Essential Information - Pakistan - The Old Silk Route
Mountains and Glaciers
Getting there and away
The tour starts in Islamabad on Sunday. You need to arrive in Islamabad no later than 03.50 am on Day 1. If you decide to arrive before this date redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and will organise a transfer to your hotel at an additional cost. Our holiday price does not include your international flight, or local flights.
The tour ends 14 days later in Islamabad. Please feel free to book your flight for anytime on the departure day, as you will be staying in Islamabad the previous night. If you are flying home on the departure day your transfer to the airport is included in the tour price. If you decide to stay in Pakistan beyond the last day of the tour redspokes can help you organise extra accommodation and transfers to the airport if needed.
Passport and Visa
For Pakistan the price of visas varies according to nationality. Visas must be obtained prior to travel. Please be aware that conditions are subject to change and please consult the High Commission or Embassy for further information. Visa forms can be obtained by following this link www.phclondon.org/
Insurance and vaccinations
It is a condition of joining our trips that you must be adequately insured. All persons are expected to arrange their own insurance. Polices should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for copy of your policy to be sent in with your completed booking form.
Snowcard Insurance Services specialize in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote: www.snowcard.co.uk. If travelling from the UK you will also need insurance that is not FCO sensitive.
If you require vaccinations see your doctor well in advance of your travel date. Courses of vaccinations can take 6 weeks. We consider vaccinations against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and B and a tetanus injection to be essential.
Cycling support and grading
All the time you will have the security of a back-up vehicle, either a jeep or truck. The vehicles will carry our entire luggage and you when needed. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel.
This trip is designed for the experienced cyclist. The distances and gradient each day are not extreme, but the altitude and terrain make this a tough trip. Although you do not need to be an athlete, it pays to spend some time before the trip getting into the best shape possible. This will ensure you get the most from your holiday. We can send you specific training tips on request.
Equipment and bike stuff
This tour is suitable for most types of bicycles; however, please ensure that you bike is in good working order before you leave on tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particularly we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible.
We would also advise the following tools to accompany you on your tour: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels - check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
In terms of clothing this is clearly up to you and we can only supply a rough guide as to what to take. This guide is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs. Sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes, cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs), heavy socks (1 pairs), underwear (4 pairs), lightweight thermal long johns, lightweight, long-sleeved thermal shirt, lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs), shorts, t-shirts (2), lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket, waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves, warm gloves, fleece hat or cap with earflaps, headlamp & spare bulbs/batteries, spare laces, toiletries, basic first aid kit, sleeping bag (can hire in Islamabad), towel (small), sun cream, lip balm. If you have any questions about this list please feel free to contact us.
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and, to this end, we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing, etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance - but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
What's included and what's not
All accommodation will be in hotels or guesthouses pus one night of camping. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are available at extra cost. It is possible to hire a sleeping bag locally for the night of camping.
Most food is provided on the tour, see our itinerary for details. Pakistani food is similar to northern India but generally less spicy it also has some Central Asian and Middle Eastern influence. All transportation and local guides within Pakistan are included.
Our holiday price does not include international flights or internal flight(s).
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £100 will be more than enough to cover the tour.
Pakistan in general is a very safe country to travel in. However, things can get stolen, and a few simple precautions are always wise. The most important is to keep your ticket, passport, money and travellers cheques on your person at all times. Money belts are a good idea.
95% Muslims, 5% others
Per capita income:
- Gilgit: Kargah Buddha
- Cross the longest suspension bridge in Asia.
- Cycle alongside the River Indus.
- Ghilkin Glacier.
- Visit the Hunza valley.
- Karimabad: 13th C Fort, Sacred Rocks of Hunza.
"I enjoyed the tour immensely - well organized, well led a good bunch of participants who were all friendly and prepared to make the effort to all get on. Dermot..."