North on Two Wheels
Northern Pakistan - Islamabad, Peshawar, Kohat, Dir, Kelash, Chitral, Garam Chashma, Teru, Shandur, Yaseen, Gilgit, Hunza
Mountains, Biking, Camping, High Altitude Driving, Trekking/Hiking
Total Distance Covered:
3000 Kilometers including 500 kilometers jeep able track
This trip was a long awaited one and as a childhood dream coming true. I've driven into the wild and far away places with larger and smaller groups but always have enjoyed more on trips when the group was smaller or I was by myself. This was it, with only one friend with me, we ventured out on a long haul journey into the mountains of upper Northern Areas of Pakistan. Shaukat and myself have been friends for years and have traveled together to quite a few places. I have a lot of respect for this guy for his patience, teamwork and bravery. I’ve always found this guys as a tested partner and would never think twice venturing out with him.
Usually for our trips we leave in the evenings and stay at one of our old friend Waseem in Gujrat just two hours drive from Lahore. Waseem is happily living with his family in Milton Keynes-UK these days. So for this trip we started off in the same manner.
Before setting off it will not be justified if I'll not mention the preparations for the trip. For our ride we prepared Shaukat's Yamaha 100cc motorbike, and collected as many tools and spares as we could fit on it including our one bag and us. Our kit with spares was about 25 kg and our bag carrying a couple of Ts and one extra trouser, a jacket and a raincoat for each one of us. The bag was divided from the middle and we both used our own compartments to put our stuff. As an agreement we never kept any dirty clothing including socks, underwear etc. in the bag at any time. And as a rule we always washed our dirty stuff before sleeping each night. Maps and distances were calculated to make our milestones, but we wanted to keep our trip flexible enough to accommodate any runtime changes into trip. The opinion of others was that this is a crazy trip and one shouldn’t attempt it just on one bike into the land of unknowns.
In the plains we took turns for driving but in the mountains, always I drove as in all other trips we had and Shaukat sat behind me. This setup worked for years and we did some amazing trips together including hiking, biking, offroading and what not. Each trip is imprinted in my memory and that is the reason I'm able to pull the details out to write this blog to share the experiences that we had, so that other people will be encouraged to do such trips.
Our ride was ready and we set off in the evening despite bad weather and were met by our first showers just after 30 minutes into the drive. It was summer so we enjoyed the rain and forgot the risk of driving in slippery conditions. We kept going crossing through river Ravi, Mureedkay, Kamonkee, AimanAbad, Gujranwala, WazirAbad and finally reaching our first destination Gujrat, after two and a half hours of driving. This was our first stop. Waseem's mother as usual had cooked some great food for us and we ate it like we were hungry for weeks. This is from where we had set off for many of our previous trips and we left for the next leg at 5am next morning.
Early morning I was up and stood by the main door looking at the sky, I was getting engaged in one of the more difficult trips since I started going to the mountains 5 years ago. I woke up my partner and told him that we would leave in 30 minutes. By the time we came out it was bright out side with the sun visible on the horizon.
It is a nice drive through Pothohar and you go through many small and medium sized towns before reaching the capital of Pakistan - Islamabad. Here we had a short stop over at one of my friends Anwar and then we continued our journey towards Peshawar the capital of the NWFP. Peshawar is a cultural hub of NWFP and a very historical city. It is discussed in memoirs of famous emperors including Mughal Empire founder Naseer Uddin Baber. Due to its strategically important location it carries important value from military standpoint. It is at the edge of famous Khyber Pass the main route into Afghanistan and Central Asia. Main population in this city is Pukhtoon and are known for their hospitality and enmity at the same time. These people have been living independent for centuries and still there are many areas in NWFP not governed by police or civil government rather by the tribes of the area. They have their own Jirga (court) system to resolve issues and the Federal Government has their representative assigned for these areas.
Peshawar is in the proximity of such areas where there is only political agents assigned by the Federal Govt. Of Pakistan. You could find all sorts of smuggled goods in this city from pins to Russian A/Cs, from .22 guns to Rocket Launchers. Derra Adam Khel is the closest market where they sell Arms of all sorts and could deliver to your home anywhere in Pakistan by paying some extra money. Very tricky place and one has to know what he/she is getting into. I happened to visit this place in 1987 when I was very young, the experience of that trip was priceless but if given another chance now, I would not repeat the same trip.
My uncle who is an aircraft engineer had a posting here so we planned to stay with him during our two days stay in Peshawar. This was our first excursion stop. We reached Peshawar airport safe and sound to find our uncle. He drove us to his apartment for some rest. And then we started exploring the city including Kissa Khawani Bazar and some other old bazars. I always eat boiled corn when I visit Peshawar so we did eat that this time as well. Then we bought dinner including famous chappal kababs and came back to call it a day.
It takes about 3 hours from Gujrat to Islamabad and from Islamabad to Peshawar it takes another 2.5 hours. I'm mentioning the distance in hours term as the kilometers cannot be translated properly into time due to the conditions of the roads, traffic etc.. Therefore with breaks on the way it took us about 7-8 hours from Gujrat to Peshawar.
At night Shaukat revealed that he didn't know how to wash cloths so I had to take on this task and I did it happily while providing training to him. Honestly I learned the trade while teaching it. And from next day he was a master in this trade. He would wash cloths on the stream and I'll rinse them before hanging them for drying. The night approached and the second day passed without any incident and we still got to sleep in comfortable and luxurious beds.
Kohat is an important garrison town with several important military installations. It is also popular because anyone who plans to join the army has to go for 4 days tests that includes physical as well as theoretical, therefore this town has a significant value for the youngsters as well as the Army. A few years ago I visited this town for similar reasons and cannot forget that journey and I may cover it in another topic. For reaching Kohat one has to go through Dera Adam Khel - Arms Market situated in the Azad Ilaka (territory not governed by the government rather a political agent represents the federal government in this area).
The road from Peshawar goes through different farmhouse setting into the dry mountains and then dropping into the valley to reach Kohat. The drive is nice but creepy due to the road going through Azad Ilace. My father has been a major source of encouragement for all my trips and has seen almost all parts of Pakistan and always provided great help for us to plan the trips. He always cautioned us while crossing such areas and advised not to stay longer there.
