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TRAVELLER’S GUIDE: Nasir Ahmed, Gilgit, northern Pakistan

Be guided by Nasir Ahmed in northern Pakistan's mountains and valleys!

I was introduced to Nasir by my good friends Greg and Emma Reynolds who know Nasir quite well. They assured me that Nasir is the best guide in the region and I need not look any further for a better guide. So, I met up with Nasir at his home-base in Gilgit and then traveled with him for almost two weeks during July of 2014. We covered much of the Hunza Valley up to Passu Glacier in the far north, and then went south and up to the Fairy Meadows near the base of Nanga Parbat peak (8,126 m). From here we traveled further south all the way down to Islamabad when my trip came to an end. I have nothing but praise to Nasir and can highly recommend his services!

This interview was conducted via email in late September 2014: 

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Globerovers (GR): How would you describe the services you offer to travelers in your area?
Nasir Ahmed (NA):  I offer a full range of services, including the preparation of visa documentation, all bookings, and personal guiding on hiking and driving trips. When and wherever needed, I bring in my support staff. I rely on my well established network of hotels, cooks-on-the-go, porters, and drivers to support independent travel in most areas.


GR: For how long have you been providing travel services?
NA: I started wstudent. First I only worked during summer vacations as an assistant guide or a general helper or cook. Over time I became more professional and nowadays I offer full services to travelers.  I know the northern Pakistan mountains very well as I have been guiding travelers here for more than 15 years.


GR: What is the most challenging part of your job?
NA: Probably the most challenging part of my job is to assure prospective travelers that it is perfectly safe to travel around northern Pakistan. There has been so much negative reports in the media that some travelers are hesitant to travel here. Not reported in the media is that the area is safe these days and many travelers enjoy trekking here without any problems at all.


GR: Which area or region in your country do you feel you know best and that you are a specialist?Nasir-1
NA: I know the northern Pakistani region of Gilgit Baltistan very well. I’m particularly experienced with northern Pakistan’s three mountain ranges namely the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and the Karakoram range. I’m very familiar with all types of routes from the very easy to the more tough, yet highly rewarding routes. I arrange all levels of climbing and trekking expeditions from the easy treks for beginners, all the way to the tougher climbs for more advanced trekkers and climbers.


GR: What type of travel experiences do you feel you offer the very best, better than anybody else?
NA: I really cater to whatever my guests request. However, I tend to specialize in mountain and glacier trekking, cultures  and high altitude camping and climbing up to just below 8,000 meter. 


GR: The key audience of the travelers. 
NA: Much of northern Pakistan is off-the-beaten track, so it really is an intrepid traveler’s paradise. I like to take hikers out to some of the many hidden valleys where very few travelers and other travel companies have ever explored. Places such as Bagrote Valley, and the views of the majestic mountains and the lush green valleys. Its such a tranquil paradise!


GR: We bet you love your entire country, but which areas or regions would you most highly recommend to travelers. Don’t just recommend the region where you operate.Nasir-2
NA: I personally think northern Pakistan is the best, which is why this is the area where I am based. Places such as Gilgit Baltistanmeter.  The famous Passu Cathedral Peak (5,828 m) and Rakaposhi Peak (7,788 m) can be seen from close-up views along the famous Karakoram Highway.  In this region we also have the confluence of the three great mountain ranges, namely the Karakoram, Himalaya, and the Hindu Kush. This mountainous region has so many possibilities for trekking at all levels of expertise. In fact, its quite an easy trek from the Karakoram Highway to some of the basecamps of the 8,000 meter peaks where we camp next to the glaciers to have stunning views of the high peaks.


GR: What is the best time of the year to visit the region where you operate?
NA: Pakistan is an all-year round destination, in particular the northern Gilgit Baltistan region. In autumn the change of colours is awesome. In spring it is time for the eptember.


GR: Are there any special festivals which travelers to your country should experience?Nasir-3
NA:  The Shandur Polo Festival is held in Shandur Pass (3,734 meter) during summer and is known as the “highest polo ground in the world”. It is a traditional polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit and the festival also includes folk music, folk dance, and traditional sports. A travelers tent village complete with restaurants is set up during the tournament. Ssummer months.


GR: Travelers from which countries would you say are the very best people to work with. While I know all your guests are awesome people, please single out a few countries which you would say consistently send you really nice people.
NA: i have guests from all over the world and I never have problems with any of them. Seems like all travelers who come here are nice people.


GR: Do you think changes in your natural environment is having a positive or negative effect on the future of tourism to the region where you operate? 
NA:  Global warming a, we still see today, unless we can reverse the retreat of the glaciers. We really need to protect the nature rather than spending all the money on wars!  


GR: Does the political climate in your country affect your current business from time to time? In other words, does local political problems sometimes keep travelers away?Nasir-4
NA:  Since America’s “9/11” disaster the international tourism business in Pakistan practically died.  Tourists stopped coming to Pakistan because of the war on terrorism. Prior to 9/11, Pakistan, and in particular northern Pakistan, was such a popular destination among international travelers. Furthermore, from time to time Pakistan has internal political upheavals which also create negative international press coverages. Seems like the media mostly report on the small problems in Pakistan rather than the majestic nature, friendly people, and rich culture for which we have been known for ages.   


GR: We always hear about travelers worried about government warnings not to go to certain countries. Do these warnings affect your country and how can you assure travelers that it is safe to travel to your country and your region.  
NA: Pakistan has been significantly a that our international tourism industry almost disappeared and so many locals employed in the travel industry lost their jobs.  The few tourists who do venture into Pakistan these days, and in particular northern Pakistan, have all left unharmed with tons of beautiful pictures, good memories, and lots of praise for our beautiful country. The mountains and valleys are an intrepid traveler’s paradise and we hope more adventure seekers will come and enjoy this beautiful part of our planet!
 


Please tell us about your online presence and contact details:

PHOTO GALLERY: www.flickr.com/photos/nasir_guides
FACEBOOK: Trekking in Karakoram and Himalayas
EMAIL: naguideglt@hotmail.com