At last! Arrived at the Wagha, crossing the India-Pakistan border

Finally, I arrived at the Wagha. When I passed through the border gate, I saw the stadium of the flag ceremony, with a picturesque portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah – founding father of Pakistan.
The time difference between India and Pakistan is 30 minutes.
Therefore, I set the clock accordingly at the border and strolled forward with my suitcase.

Presently, glancing back at the Indian side from Pakistan.
People are crossing the border one after another. It was the time when the relationship between India and Pakistan was deteriorating. Nevertheless, I saw about 50 people intersecting the border in a very short time span.

A portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founding father of Pakistan. Beneath it in Urdu, “Bab-e-Azadi”, is written which literally means, “The door to Independence”.

By the way, this border is usually walked over, but “India-Pakistan friendship bus”, at that time was running between Delhi and Lahore, which crosses the border without changing the vehicle.
I often get queries regarding the opening time of the border in the evening. Recently, it looks like it is open in the evening, except for the flag ceremony time. Still, it is wise to finish the border crossing by 3 o’clock in winter and 4 o’clock amid summer time.

Go straight out from the stadium of Flag Ceremony and direct towards the immigration office on your right side.
There are also people who own up “money exchange” in this area.
At the immigration office, I had to fill in an A4 sized entry card with a lot of spaces to be filled, unlike the airport’s entry card (As of March 2019).
Pass the luggage through the X-ray machine and exit out of the customs. When I walked towards the Lahore side, I met the staff of SAIYAH who were there to receive me.
Now only an hour drive from here to Lahore, which is famous for its unique heritage and beguiling Mughal architecture.

Photo: MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH
Visit: Mar 2019, Wagha Border, Punjab, Pakistan

Category : # Punjab > - Wagha border
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Pakistan-India border crossing – Attari (India) to Wagha (Pakistan).

I crossed the border in mid of March 2019, when the tensions between India and Pakistan escalated.
Certainly, the faces of the military personnel on both sides were harsher than before. Though, I felt really peaceful and calm.
Firstly, I took a domestic flight to Amritsar at exactly 8:50 am and arrived after an hour. Thereafter, from the airport to Atari border it took 30 minutes to reach by car.

As Atari approaches, you can see the overly sized Indian and Pakistani flag raising poles in front. At this time, only the Pakistani flag was raised.

Signs – the border mood rising gradually!
Once you get to the border’s facilities. Next step is to complete the entry at the entrance point and go to the immigration and customs building. Photography is prohibited from this point. Then you finish the baggage security check and go towards the Immigration. Here, you only need to submit a passport. Then pass your luggage through the X-Ray machine and fill a custom form. The customs took quite a long time than I expected….

After the departure and custom’s procedures ended, I took a sigh of relief and on a bus started to head towards the Flag ceremony stadium on the border.

Once you arrive at the Flag Ceremony stadium, you can take pictures starting from here. By the way, please be prepared, as it becomes quite expensive when using a porter to carry the luggage.

Lastly, you need to check your passport at the gate and start to walk towards Pakistan.

Pakistan is in front of me! Just a few steps away and I will be standing on the surface of Pakistan.

At the Pakistani border, there are tourists taking pictures. On both the sides of the border, you can witness the true patriotism of the people and the love they share towards their country.

In the end, the border guards generously said, “Welcome to Pakistan! please show me your passport.” It was 12:00 India time, 11:30 Pakistan time.

Photo : MARIKO   Tex: MARIKO & SAROSH
Visit: March 2019, India-Pakistan border crossing, Attari to Wagha

Category : # Punjab > - Wagha border
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Pasni Dune – Balochistan

Saiyah team visited the Sand Dunes at Pasni, Balochistan – A hidden gem of Pakistan.

These reddish yellow sand dunes are located at the mere edge of the town. Of course, it is a small desert that cannot be compared with the two humongous deserts, the mighty Sahara Desert and the Empty Quarter (the Rub’ al Khali) desert. Altogether, it looks like a wonderful desert, depending on how you take the pictures and perspective.

Our staff member, Mr.Aziz from Shimshal village – the valley of Mountaineers far north of Pakistan – climbing up the sand dunes and making a full smile.

Saiyah’s staff member, Mr. Adnan with a baffled look on his face said, “It looks like I am in Morocco?”.

And our first ever Japanese group to Balochistan! They were escorted by the local Makrani people and the Baloch policemen. All in all, the group enjoyed the exquisiteness of the landscapes of Balochistan and the hospitality of the locals of the region.