We had a few stops for sightseeing and finally made it to Kohat in a couple of hours. One of my school time friends who works for Pakistan Army was stationed in Kohat at the time of the visit, so we got another free night in nice beds. We were served with nice Chicken Karhahi and Daal with freshly baked roti (bread) in the room because we could not dress ourselves according to the Army protocols to qualify for sitting in the Officers Mess for diner. What the heck! We were on a camping trip with two jeans and two Ts. So for us the good food was enough of luxury. We drove in the city and stopped for Maghrib prayer at a small mosque. It was a very hot day. The Masjid was washed up with cold water for the people to come and pray. This experience was amazing after such a long a hectic drive. It was extremely peaceful.
We came back to the Army Mess and had a chat session with our friend late into the night before calling it a day. We had a lot to catch up because I met him after a few years and had hardly got in touch with him due to his frequent movements in the Army from one station to another during this period. He really looked after us that night. But we didn't sleep before washing our cloths for that day :-(
So far whoever got to know that we are traveling to upper Chitral and Gilgit Valleys were shocked with this news because they had never seen any one attempting it on one bike and the combination of camping and biking was very unique for them. Even as of today there are a very few people who may attempt the same combination. We were discouraged by many by telling scary things about the journey and the dangers we might face. But we were determined to complete it.
The real adventure started from the next day.
We got up at 4am when it was still dark and were already packing our bike to start the first real exciting part of the journey in which we had to cross the famous Lowari Pass at 10500 ft above sea level. Our next stop was Kalash (Kafiristan). For making it to the destination we had to traverse back to Peshawar and by pass it towards Islamabad before turning towards Mardan. From here one has to climb mountains towards Swat Valley and turn left towards Dir at Chekderra. Road is not bad before Dir but it is a single lane road slowly gaining altitude, from Dir it suddenly winds up to reach Windy Lowari Pass. There has been a tunnel under construction for the last many years but was not completed at the time of the travel. This Pass closes during the winter season making this area only accessible by Air. There is a small Airport at Chitral but flights could only land weather permitting. Once we had to turn back from Chitral due to weather conditions deteriorated at the last minute and once we made it in the sunny weather. Journey from Peshawar to Chitral takes about 14 hours again depending on the weather and road conditions. If weather is bad or there are land slides on the way then add several more hours. Lowari Pass is a bottleneck as there are a lot of landslides on either side of it and rains and snow also play very important role in closing it. One could be stranded for days due to such hazards, but that is all part of the package when you visit such area.
It would be a long day for us. As soon as we were entering into Peshawar we got to know that most of the roads were closed due to some protests in the city and Police was not allowing anyone to enter those roads. We had to take directions from locals to by pass this problem, thanks to our two wheeler which could go in smaller streets and even cross fields on small mud lanes, meaning, virtually it could go anywhere. Had it been a car it would have been impossible to continue the journey that day. But these negotiations added to the time we were suppose to spend as per the plan. Anyhow the travel continued and we safely crossed some tricky areas (Azad Ilaca) of NWFP. We realized that it was not only Peshawar where rallies were taking place rather all over the province as we were faced by similar problems on the way and had to negotiate with either authorities or locals to let us pass through the city or a town coming on our way though at our own risk. We were very late to make it to our destination that day, but it was least of our worries as our program was flexible enough to add another night to the itinerary. The only issue that we were facing was our safety and our bike's safety. The protesters were driving crazily on the roads without paying much attention to anyone's safety. We got almost hit a few times by such nasty characters therefore had to take frequent stops when we saw a group coming towards us on the road. At a couple of places we had to join them to avoid their wreath. It was a nerve-racking day for us, and made us realize what could happen when masses decides to come on the roads. However when we stopped at places or talked to the natives, we found them extremely helpful and they looked upon us with praise. They appreciated the fact that some Pakistani youngsters attempting such a trip in their areas. Usually what they see are foreigners doing all sort of hiking, camping, trekking, biking and what not up in the northern areas but hardly see people from the plains of Pakistan doing something different.
We made to Dir without any major incident despite a few near miss hit attempts. Protests time was over as we were approaching late afternoon, therefore we decided to continue our journey and at least cross the Lowari Top. The road was very steep going towards Lowari and it was almost a dirt road. Our 100 cc bike had to put in some efforts to keep going. Lowari Top is always very windy due to its location and position; it attaches Chitral to the rest of the country. As expected it was very windy, the gusts were trying to take us away with them. We had a short stop for photography and meanwhile it started raining. This trek becomes terribly dangerous in or after rain because of the dirt becoming mud and very slippery. The steepness makes it even worst. It is not recommended to drive in such conditions at all. But we had no choice as we didn't have the liberty of staying under roof and had to continue and come down from the top as it was becoming extremely cold in the evening and it was getting dark as well. We had already put on our raincoats and we started our descend into the Chitral Valley carefully. The views were spectacular and the drive was extremely tricky on muddy road at a steep angle. It took us a while to reach down but we made it safely and the rain stopped as soon as we stopped for a break to give some rest to my arms, which were continuously busy maneuvering on the dirt track. It was already dark and daunting. At this point we decided that we wont be able to pitch our tent in the dark and we should stay at any driver hotel that comes first on our way, as we was dangerous driving any further in the dark. It is not even advisable to drive motorbike on such roads at nighttime because even at daytime one has to be vigilant and extremely careful driving in such terrain.
Therefore we continued for some more time and found one small roadside restaurant. We stopped to eat our first meal of the day. We did not eat whole day as were busy negotiating with roads and the hazards it posed to us. We ate some gravy with bread/roti because we could not break the meat cooked in it that had become hard elastic. We were very hungry so it did not bother us much. After the dinner we asked the owner if there was any place to spend the night or if we could rent two Charpaees (local form of beds) from him. He showed us the same place where we just ate and told us once all the customers are gone you could sleep there provided will eat breakfast from his restaurant before leaving tomorrow morning. Not a bad deal we thought and agreed happily. It was an Afghani restaurant and they usually have platform kind of sitting areas with rugs on them. His idea sounded interesting and we thought it would be comparatively warmer area as well due to the kitchen in one corner. As we had already made up our mind we had a little walk to discuss our next day plan.
It was quite late when the last customer left our bedroom/restaurant, obviously it was smelly, dirty and not a place someone would want to sleep at. We laid our sleeping bags and cleaned the place as much as we could before calling it a day and quite a hectic one. We started at 4:30am and finished at about 7:00pm making it an almost 15 hours run on the bike, which was quite a bit. We were already adjusting to driving longer runs on the bike and the pain in our buttocks would go away in another day or so because we'll get used to it. The terrain and drive becomes difficult and difficult in the days ahead due to the rough and tough terrain, lack of roads and services etc. We were all set to face all sorts of challenges coming our way.
