When we first considered travelling to Pakistan, we were unsure what to do.
I had done some research and was convinced that Pakistan would be relatively easy to navigate as an independent traveller. On the other hand, we only had two weeks, and an organised tour would help us see more in such a short amount of time.
In the end, Daniel and I decided to book a trip with Crossroads Adventure. If you’re considering visiting Pakistan and looking for a Pakistani tour operator, here’s a review of our trip and Crossroads Adventure to help you decide whether you should go with them.
Why travel to Pakistan?
Before we talk about Crossroads Adventure, let’s talk about Pakistan.
If you’re reading this review, you’re likely considering travelling to Pakistan. Congratulations, you’re about to embark on a fantastic trip!
We know that Pakistan gets a lot of bad reputation in the media. After 9/11, the country had safety issues and the Pakistani tourism industry almost completely collapsed.
But despite the negative news you might have heard, Pakistan is an excellent country to visit.
You’ll come across some of the most friendly and helpful locals we’ve ever met on our trips. Many people, especially the younger generation, have never or rarely seen foreigners, so they’re very curious. In the bigger cities, we often had locals ask us for pictures. In the countryside, we drank tea with strangers. Everyone was incredibly friendly and respectful.
Considering that foreigners still don’t travel to Pakistan often, going here gives you the chance to discover a unique culture. We organised a homestay through Crossroads Adventure and got the opportunity to stay with a local family and catch a glimpse of their daily life.
Besides that, Pakistan is also a beautiful country. If you like mountains, you’re going to love Gilgit Baltistan. From Fairy Meadows, for example, you have a stunning view of the Nanga Parbat, one of the highest mountains in the world. Follow the Karakorum Highway, and you’ll discover fantastic landscapes.
On the other hand, if you are interested in history, you can visit the forts of the Ancient Kingdom of Hunza or explore the Lahore Fort. Lahore is a great city to learn more about the Mughal Empire and also to see some fascinating architecture.
There’s a bit of everything in Pakistan. Even food lovers will enjoy the country as they explore Pakistani cuisine. We are sure that if you travel here, you will have a fantastic trip.
Organised tour vs independent travel
As we already mentioned, one of the biggest questions we asked ourselves when we planned our trip to Pakistan was whether we wanted to travel independently or go on an organised tour.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I believe that Pakistan is one of those countries where it’s not too difficult to travel by yourself. The locals are very friendly and helpful, and public transport frequently connects the large cities.
In the North, getting around might be a bit more difficult, but many other travellers report that hitchhiking is a valid and easy option.
Travelling independently gives you a lot of flexibility. You might also find it easier to talk to strangers you meet on your travels. And lastly, it’s usually much cheaper than an organised tour.
On the other hand, going with a reputable tour company like Crossroads Adventure also has its advantages. You don’t need to worry about any details of how to get around and where to stay.
Going with a local guide means you’ll learn more about the sights you visit and you’re also together with someone who can translate. Plus, if you have limited time, you’ll see much more than if you travel independently. Going on an organised tour means having private transport, making it much faster and more efficient to get around.
The latter was the main reason for us to look for a tour, and we didn’t regret it for a second.
Crossroads Adventure Review
What is Crossroads Adventure?
Crossroads Adventure is a Pakistani tour operator. The company is run by Sultan, the CEO, who also runs some of the tours.
We booked our trip through TourRadar, but it is also possible to book directly through the website. Sultan was very fast in replying and sending us a personalised offer for our trip.
Once we had booked, Sultan gave us his WhatsApp number. He was our main contact for any questions we had, and he also issued our letter of invitation for the visa application.
Sultan works together with his brother, some of his cousins and other tour guides who showed us the country.
While you can find a few itinerary suggestions on the Crossroads Adventure website, Sultan is highly flexible and can help create a customised trip. This means that if you prefer more luxurious hotels, for example, or you want to visit a specific part of the country, you can ask, and Sultan can tell you the best options.
Our Pakistan itinerary
While I had done some research on the best things to see in Pakistan, I wasn’t too picky about wanting to go to a specific place (except maybe for Fairy Meadows). That’s why I was glad that Sultan put together a 12-day tour of the highlights of Pakistan for us.
As we already mentioned, Sultan is very flexible with itineraries and can help you put together a trip that perfectly fits your needs and interests.
Here is our itinerary at a glance:
- Full day in Islamabad
- Trip to Fairy Meadows
- Drive through Deosai National Park
- Exploring Karimabad and the Hunza Valley
- Homestay in Upper Hunza, including Passu and Khunjerab Pass
- Return to Islamabad
We had the choice between going on a group tour or doing a private tour. The price difference was small enough that Daniel and I decided to go with the private one. That way, we had a lot more flexibility and could even add in a homestay experience with Sultan’s family.
On our first day, we got picked up at the Islamabad airport and visited the capital of Pakistan. The next day, we started early to drive to Northern Pakistan, where our first stop was Fairy Meadows.
