Adventure is not something that you plan, it comes naturally and often when you least expect it. Media Professionals, one of the most dynamic advertising agencies offering 360-degree advertising solutions, planned a trip to Gilgit-Baltistan that turned out to be an all-out adventure.
It so happened that Syed Afzaal Haider, CEO Media Professionals, announced during an official weekly lunch one Friday afternoon that he has planned a grand recreational trip to Gilgit, and a tentative date was selected. The staff was jubilant. As the day approached for departure a few urgent tasks came up; the trip was postponed to some other time. It was not the end but the beginning of an unforgettable journey filled with adventure.
Those who know the culture and nature of advertising will agree with the fact that any job can come at any time with a next day deadline. The staff at Media Professionals was acutely aware of this fact. The CEO was firm on his commitment. A new date was set. This time the plan saw the light of day.
Adventure at departure from Lahore
Leaving Lahore was not the beginning of a journey. It was the start of an adventure. We left the office for Yateem Khana station to catch the bus at 9 PM. We were almost there, just a kilometer. Before we could cover that kilometer, our car came to a halt. Traffic jam, the worst that we had ever seen. Ten minutes to reach the station and the traffic jam that could take hours to clear. We were dumbfounded. The chance to witness the beauty and grandeur of Gilgit was slipping away second by second. The situation is unavoidable, but where there is a will there is a way. We came out of our cars unloaded our luggage and started running towards the bus station. We ran and ran until we reached our destination short of breath and exhausted. The bus was not there, it was late.
The real challenge at Baser, feast at Gilgit
Our trip started with a lot of excitement, suspense, and thrill. We were off to Islamabad where our cars were waiting to take us to Gilgit via Babusar Top. As soon as we stepped out of our bus, we felt a slight chill in the breeze. It was Islamabad’s way of saying hello. The next leg of our journey was about to start. It took us almost 6 hours to reach Baser our first stop. We crossed Balakot, Kaghan, and Naran among other places to reach the beautiful Baser where Moon Restaurant was lying in wait to greet us. We stopped at Baser to have breakfast. The weather was excellent with shining sunlight and a cool breeze.
Before starting our breakfast, we had the encounter of our lives; the water. It was so cold that it froze our hands on first contact. Washing hands at Baser was as dangerous as playing with fire. We played and burnt our hands. Media Professionals was on track for an eventful trip. We reached Gilgit after a memorable journey of 18 hours. We were welcomed by Syed Anwar Haider (brother of Afzaal Haider) at his house. The place was beautiful and the people were extremely cordial and hospitable. We enjoyed a delicious lunch together and left for our basecamp Hills & Huts at Minapin.
The Jaw-dropping Hills & Huts at Minapin
We checked-in after sunset. The dark and dreamy Hills & Huts is considered to be the jewel of Minapin. We waited for the morning to witness the mesmerizing beauty of the spot. We found ourselves in the Wordsworthian paradise. The streaming water in the backdrop of sky-high mountains was in front of us. Grand hills encircled the heavenly Hills & Huts from all sides. Our eyes could not grasp the overwhelming splendor of the place. The cameras of Media Professionals never stopped clicking. After capturing Minapin we left Hills & Huts for Attabad Lake.
Attabad Lake and the voyage to Hopar Valley
We reached Attabad Lake in the afternoon. The lake is the crown of Attabad. It was naturally created in 2010 as a result of a calamity known as the Attabad disaster. Hunza River was blocked due to a heavy landslide. The river overflowed and starting submerging the adjacent valley. Many villages were flooded and eventually disappeared as the water surged. We stayed at Attabad lake for some time and wondered at the mysterious workings of nature. We bid adieu to the lake and traveled towards Hopar Valley; a spot suggested by our driver Hussain. We began our ascent alongside the Hunza River. Our Prado kept climbing turn after turn until we reached Nagar Khas.
We thought we reached Hopar but that was not the case. We crossed Nagar Khas and kept climbing on the dangerously narrow paths. The sun was setting. Unrest starting creeping in the camp. We asked the driver to stop the vehicle and turn back. “Five minutes more”, the driver said after every 20 minutes. When it was almost dark, we reached the Hopar Valley. It was the height of exceptional beauty; an indescribable pleasure, an unheard whisper of grandeur. The view to Hopar Glacier was simply out of this world. There is nothing one could ever say that could do justice to the unearthly greatness of Hopar Valley.
A Bonfire to remember before the journey back
Every moment we spent in Gilgit-Baltistan became a memory none of us at Media Professionals could ever forget. Our last night at Hills & Huts was made memorable by the bonfire. After dinner, a bonfire was lighted. It was around 10 pm and the temperature started dropping below zero. We encircled the fire. We joked, laughed, sang songs, and shared our experiences. The cold night was warmed as much by the fire as by our friendship, and an intense feeling of togetherness. Our journey back was also marked by adventure and excitement. Chilas Zero Point had to be crossed before sunset to take the Babusar Top route, otherwise, we were to go through the long and painful Karakoram Highway. Scheduled to leave Gilgit in the morning but unfortunately, we got stuck in traffic in Gilgit city due to the political activity there. We left Gilgit city at around 2 pm.
The million-dollar question was, Will we make it in time to cross Chilas Zero Point? Our divers were least bothered but we all were impatient and restless. When we reached Zero Point the sun was already setting but luck was on our side. Ours were one of the last vehicles to cross the point. All of us heaved a sigh of relief. Our journey from Chilas to Islamabad/Rawalpindi was peaceful. What happened next was another adventure. We reached Lahore in the morning. Everything we experienced in Gilgit-Baltistan was now a memory.