I must highlight a few things about our small team before going to the next day. We are exceptionally easy going in terms of our eating habits and in terms of not having any facilities of any kind. We do not complain, and adapt to any circumstances very easily. We trust each other as we trust ourselves. We do not get stressed out. We have stamina to handle difficult task with endurance. We mix up with the local public wherever we go easily, and are accepted amongst them. And these qualities make us an unmatchable team.
Where we were sleeping was a public place in a drivers hotel therefore had to wake up even earlier than what we thought. It was dark, cold and windy outside. However after some time we found the morning awesome with very fresh air to breath and different feeling which the city folks cannot imagine. Breakfast was served containing Paratha, Tea and last nights gravy and this was our payment for staying the night in the shelter as well. We left as we finished after saying good-bye to the local people. We were met by a bad news soon when we reached the turning towards the Kalash Valley where we intended to stay for 4 nights. We were told that due to the flash floods all the tracks have been vanished and the area is not accessible by any transport rather by foot only.
There are three main villages in this area Bamboreet, Rambor and Bareer. The inhabitants still live the way they used to live hundreds of years ago. They wear colorful and different types of dresses and have preserved their culture by sticking to it. These people are considered to be the descendants of Alexander The Great. They are extremely hospitable in nature and respect the visitors and expect it vice verse. The travelers usually do not respect their privacy and try to peek into their lives. If asked they let you visit their homes and allow you to see their day-to-day activities but people always forget to ask. This is introducing change in behaviors. These people dance in a very different manner and people from all over the world come to see this area due to its unique setting and culture. These mountains touch Afghanistan at the back. As the terrain is much difficult so no army could man the borders therefore giving way to people crossing into Pakistan easily in search of food and employment.
Bamboreet is the largest of these small Kafir settlements. It is situated in a beautiful green valley at the edge of a river of white water. It offers stunning views of sky rocketing peaks all around. The lush greenery is just an addition to add some nice colors into the sceneries offered. Anyhow I thought to mention some information about Kafiristan. I had visited this area in detail a couple of years ago while camping in the area.
We carried on towards Chitral with very heavy heart by missing this opportunity of visiting one of our major areas in the journey. Chitral was not far so we reached there after some time. Chitral is the major town in this whole area and there are different tracks going towards different directions joining this area to the rest of the valleys in Northern Pakistan. There are three major routes including the one we came from going towards Swat Valley and eventually reaching the GT road to either go towards Islamabad or Peshawar. The other route disappears in the mountains going north-west entering into Afghanistan passing through a picturesque village of Garam Chashma. The third route carries equal importance going toward the Shandur Top and then snaking into the Gilgit valley. We were coming from one route and planned to cover the other two routes in detail in this trip. I had not done the third leg towards Gilgit before therefore that was the most exciting one for me.
Chitral valley offers excellent views of the highest mountain of Hindukush Range, The Trichmir. Pakistan is very rich in mountains and is gifted with 3 of the top ten mountains in the world. It has the biggest concentration of peaks rising 8000 meters above sea level at Concardia. There are three major mountain ranges in Pakistan. i) The Karakorams ii) The Hindukush and ii) The Himalayas. Chitral is situated in the Hindukush and the Karakorams join Hindukush in this region i.e between Chitral and Gilgit. Trichmir as mentioned is the highest mountain in the Hindukush, it is standing tall at 7708 meters above sea level. Many climbers attempt to reach the top every summer. This is a beautiful mountain and there are a few equally beautiful 7000ers around Trichmir.
We roamed around in the town of Chitral. In my last trip to Chitral we had a terrible hot night with bugs all around therefore I had no intention of camping in the town or even closer to the town. Therefore we planned to go to Garam Chashma instead, where there would be cooler temperatures and a beautiful landscape.
Chitral is very famous for its handy crafts especially rugs made from the sheep wool. The other famous thing about this place is Polo, it is home of Polo and very famous tournaments take place here in Chitral and at Shandur Pass. Chitral has been invaders route and has been invaded by very famous people including Alexander The Great and Mongol Changez Khan. This is the reason; it carries great historic value and strategic position. This has also been a major aid route for Afghans during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 80s.
Well, after exploring Chitral enough we moved towards Garam Chashma. From here onwards all roads are dirt roads so when I write road it should be understood as a dirt road. Dirt roads in this area are usually jeep able tracks and not meant for cars or motorbikes, as there are rocks and boulders, rivers and streams in abundance. The track to Garam Chashma goes through terraced fields and fragrant orchards and then followed along a white water river flowing at high speed. It is a very scenic route. You start with Trichmir looking spectacularly right in front of your face and keep changing postures for some time, showing off its immense beauty. The feeling this view produces cannot be explained in words and one becomes speechless, as it has happened time and again with me whenever I see these gorgeous mountains. Mountains being my passion and weakness attract me towards them and I go to them as if I these are magnet and I being a small metal piece.
Garma Chashma is Tehseel headquarter of Chitral and it gained even more significance during Afghan war. There was a refugee camp situated here and still there is a bazar (market) selling Russian new and used stuff including soldier belts, knives army water bottles, jackets etc. The camp was no more there at the time of travel but its after effects were.
There are two streams that you cross while going to Garam Shashma. There was no bridge on the dirt track therefore the jeeps go through the water. It’s easier for a jeep to go through it as compared to a motorbike on two tires. First one was not that tough but the second one was very fast flowing water of about 3 feet in the middle of stream with very uneven surface below that was full of rocks. We crossed it after had carefully examined the place and decided a spot to cross. One person had to walk across each time we crossed a stream. Rest of the track was just simple dirt track going up and down.
We arrived at Garma Chashma towards the evening. It is right at the edge of a river and you could hear the fast water flowing through rocky bed 24 hours. This town has its own production of electricity owing to the fast flowing and abundant water. If hiked up a bit you would reach a hot water spring. The track continued through a very small bazar towards Afghanistan, which is not far from here. We looked for a place for us to camp but most places were either uneven or rocky therefore we requested one government building official to let us put our tent in their lawn which he happily approved. It was a rest house type building with a garden on the side and a perfect spot for pitching our camp. We had borrowed this tent from one of our friends in Lahore and it was fairly big for two people and because of that we had a few shivering nights in the trip. Tent was up soon and we were ready for some hike. We trekked to the hot water spring and took bath first, followed by our everyday activity of washing cloths. The water was really hot and was not an easy task to take bath in it, we managed somehow.