Fairy Meadows is one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan, so make sure to include it in your itinerary. You can read everything from how to get there to what to see and do in our
After Fairy Meadows, we headed to Deosai National Park and then based ourselves in Karimabad to explore the cultural heritage of the Kingdom of Hunza. Finally, we followed the Karakoram Highway to Northern Hunza, stayed with Sultan’s family for two nights and drove all the way up to the Chinese border.
Our tour finished in Islamabad, where we visited a truck art workshop. That visit was spontaneously arranged, and it was a great opportunity to see where all the colourful Pakistani trucks came from!
Since we still had a few days in the country, we independently travelled to Lahore. Sultan kindly gave us the number of a tour guide from Lahore who he trusts and who showed us the highlights of Lahore in 24 hours.
What did our tour include?
Our tour included all accommodation and transport within Pakistan (international flights were, of course, excluded). It also included a boat ride on Attabad Lake, entrance tickets to the forts in Karimabad, the letter of invitation, and any help we needed to receive the Pakistan visa.
Breakfast was included as well, but other meals weren’t. Since food is really cheap in Pakistan, though, this wasn’t a problem at all.
Accommodation on our tour
During our tour, we mostly stayed in good mid-range hotels. We didn’t go to any five-star luxury hotels, but most of our hotels were above the standard that we are usually used to when travelling.
We always had a nice room with a private bathroom. One of my favourite hotels was the Old Hunza Inn in Karimabad, where we had a fantastic view of the valley and the mountains.
Another highlight of the tour was, without a doubt, the homestay with Sultan’s family. We had a great time, and we got an insight into Pakistani culture that many travellers won’t get.
Plus, we were very lucky. On the day we arrived, a wedding took place in the village, and we were able to join. How often can you spontaneously crash a Pakistani wedding?
Since we went on a private tour, we used private transport to get around the country.
From Islamabad to Northern Pakistan, Sultan arranged a driver with a regular car for us. From then on, we then travelled in Sultan’s jeep. The roads in Pakistan can be rough, but the jeep was well-equipped to handle them.
Finally, on our way back to Islamabad, we travelled with Sultan’s cousin in a regular car.
All transport we used was very comfortable – with the exception of the jeep that took us to Fairy Meadows. The road to Fairy Meadows is steep, in a rough shape, and very narrow, so the only way of getting there is to hire a jeep driver who knows how not to die on that stretch of road.
It’s bumpy and one of the scariest jeep rides I’ve ever done, and breaking down halfway through made it even worse. But in the end, our driver knew exactly what he was doing, and the views of the Nanga Parbat were well worth the drive.
One of the highlights of Pakistan was trying the delicious Pakistani food. If you have never tried Pakistani food, you’re in for a treat!
Travelling with locals was helpful, as we could always ask our guide about the different menu items. I don’t think we would have discovered as many dishes by ourselves.
Most meals weren’t included in our tour, but that wasn’t a problem. Restaurants in Pakistan are amongst the cheapest we have ever been to, anywhere in the world, and the portions are always generous.
If you want to learn more about Pakistani food, check out our post about the
Highlights and downsides
As we already mentioned, one of the highlights of our trip was staying with Sultan’s family and crashing a wedding. I loved staying with his family, and everyone was incredibly nice!
We enjoyed tea with his parents and his sister, but we also went to say hello to some of his extended family. Sultan taught us about life in a Pakistani village, and we loved seeing the interior of the houses.
We visited a traditional house from Hunza, which had been turned into a museum, and we now know that not much has changed since then. It’s very different to anything we’re used to in the Western world, and we’re very grateful we got that glimpse into Pakistani culture.
More highlights of our trip included walking on a glacier, visiting the ancient Hunza forts, looking up at the Nanga Parbat and taking pictures of the milky way up at Fairy Meadows.
I honestly recommend our trip to anyone who has an interest in visiting Pakistan.
The only downside Daniel and I can think of is that the price of our tour increased a bit after we had already booked it.
Remember how the gas prices went up like crazy in 2022? Sultan sent us a message, informing us that he had to increase the price of the tour by 200$ (for both of us together, not per person).
I guess that’s the downside of going with a small, local tour operator. A big company like G Adventures or Intrepid can absorb such gas price increases. They can run a few tours at a low profit because they have others running from which they make a high profit.
A small company can’t do that.
On the other hand, I’d rather support a local tour operator than a large, international company. That way, at least, I know which community profits from the money we spend in the country.
Would we go with Crossroads Adventure again?
I can highly recommend Sultan and his tour company to anyone who wants to visit Pakistan. He’s knowledgeable, professional and very attentive. Our tour was a lot of fun.
I also loved the flexibility we had. That homestay we absolutely loved? We decided on it after we had already booked the tour, and it was no problem to adjust the itinerary. Even when we were in the country, we still had the option of adding cool places, like going to a truck art workshop in Islamabad.
If you also want to explore Pakistan, we have a surprise for you. Sultan gave us the code TOPTRAVEL5, with which you’ll get 5% off on any tour you book with Crossroads Adventure.
So make sure you head over to the Crossroads Adventure website and browse through the trips that are available there. Or send a message if you need some help in deciding on an itinerary or want to customise your trip.
When you’re ready to book your trip, mention the code TOPTRAVEL5 so you can get your discount.
Until your next adventure!
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