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Story: Most governments advise against all but essential travel to Pakistan, as military groups target both locals and tourists alike. In order to guarantee visitors’ safety, many places require foreign travellers to be accompanied by armed escorts and pass through numerous police checkpoints. 

Yet the situation has improved significantly in recent years, and Pakistan is receiving more visitors. Those who travel there are unanimous in finding a country of extreme natural beauty; snow-capped peaks, remote glaciers and arid deserts, topped off by some of the most hospitable people in the world.

Heading to the north of Pakistan, you can follow the the western spur of the Himalayas, including the K2 – the second highest mountain in the world – and head towards China along the famous Karakoram highway. At high altitude and in extreme weather conditions, this stretch of road is not just a feat of engineering but an immensely enjoyable drive, whether you’re in a jeep or on a motorbike.

Travelling from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad to the northern Hunza Valley, the idea of terrorism couldn’t be further from one’s mind. Surrounded by 7000m peaks, small villages and curious locals with big smiles you can’t help but feel at peace. You’ll drink chai with strangers, stay at a family home, dance at local wedding and be invited for dinner. It’s hard not to be elated by the kindness of the people.

Pakistan still has its challenges, and it will take time to overcome them. But look beyond the turmoil and you will find a truly extraordinary destination yet to be trodden by tourists.  

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