Travelogue – Hingol National Park, Balochistan

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“No, No, No” I got to hear from my family, on thought of going to Baluchistan. I had to listen “it’s dangerous to go there and don’t you dare” and all such comments, because of all the reasons we are well aware of. Next day I visited my cousin’s place, while discussing current affairs, we started sharing our traveling experiences with each other. There, I shared the same plan with them and invited them to join in and in no time my uncle was ready to start the journey. All excited, I left for my place later on.

Numerous phone calls to the tour operator from my office and an extensive search on the internet at home, I was eager to know about the security situation and other details of the area. Hingol National Park and Kund Malir beach in Baluchistan was our destination. After all the dealings with the tour operator we finalized the deal.

Finally the very day arrived, given the time 4 AM we were there at the meeting point in time but it was all dark there. Slowly and gradually people started to show up and thanks to some late comers we finally left for the destination late by 6 o’clock. Around 100 people of all age groups were on board in three four vehicles and most of us have never crossed hub chowki, but the journey to Baluchistan began for the first time. Located at a distance of 250 kms from Karachi, it took us 4 hours to reach there.

In the beginning people were half sleep as it’s too early in the morning. After an hour journey we crossed Karachi and Hub city and reached Winder where we took a little stop to shop for the snacks as we were told that there is no shop, restaurants or even petrol pumps on the way ahead. I went down to buy kinos (oranges), surprised to know that vendors’ sale them in kilograms and not in dozens, like in Karachi.

We moved back in the bus and started our journey. People started cracking jokes while signing the undertaking that ‘operator will not be responsible if any untoward incident happens there’. Most of the guys were young so they started to enjoy the journey with music playing loud in the bus.

Operator kept us informed about the places we were going through. First, we took Hub river road to get on RCD highway that connects Karachi to Quetta and after two and half hours’ drive on it, we took a left turn to Makran Coastal highway that passes through Hingol, Ormara and goes all the way to Gawadar but our destination was Hingol. 653 kms long Makran Coastal highway was built in Musharraf’s era to connect all-important Gawadar to Karachi. We were discussing on the way the great significance of this coastal highway and its future prospects that can drive the province to prosperity in future with increase business and economic activity at the Gawadar port – a success key for the province.

I have heard a lot about and always wanted to travel, no doubt a magnificent highway, our bus was sailing smoothly on it. The beginning of the Makran coastal highway is all plane deserted area. Camels were sauntering on both sides of the highway. Later, we started sighting mountains on one side and Arabian Sea on the other, but at quite a distance. We kept moving closer to it, and with that our excitement kept on mounting. Operator told us that mud volcanoes are also present along the coast but not in our sight, one has to go off road for it. It was unbelievable to see the incredible formation of mountains & terrains in the area. The range was so incredible and each mountain stood different from the other, the scenic beauty was mesmerizing and the land was so diverse.

As we moved ahead, the mountains started to show their variation in design and structure and sand its color. It was unbelievable to see all that in one place. To amaze us more, there was a semi-desert along the coast with the same sight in the background. It was incredible to see such beauty and magnificence in in the same view. It was breathtaking. One will be left with no words but to say “SubhanAllah” after witnessing such splendor.

Soon after the mountain range started we entered in the National park by crossing the Hingol River. Freshness in the air and cleanliness of the environment touched our hearts. Beside the river bank, there is a secluded restaurant where we stopped for the breakfast. Omelet, paratha with hot cup of tea was served; just what we wanted to charged up for the day. Mountains all around, people went up to it. Camels were roaming in the wild. A guy even took a selfie with one of the camel; it was quite a moment to look at.

After we were done with the breakfast, we moved on but this time on top of the bus to explore and capture the beauty of the national park. At this point, I realized how many pro-photographers were traveling with us with their DSLRs, all hungry to take the best shots of the place. I sat in front on the roof top of the bus with my Sony Cyber Shot. Zig Zag highway paving way through the mountain range along the coast is imperial. Strong wind breezing on our faces with ever speeding bus, we were merely able to blink our eyes (missed my sun glasses there). The sight of the incredible formation of rocks and the topographic structure of mountains in the park redefined the beauty of mountains in my head. I have traveled to northern areas of Pakistan but haven’t seen anything like this before. It was completely a different picture.

Angelina Jolie, a well-known Hollywood celeb and UN ambassador, once visited the park was fascinated to see the beauty of it and even named one of the mount as “Princess of Hope”. We also went to check it out and indeed it looked like a statue sculptured by one of the top artist but it was all natural. At some distance from it, another amazing Egyptian style mount Sphinx which looks like a lion sitting on the top of mountain was again mind-blowing. We took pictures there; group photo of all travelers was also shot there. We then moved on to the Kund Malir Beach. It was beautiful, clean and captivating, reminded me of the Beaches of Dubai. We took a dive to refresh ourselves in crystal clear water, took pictures there and in the desert. Standing on the beach, we saw some fishermen taking out their boats from the sea, after a while we went up to them to do a chit chat. They were kind enough to give me hand to get up on the boat to see the fishes they caught.

Hungry for the lunch we got back to the same restaurant and had local chicken karahe, cold drinks & tea. Sharing with each other the moments we enjoyed the most over the lunch, we did not knew we still had one more place to visit and that was NANI MANDIR. Along the river Hingol, up in between the huge mountains, off to the makran coastal highway, we were on the way to centuries old Hindu temple. Mountains on the way are much like the American Grand Canyons – huge and vertical. River flowing in between makes the view breathtaking and I never had imagined seeing the sights like these. It was incredible and quite like the sights we watch in NATGEO channel. Temple was located in the cave with a pond outside and palm trees around it. It was a spectacle to watch, well organized place, I must say.

With the commitment to visit the place again, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the city of lights, carrying all the good memories in our head. It was a great day out and one of the most memorable ones. All Pakistanis should visit the place at least once to enjoy the nature and witness how much blessed and diversified our land is Ma-shaa-Allah.

Besides, the security concerns of Balochistan, we crossed couple of cities & check posts in the heart of the province to reach the destination but we did not face any security issues. All the preconceived notions of security that we had about the province washed out from our minds. It was all peaceful and all the people from fishermen to the guys at the restaurant were hospitable. If you search the hingol national park on the internet you will find out numerous tour operators who undertake trips there every weekend from Karachi.

Let me list down the major attraction of the journey to Hingol that one should not miss when visit there.

  • Magnificent Makran Coastal Highway
  • Hingol River
  • Stunning Rock Formations
  • Princess of Hope – Mount
  • Sphinx (Egyptian Style)
  • Vertical Mountains quite similar to American Grand Canyons
  • Terrains
  • Mud Volcanoes (if you go off road)
  • Centuries old Nani Mandir (Hindu Temple)
  • Captivating Kund Malir Beach
  • Beautiful Semi Desert along the coast

 

 

 

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is a business graduate, working as a professional banker. He takes keen interest in the economics and socio-political affairs of Pakistan. Moiz Khan tweets @moizkhans

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