Biking off the beaten track in Pakistan

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour going on the road to Shandur Pass

Biking off the beaten track: Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour

Ride between some of the world’s highest mountains on the famed Karakoram Highway. Maneuver switchbacks on mountain passes more than 3,500m above sea level. Follow glacial rivers to hidden valleys.

And then some.

In two weeks of riding on our Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour, you’ll encounter more landscapes, cultures, and questionable roads than you ever thought possible in such a short time span. Trust us: there are few road trips in the world that can compare. Join us and see for yourself!

Tour gallery

Tour itinerary

When traveling in Pakistan, things don’t always go according to plan. From spontaneous chai invites to landslides blocking whole highways, delays can happen anywhere. Flexibility is key. If we have to make changes on the fly, don’t fret; we’ll still try to do everything mentioned.

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour day 1: Islamabad arrival

We’ll roam around Islamabad and its surrounds so you can get used to your new motorcycle… and the way Pakistanis drive.

Sun beams over the road through Naran, Pakistan

Strike out into the foothills of the Himalayas, dipping into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir before following the river to Naran, a town tucked between green, forested mountains.

View of Hunza Valley from Minapin, Pakistan with pink flowers

Feel the chill as we climb twisty roads to Babusar Top, the 4,173m (13,691) mountain pass into Gilgit-Baltistan. It’s only open for a few months every year! We’ll then descend and connect with the famous Karakoram Highway, pushing all the way to the sweeping Hunza Valley.

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour day 5: Forts of Hunza

Visit Hunza’s hilltop forts to get an introduction to the region, then we’ll ride up the Karakoram Highway to Passu, one of the oldest villages in Hunza with some of the best views in the region.

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour day 6: Khunjerab Pass

No need to pack up just yet—we’ll spend the day driving up to Khunjerab Pass, the northern tip of Pakistan and highest paved border crossing in the world at 4,693m (15,397 ft) above sea level. Dress warmly!

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour day 6: Ishkoman Valley

Head back down the KKH, then veer off to the east to enter the quiet Ghizer district, one of our favorites in the north. We’ll rest our heads in Ishkoman, a side valley in Ghizer.

Resting in Ishkoman Valley on a Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour

We’ll give our bodies a rest and relax in the peaceful Ishkoman Valley for a day. We can swim, fish, hike… or just chill in a garden of fruit trees. Your day, your call.

Bikers relaxing in Phander Valley on a Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour

We’ll ride along the rushing Gilgit River to Phander Valley, a little mountain village around a lake of the same name. If you’re lucky, it might be warm enough to take a dip in the lake!

Suzuki GS 150 motorcycle at Shandur Pass, Pakistan

Let the serious offroading adventures begin! The paved road stops shortly after Phander, then it’s all dirt and gravel until Chitral. The track will lead us up and over the 3,738m (12,263ft) Shandur Pass, AKA the “Roof of the World” that hosts the world’s highest polo festival every year.

Motorcycle rider in Qaqlasht Meadows, Pakistan

Don’t get the names mixed up—Qaqlasht is an area of green alpine meadows above Booni, while Kalash is an area spanning 3 small, rocky valleys that are home to one of Pakistan’s most notable minority groups.

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour day 10: relaxing in the Kalash Valleys

Rest up and give your back a break in the peaceful Kalash valleys as you learn more about the colorful culture and curious history of the Kalasha people, believed by scientists to be descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great.

Lowari Pass road

Back to the heat of the plains we go! Driving south and out of the mountains, we’ll head through the Lowari Pass into the southern plains, breaking our journey back to Islamabad with a stopover in Mardan. If you can bear the heat, we can do some sightseeing… but if not, lounging in AC is a perfectly acceptable pastime.

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour day 13: return to Islamabad

Time to close the loop on Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour! We’ll head along the winding green Haripur road, passing Pakistan’s largest dam, Tarbela, before returning to Islamabad.

Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour day 14: Islamabad at night

A buffer day in case of landslides earlier in the trip, or a relaxed day for shopping, COVID tests if necessary, and/or vegetation before your night flight out.

Testimonials

Who this tour is for

We don’t discriminate! Any person of any gender, nationality, and age can come on this trip, so long as you know how to ride a motorcycle. All we ask is that you have good senses of adventure, humor, and don’t mind a little change of plan now and then. If you really want to join and can't ride a motorcycle, you can also ride in the backup vehicle. Note that spots in the car are limited!

Need to have 24/7 luxury? Don't like long days on the road? Stress out if you don't have WiFi or mobile signals (... or electricity) for a couple of days? This tour might not be the best for you.

Tour leaders

Sanaullah Marwat, local tour leader for the Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour

Sanaullah Marwat (Local)

Sanaullah (Sana) is from western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He’s biked literally all the way from one end of the country to the other in between working as a security expert for the UN and British High Commission. These days, he heads his own adventure tour company, Coyote Trail. He knows everything there is to know about Pakistan, has a devious sense of humor, and is a menace on a motorcycle. In a good way. Usually.

Alex Reynolds, foreign tour leader for the Pakistan adventure motorcycle tour

Alex Reynolds (Foreign)

Alexandra (Alex) is a solo female traveler, writer, and photographer from the United States. She began traveling Pakistan in 2016, and started leading tours in 2019. Despite how unusual it is for women in Pakistan to ride bikes, she went on the first of many motorcycle trips in Pakistan in 2018, and has since been asked if she’s a man more times than she can count.

Pricing

US$2350

per person

Have your own helmet and safety kit that you know and love? Bring it along, we'll cover everything else.

US$2500

per person

Includes everything: motorcycle, helmet, safety gear, and all the basic tour stuff.

US$4250

for two people

Want to ride together on one bike? No problem! +1s can also ride in the backup vehicle if desired.

