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November in Pakistan

November in Pakistan

By: Jo Kemper (IR Team Member Extraordinaire) 
I’m struggling to condense nearly a month of paddling in Pakistan into only a few pages. Everything was new to me, each detail of every character and encounter could be its own story. If you’re just here to look at the photos, the takeaways from this story include: Pakistan is safe, the people are genuine, the hospitality is remarkable, and the kayaking is phenomenal. The Indus is not the only river in Pakistan. Our driver, translator, guide and friend, Imran, and his trusty jeep, Pushpa were vital to the success of our trip. I never felt unsafe at any point on the trip; seemingly the safety of foreigners is a national priority in Pakistan, as well as a personal priority for Imran. The people greeted us kindly and were consistently interested in sharing their culture, and country with us.

I am immensely grateful to Ford Smith and Max Bechdel for believing in this idea, and committing to making the trip happen with me, despite the vast number of unknowns surrounding the agenda. I couldn’t have asked for better company on this adventure, and I can’t wait to go back. For better photos of Pakistan, including several from our trip, follow Imranthetrekker on Instagram.

Our flight arrived in Islamabad at 4:40 am, it was dark and the call to prayer soon echoed over a distant loud speaker as we made our way outside to unwrap our boats and survey the parking lot for Imran and the jeep. For a moment I could hear the voices of my friends, “How did you find this guy?” and my facetious response of, “I found him on Instagram” reverberating in the back of my mind…
#solidplan #instastalksuccess #millenialsolution #trustfall #imranistheman #checkyourthings #everythingiswithyou #isthisguyhungry #continue #youpeopledontworry #ihaveacontact #letssee #tea #poopdiaries #untrustworthyfarts #crisp #pakistanisrad #decideforyourself
Click on the map to see where we traveled 
Kunhar River
The Kunhar River, with its proximity to Islamabad seemed like a logical first destination. After driving in what seemed like circles around Islamabad in the predawn hours, we made progress towards destination one, the Kunhar River, and a refreshing taste of familiarity: kayaking.
The river was a serene scene compared to our first taste of Pakistan road rules and the pandemonium of honking. We stayed in Balakot, and the next day continued upstream in the Kaghan Valley to paddle another section of the Kunhar River, near Naran. The part we picked off was roadside, and every bit as glorious as I’d imagined it could be. It had heaps of good rapids in a stunning riverbed and friendly locals who curiously monitored our progress downstream. When the jetlag set in with a side of hanger we called it a day and hiked to the road. The locals refused to let me carry my boat from the river to the road, and they also let us borrow a cell phone to call Imran. Imran arrived about five minutes after receiving the call; the service in Pakistan is next level.


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