Photo : MARIKO   Text : MARIKO & SAROSH

Visit : Feb2019, Pasni -Balochistan

Category : # Balochistan > - Pasni
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Grey Francolin -Balochistan

A Grey Francolin, which lives in the courtyard of a local guesthouse in Kund Malir. For a moment I was bewildered, when I heard a loud voice, she was just so close to me. It seems that this courtyard is the territory of this Grey Francolin couple, so no matter whether a person or a car is passing by, they do not care at all.

Grey Francolin lives in the dry flat area of the Indian subcontinent. It is a wild bird deprived of the place to live due to the land development.

In Haryana State of India, I went to observe Grey Francolin early in the morning. Particularly, at that time I thought Grey Francolin is a very shy bird who would not approach towards any human. Nonetheless, I was slightly surprised at how Grey Francolin is walking around the courtyard freely.

・・・Grey Francolin, rubbing her body on the ground. It was a very lovely moment to gaze at.

Photo : MARIKO   Text : MARIKO & SAROSH

Observation : Feb 2019, Kund Malir, Balochistan

Reference : Birds of Pakistan, Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Category : # Balochistan > ** Birds of Pakistan > - Grey Francolin > - Makran Coast
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Himalayan Ibex – Khunjerab National Park

In late December, when whole of the northern region of Pakistan was enveloped with snow, we went to Khunjerab National Park – located in the border between Pakistan and China.
Khunjerab National Park is home to many unique species of wildlife including the snow leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan Ibex and many more. Himalayan Ibex lives in the Khunjerab National Park throughout the year. However, winter is the perfect time to witness them when they solely descend for the purposes of mating and grazing.

Ibex in northern Pakistan is a subspecies called Himalayan Ibex or Siberian Ibex, <Capra sibirica>. It seems that they are further classified by the habitat among them.

According to the National Park staff, Ibex in this area is said to gather in low places from mid-December to late January. The male was deliberately chasing the female!

Cute, young Ibex at an altitude of 4,500m, close to Khunjerab Top.

Photo : MARIKO     Text : MARIKO & SAROSH

Observation : end of Dec 2018, Khunjerab National Park

Special Thanks : Mr. Sultan Gohar – Khunjerab National Park

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > ** Wildlife of Pakistan > - Ibex > - Khunjerab National Park
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Egyptian Vulture -Balochistan

Egyptian Vulture sighted at the Makran Coast in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Egyptian Vultures are broadly spread from the Iberian Peninsula across North Africa and India. In Pakistan, it breeds amid the summer season in the Balochistan province. They more often feed on carrion – rotting flesh of a dead animal – and sometimes prey on small birds and reptiles. These vultures were once a common bird in Pakistan, but its number has been decreased drastically due to the loss of habitat because of infrastructure development. Consequently, it has become very rare to sight Egyptian Vulture.

Upper wing of Egyptian Vulture; It is 60 cm to 70 cm in size, smaller compared to the other vultures. Not to mention, these magnificent creatures have their own distinct features. For instance, they have a small and pointed head with a bare yellowish face, dull white feathers, and black flight feathers.

Down wing of Egyptian Vulture. An Egyptian Vulture flying over the lively fishing village of the picturesque Makran coast, Balochistan, Pakistan.

Photo : MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH

Observation : Feb2019, Makran Coast, Balochistan

Reference : Birds of Pakistan

Category : # Balochistan > ** Birds of Pakistan > - Egyptian Vulture > - Makran Coast
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Himalayan Ibex – Khyber village in Winter

It was early January and everything was covered white with a blanket of snow. Suddenly, I was told by the Khunjerab National Park staff that there is a gathering of Himalayan Ibex  in the Khyber village.

Anxiously, I went to Khyber village immediately and luckily discovered them on the contrary bank of the Khunjerab river, where local people perform farming and cultivation. There, I could see them much closer distance than Khunjerab National Park.

The Ibex in northern Pakistan is a subspecies called Himalayan Ibex or Siberian Ibex in English (Capra sibirica).

In this area, December-January is the breeding period of Ibex. A male Ibex after a female.

Ibex will have a baby, likely in the month of June.

Beautiful winter juniper valley view.

A White-winged redstart pair. In the upper Hunza, I often observe them in winter season.

Photo : MARIKO  Text: MARIKO &  SAROSH
Observation: January 2019, Khyber Village – Gilgit-Baltistan
Thanks to Mr. Irfan – Khyber village &  Mr. Sultan Gohar – Khunjerab National Park

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > ** Wildlife of Pakistan > - Ibex > - Khyber
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