Catch up on the full recording of the event, some key points, answers to questions and read about the highlights of the Pakistan travel virtual event...
On 31 January 2022, Capra Falconeri Traveller Pakistan Magazine (UK) hosted a panel event—exploring the lesser-known treasures of Pakistan, an online event in partnership with the Pakistan High Commission London and supported by Wild Frontiers.
An expert panel, with Mr Moazzam Ahmad Khan High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK, Wild Frontiers founder Jonny Bealby, travel journalist Emma Thomson, landscape photographer Colin Prior, nature photographer Ghulam Rasool, talked to Capra Falconeri Traveller founder and creative director Anam Hussain about the most common misconceptions, ideal travel itineraries, food, culture, and eco-tourism. The panel moderator, Aisha Farooq, editorial director at Capra Falconeri Traveller, managed the chat session and questions from the audience. And they certainly took us on a journey to remember!
Nearly 100 of you joined us from the comfort of your homes on Zoom—to learn why you should put Pakistan on your travel map....
Anam Hussain, Capra Falconeri Traveller Magazine's founder and creative director, kicked things off with a short introduction and her unique relationship with Pakistan as a member of the diaspora community.
The panel of the day, moderated by editorial director Aisha Farooq, who managed the chat session, explored the most common misconceptions, ideal travel itineraries, food, culture, eco-tourism, and photography.
An informative statement by H.E. Mr Moazzam Ahmad Khan High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom highlighted the ease of access to the Pakistan e-visa system, the consistent governmental responses to fight and tackle the current COVID-19 situation, and the most fascinating aspects of the travel and tourism industry:
"Pakistan is a constant display of diverse vistas, cultures, fauna and flora. From shinning deserts to lush forests, Pakistan has a great deal to offer."
"Not many people know that Pakistan is home to the largest chunk of glacier ice, outside the North and South Pole."
"Every year, around 500,000 people travel to Pakistan, will you be the next to discuss the world's best-kept secret, that is the question?"
The inspirational presentation by the founder of Wild Frontiers, Jonny Bealby, took us from Islamabad to the Fairy Meadows, the Deosai National Park and everything else in between!. We got to hear the personal stories of travel journalist Emma Thomson, recommendations from landscape photographer Colin Prior, homeland experiences from wildlife and nature photographer Ghulam Rasool and saw some great photos and videos.
After the panel session, the attendees sent us questions in the chatbox, which our editorial director Aisha Farooq and founder Anam Hussain addressed and our experts answered. If you missed our panel event, you can watch the full webinar here.
The questions that our experts answered:
1. How would you respond to the most common stereotypes or misconceptions about Pakistan?
Emma Thomson: "Opinion of the place [Pakistan] has been informed by news headlines and sadly that is the case for many people. Some have been to Pakistan and know its charms, and some people are yet to travel to see the reality. When I visited, a very wise man said: "All that you read is not the whole truth." It is certainly true when it comes to Pakistan."
Colin Prior: "When you talk about the Karakoram mountains, most people haven't heard of them. Some people ask is K2 in Pakistan? And I say to them, the last time I was here, I'm sure K2 was here. There is a misconception that K2 is in the Himalayas, and probably in Nepal. Also, people think Pakistan is a dangerous destination for travel. But, I've been going there since 1996 and I've never had a bad experience. The people that I have met have been extremely friendly and helpful. In fact, in many instances, my life was entrusted to them in the glaciers. The media is responsible largely for that perception."
Jonny Bealby: "I've been banging the drum for Pakistan for the last 25-years. I've set up a company, making videos, writing blogs and articles to try and persuade people to go to Pakistan."
Ghulam Rasool: "The public is not aware of the beauty that Pakistan holds. The responsibility is on the shoulders of the media, as they don't have the right kind of supporting material to push through."
2. Before we dive into the itineraries and the must-see places, what are some of the hidden corners of Pakistan that made you feel like only you have discovered them?
Jonny Bealby: "I was very fortunate to be given a piece of land by the Kalash in the Kalash Valley, where, 20-years ago, I built a little log cabin for our groups who were going through there because they were trekking through the Kalash Valley over into Chitral."
Ghulam Rasool: "One of the most beautiful places is the Broghil Valley, located near the Wakhan Corridor, bordering Afghanistan and China. Karambar is also one of the most beautiful lakes at a high altitude located in Ishkoman Valley of District Ghizer, Gilgit Baltistan. "
Colin Prior: "The Karakoram mountains are the most inspirational mountains in the world. They have a character that you don't find anywhere else. It's the spires and the towers, and these cathedrals and minarets that are so vertical."
Emma Thomson: "The place that took my breath away was the Hunza Valley. They have 33 varieties of apricots, one for each tooth, they say!"
3. Pakistan is known for its diverse cuisine and delicious street food. What is your favourite Pakistani food?
Colin Prior: "What the cooks are able to produce in the remotest parts of the world always surprises me. They can make pizza and pasta!"
Ghulam Rasool: "The local street food, samosas and little snacks that you find on the roadside, they have mastered them in such perfection."
Emma Thomson: "Gol Gappa, the fried semolina shells, you pop in the middle and fill them with potatoes, chickpeas and the spicy tamarind sauce! I also have a really sweet tooth, so I love things like Kheer, the rice pudding with cardamom."
Jonny Bealby: "I love Gulab Jamun. The traditional stuff like Rogan Joshi. I love stopping at the Chai Khaana's at the Karakoram Highway and just going in where the truck drivers are and having your Chaana Masala and Sabzi."
4. In your opinion, how can we contribute to sustainable eco-tourism in Pakistan? How can we ensure that when someone travels to Pakistan does so in a meaningful way for the local community and environment?
The panellists touched on some fantastic tips and guidance - "We need more photo tours, articles, positive news coverage," said Ghulam Rasool. Emma Thomson added: "Coming from a journalism background, travel should always be a two-way relationship, where both sides are benefitting. Going prepared and doing some background research, and respecting the cultural differences of others."
4. For someone who has never been to Pakistan before, where do they start? What are the places and experiences that should be on a first-timer's itinerary?
Jonny Bealby, founder of Wild Frontiers, gave an incredible presentation on his signature itinerary around Pakistan and we wrapped up with a video: "Pakistan in 60-seconds."
What did our audiences say?
The chatbox was lively with comments, memorable experiences, and thoughts from the audience, so we thought we would share some of your comments here...
Pakistan has been high on my list for three years.
My hidden heaven in Pakistan is Arankel in Kashmir, Shounter Valley.
Really enjoying this evening’s webinar…ANOTHER trip to add to my Wild Frontiers wish list!
When I was travelling in India for 3 months in 2016, so many backpackers told me I should go to Pakistan. They showed me their photos and they were breathtaking.
Amazing meeting! Thanks for this guys.
Thanks for hosting a great event!
Thank you so much to the panel, and it's been great chatting to some of you throughout.