Q. Who are your typical clients?
Our clients are mostly professionals or families who are looking to enrich their lives and they know their limitations well enough to appreciate our relaxed hiking pace, our focus on safety and our comfortable camp setup.
We discuss the group setup with each client. Families with kids walk mostly in private. Singles are normally paired with other singles to form small groups. Couples are normally paired with other couples. For our clients, the experience is just as important as reaching the destination. It may be about challenging themselves to do something hard, it may be about doing something with their teenage kids, it may be about spending time away from it all, it may be about reconnecting with a loved one or a group of friends. The learning aspect is also very important - learning about themselves, about their loved ones, about the mountain and about the wonderful cultures. For everybody, it is about doing something positive on a mountain that will soon lose its mystique as the glaciers melt away.
We work hard to ensure that our clients are satisfied, along the way, we do something very unique - we approach each trip with unmatched enthusiasm and take great care to draw our clients into our world - filled with song, dance, happiness and an appreciation for life despite the hardships we endure.
We teach them our songs, our languages, and our ways of life in the shadows of peaks. When our clients get tired, we take their hands and encourage them to continue.
At the end of the trip, it is hard to say goodbye. Most of our clients remain in contact with our team - encouraging our porters to save their money, get educated, learn better English and to improve their lives for themselves and their families. The students become the teachers - and they (our clients) have forever a small group of friends in Pakistan!
Q. Am I suited to group travel?
A. We recognize that many of our travelers have not been on a ‘group trip’ before. You can rest assured that our trips are flexible and allow you to do your thing within the framework of the itinerary. We do not attempt to instill a ‘group ethos’ and fully recognize your needs as an individual. Our maximum group size is 12 – an ideal size to ensure minimum impact travel to the areas in which we operate.
Q. Can I organize my own group?
A. If the specified departure dates are not suitable, or you would like to vary the itinerary, we would be happy to devise a program to suit your travel interests. This service is available to any individual or group. However, as a general rule, for a quote to match the brochure price we need a minimum of four people. For larger groups there may be a price reduction. We regularly organize tailor-made holidays for families, groups of friends, schools, clubs and special interest groups and we’d be happy to advise you on your plans.
Q. How fit do I have to be?
A. Our adventures are first and foremost holidays and can be undertaken by anyone in a reasonable state of health and fitness. All our trips are graded, allowing you to choose a suitable trip. Please refer to our grading system on the ‘Types of Adventure’ section on this website. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with our grading system by reading our detailed trip notes (which you can order from this site) and to speak with our expert staff on the physical requirements of your trip.
Q. What level of comfort can I expect?
A. On all our trekking adventures we camp in style and comfort, using the best equipment. All your gear is carried (except where specified) and meals are cooked for you while our staff prepare the camp. As you would expect we provide the same level of comfort on our cycling and adventure sports adventures. On our journeys our accompanying leader and staff take care of your day to day needs while you stay in local hotels and travel in comfortable private vehicles.
Q. How safe is it?
A. On all our trips your well-being is our first priority. Our staff constantly review every aspect of your adventure and our expert guides are fully conversant with the demands of traveling in remote regions.
Q. Where do we stay?
A. To capture the essence of your journey we have wherever possible selected accommodation with local character. In the cities our hotel rooms are on a twin share basis with private facilities. In remote localities you can expect simple, clean but more basic facilities.
Q. What about environmental impact?
A. We believe that adventure travel evolves around establishing a sound working relationship with the people and environments in which we operate. We believe that you can also make a positive contribution.
Q. Are there any hidden extras or surcharges?
A. Owning all our operations allows us to include all transport, most meals, accommodation and much of the equipment you will need for your adventure. Once you leave home there is little to spend. Compare our quality, inclusions and daily rates and we think you will agree our holidays represent the best value around.
Q. How often is a trip cancelled?
A. As we travel in small groups 95% of our trips operate – so you can be confident of going on the trip of your choice.
Q. How can I get more information?
A. We can send you comprehensive notes on all of our trips by post, fax or email, or you can download them from this website. We hold regular slide shows on our major destinations and our office staff are pleased to help you or your travel agent select your holiday. Our staff have a wide experience of the trips we offer and can provide first-hand advice and travel tips. This is a reason why over 75% of our participants join us through personal referrals or have traveled with us before.
