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things have settled down again in Baluchestan, so I'd say it's as safe as usual, i.e. pretty safe but with the potential for security to deteriorate quite quickly. But don't worry too much about it.
As for troops being posted on the KKH, this is purely a precautionary measure. The Taliban temporarily took Buner, 70km from Islamabad, and this scared the government. But pressure from the US and UK sent them out again. This is a long way from any part of the KKH, and security on the KKH is not affected at all.
Travel by day only and you'll be fine.
But be prepared for incredible heat from Multan through Bahawalpur and Sukkur until you climb up through Sibi. Drink LOTS of water and try to rest at the hotest times.
As promised, finally got a chance to reply to this thread! We're in China now, so safely made it through Pakistan
Our route was: Taftan, Dalbandin, Quetta, Sukkor, Lahore, Abbottobad (start of KKH) and then up the KKH.
First of all, don't do what we did and stay in Taftan - it's a hole. Best plan (particularly if you were on a bike in this heat) would be to stay in Zahedan and get up at sunrise to cross the border and then head for Dalbandin. Don't underestimate the heat and crappy roads - 400km can be a LONG way.
From Taftan to Quetta we had no police escort at all. Bit suprised by this, but we had no problems and felt quite safe. The locals along the road were quite friendly and when we stopped for petrol (purchased from drums and coke bottles!) they were all very friendly.
From Quetta leaving the hotel, we again had no police escort but got 'picked up' shortly out of town. In all of Baluchistan there are frequent police check points. Some of them require only a smile and a wave, some require you to stop and fill in passport details in the log book, and some of them stop you and start to escort you.
From Quetta to Lahore I would say that we were escorted perhaps 70% of the way. The types of escorts also vary - some seem to be nothing more than the local policeman trying to take you to his mates hotel, right through to extremely serious, well armed guys who are quite concerned and cautiously taking care of you in places they see as high risk. The police escorts can occasionaly be tiresome, travelling well below the speed that you'd be comfortable at (frustrating when you are trying to do big km's in a day). Other times though they can get through traffice that might otherwise hold you up (more applicable in a car than a bike I guess).
At no point did we have any trouble at all. Most of the time the police escorts seemed to be only precautionary, and we rarely felt unsafe. There were only two times when the police seemed to be taking things more seriously than usual that we were a little concerned - but neither time were there any actual issues.
I think the thing to remember is that things can change quickly. Only the week before we were in Quetta, the town was apparently swarming with armed civillians. When we were there, we briefly walked around and saw nothing like that. I think you need to be prepared to change your itinerary if required, and just follow what the local police direct.
We didn't get a feeling of any animosity towards foreigners, and I think if you were to be caught up in something then it would mostly just be bad luck - rarther than being targeted.
The KKH was an entirely different story. We felt safe and apart from Besham (linked via road to the Swat valley) there was very little police presence.
was reading some old threads and was wondering what the latest reccomended routes for crossing Iran-Pakistan
Im currently in Tabriz and will be crossing in around 6 days...(all being well)
Based on my experience the best route is:
Especially Quetta- Sukkur is important.
I did drive from Quetta to Multan passing Dera Ghazi Khan and it was not allowed to stop in Dera Ghazi Khan, resulting in a mad 15 hours drive.
Don't make the same mistake and take the route with Sukkur.
More details including a complete diary and movies you find on our website: Life Is Joy - Home
Thanks for the reply. I love the photographs on your blog! Oh man I can't wait to see that on my own!
Originally Posted by MikeS
I was there 4 years ago so sure things have changed, Maximondo will no doubt have more up to date info. The KKH is a must-do if you can get there.
He Mike, I really enjoyed your blog! Good writing!
I will keep an eye on the situation and probably decide what I'm going to do when I'm there. I don't want to be the stupid, foolish tourist that get's himself kidnapped because he drove his motorcycle into a Taliban camp or something.
The areas between Quetta and Multan are (or at the very least were) off-limits for foreigners. Actually the police should guide you to make a detour via south. The Swiss couple, who were kidnapped, were on that area, where they probably should not have been, no idea how they even got there.
