Indus Valley Explorer

Southern Pakistan is a land of vast deserts and ancient civilisations, imbued with the mysticism of the Sufi tradition. Thousands of years before western civilisation, some of the first cities were founded here. Its history encompasses the armies of Alexander the Great and the Moghul Empire.

On this journey you’ll discover the history of a fascinating country. We start in the port of Karachi, one of Asia’s most populous cities. Then we visit the tombs and shrines of Chaukhandi and Makli. From there we travel to Mohenjo Daro, one of the world’s great archaeological sites and dating back to the 3rd millennium BC.

Next we head to Sukkur to look for the endangered Indus River dolphin. Then we make our way through the Cholistan Desert, visiting the enormous Derawar Fort, rising from the sands. At Multan – the ‘city of saints’ – we discover remarkable shrines and mosques where we see how Islam is fused with elements of Sufism. After that, we visit Harappa – another of the great ancient cities of the Indus Valley. Harappa provides a tantalising window into the past glories of the region.

In Lahore – perhaps the greatest of the Moghul dynasty’s cities – we explore its atmospheric bazaars and striking historic sites. Then we make our way on to the modern capital Islamabad. Nearby are the remnants of the Gandharan Buddhist civilisation at Taxila and Takht e Bhai, yet another part of the country’s historical jigsaw puzzle.

Immerse yourself in the magic and mysteries of a charming and surprising country.

Indus Valley Explorer

Highlights

  • Ancient civilisations of the Indus Valley
  • Visit Multan’s shrines and mosques
  • The Moghul architecture of Lahore
  • Look for Indus River dolphins
  • Buddhist sites of Taxila and Takht e-Bhai

Day 1 - Karachi

Arrive in Karachi and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Mehran Hotel or similar.

Karachi

Karachi is perhaps Pakistan’s most cosmopolitan city, located on the Arabian Sea and with long established trading links with the world beyond. It’s also the largest city – and, according to some sources, the fourth largest in the world – and can be confusing, colourful, and undoubtedly full of character, making it a great introduction to this fascinating country.

Originally a collection of small islands, first mentioned by Ptolemy in the 2nd century, it grew significantly during the era of British rule and was the first capital of independent Pakistan after Partition. Today it is perhaps one of the most easy going and liberal cities in the country, with an ethnically diverse population and a very modern feel – but scratch the surface and you can still find its ancient traditions thriving.

Day 2 - Karachi

Spend today exploring Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city with a population of over 20 million, and the heart of the nation’s economy. We visit the National Museum of Pakistan for an insight into the country’s troubled history, the Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum, and other sights like the old British era buildings. Overnight Mehran Hotel or similar. (BLD)


Day 3 - Thatta – Hyderabad

Drive to Hyderabad. On the way we stop at the vast necropolis of Makli, said to contain over a million graves, including the 16th century tomb of Mirza Jani Beg and the 17th century mausoleum of Diwan Shirfa Khan. We also visit the ancient city of Banbhore, and the unique Chaukhandi tombs. From here continue to Thatta, once a large and prosperous city and said to be a resting site of Alexander the Great’s army. Overnight Hotel Indus or similar. (BLD)


Day 4 - Ranikot – Sehwan Sharif

Visit the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif, dating to the 18th century and covered in beautiful blue and white tiles. We continue to the impressive Ranikot Fort, with its vast walls – in a rather remote location, no-one quite knows what it was built to defend, and its origins are unclear. We end the day in Sehwan Sharif. Overnight Hotel Sehwan Divine or similar. (BLD)


Day 5 - Mohenjo Daro – Larkana

Visit Mohenjo Daro, one of the most important sites of the ancient Indus valley civilization, and one of Pakistan’s greatest archaeological treasures. Continue to Larkana for the night. Overnight Sambara Inn or similar. (BLD)

Mohenjo Daro

Discovered in the 1920s, Mohenjo Daro was one of the most important cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation, and dates back to approximately 2500 BC – around the same time as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Spread out over three hundred hectares, it is believed that at its peak around 40,000 people lived here, making it one of the largest and most advanced cities in the world at the time. Laid out in a grid system and built out of baked bricks, the city featured a complex water management system, complete with a sophisticated drainage and covered sewer system, and baths in nearly every house.