We had a nice hike there and came back to the tent to hang wet cloths on the strings. Night was falling in very fast and it was getting cold every minute. The whole village tour was finished before it got too dark. We visited the Russian stuff shops and picked up some souvenirs. Then we had diner at one Afghani restaurant sitting in their traditional manner. Had chat with some locals and then headed back to our camp. It was a shorter drive today as compared to the drives in the last few days. Therefore we got some time to relax and enjoy the night under the stars but it was very chilly one. In this trip every night we slept as soon as we decided to crash because of the hectic drive on bumpy and dirt track. Fifth day gone and we loved every moment of our trip so far. Our backs and bums were adjusted to the hectic drive on the bike already. We slept and the night just flew away.
We got up in the morning and had a late start for the first day expecting the next destination will be easily reached. While we were packing, a group of 5 boys from Lahore came there and had a chat with us. They told us that they started of with 10 people in a van but at Lowari Top they had to split into two groups due to some conflict and went ahead with their own plans. They praised and asked how could we go for such long trips and on a bike and also do camping. Basically they were asking about any conflicts or clash of opinions between the two partners. I only answered them on one sentence " Make a journey with a partner who can wash you underwear if need be" and off course the true test of relationship and friendship is when you travel and stay together. Point was taken and we said good-bye to each other as we had a long way ahead.
Today we had planned to reach the closest village to Shandur Pass standing at 12500 ft above sea level and to cross Shandur the day after. We will cross Chitral and will go towards Shandur Pass via Bunni, Mastuj and Laspur. For today we planned to stay at Mastuj.
We came back to Chitral as that is the only way to Shandur. At Chitral the track crosses the Chitral river to go towards Shandur Pass. On the map our next night would be at Mastuj or Laspur the last settlements before Shandur Pass. We crossed a few tiny houses and a small restaurant where we had a quick bite under the trees. The track goes up and down in the mountains. There had been blasting done to make the track wider and more accessible for the famous Polo tournament at Shandur Top. The tournament is getting great attention from all around and is becoming a favorite one to watch for the elite of Pakistan. They might not have come across seeing Polo in their whole lives. It was a long and tough track snaking up slowly in the mountains. We crossed some very rugged terrain and it took toll on our bodies and motorbike. By afternoon we reached a spot where we thought, that was it. It was a stream of red water coming down so fast that it seemed impossible for us to cross on the bike. There were many streams / Nalas that cross the track and there were no bridges on them. Most of them see water during the rain hours, however there were some which had continuous flow of water.
When it rains in the mountains it brings the color and rocks of that particular mountains down at such incredible speed and that makes it a flash flood. Crossing streams become impassible at those times and the wait time could vary depending upon how much rain the mountain is going to receive. We were just stranded here; the clock was ticking as we were far from reaching any settlement. The wait was torturous because we were in the middle of nowhere and couldn’t even think of camping at such place if need be. In the mean time a couple of local people came from the mountains and reluctantly sat closer to us. We asked them about the stream but could hardly understand their opinion. A jeep came from the opposite side and crossed the stream with great difficulty and then another came. None of them listened to us to help us crossing our bike across, they were not ready to cross the dangerous water 3 times when they had made it across once quite dangerously but safely. Well we had no option but to wait and see. After an hour or so I suggested Shaukat to ask these local people for help us in crossing the water, they were now 8 in number. We agreed and as soon we asked them that we were ready to cross the stream if they could help us with that. They happily accepted it and touched to check our bike. The luggage was taken off and carried by Shaukat and another guy. They luckily had a piece of rope that was tied straight across and four people held onto the bike rather held on to each other and the bike so that no one was washed up with the red flooded water. From the track the stream was plunging down like a waterfall very deep into the valley. We were all set to go one after the other a few people crossed the stream with the help of each other and the final step came to take the bike across and I was spearheading this effort. We moved slowly into the water and the water wanted to take all of us along. The worst thing was there were rocks coming in the water and those were good enough to hit and injure anyone of us. And suddenly it happened...a rock hit my foot and made my feet leave the ground and next moment I was holding onto the bike to save my life and my body was flowing in the fast water. There was this thin moment between life and death and yet I was the one to experience it yet another time in my life. This moment was hundred years long and I clung onto this moment and kept trying to put my feet down, but the water was too fast and it was not letting me do that despite all my energies spent. The other three people were having difficulty to balance the bike and also trying to hold me at the same time. Those endless moments passed and with their help I was able to put my feet down and finally made it to the other side of the stream turned totally red due to the red soil in the water. We were all turned red due to the color of the muddy water. It took us a while to get back to normal due to the whole ordeal. I could keep this moment in my diary but it may not even be washed from my memory ever.
Everything was packed back as it was 40 feet away on the other side of the stream and started our journey after thanking the kind-hearted people.
The scenery was stunning at places and the route was amazing. Our bike had been doing well so far and we were very happy about it. The track was getting very rough by every mile and rocky track was really making us slow. This was the toughest long drive on bike that I had done so far. We experienced some better track until the point where blasting work finished and then the condition of the track started deteriorating due to lack of maintenance.
I had driven in all districts of Kashmir and several other mountainous regions but due to the beaten up track it was hurting all parts of our body and my arms had swollen muscles by now. It was late afternoon and the next intended stop was far far away in terms of time and distance. The rocks were not letting us drive more than a few kilometers per hour and we were almost crawling on the track. A couple of jeeps passed us and went ahead on great speed comparatively due to four wheels and army tires. We had no choice but to continue our snail ride.
One thing we learned in several travels that patience is very important in journeys and one has to really take care of the means of travel. The ride takes you from point A to point B therefore making it the most important party to take care of in any journey. So we were in no hurry. We pampered our bike at the end of each day and did the necessary maintenance.