If you get yourself into trouble you've probably got yourself to blame. This was my experience below. They guide you through because it's a very unsafe country. You don't have much choice on routes and if you worry about staying in crap places then this isn't the part of the world for you.
Just thought I'd post an update (very belatedly) to my Pakistani experiences.
I lived in Hyderabad for about 6 months, and on my 4.5 year trip around Eurasia I spent (by chance) 365 days in Pakistan over three visits.
I took yet another route through Quetta on my way north from Hyderabad in September 2009. I had just rebuilt the engine in my Hilux and broke it in blasting up the Bolan pass through Sibi etc, non-stop to Quetta.
It was hard to find a cheap place to stay in Quetta that accepted foreigners, but I found one eventually. The good old days at the Muslim Hotel are certainly over though.
After Quetta I headed north through Qila Saifullah to Zhob. As someone who has seen most of Pakistan, I was rapturous about the scenery in northern Baluchistan - beautiful apple orchards and good roads. Very friendly locals, though I found Zhob to be a very conservative town.
My destination was Islamabad, from where I planned to cross the Khyber Pass and move on to Jalalabad / Kabul and further into Afghanistan. This western part of Pakistan was the water test for me; if I felt comfortable and safe here, then i would be OK in Afghanistan. I was wearing local dress, driving an unmarked Toyota Hilux with local-style number plates (though with my UK number). I had no trouble from the police, who thought I was local at first, would speak Pashto, then Urdu, then finally a few words of English when they realised I was a foreigner. It was a beautiful late autumn drive and I was very glad I decided to try this route than take on all the wretched traffic on the National Highway (which goes through Punjab).
From Zhob, I pushed further north through spectacular scenery, many nomadic families leading camels laden with their tents, very friendly people, though clearly not used to seeing foreigners. I clipped a corner of South Waziristan (I didn't actually know this at the time), through very steep gorges with striking scenery not unlike the KKH, before emerging onto a bleak plain near Dera Ismail Khan. I didn't stop in DI Khan, but pushed on through Bannu. There was a lot of army deployed on the road, but otherwise everything felt OK.
I spent the night in Kohat, a very friendly but very Pashtun town with really decent bazaars. I think there was a bomb attack a day after I left though. From Kohat, I decided against trying the road through Dara Adam Khel (the gunsmith's town) as I had heard from good sources that this little road between Kohat and Peshawar was really unsafe - even for locals. Shame.
The road from Kohat to 'Pindi is decent, crosses the Indus on an old British iron railway bridge. The river is pretty feeble up here compared to what it can be in Hyderabad. Then the usual awful mayhem of driving through Pir Wadhai in 'Pindi before chilling out in Islamabad.
which continue the journey over the Khyber Pass and into Afghanistan. Sorry that there are still no labels.
Almost three years old (how time flies!), and probably not of any use to anyone here, but just wanted to say that if you ever fancy taking an unorthodox route from Quetta to the north, it's very scenic indeed.
We crossed Pakistan about one month ago. We entered from Iran through the border at Taftan - but we didn't stay in Taftan, we stayed the night before the border in Mir Javeh on the Iranian side.
We had to travel with escort all the way to Quetta, which took us two very long days - the roads are in some parts really bad (sand, huge potholes) and sometimes you have to wait for the next escort for an hour or so.
In Quetta we tried to get the NOC to travelfurther on to Lahore - but it was denied. We were told it is too dangerous at the moment. And we heared about a guy that was arested because he went without the documents.... but this might just be a fairy-tale of the road...
so we decided to take the train directly to Lahore also to avoid the extreme heat during this time of the year.
From Lahore we went to Islamabad, and then we explored the Karakorum Range - which is amazing and incredibly beautiful. But don't stay on the KKH - go and explore the side roads, like the road to Skardo, the Deosai Plains, the Road from Murree to Abottabad, and many other small valleys and places - the KKH itself is in some parts spectacular, but in other it is just boring, full of dust and traffic....
If you want more information, you can have a look at our website 2 Live the Dream | Heike & Filippo Travel the World on Motorcycle - there is also a contact link, and you can write us an email....
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