Q. Can I use my Visa Card and/or Travelers Cheques in Pakistan?
Credit cards are widely accepted in all major cities of Pakistan and stores. However, there are an abundance of bank machines in major cities where you may withdraw money from your credit or debit card with your PIN number. You may use the following Travelers Cheques in Pakistan: VISA, American Express. The bank commission on these cheques is 3%. In any case you should have some ready cash on hand in US Dollars when you come to Pakistan.
Q. What type of food is served on a trip / trek?
Normally hot meals are served all along the trip, though at times packed lunches may be given when distances between stops do not permit cooking. We are fully aware of the healthy appetites that build up when trekking, cycling or touring and provide tasty and varied meals with plenty of fresh ingredients. Our excellent cooks serve a sensible combination of local and European dishes while at the same time ensuring high standards of hygiene. On all our trips your good health is our highest priority. We also cater for vegetarians. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements.
Q. How much money should I bring for the trip?
A: The amount of money you bring on a trek depends on you. Tips money, personal phone calls, souvenirs and film are personal expenses. We have a safe in our office where plane tickets and money can be kept.
Q. What happens if there is an emergency?
A: Vertical Explorers prides itself on being prepared for any emergency situation. Our guides are trained in first aid and can deal with most of the basic ailments that occur during a trek. But if a serious emergency occurs, then outside help is needed. Every client should have their own insurance before coming to Pakistan. If an emergency occurs, Vertical Explorers will initially cover the cost of an evacuation until your insurance company can deliver payment. All trekking services are included from here till the end of the trek.
Q. How about an insurance?
A: To protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances we strongly recommend you take out a ‘Trip cancellation and medical insurance policy’ in your home country. The medical policy should include coverage of transportation costs in the event of emergency helicopter or surface evacuation being required. We regret that such insurance policies are not available in Pakistan.
Q. How can I make a booking?
A. You can download our Booking Form here. When completed, this can be posted or faxed to V E office or your travel agent together with your deposit. We will confirm your booking and forward comprehensive trip departure booklets and other information regarding visas, vaccinations, personal clothing, equipment and the like, to ensure you are fully prepared for your adventure.
If you are trekking for the first time around you will have many questions and even more doubts. What will be some of the requirements on your trek, what would be the essentials you should check on before you go ahead and confirm with your tour operator for your dream trek in Pakistan. This section is a pointer to what facilities an ideal agency should be offering you on your trek and answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions before starting the trek.
Q. What sort of experience do your guides have?
A: Vertical Explorers has some of the most dependable and experienced guides in Pakistan. All of our guides have spent years exploring The mountains and countryside of Pakistan. All guides speak English and have a deep knowledge of the various trekking routes. Our guides are trained in first aid and know how to react in any situation. And most importantly our guides are friendly and enjoyable and want to share with you the true beauty of Pakistan.
Q. What should I carry on my day packed ?
Packed for yourself and carry during the day:
camera and films that you need during the day
medicines (if you are taking any medicine)
anti-sun burn lotion
rain coat/ umbrella
Q. Can you just tell me types of trekking you are running?
A: Currently we are running two type of trekking:
Tea House Trek: this is very budget oriented trip that just provides the essentials for trekking. We provide a guide and porter who show you the way and carry the gear. You stay and eat in local tea houses along the way. (only at few locations)
Camping Treks: All of our off the beaten path treks require us to bring our own camping and kitchen facilities. We provide a guide, porters, a cook and a deep knowledge of all these unique areas. This is not a backpacking trip because we cook all meals, carry all the gear and pitch every camp. All camping spots have the best view possible of your surrounding environment.
Q. What is the routine on the trek?
A: Trekkers normally start their walk early, after a hot breakfast, to enjoy the morning sun bathing the peaks. Carry a light sack for your camera, lunch box and your wind cheater. Ask the manager to arrange for porters before hand, who can carry your other baggage and all equipment - leaving you free to enjoy the peace and beauty of the mountains and valleys. By late afternoon you could reach your new destination where a camp and the food is set up by the trek staff.
On a camping trek with group evenings generally tend to be lively with some porter entertaining you with his tribal song while his friends improvise musical instruments or just having a lively camp fire discussion of your own.
Early morning, a hand stretches out with a hot mug of tea followed by warm water for a wash. Cooked breakfast and off you go again to your new destination.
Q. Are the trails crowded?
A: On a off the beaten treks, you may find no other foreigners apart from your group for days on end. At the peak season, you may probably see some other trekkers. Even on traditional treks there will be far less people than you would see on a normal walking trail at home.