We were walking with Shaukat carrying the backpack and myself pushing the bike in first gear. This was our first breakdown since we started from Lahore a week back. We had hit a rock in the rear tire and all techniques to fix the tire were in vain. As soon as we hopped on to drive it was going flat again. So we decided to walk to a village named Bunni that was 3-4 kilometers away. Walking here was not easy rather was extremely tough with such a load, circumstances and tired poor souls. We made our ground very slowly and made it to the river crossing where the board was showing an arrow to the right for Bunny. We got flabbergasted when we looked at the steep across the bridge that would lead to the village. No choice but to continue dragging ourselves. We made it to the village after it had already turned dark. The last three kilometers were covered in years. We entered the village and a couple of young boys started walking with us. They were very sweet and very helpful and even offered us to carry our stuff, which we turned down politely because while traveling we usually do not trust anyone as a rule of thumb. They told us that there was a guy in their village who could fix the tire but he had already left for the day and he lived in the mountains and not in the village. We requested them if he could be called upon. They walked us to one closed shop and asked us to park the bike there. They consulted a few other guys and finally told us that they were sending a man to call the required person but it was going to take a while. We had no choice but to wait for him. We thought we would go eat something in the meantime so they brought us to a small the only so called restaurant. They had nothing to eat there and moreover it was so suffocating in there that we couldn't even breath properly due to the place not cleaned for years, and in that small place they cooked, ate and few people slept there every night. We came out before throwing up.
The task ahead was tremendous, firstly to fix the tire and secondly to find a place to sleep. It was already very cold and we had put on our jackets. It took another couple of hours for that good man to come all the way from the mountains for our rescue.
He told us how to fix a puncture there but we decided to use our spare tube to fit in and keep the fixed one as spare to avoid any further problems. It was not before 9:30 pm when we got free from all this, absolutely hungry and tired. We desperately wanted to find a shelter to take some rest. We asked the same angel boys to help us finding a place because we could not find a proper place for our tent anywhere in the dark. One of the fellows asked us to follow him. He entered a gate and took us to a room with very strange setup. There was a fan on in the room but the room was still very warm and outside it was freezing cold. Upon asking it was revealed to us that there is layer of hay under the carpet to make the room warm and that makes it very warm like a heated room therefore a fan is required to keep temperature normal. This was the technique used to centrally heat their houses. They served us with tea and also provided us with Two Charpaaees (local bed) in the veranda. This was a great favor. We very thankfully accepted the offer and went to sleep in a very cold night. We crashed and only got up early in the morning to continue our journey.
I salute to those people who helped us in different parts of the day yesterday. But last night that group of people told us that our bike is not going to make it to Shandur as it was too tough for this poor little bike. They warned us about it and suggested to rent a jeep to take our bike across Shandur safely. We were too tired already to listen to this crap (what I would call it) because they had no idea what have we achieved on these smaller bikes in our other trips. They didn't know about our determination and perseverance. We were fully confident and determined to make it. Time would tell.
The last settlement before Shandur Pass is the beautiful village of Laspur and from there it becomes extremely steep to reach up to Shandur for the next 10-15 kilometers. It was still early when we made it to Mastuj the last sizable settlement on Chitral's side. We made it to Mastuj on a similar track as yesterday or even worst. We were hungry because we didn't have proper food for the last few days and our last proper meal was in Kohat from the Officers Mess. There was nothing open there so we had to live with our own supplies. Our supplies included some biscuits and stuff that we had with a cup of tea. Track to Laspur was not easy either and it took us a long time to negotiate with the track with several breaks on the way. We had to give deserved breaks to our beloved bike so that it could continue. When we crossed Laspur we already knew that the task ahead was daunting and it was not going to get any easier. The bike was crying and despite all precautions we were taking breaks every mile to cool down our ride.
Laspur is a valley full of green fields; the valley opens up as you go further. I would rate this village one of the best scenes. The whole track winds and lost into brown mountains and suddenly we would face such green areas and water streams after a turn that we would become speechless and the beauty unexplainable. You could only experience it yourself.
From Laspur we started the real climb and soon after we discovered that our bike was really giving up. We had to stop at about every mile to give rest to our bike; we cooled it down with spring water again and again. We even opened the piston head and cleaned it. We had even removed the silencer buffer from Lahore but kept the back cover on to reduce the sound. Now we removed the cover as well but the bike was very uncomfortable climbing up. Therefore we decided that we would stop at each kilometer, cool it down and then start again. It worked for a few kilometers but then we had to change our strategy. Shaukat hiked up while I got down from the bike and pushed it in first gear slipping all over. This way we covered some more distance but lost a lot of time and strength in the process. We were very close to the Shandur Pass and that was the motivation in pushing our tired bodies. We had worked hard to reach here and were not giving in to some physical challenge. Slow and steady wins the race so we did.
First thing we saw at the top was a vast plateau empty without having a sign of anyone ever crossed it. The air was thin and cold at 12500 ft. A creepy feeling initially ran through our spines, we had a break to have a little well deserved rest. Pictures were taken for the memoirs. Who knew that I'll be writing about this trip , 16 years after the journey. The love and passion for travel, outdoors and especially the mountains have always kept me going for one trip after another. I've taken up very difficult tasks and completed them and today I was standing on Shandur top, which was my dream ever since I read about this place in a travel article. Shandur was not just that what we were seeing, it was just the beginning. As we started going further we saw the Shandur Lake right in front of our eyes and I must say the view was magnificent. A lake at such height surrounded by mountains, I am unable to find words to express my feelings at this point. The lake is big and beautiful and creates some kind of fairytale feeling at this height. We were thrilled at the same time felt the cold that was getting to our bones and bodies not fed well.
There was a check post by Frontier Corps at the top. We tried to reason with them to let us stay there but they turned it down by saying that we would not survive the cold night in the tent and they did not have extra space to keep the two poor souls. Hence after sight seeing and photography we had to leave towards Gilgit and we didn't know how far would be the next settlement cause if we asked the locals for the distance, they always told us a few kilometers or half an hour, though the reality was always different.
The clouds were gathering fast and soon after it started to rain. We were already cold and now rain was an extra thing. Our raincoats over the jackets were blown by strong winds just picked up. The track was going through fields and mushy soil. We were going at slow speed to negotiate with the natural hazards and were not in the best of state of mind due to tired bodies and had not seen any other traveler on the route so far. Shaukat kept talking to me to keep the spirits high. My body and bones were not working in coordination with each other due to the exertion and cold. Hands were turned blue and raincoat was not much help either. We were not even sure that we were following the right path. After driving for about 45 minutes the track started descending and at places it was very steep rocky descends making it more difficult for me to control the bike and it was just sliding down on the rocks. We kept going with the ups and downs of terrain and had no trace of any habitation. The scenery was spectacular without any doubt.
It took us a few hours to see signs of a village far away. We finally made it to another smaller check post and got to know that we had reached and village names Teru at 10500 ft above sea level. We already knew that another cold night was ahead.
