Inspired by Kangana Ranaut’s Queen and want to go on a girls’ (or just girl’s) week out of the city? Look no further, here’s a list of Pakistan’s most friendly places for female travelers looking to explore the country. So this Women’s Day, go for a dream vacation to any of these beautiful places!
Perhaps the absence of local women in Skardu’s bazaar will be intimidating, but by and large, Baltistan is a woman mountaineer’s paradise. Baltis are used to foreigners and by extension foreign women, and are not as conservative as people of the Gilgit side of GB. But Baltistan’s glory is not in Skardu, but in the Deosai plains where you can go looking for the Himalayan brown bear, or the gorgeous Basho valley where you can dip in secluded hot springs with a bunch of other carefree (and cloth-free) women. Baltistan is home to clusters of Nurbakhshi Muslim populations, who like the Ismailis, do not make their women observe purdah, and Khaplu is a wonderfully pretty example of such a location. Take a jet straight to Skardu from Islamabad, or go on one of the air-conditioned NATCO buses from Rawalpindi to Skardu, where everything else is accessible through rent-able jeep tracks.
Who could not see this coming? Believed by some to be the home of the fabled kingdom of Shangri-la, Hunza is a woman’s sanctuary in an extremely patriarchal nation. Most of the locals are either Ismailis or converts to Ismaili Islam, and the idea of confining women to households is completely foreign in this valley. It’s a massive relief to see such liberty right after conservative Gilgit, and if you’re coming to this part of the world by road, from the ultra-conservative Chilas. Hunza’s beauty is bolstered by the open-hearted nature of its people, the care with which they treat their own community as seen in the forts of Altit and Baltit and the quality of life in the village of Ganish. Karimabad, the district’s capital, is at most a two hour drive from Gilgit, which can be reached from Islamabad by air or through a NATCO bus departing from Rawalpindi.
Ahead of Hunza and after the Attabad Lake is Gojal, the last Pakistani region before the Karakoram Highway opens to China. Dominated by the Tajik-speaking Wakhi people and commonly understood as Upper Hunza, seldom visited Gojal is one of Pakistan’s best-kept secrets, even when it comes to local tourists. The hospitable Wakhis literally live off the beaten track, and the place is ripe for adventurous women yearning to explore a somewhat uncharted world. The Shimshal Valley, lush and populated with one of the world’s last pastoralist communities, is perfect for a trek inspired by Cheryl Strayed. The villages of Passu and Gulmit are equally fun to explore local culture, and the Chapursan Valley towards Afghanistan is perhaps the only view a Pakistani woman can ever get of the country without having to wear a chaadar or a burqa.
The Kalasha Valleys
Recognized even by the state as a profitable cultural anomaly, the Kalash inhabitants of the valleys in the Chitral district treat women very differently from the rest of the inhabitants of the KP province. The blunt and tough women of the Kalash are subject to witty commentary by writers like Eric Newby and Jonny Bealby, both who after exploring rigidly conservative Afghanistan, suspected that Kalash women were actually houris and they had somehow ended up in Muslim paradise. There is only one valley that continues to retain a Kalash majority, Rumboret, but even the Muslim majority valleys are comfortable with women travellers, primarily because the district is multi-sectarian, with pockets of Ismaili populations in Upper Chitral adding to the cultural diversity of this sparsely populated region, and is not as conservative in regards to its womenfolk as other communities in Pakistan.
Book a tour online with Tripkar to visit some of the most beautiful places in Pakistan!