Q. Should I purchase a lot of expensive gear to go on a trek?
A: If necessary you can hire the most expensive items - a sleeping bag, warm jacket and sleeping mat. You have to provide the other personal clothing items you need. This will involve some expense, although you will be amazed, by how much use you will be able to make out of clothing you already own.
Q. What photographic equipment should I take?
A: Most trekkers would like to record their trip on film. Treks in Pakistan offer a wealth of photographic possibilities and carrying a little extra photography equipment can be worth its weight. Single reflex cameras with interchangeable lenses are most suitable for the situations that you will encounter. Lenses should include a wide angle (28-35 mm) for buildings and landscapes, a tele-photo (70-200 mm) for un-obtrusive portraits and close-ups of mountain peaks. A macro lens will help you photograph flowers. Carry plenty of film as you will probably end up taking more photographs than you planned (a roll a day should suffice). Make sure you have waterproof covering for your camera, equipment and extra batteries. You will need an ultra violet and polarizing filter for high altitudes.
Q. What about overnight accommodation?
A: Where possible most operators prefer to organize the stay in country side hotels or rest houses. For the major part of the trek, the accommodation would however be tend to be in tents on twin sharing basis. Bathroom and sanitation facilities are improvised and made as comfortable as possible.
Q. How long a trek goes?
A: Generally the trek duration depends on your interest and location of trek. Your trek can last anywhere from 2-3 days to an entire month or longer if you wish. We can accommodate day hikes, cultural visits to local villages, and relaxing rest days on your trek. The decision is up to you.
Q. How difficult are the treks ?
A: The difficulty of our treks depends on where you want to trek and how long you want to go. The shorter Treks tend to be easier while the longer ones require some physical fitness. Be prepared for some steep trails leading to amazing views. The pace at which you hike is up to you. We have friendly and dependable porters to assist you with your personal gear.
Q. Where do we get water during the trek ?
A: Your guide will provide you with all the water you need during your trek. We discourage the purchase of bottled water while on the trail. The plastic bottles are difficult to dispose off and have become an environmental problem.
Q. Is the water safe to drink?
A: Your guide will be in charge of all your water needs. He will make sure all water is boiled and treat it with iodine. Iodine is 100% effective in killing the bacteria in water.
Q. What clothes should I bring?
A: Choosing the right clothing is very important. You want to have enough clothes to stay warm or cool yet not over pack. Usually you will have warm days and cold nights. A warm jacket either fleece or down can be nice for the evening . Long under wear and wool socks are good for warmth too. We encourage people to bring a light pair of pants and shorts for hiking. Sunscreen and glasses are a must . Rain and hail can appear on a trek so we suggest a Gore-Tex jacket. Most gear can be rented by us as well.
Q. What type of shoes or boots should I wear?
A: The proper foot wear depends on the trek. Shorter treks can be done in comfortable running shoes while longer ones require sturdy but light weight hiking boots. Shoes and boots are best purchased before arriving in Pakistan. Proper fit is a must for boots. And we encourage wearing your boots before the trek to wear them in.
Q. What will the weather be like?
A: Weather effects everything in Pakistan and trekking is no exception. Sudden rain storms or snow flurries are always a possibility. The weather during the trekking season is somewhat more stable. We pay close attention to weather reports during the trekking season.
Q. Will I get altitude sickness?
It depends from person to person, while one may get sick at a lower altitude, the other might not get affected even at a much higher altitude. Altitude sickness can be a worry for many people coming from sea level. Which is why Vertical Explorers trips give our customers extra days to acclimate to the higher altitudes. Our guides are trained to spot any signs of altitude sickness and know how to react.
Q. How can we respect your culture during our trek?
A: With its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Pakistan has numerous cultural practices that may appear unusual to a person on his/her first visit to the country. However, to enjoy your stay in this remarkable country of spectacular Pakistan and sparkling rivers it is important to take into consideration the different cultural aspects of the country. Here is a list of things which may be helpful to you.
The form of greeting in Pakistan is "Assalam o Alaikum " followed by shaking hand.
Before entering a Pakistanis home, mosque, and religious places remember to remove your shoes.
Never touch anything with your feet. This is considered an offence among Pakistanis.
While traveling dress appropriately. Women should especially avoid dressing in skimpy outfits.
Seek permission first before entering a house, mosque or sacred place.
Take photographs only after receiving permission for the object or person being photographed.
Public displays of affection between man and woman are frowned upon. Do not do something that is totally alien to our environment.
Develop a genuine interest to meet and talk to Pakistani people and respect their local customs.