The rain had stopped and our cloths were already dried due to driving. It was evening when we reached the small ground next to an old rest house. There were 4 tents already pitched there and we could see some activity around. Evening was approaching fast so we erected our tent in the last light of the day. The person who took care of the small building lent us two blankets as we did not have any sleeping mattresses and he knew that it wasn’t possible for us to survive the night in minus temperature. We drove for 14 hours during the day slow and steady to enjoy every bit of it and not to put strain on our ride. It was fresh and ready to take on anything after we pampered it that night.
There were three tents by one group and surprisingly the girls were Pakistani and the boys from Swiss. The two girls were sisters from Gujranwala, one of them was married to a Swiss and the third girl was their friend also Swiss. There were three boys two Swiss and one the brother of Pakistani girls. This combination was quite uncommon. This was my first encounter to see some Pakistani girls involved in such activity of camping and outdoors. Then there was another tent by a Dutch who was walking from Gilgit all the way to Chitral.
A local offered us food for money which we happily accepted not knowing that what we were going to get. The night fell very quickly and it was complete dark. We were waiting for that fellow to bring food for us. The dutch also joined us and the hungry stomachs were already growling. Finally he came with some sort of food and it looked to me grass boiled which he claimed was local spinach with some roti (bread). We gathered in our tent to feed ourselves. I could not continue after my first bite due to its awful taste even in a situation when I was too hungry. I just ate some roti and some water and so did my partner, however the dutch somehow liked it and had our share as well. Another night gone, the hungry stomachs were deprived of proper food. The night, as expected was very very cold but we didn't even know when we slept and woke up very early to enjoy the fresh air and the charismatic environment in the mountains. We enjoyed this habit of getting up very early to enjoy the morning and leave early to have more stops in the drive to come.
We used the open-air bathroom facilities and freshened up at the stream flowing close by. It was time to pack up, to have pictures and to say goodbye to Teru. Next stop would be in Yasin valley at Gupis.
By now we were so used to any sort of terrain and tracks that nothing was difficult. We were enjoying our drive and the surroundings. The track from Teru to Gupis was going through a lot of maintenance so we came across people working on the way. In the afternoon we saw a kitchen tent installed for the labor working in the area. We thought to try our luck if we could buy some food from there. Lunch time was already over so could only arrange a little bit of left over gravy that we ate with some roti that we saved last night. It was ok to get us going. It was another long drive of about 80km on the very rough track.
We were stunned by the views after a blind turn and right in front of eyes was an amazing lake "The Phander Lake". This is a lush green area with greenish blue lake water. Definitely the views were priceless. This was the prize of the day and all our tiredness just vanished by the scenery and surroundings. This was the easy and happy side of this place, on the other hand we noticed that the track was dipping and it drove closer to the lake and eventually it passed through the extended water that had flooded the track with rugged mountain on the other side. That made the track almost impossible to pass through on our bike.
We enjoyed this place first by having a break here, took some snaps and then got to the difficult part i.e. how to cross the place. We were doing our analysis and a couple of jeeps passed through; these were in the 4x4 but had great difficulty to pass the mud and water. This gave us some more knowledge about the track. Finally it was decided that my partner will go walking on the side through the mountain and I would drive through on the bike. The toughest part was only about 200 meters and the rest was not as tough. I started off with a first dip in the water, the bike roared out from this ditch and then slowly I was making ground through the muddy track. It was a difficult and scary short ride. Bike kept screaming until I touched the dry part after several minutes. It was an amazing off-road experience on this little bike.
It took us quite a long time to negotiate with this little piece and we covered it by dipping ourselves in the chilled lake water. The bike never gave up and we slowly made progress through this very tricky part of our drive and finally made it to the dry track.
We happily continued our drive towards Gupis and safely made it by late afternoon after 12 hours of driving from Teru. This was a very nice little village. People were very polite and they directed us to a rest house lawn for camping. The in charge charged us a little amount for the night and allowed us to pitch our tent. I made a mistake here that I'll explain in a moment. We found the best spot with lots of grass under to give us cushion under our sleeping bags. Tent was erected and we asked for any place to eat.
The village was about 1 kilometer from here so we trekked to that place; it was just after sunset when we entered a small tea cabin/restaurant. The owner told us that he was from Swat and there is a hiking trail that lead to Swat from this area. This fellow came here 20 years ago to meat his uncle and fell in love with a local girl. Ever since he lived here and made his living through this small restaurant. He had 12 kids and they all were leading a very happy life.
We requested him to arrange eggs for us if possible. He went to a few houses around and was able to get a few eggs for us. We made omelet from the eggs and he baked some roti for us. Some daal/lentils was also served and we had a very nice dinner after so many days. After the dinner we sat with him outside the small room and enjoyed the night and had a nice cup of tea. We received some very good piece of information from him about the area and the people. Very late at night we started walking back to the camp and crashed in our tent.
During the night I felt cold and thought it’s the usual business that we faced everyday. Soon after I felt that my head was kind of wet so I moved down a bit, as I mentioned our tent was quite big for two people. Some more time passed I felt that my hand is touching water so I asked my partner if his side was wet? He answered in negative so we moved a bit to his side. All this was happening to very tired people and we were not investigating what was going on. So we slept again and later in the early hours of morning we realized that we were soaked in water and it was few inches deep water in our tent, all our belongings were just floating in the water. It was terribly cold at this hour. We both jumped out and saw water all around in the lawns. We took all our stuff to move it to the higher ground and tried to warm ourselves. We were wet and cold and it was blowing and the temperatures were in the negative. One of the worst cold I have ever experienced was this night by any standards.
It was not possible to warm us with wet cloths. Therefore we took them off and changed with whatever was in a better position. After making the sleeping bag as dry as possible we jumped in with our heads in to warm ourselves with our breathing. We were dying due to cold and there was nothing we could do, as the rest house was locked with no way to sneak in that we tried already. After trying this technique we thought to do some exercise, some running to keep the blood running and making ourselves warm. This technique worked to some extent and we started feeling better.
It was very early so we offered our prayers; I believe it was even before the Azan took place. Later we investigated what happened last night. The watchman forgot to tell the gardener about our camp in the lawn where he was suppose to water that night. It was a green patch in the mountains so they opened a stream path into it and the water flew right into it. We made a terrible mistake for picking up that nice patch in the depression to pitch our tent. Even if it had rained we had to face similar situation. When the water started filling the depression first, this was the time when I started feeling it but due to the hectic drive we kept moving ourselves in the camp and eventually reached a stage when this patch was completely filled with 8 inches of water. This was part of our learning and I never repeated this mistake again.
