there be one – and check into our hotel.

Day 4
Chitral & Tushi
A relaxing morning today for more local sightseeing and after lunch we will drive out to Tushi, from where the famous Planet Earth footage was filmed, and set about trying to spot the elusive snow leopard. Dinner will be at our hotel.

Day 5
Chitral – Chitral Gol
Today the adventure will really begin as we move up to the old hunting lodge in Chitral Gol, the region’s National Park. Staying in the wild will give us another great opportunity to spot the snow leopard, but that is not all. This is also 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 snow leopard.

Day 6
Chitral Gol – Balanguru
Today we drive back Chitral, have a warming shower at the Mountain Inn before heading into the Kalash Valley of Rumbor and the village of Balanguru where we stay with our friend Saifullah Jan, the chief spokesperson for the Kalash. Today, 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. Women from here on will be expected to wear Kalash clothing. Afterwards we will go with our friends to visit their extended families in Grum or Kalashagrum. After dinner there will be spectacular night of dancing in the village.

Days 8 – 9
Kalash 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 head Shaman and religious priests (or Qazis, as they are known) summon up the spirits and ask for their blessing. On the night of the 17th – as the ancestral spirits enter the valley – all the Kalash of the Rumbur descend to a clearing in the trees, carrying with them flaming sticks of juniper, and dance around a giant fire.

Day 10
Balanguru – Chitral
Having watched the final dance of Chamos  – when the men dress as women to enact a spectacle centered on adultery and infidelity – we leave the Kalash Valleys and return to Chitral and our hotel. After lunch we will once again head out to Tushi to see the Markhor and hopefully spot the snow leopard.

Day 11
Chitral – Islamabad
Today is our final full day. Transfer to the airport for our flight to Islamabad, where we will check into our hotel. After some last minute shopping and sightseeing we will have our final dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 12
Tour finishes after breakfast with transfers to the international airport.

More Details

Additional Trip Notes:
Start and Finish: 10 December – 21 December 2014
Start point: Islamabad
Finish point: Islamabad

Transport on this tour will be in the wonderful Willis jeeps, minibus coasters and domestic flights.

Hotel: 6 (nts)
Guest House: 4 (nts)
Lodge: 1 (nt)

Wherever possible we aim to use accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night.

On this trip the accommodation varies hugely from nice 2/3* small hotels, local guesthouses and the forest lodge.

Breakfast – All
Lunch – All
Dinner – All


Dates & Rates

  • 9th December 2017 – 12 days

Price from £2,045 excluding flights

What’s included?

  • Full services of the Trip Operator’s Tour Leader with local guides and drivers
  • Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary, with mineral water as required
  • All transport as outlined in the itinerary
  • All accommodation
  • All entrance fees, as per itinerary
  • A carbon-offsetting contribution to Carbon Clear (if booking international flights through the Trip Operator’s office)

What’s not included?

  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Local airport taxes
  • Tips (always optional, but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information pack you’ll receive after booking)
  • Beverages & any costs of a personal nature
  • International Flights
  • Airport transfers (unless booking suggested flights through the Trip Operator’s office)


This operator is a multi-award winning adventure travel company specialising in small group tours and tailor made holidays to some of the most extraordinary destinations across the Indian sub-continent, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and Europe.

We love their unique, original itineraries – whether they are for small group travel or individually created for tailor made clients – allowing you to take journeys that venture beneath the surface of the region. This operator concentrates on the locations they know and love. They don’t source itineraries from other agents, nor do they run the same tour over and over (thus creating a ‘tourist circuit’, spoiling an untouched region).

Instead, they rarely run any group tour more than a couple of times a year and they are on routes they have discovered for themselves, to give a truly authentic, off-the-beaten-track experience.

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