We started today with a good buffet breakfast at the Maisonette Firhill, our hotel in Murree. Then we all piled into the trusty Bunyaad Toyota Land Cruiser and headed off toward Jared.
We had some great views of the mountains as we headed toward the Neelum Valley and the road to Jared.
After about 1.5 hours of driving on very twisty roads we crossed the Neelum River to the east side, the Kashmir side, and started driving up the east side of the river. Soon we came to a frontier check post where the official looked into our vehicle. He assumed Doug Horst was a Pakistani due to his full beard, but when he looked at me, Doug Dirks, he saw a foreigner right away and demanded my passport. By that time we had to admit that Doug Horst was a foreigner too and we both had to go into the inspection booth.
Turns out that there is some tension between Pakistan and India over Kashmir territory that they both claim and foreigners can’t visit without a special permit. We did not have a special permit so we had to turn back. Rather than going all the way back to Murree we decided to drive up over the mountain and take another route through Abbotabad, Mansehra and Balakot.
We drove over small landslides, around bigger landslides, forded small streams, bounced over bumps, rocks and boulders, turned around a couple of times because really big landslides blocked the way and finally twisted and turned our way over the mountain and on the main road to Abbotabad. We gained and lost over 5,000 feet in elevation in the process and added about 4 hours to our journey—lots of fun actually.
We drove through Mansehra and headed on towards Balakot. At Balakot we found the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Hotel and decided to stay for the night. Tomorrow we will continue on towards Jared to visit the rug makers in training before heading back to Lahore.
Stay tuned for Doug’s next trip post
We hope you’ve been enjoying the notes, experiences and photos and have been able to follow our adventures on the Bunyaad blog so far. Here is a link to all of the posts: Read Pakistan Learning Tour