Day 6 - Sadu Bela - Sukkur

Visit the fort at Kot Diji, said to be the largest in Asia, then visit Sukkur Barrage, a vast feat of engineering which controls one of the largest irrigation systems in the world. Nearby we take a boat trip around the island of Sadu Bela to look for Indus River dolphins. Overnight Hotel One or similar. (BLD)


Day 7 - Bhong – Rahim Yar Khan

Continue our journey to the town of Rahim Yar Khan. On the way we visit the beautiful mosque at Bhong, built over a period of fifty years in the 20th century and with exquisite design and decorations. Overnight Desert Palm Hotel or similar. (BLD)


Day 8 - Uch Sharif – Derawar - Bahawalpur

Drive to Bahawalpur. En route visit Uch Sharif with its stunning ruined tombs, the oldest of which dates to the 12th century, as well as Derawar Fort. Derawar was built in the 9th century by the Rajputs and its massive walls rise from the Cholistan desert to a height of 30 metres. Overnight Hotel One or similar. (BLD)


Day 9 - Multan

Spend the day exploring Multan, the ‘city of saints’, noted for its remarkable shrines and mosques. This was the first town of the Punjab to be captured by Muhammad bin Qasim in 711 AD. Ruled at the time by a Brahmin dynasty, it eventually became a major Islamic centre. Since then it has attracted more mystics and holy men than perhaps anywhere else on the subcontinent and is today dominated by their shrines and tombs, which we explore. Overnight Sindbad Hotel or similar. (BLD)


Day 10 - Harappa – Lahore

Drive to Lahore, visiting Harappa on the way. Harappa dates back to the 3rd millennium BC and after Mohenjo Daro is the most important site of the Indus Valley civilization. Overnight Shalimar Tower Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 11 - Lahore

Explore the key sights of the city including the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, and Shalimar Gardens, among others. Overnight Shalimar Tower Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Lahore

Considered by many to be the cultural capital of Pakistan, Lahore is one of the great centres of Mughal architecture, with a bewildering array of monuments and sites to explore. Its origins are lost in the mists of time but the city rose to prominence in the 11th century when it was developed by Mahmud of Ghazni, who made it the capital of the Ghaznavid Empire. In subsequent years it was ruled over by a number of different dynasties until its sack by the Mongols in 1241, when it was raised to the ground.

But it was the Mughal period, from the 16th to 18th centuries, that Lahore is most closely associated with today, and many of its most impressive monuments date from this time including the Badshahi Mosque, Shalimar Gardens and Lahore Fort. Combined with its chaotic old bazaars and colonial remnants from the era of British rule, Lahore is one of Pakistan’s most fascinating cities.

Day 12 - Islamabad

Drive to Islamabad, visiting Rohtas Fort as well, dating back to the 16th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight Redisan Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Islamabad

Pakistan’s capital is a modern creation, built in the 1960s on a grid pattern and lacking the chaos that exemplifies most of the subcontinent. At the crossroads of the Punjab and the North West Frontier Province, Islamabad is the most modern city in Pakistan, and the seat of government, but lacks the history and character of Karachi, Lahore or Quetta. Islamabad was chosen as the site for a new capital after it was felt that Karachi wasn’t central enough to be truly representative, and was also heavily affected by the monsoon period. Sitting next to the older city of Rawalpindi, Islamabad is the most cosmopolitan city in Pakistan and is in utter contrast to what you will see throughout the rest of the trip.

Day 13 - Khewra – Kallar Kehar

Visit the Khewra salt mines, the largest in the world and reputedly dating back to the time of Alexander the Great. We also visit the salt lake and marshes at Kallar Kahar, a haven for birdlife, and the Hindu temples at Ketas. Return to Islamabad for the evening. Overnight Redisan Hotel or similar. (BLD)


Day 14 - Taxila – Takht e Bhai

An excursion to Taxila, one of the earliest Buddhist sites in Asia and the capital of the Gandharan civilization which flourished in Pakistan from the 6th century BC to the fifth century AD. We also explore the monastery at Takht e Bhai, from the same period. Return to Islamabad for the evening. Overnight Redisan Hotel or similar. (BLD)


Day 15 - Islamabad

Spend today discovering the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi is an old British era settlement, while Islamabad is the purpose built capital constructed after Partition in 1947. Explore the bazaars of Rawalpindi, and visit the imposing Shah Faisal Mosque, situated at the foot of the Margalla Hills – one of the largest in the world. Overnight Redisan Hotel or similar. (BLD)


Day 16 - Islamabad

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • Airport taxes

    If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

All travellers will require a visa to enter Pakistan, which must be obtained before travel. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

You should ensure that your passport has at least six months’ validity after the end date of your trip. We also strongly recommend that your passport has a minimum of two blank pages next to each other – on rare occasion it may lead to problems with visas and immigration authorities if it does not.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in Pakistan is the rupee. British pound sterling, US dollars or Euros are all fine to bring for exchange purposes.

It’s not difficult to change money in Pakistan, either at banks or the hotels and your guide can assist with this. There are a good number of ATMs in Pakistan, although once you get further off the beaten track don’t count on there being any, or the rare ones that there are, to be properly working. For this trip it is best to change money in Karachi, at the start.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO advises against travel to most parts of Pakistan that this trip visits.

We work very closely with our local team and are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in Pakistan. Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2019

Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer
Indus Valley Explorer
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
23 October 2021
Price (PP) -
£2,999
Single Supplement -
£415
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
19 February 2022
Price (PP) -
£3,099
Single Supplement -
£425
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
22 October 2022
Price (PP) -
£3,099
Single Supplement -
£425
Trip Status -
Guaranteed