Expedition Hunza- Karachi to Hunza-Part 2
Continuing from my last post (Read here), my stop over at Rawalpindi was just for the night. After quickly booking my bus ticket for Gilgit City with NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Corporation), one of the largest transport services in the Gilgit-Baltistan; I checked in at a local hotel and then called it a night. The bus was scheduled to leave at 9 a.m. After checking out the following morning, I took a taxi to the NATCO bus stop at Pirwadai. During this time the taxi drove through the city center. Passing through this area reminded me of
downtown Karachi. The narrow roads and the old architecture remnants of the British Raj, made me realize how similar it seemed with Saddar, Karachi. It was 8.30 a.m. and the morning rush hour was in full swing with people and cars and auto rickshaws moving about in a crazy frenzy in order to get to their places of work. Thanks to the taxi driver’s expertise in navigating the streets, I reached on time at the bus stop.
After boarding, the bus waited for another 15 minutes before finally leaving Rawalpindi for Gilgit City. En route the bus stopped at NATCO’s second terminal on the outskirts of Rawalpindi to pick the second batch of passengers after which the journey began. Once again, the excitement of travel built up and I was extremely eager to reach the second last stop before finally reaching Hunza.
The scenery from Pindi to Gilgit City was altogether a different one. Instead of fields of rice and wheat the landscape transformed to the scenic hills and mountains of the Himalayan foothills and the beginning of the Karakorum Range. As we moved on, the valley of Abbottabad was a sight to see. As the bus snaked through the mountains, the tall and huge pines trees against the backdrop of a sunny, blue sky and the occasional cover of stratocumulus and cumulus clouds, was breathtaking. The clouds too formed odd shapes with the frequent shafts of sunlight breaking through the clouds.
This scene was firmly burned into my mind and whenever I recall this trip, it always creeps in making me miss the trip every time.
By noon we reached Mansehra where the bus stopped at one of its terminals. I took this shot from the restaurant with the hills of Abbottabad in the background.
After lunch the journey continued into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where we stopped at Besham at NATCOs terminal. It was evening then. After refueling and doing a routine check on the bus, we continued onwards. As we slowly entered the Northern Areas the roads became narrower with sharper turns. At many of those turns, the driver of the bus approached at a speed that made you think that the bus will tip over and plunge into the valley below, but no, the driver’s experience made sure that the bus stayed on the road rather than on the floor of the valley.
Gradually the bus made its way through the mountains and occasionally we’d stop at different check posts or on the side of the road for a break or two or at many of the roadside restaurants for dinner or a light snack. Anyways, the journey was nearing an end. By about 5 a.m. we were in the vicinity of Gilgit City. You could make out by the barren slopes of the Karakorum Mountains. By 6.30 a.m., we had reached our final stop.
So this is it, the journey from Rawalpindi to Gilgit City. My next post will be about the short trip from Gilgit to the Hunza valley. So I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Do comment! It helps to know what you guys think. Cheerio! (-: