Tourism is travel for family, religious, recreation, adventure or business purposes, for a limited time period and it is commonly related with international travel but may also related with to travel within the same country. According to the World Tourism Organization, tourists are the people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”. Both the domestic or international level travelling to change the environment and to release the tension of busy work schedule is called tourism.
Today, tourism has become a major source of income for many states of the world and it affects both the countries of source and the host. Unusual environment, beautiful natural and man-made structures, high mountains, stunning valleys, deserts and deep sea are some of the features that can attract the tourists. People belong to the countries which have bad weather conditions, also seek to visit a place where they can enjoy their vacations in the lovely environment and can see the gifts of nature.
Tourism in Pakistan
Pakistan is a land with diverse people, culture and landscape, blessed with extremely rich historical heritage, high adventure and extra ordinary natural beauty. There are thousands of destinations in the country that attract millions of tourists from not only within the country but outside the country as well. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000 m including K2, which attracts mountaineers and adventurers from all around the world.
The land of Pakistan is home to high adventure and nature. Mountaineering, Trekking, wild boar, white water rafting, hunting, desert and mountain jeep safaris, camel and yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching are some activities which attract the lovers of nature and adventure. Pakistan is graced with a rich and diverse flora and fauna.
The Hindu Kush ranges, High Himalayas and Karakoram are the center of attraction for domestic and international tourists from all around the world. The northern part of Pakistan has countless old fortresses and ancient architecture which allows the tourists to saw the golden eras of history.
In order to highlight some features of fascinating eco tourism in Pakistan, we have given the detailed introduction of some nature friendly places in Pakistan.
Ayubia National Park
National Park is located in Abbottabad District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, between Pakistan’s most popular hill stations, Murree and Nathiagali. Ayubia National Park was named on the second President of Pakistan, Muhammad Ayub Khan. The park was established in 1984 by the Wildlife and Parks Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the total protected area of 8184 acres. Seven major villages and four small towns of Nathiagali, Ayubia, Khanspur and Thandiani, are the surrounding areas of Ayubia National Park.
Ayubia National Park has 104 species of plants along with main floral species like blue pine, yew, horse chestnut, oak, silver fir and cedrus deodara. Park also has around 203 species of birds including hill pigeon, the vulture, golden eagle and eurashian sparrow hawk. Tourists can also enjoy superb views overlooking Kashmir and Abbottabad.
White Water Sports
Pakistan offers various opportunities for white water rafting. The high rise mountain peaks on the northern side border of the country and the snow topped mountains with huge glaciers makes several rippling rivers that ruffles down from the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush and the Karakorum, to fields of Pakistan before meeting at the Arabian Sea. These streams in the north of Pakistan offer an open door for white water sports. Indus, Chitral, Gilgit, Neelam, Swat, Hunza, and the Kunar are some of the rivers in Pakistan that make great white water sports spots. The Indus, Ravi and Chenab in northern Pakistan also give great chances to water sports. River rafting, canoeing and kayaking can be also enjoyed in these rivers.
Wetlands & Historical Sites of Salt Range
The salt range in Pakistan extends from the Jhelum River to the Indus, across the northern parts of the Punjab province. It contains great mines of Khewra, Warcha, Mayo and Kalabagh and produce huge amount of salt to not only fulfill the needs of country but also exported worldwide in a large amount. The area of salt range is said to record 600 million years of world’s history. The complete record of the history of worlds was also provided by the rocks and fossils found around the salt range. The highest peaks of Salt Range are Sakaser and Tilla Jogian, while Khabikki Lake and Uchhali Lake are lakes in the Salt Range.
Shrine of Saidan Shah at Choa Saidan Shah, the lake and shrine of Abdul Qadir Gilani at Kallar Kahar and the Hindu Temple Complex at Katas are the main attraction of the eastern Salt Range. Kallar Kahar is located about 135 km from Rawalpindi and is famous for its natural gardens, peacocks and a salt water lake. The Temple of Shiva at Katas (10th century AD) and other temples around Katas are masterpieces of architecture and history.