Day 9 was boring out of all the days so far. We needed some fuel as we had used our entire spare gallon that we had hooked up at the back of the carrier that proved to be very useful for us on this rugged track. There was a small patrol pump (rather a manual pumping station) in Gupis but we were told that due to landslide they had not received any fuel for the last two days so there was nothing for us. They didn’t know when they would get more. We were stranded without fuel. The drive was not too long today but we were not ready to take risk of being stopped in the middle of nowhere. We came back to our last night Swati friend and explained to him the situation. He spoke to a few people and we were sent to a person who had a motorbike - the Honda CD200. He offered some fuel from his tank at a bit higher price which we happily accepted as we needed the fuel badly. Somehow fuel was taken out of his bike's tank and put into our bike. After this couple of hours exercise we were all set to go towards Gilgit. We started our bumpy ride again and had an uneventful journey to Gilgit by mid afternoon. Though this journey was on a dirt track with not many ups and down, but the track was very dusty and we had to swallow loads of dust on the way. There was bit of traffic on this track that was majority of jeeps traveling producing some extra powdered dust for us. We entered in Gilgit and found it to be quite hot as compared to our previous few days.
Our first preference was to get our bike services and pampered. As soon as we entered the city we found one little workshop and got the tuning done on our bike. The mechanic was surprised that this bike had made it to Shandur and all the way to Gilgit from Lahore. First he didn’t believe it but then he saw our conditions and our equipment and really gave us thumbs up. He did a very good job on our bike in the next couple of hours. He worked on every part of it to make sure that it was fit for another long journey.
Gilgit is the biggest town of northern areas. You will find all the travelers to north stopping in this city for some time for rest or collecting some supplies etc. This town is at the banks of Gilgit river which falls into the Great Indus River. The Gizer river that started from Shandur falls into the Gilgit River. In Gilgit you will find people from all nationalities including famous hikers and it also has some good hotels. Gilgit and Skardu are the two hubs for all sorts of activities in the North. Several climbers come to the Nortern Areas of Pakistan to climb many mountains offered by Pakistan including K2, Nanga Parbat and many more.
Many years back I camped at the Chinar Bagh (Chinar Garden) sitting next to the river. That was my first ever camping trip. At that time I was in grade 12 and the year was 1988. That was an unforgettable trip (separate blog written). We went to the same spot and then pitched our tent. This is a picturesque setting spot. There was another group of scouts already camping there. It was very encouraged to see young children involved in this activity. They were all in their early teens and had one teacher with them. Kids were really having a ball.
We went to the city for dinner and came back to the camp in the dark. The young scouts wanted to hear our travel stories, which we happily shared with them. We became heroes for them because they had not heard of such trip or such people before. We enjoyed with them until late night before crashing finally. We sung songs, played games and entertained them with travel tips and stories. We had a peaceful night after that.
We got up early as usual and enjoyed the morning. After finishing the usual routine we were packed and ready for our next destination. Our next stop was Hunza Valley. The kids had to leave for some place as well. Once they knew we were going to Hunza they also decided to go to Hunza.
We drove all the way on Tarmac and watched the amazing scenery on the way. The most beautiful spot was when we saw the Rakaposhi, one of the most beautiful mountains in the Karakorum standing high at 7788 m above sea level ranked 27th in the world and 12th in Pakistan. Most of the times it is covered with mist and one has to be lucky like us to have a full view of the mountain from this side. It is located in the Nagar Valley.
The road curves around Hunza River changing views and offering spectacular scenery. Its not a long drive and takes about 2-3 hours unless there is a landslide on the way. Hunza is an absolute beauty with green fields and orchards. People are very hard working but we found the people very arrogant in the main street of Hunza. They wanted to deal with the White People only who bring dollars but not with poor students like us. I had a similar experience when I came here 4 years back. Its a pure tourist little town with restaurants and cafes full with western visitors. This would be my last venture to Hunza in protest with the local people behavior. I even asked a couple of arrogant guys that there might be time when you would look for tourists but you wont find any. This was just out of frustration.
We found it very difficult to find place to camp. No one was allowing us to do so and finally one hotel, which had a big open space in front of it charged us reasonable to pitch our tent there. It was a very nice place over looking a very nice view of orchards and mountains. We pitched our tent and settled down to enjoy the view. Soon after that the group of scouts came to camp at the same hotel and they were so happy to see us, and so were we.
We spent the day exploring Hunza and recollected some memories from my last trip in which we also hiked up to Ultar. There are many trekking routes around here. Nagar is the other valley on the other side of Hunza River and equally rich in terms of beauty and routes. There is an amazing thing about Hunza water as it is of grey color. One would think that it is dirty but dirt never settles down because its not dirt rather the water is full of minerals and Hunza people believe that their long life secret is hidden in drinking this water. We drank a lot of Hunza water in this trip.
The evening was cool and entertaining because of the people in the town. A number of groups were coming back from trekking, enjoying in the cafes, having dinner in the restaurants. We had great chat with number of people and enjoyed the evening relaxing and sight seeing. The scouts were happy to tag along and we didn’t disappoint them and let them come with us wherever we went. Everybody was up late at night and was having great time. We became storytellers that night and were telling our travelogue to others who were interested in knowing about it. It was excellent environment, we were sitting at a place surrounded by trees and we had a view far into the valley. The sleep was good.
We had a short ride back to Gilgit, therefore we spent more time around Hunza for exploration and wanted to absorb as much beauty into our eyes as possible. This was my second trip to this place and it impressed me even more than the first trip. The whole northern areas carry some sort of magnetic attraction that every summer I visit different areas and still wanted to come back.
The drive back to Gilgit was very nice and absolute pleasure. Gilgit is always a good place to roam around, as there are many areas within one hour of drive from this town that one could spend a few days to finish the attraction. All the attractions are natural except some Buddhist engravements high on the mountains; this place is about 10 kilometers from Gilgit. That shows some signs of Buddhist settlements here hundreds of years ago. There are a few amazing hanging bridges to appreciate the man made marvels. There is some awesome scenery to watch around this town. Many hiking treks start from here and around. There is an amazing village of Naltar not far from here that is also a Ski resort managed by the Pakistan Air Force. We hiked up to the two lakes in Naltar and the beauty was unmatchable in 1988. Because of all this Gilgit holds importance in the northern areas also being the largest town falling on Karakorum Highway.
