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Shandur invites visitors to experience a traditional polo tournament that since 1936 has been held annually in the 2nd week of July between the local teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The tournament is held on Shandur Top, the highest polo ground in the world at 3,700 meters (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). The festival also includes Folk music, dancing and a camping village is set up for the visitors. The polo tournament is featured in the first episode of Himalaya with Michael Pali.
Various teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral have always played the game of polo closest to its original form. In the past, the British Rulers were the patrons of the game.
Free-styled mountain polo is arguably polo in its purest form. This version of the game played at Shandur pass has attained legendary status and is of great interest to international and domestic adventure tourists alike. There are no umpires and there are no holds barred. The rules are: There are no rules! In “The Roof of the World” Amin/Willets/Tetley write: “by comparison, an American Wild West rodeo might pass for choir practice.” As one player once mentioned: “You can ride head-on into the opponent, if you dare.”
In order to decide the final teams to play at the Shandur Polo Festival preliminary matches are played both in Gilgit and Chitral in which the best horses and players are chosen for the final games by the local juries. The festival begins on the 7th of July with a polo match between the local teams of Ghizer Gilgit-Baltistan with the guest teams coming from Chitral (KPK). During the course of the tournament A, B, C and D teams of Gilgit and Chitral battle it out on the polo field. Each team has six members with 2-4 reserve players in case of injury etc. The match duration is usually one hour. It is divided into two halves, with a 10 minutes interval. During intervals the locals enthrall the audiences with traditional and cultural performances. The game decided in favor of the team scoring nine goals. The final is held on 9 July.
The field measures about 200 meters by 56 meters (normal polo field is about 270m by 150m), with 60 cm high stone walls running the length of the field on both sides instead of boards. As six players make up one side, the field can get fairly crowded. This has the advantage of slightly slowing down the pace, which, all things considered, is probably somewhat safety-enhancing. Players rarely wear helmets, the horses’ legs often have no bandages, and mallets often have no grips or straps.
Arrival in Islamabad, our guide and driver will meet you at the international/domestic arrival of Islamabad international airport, or the location in "Islamabad or Rawalpindi", after meeting with staff drive to the hotel in Islamabad.
Drive to Chitral, today’s drive will be a bit long but very exciting, en-route we will stop at the beautiful pasthon villages of lower and upper Dir and cross the Lowari tunnel/pass to enter in the Chitral district where we will cross many villages along the way. Arrive in Chitral Town and transfer to the hotel
Drive to Mastuj in upper Chitral, En-route we will explore Bunni and other villages of upper Chitral. Arrival in Mastuj and transfer to the hotel for overnight.
Drive to Shandur Pass, arrive and prepare the tents for overnighte stay!
Enjoy the free style polo match at the world's heighest pologround at "Shandur Pass" in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Drive to Gupis valley via Shandur Pass (3700m), En route we will stop at Shandur pass, the beautiful small villages of Phandar valley, Phandar Lake, Khalti Lake. Arrive in Gupis and transfer to the hotel.
Drive to Ghulkin/Gulmit/Passu. En route we will explore the villages of Ghizar valley, stop in Gilgit to explore the city. We will have lunch at Rakaposhi viewpoint. Arrive in Ghulkin/Gulmit.Pasu and transfer to the hotel.
Day to explore lower Gojal valley (upper Hunza). Today we will visit Borith Lake, Passu glacier, Passu suspension bridge, Gulmit Old house, Ondra fort (poygah) and explore Gulmit and Ghulkin village.
Day excursion to the highest paved boarder crossing at Khunjerab pass (4693 meter), which connects Pakistan with China. After spending sometime on the pass we will drive back to Khunjerab national park, We will explore the park and if the luck works we will be able to see ibex and snow lapboard, later we will drive back to the Ghulkin/Gulmit/Passu, on our way back we will stop at the villages of upper Gojal valley to take photos of autumn. Arrive in Ghulkin/Gulmit/Passu and transfer to the hotel.
Drive to Karimabad, en-route we will stop at Attabad Lake, sacred rocks of Hunza, later we will drive to Hopper valley to explore the valley and visit the Hopper glacier, after exploring this beautiful valley we will drive to Karimabad, before we go to the hotel in Karimabad, we will stop at Ganish village to see the oldest settlement of Hunza valley. Ganish is one of the oldest village of Hunza valley. After exploring Ganish we will drive to the hotel in Karimabad.
Today we will explore Karimabad and other villages of central Hunza valley. We will visit Baltit Fort, Altit fort, Royal fort, Karimabad local bazaar and in the evening we will drive to Duiker to see sunset over mountains on the surrounding of Hunza and Nagar valley. Duiker offers the best view of central Hunza and Nagar valley.
Drive to Besham / Naran valley, en-route stop at junction point of three great mountain ranges, viewpoint of Nanga Parbat, (Babusar Pass, Lulusar lake, if the pass is open), arrive and transfer to the hotel
Drive to Islamabad, en-route visit Taxila museum and heritage sites, arrive in Islamabad and explore the city, later drive to the airport and fly to your destination.