Marine Turtles & Mangrove Forests
One of the greatest sources of pleasure and satisfaction to a nature lover is a drive to the beaches of Sandspit and Hawks Bay, located near Karachi. During the nesting seasons on the beaches of Sandspit and Hawks Bay, Olive Ridley and Green Turtle are also found which provides unique experience to the tourists. Tourists can also enjoy a moonlit night on the beach during the autumn season when the sea is quite peaceful than it is during the monsoon season. Somiani Bay Mangrove Forest is the breeding ground for shrimps and fishes which is also home to many migratory and resident birds. Tourists can also experience the beautiful and stunning marine life in Somiani Bay Mangrove Forest.
The area of Pakistan is rich in wildlife that provides great opportunities for wonderful bird watching. Diverse habitat from coastal areas to northern mountains and decent weather conditions throughout the year and make different species of birds available in all seasons. The coastal ranges of Pakistan and wetlands attract huge number of winter migratory birds came from different parts of the world. During spring and summer season, various summer visitors and passing migrants also lodge on these welcoming waters. Tourists can also explore the historical monuments of Thatta and Chaukandi, during the excellent experience of bird watching in Pakistan.
Bird Watching Along the Karakoram Highway
Karakoram is a large mountain range spreads in the areas of Pakistan, India and China. It is home to the highest concentration of peaks over 8000m in height to be found anywhere on earth, including K2, the second highest peak in the world. Karakoram is bounded by Shhyok River in the east and Ishkuman, Giligit and Karamber Rivers in the west. The steep slopes and vertical features of the Karakoram Mountain presents a great challenge to the tourists and adventurers from all around the world.
Due to the natural and pollution free environment in this area, hundreds of birds species are found there including Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Lammergeier, Kestrol, Snow Partridge, Seesee Partridge, Himalayan Snow-cock, Chukor Partridge, Monal Pheasant, Snow Pigeon, Hill Pigeon, Rufous Turtle Dove, the Cuckoo, Great Horned Owl, the Swift, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Scalybeltied Green, Woodpecker, short-toed Lark, Horned Lark, Grey Martin, Swallow, Golden Oriole, Brahminy Myna, Magpie, Nutcracker, Alpine chough, Redbilled chough, Rook, Rufous tailed Flycatcher, Booted Warbler, Orphan Warbler, Chiffchaff and other Phylloscopus species, several other warblers, Blue throat and Ruby-throat, Chats, Thrushes, Wren, Dipper, Accentors, Tits, Tree creeper, wall creeper, pipits, Redpols, Wagtails, Finches and Buntings.
Brown Bears of Deosai Plains
The Deosai National Park is located in Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan province and it was established in 1993 to safeguard the survival of the Himalayan Brown Bear with its habitat. This area remained covered with the snow for seven months of the year and the rolling grassland does not support shrubs and trees in this area. In the month of August, millions of wild flowers begin to grow all over the lush green grassland in the Deosai plains. The brown bear now has a hope for survival in Deosai where its number has increased from only 19 to 40, during the period of 1993 to 2005. Tourists can also enjoy the adventure of jeep safari from Deosai plains to the beautiful and huge mountain ranges of Karakoram and Himalaya.
Indus Blind Dolphin
Indus River is one of the largest rivers of the world, which rises high in the mountains of Tibet and before flowing into the Arabian Sea, it flows through Ladakh and Pakistan. Along with the different bird species, migratory birds, reptiles, fishes and mammals, Indus Blind Dolphin is also found in the Indus River. It is one of its most famous inhabitants and was the first discovered side-swimming cetacean. Tourists can also enjoy the journey toward the Taunsa Barrage from the Indus River, which is half hour drive away from Multan. They can also enjoy the traditional fishing boat in the Indus River with a chance to saw the Indus Blind Dolphins near boat in the water.