US$4500

for two people

Two people, two sets of safety gear, and one bike.

Inclusions

Included

  • Motorcycle rental
  • Accommodation during the tour
  • 3x meals daily during the tour
  • Drinking water
  • Entry fees
  • Letter of invitation for your visa
  • Airport transfer
  • Mechanic and backup vehicle
  • Body armor rental (optional)
  • Helmet rental (optional)

Not included

  • Motorcycle and travel insurance
  • Damages to the motorcycle
  • Plane tickets
  • Visa fees
  • Comms devices
  • Snacks
  • Alcohol
  • Souvenirs
  • Tips for guides and drivers (optional)

Payment and cancellations

To secure your spot on our tour, all you have to do is pay a $500 deposit via bank transfer, Wise (all major cards and most currencies), or credit card (Pakistani rupees). A deposit of $500 is required to secure your position on the tour.

Tour cancellation policy

If you need to cancel your tour for some reason, our cancellation policy is:

  • 2+ months in advance: Full refund minus deposit
  • 1-2 months in advance: 50% refund minus deposit
  • < 1 month in advance: 25% refund minus deposit
  • < 2 weeks in advance: Too last minute! No refunds, but we can move your payment (minus deposit) to another tour.

COVID cancellation policy

We understand that travel plans can change in the blink of an eye in times like these, so we offer the following cancellation policy for coronavirus-related issues:

We understand that travel plans can change in the blink of an eye in times like these, so we offer the following cancellation policy for coronavirus-related issues:

  • If we cancel the trip: Full refund minus $100 to cover our time, transfer fees, and any vendor payments we might have made already.
  • If you cancel your trip due to COVID concerns: Same cancellation policy as above.
  • If you test positive before your flight and can’t come: You can move your payment minus the deposit to a future tour.

FAQ

Our motorcycle tour will take you to the most popular tourist sights and go off the beaten track, well beyond what most first-time tourists see. You’ll visit the Pakistani side of the disputed Kashmir region, experience peaceful Ismaili communities in the villages of Hunza, bike past shepherds and their flocks in the Hindu Kush mountains, meet the (literally) colorful and unique Kalasha people in their secreted valleys, and weave through streets crowded with rickshaws and vendors in Mardan.

Beyond that, you also get…

  • New bikes: You’ll be on a 2022 Suzuki GS 150. The small but sturdy local favorite is, in our opinion and experience, the best motorcycle for traveling in Pakistan.
  • Small group: Group size is purposefully small for a more intimate experience… and less chaos on the road.
  • Group mechanic: A mechanic and backup truck will come with us the whole way. No need to worry about breakdowns or loading luggage (unless you want to). Plus, if your butt/back/belly/soul isn’t feeling it for a day the passenger seat is yours.

Smaller groups are better for everyone, so we cap our motorcycle tours at 6 bikes. If riders want to bring a passenger along that’s totally fine, and we have 1-2 spots for non-bikers to sit in the recovery vehicle if desired.

We use Suzuki GS 150 motorcycles for our tours. They’re small but incredibly hardy; we would know as we’ve driven them all over Pakistan ourselves! Easy enough for riders of any level, common enough to be easily serviced, and low-key enough to keep onlookers at bay, they’re the ideal motorcycle for touring around Pakistan.

For future tours, we may offer larger bikes upon request. Feel free to ask and see what’s possible.

If you don’t feel like transporting your safety gear over to Pakistan, no problem! We can provide:

  • Body armor that goes on over your clothes. It protects your chest, back, elbows, shoulders, and knees.
  • Gloves to protect your hands.
  • Helmet certified by DOT. No hack helmets with us!

We can provide all of this for an extra $150 so long as you let us know in advance and provide us with your (estimated) size.

Packing for trips to Pakistan’s mountains is tricky: you need to be prepared with clothes for both warm weather and cold weather. We recommend at the very least:

  • Thermal and lightweight base layers
  • Windbreaker
  • Gloves and hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Comms unit if you have one – Sana and Alex use Cardo Packtalk devices
  • Camera
  • Buff or similar necktube to protect from dust
  • Reusable water bottle – we’ll provide clean drinking water

We don’t require motorcycle licenses to join the tour (we’ve never been asked for ours!). However, we do require that you have experience and are comfortable riding a motorcycle. Our group will be riding on all kinds of roads, so it’s not the most ideal time to learn to ride!

Riding a motorcycle in Pakistan can be a bit more hectic than riding in other countries. If you’ve traveled anywhere in South Asia (such as India) you can get an idea of what traffic could be like.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible! The majority of our tour goes through Pakistan’s mountains, meaning roads are more quiet… if more broken at times.

Here’s a video we put together to give you an idea of what you can expect. (Note that we won’t be taking the most challenging roads at the end!)

Altitude sickness is always a risk when going more than 2,000 meters (6,500′) above sea level… which we will! The highest altitude we’ll be traveling to is Babusar Pass at 4,100 meters (13,450′), and our accommodations will be in the 2,000m+ range.

However, we’ve never had any guests have serious issues with altitude, aside from minor headaches and some nausea. If you’re concerned about altitude on the trip, we recommend talking to your doctor before leaving to see if they advise you to travel with Diamox, a common altitude sickness prevention drug.

Weather is varied. Islamabad will be hot (up to 40°C or so, depending on if it’s rained), while mountains will be warm during the day and chilly at night (sometimes 20-30°C during the day and 10°C at night). Rain is unpredictable and can be hard when it falls. Pack both light clothes, warm layers, and a raincoat.

Laundry services are offered by some hotels… but don’t count on it. You’ll be able to wash clothes in sinks or buckets and hang them out to dry when we’re in the mountains.

Have a question?