Monday, November 12, 2012

Chilling Around Quetta and Ziarat

Golden Apples in an Orchard Near Ziarat
A couple of weeks back when I discussed the idea of visiting Quetta and Ziarat, many friends thought that it would be too risky, or actually crazy, especially with two kids.

Now that we are back to the routine, here is a brief trip report with details to follow in the coming days Inshallah:

Karachi to Ziarat
Initially I thought of making it by car, however, due to security concerns around Khuzdar – which is around half way of the ~850 km run – we switched to Plan B, i.e. public transport. First we took the overnight coach to Quetta and then transferred to the hill-station bound Hi-ace. The overnight coach was very comfortable with business class style seats (Rs. 2,100 per person), however, lack of enroute facilities and ancillary transfers made it strenuous than expected. Door to door, it took us 18 hours from our home to Shalimar Hotel, Ziarat!

Next time, I would give it a try by car and then compare which is less uncomfortable
Al-Aziz Runs Comfortable Overnight Coaches Between Karachi and Quetta - Rs. 2,100
Why Ziarat? 
  1. Ziarat is not only the closest hill station from Karachi (still 850km!) but also among few places in the South Pakistan which does not see tourists as aliens!
  2. It is one the coldest and driest places in the Subtropical Pakistan and is famous for Juniper Forests, Apple orchards, and Quaid-e-Azam Residency
  3. Some people club that with the shopping of supposedly smuggled goods from Quetta which in my opinion is no more than a tourist trap
Why November? 
  1. Usually tourists go to Ziarat in summers to beat the heat, however, we chose this part of the year to see the colors of Autmn which most of the 2 million Karachites are not even aware of!
  2. Choice of the season also gave us the opportunity to utilize the inventory of warm clothing which usually lies in the attic for years!
  3. Just to mention, minimum temperature had already plunged well below zero, however, next time, we would visit around January-February to see the snowfall and to recheck our limits! 
Colors of Autumn: Red, Orange, and Yellow
Sun Peeking from Yellow Leaves
Autumn Arrives in Ziarat
Misha Had Never Put So Many Clothes On!
While Mikael is Annoyed with so Many Layers
Finding Accommodation in Ziarat
There are a number of budget hotels and rest houses, however, only Shalimar Hotel – the only place which opens round the year – and PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) Motel are near to decent. After having an initial look at both, we preferred the former because of the gas heater in the room otherwise the PTDC cottage would have been a far better choice.

For a detailed review of Shalimar Hotel Ziarat and PTDC Motel please click here
Shalimar Hotel Ziarat Survives Even During Harsh Winters
An Alley of Shalimar Hotel Ziarat
Double Rooms in Shalimar Hotel Ziarat: Rs. 1,200
Quaid-e-Azam Residency
After spending a night and acclimatizing, next morning we walked uphill to the antique Quaid-e-Azam Residency. Due to its location, the beautiful and characteristic colonial era structure can easily find its place in the top 10 remnants of the once mighty British Empire!
Quaid-e-Azam Residency Ziarat
Color of Autumn: Quaid-e-Azam Residency Ziarat
Quaid-e-Azam Residency Ziarat Opens 10am - 5pm Execpt for Wednesdays
Day Trip to Kewaas: the Valley of Apples – Courtesy Haris Mahmood
There are numerable valleys around Ziarat which grow fruits like Apple, Cherries, Figs, etc. Though November was too late for the luxurious sight of a fruit laden tree, Abdus Samad Dotani – a resident of Kewaas Valley intentionally left a couple of trees in his orchard for his urban guests. He complained that apple prices lag behind because of the cheap exports from the neighboring Iran.
Apple Orchard in Kewaas Valley Ziarat
Last of the Trees with Seasonal Apples
Apples from Ziarat Attract Good Prices Because of Superior Quality
A Couple of Isolated Fruits
Another One Hanging Alone
Varieties in the Farm
Waste
Food Scene
The Extra Large Oven Hot Bread with Diameter of More than 12 Inches
'Raosh' is a Traditional Mutton Meal Popular in Pustoon Areas
Sheep are a Common Sight and are Used for Dried Meat Called Landi
Back to Routine
After spending 3 chilled nights, we started the backward journey – again overnight – and reached back home well before Fajar! On the way back, Mikael started having loose motions which turned into diarrhea – mainly because of the unavailability of enroute facilities – so badly that we had to rush to the hospital first thing in the morning. Alhamdolillah, he is feeling better now.

Security Concerns:
Ziarat is perfectly safe; a small town with simple people. Ambiance was comparable to Chitral, Gilgit, etc. Major security concern arises while commuting between Karachi and Quetta, however, we took normal precautions mainly to avoid unwanted attraction and did not feel unsafe at any point in time. In Quetta also, it looked business as usual. Interestingly, people there were more concerned about the security situation in Karachi!
A Tractor Trolley Coming Out of Peaceful Ziarat Bazaar
Expenses
Karachi to Quetta: Rs. 4,000 (2 seats in coach - comfortable)
Quetta to Ziarat: Rs. 520 (4 seats in the hiace - still uncomfortable)
Around Ziarat: Rs. 1500 (private car for half day)
Ziarat to Quetta: Rs. 560 (4 seats in the coaster - comfortable than the hiace) 
Quetta to Karachi: Rs. 4,200 (2 seats in coach - very comfortable) 
Rikshaw rides: Rs. 800
Accommodation: Rs. 3,500
Food and other expenses: Rs. 4,000
Total: ~Rs. 20,000

When the Hotel Manager Zahoor paid Attendant Jamshed - who belonged to Zhob - his meager salary out of my bill, I feel satisfied of being a source of income for a fellow Pakistani who lives a hard life in a far flung area.

Other Useful Links
Accommodation Review: Shalimar Hotel Ziarat and the PTDC Motel
Transportation Reviews: Karachi-Quetta-Ziarat and back
Must See: Ziarat Residency, Apple Farm, and Tourist TrapsMy Pre-Trip Post on Pak Wheels
Lonely Planet List of Hotels in Ziarat


 

4 comments:

  1. Hi,
    Was nice reading it. Kindly upload more pictures if possible, especially if any mountain ranges or natural beauty that you have covered.
    Regards
    Faraz A.

    My travel blog:
    www.iwaitforitblog.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. bht achi presentation hai :)

    ReplyDelete