Karakorum Highway also known as the 9th wonder of the world was build by Pakistan and China and it is the highest international highway crossing into China at 16002 feet above sea level. There is no other highway that is also an International border at this height. This route is also known as the Silk route used for centuries to reach Central Asia and vice versa. Silk Road is 1300 Kilometers starting from Havaliean closer to Abotabad city in the province of NWFP and goes up to Kashghar a city in the province of Xinjiang China. This engineering marvel took 20 years to build and 1000 people lost their lives while building it. The road goes through one of the toughest terrains in the world and crosses through the famous Karakorum and Himalaya Mountains ranges. Weather conditions are absolutely extreme on this highway with areas at high elevation and temperature dips sharply at night and there are areas, which are very hot during the day.
We were back at Chinar Bagh where we camped two days back. We were in a relaxed mood today. We found one guy from Lahore who was serving for a bank here and insisted having dinner with him. In student life when someone offered us food we never turned that down therefore we couldn't turn down this gentleman's offer and promised to visit him in the evening. He was staying right opposite to Chinar Bagh in a hostel.
Once we were done with the day we came back to his hostel where he offered us not to pitch our tent, as we had to leave for our return trip at 4am. We refused but he insisted and we had to give in. We so thankfully took our stuff to his nice room and left for dinner, all three of us on our bike. We had a nice dinner followed by Kahwa (local tea) had chitchat sitting in excellent environment and fresh air. We enjoyed the night until late yet another time.
Our early morning drives had saved us from the afternoon heat pretty much at many occasions. In the plains we faced temperatures over 40C and the hot air had been biting our cheeks out. It was terrible at times and we had to take brakes to cool down at a river crossing or stream crossing. The engine in our little bike needed rest as well. But we fought all hazards happily to accomplish our goals.
It was early morning again and by 4:30 am we were on the road after saying good-bye to our host. The night was not as hard as we were used to, therefore we had a sleep for 4 hours.
As soon as we came out of Gilgit it started raining. We were so used to different weathers by now that it didn’t bother us much and really enjoyed each drop. It was magical driving on this magnificent highway. Earlier we planned the day and kept it simply open to stay wherever we felt like therefore we had no destination in our minds today. The road was not a rough track but a long way to Rawalpindi at more than 600 kilometers through the mountains.
The rain stopped and we crossed some towns and high speed really helped us covering some good distance. At Chilas we contemplated going through Babusar Pass into Kaghan Valley but decided against it and continued on the Silk Road. We reached Besham before afternoon and took some break, peaked into some shops and moved on. The road is beautiful with The Great Indus River going next to the road all the way out of the mountains. There are areas where road needed maintenance due to landslides. We had to stop for some time at a couple of places because of the land slides as the bulldozers made way for the traffic to pass through. We crossed Batagram and still felt that we could continue closer to Mansehra city to camp at the scouting station if they would allow us. We made it to the scouting camp by sunset after a long and tiring drive. To our dismay that was closed and there was no watchman or anybody. Night was falling in. From here Abbotabad was about an hours drive and from there Rawalpindi another 2-3 hours.
We had turned black because of the smoke and diesel from trucks and buses. Our cloths were absolute black and so were our faces. We discussed and decided to continue till Abbotabad and then would check our strength to continue further. It was dark when we entered the beautiful city of Abbotabad. This city always amazes me, gives me a good feeling. I call this city the real gateway to the North. All routes to the north start from here. This city itself is so pretty and offers amazing scenery and places around it. I have stayed in this city in many of my trips and would always love to stay here because it is so inviting.
Something made us continue to Rawalpindi and stay at one of our friends. So we were driving towards Khanpur dam another scenic route to our new destination. We were unable to see anything scenic due to the dark. Driving in the plains is very hectic as the trucks were driving crazily and nobody really cared about a little tired bike on the highway. They didn’t know that this poor thing was in its 600th kilometers of the day. We made it to Rawalpindi and the last few hours of journey took a big toll of us as compared to the driving in the mountains.
We were dirty mainly with diesel from buses and trucks. It took some time for us to come to normal when knocked at the door where we intended to stay. Our friend came out and to our surprise he didn’t even recognized us due to our outlook. We had to tell him that he was looking at his friends. My body was aching due to the cold and hot air kept hitting me all the way from Gilgit. He took us in and we started cleaning up making a mistake and not making our bodies adjust to the current temperature and conditions. I was kind of paralyzed while taking bath and couldn’t move myself. It was terrible and I was scarred and worried. I called upon help, my friends picked me up and put me in the bed. I was shaking with cold but the body was not moving at all. They wanted to call the doctor that I refused and told them to wait for a few minutes. After some time I was able to move my hands and arms as if life was coming back in my body. It took another 2 hours for my body to become normal. It happened because I was driving the whole day for about 18 hours in a stretch and passed through some very hot and very cold areas, faced some rain. The body needed some time to adjust to the current situation but because we were so dirty and wanted to cleanup ourselves as soon as we reached there. The cold water just locked my muscles and joints and lucky enough to get back to normal without any medical help. Tough souls Tough bodies.
It was an amazing ride in one day. We covered more than 600 kilometers through very tough terrain averaging 34 kilometers per hour with all the breaks we had on the way to explore different towns and areas. Being students we were feeling so proud to share our experience with others.
We were served with a very nice and delicious dinner at our friends and we chatted late into the night. We slept in piece to get up late the next morning.
Owing to our daily routine, despite sleeping very late we both were up early. Had a little leisure before we were ready for our next destination i.e. Gujrat. We had to travel on the Grand Trunk Road towards Lahore and planned to break our journey at Gujrat just two hours away from Lahore.
We started late with a heavy home made breakfast. Had a round of the city and started on GT road. It was about 3.5 hours drive but we covered it in 5 hours due to hour interest in exploring each town that we pass. We made it to Gujrat for another comfortable evening and a late night meeting with hour friends there. Next day we would be home.
It was only 2-3 hours ride back home that we made easily and were welcomed by our family with hugs and love. Every body missed us in the last two weeks and everyone was eager to know how was our trip. It took us days to tell them our stories.
We had collected such memories that we would be cherishing whole of our lives. This kind of trips is always tiring, difficult and high risk but memorable.
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