Hingol National Park – Mud Volcano World-1

Hingol National Park, located in the southern part of Balochistan. It is spread over a vast area of 6,100 square kilometers and is the largest National park in Pakistan. There are roads and villages inside the national park. For me, I feel it undistinguishable setting as a National park. However, the landscape covering the whole of the National park is astonishing and somewhat out of this earth.

We entered from the gate which leads to the sacred Nani Mandir Hindu temple. What a breathtaking view it is! The village is dotted and engraved in the inexplicable landscape created by the mud volcano.

Some people living beneath the superb view…The mysterious scenery shaped by the mud volcano spread throughout the frame.

Photo : Mariko  Text: Mariko & Sarosh
Visit: March 2019, Hingol National Park, Balochistan

Category : # Balochistan > - Hingol National Park
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True beauty of Balochistan – Pakistan video clip

True beauty of Balochistan – Pakistan

This is my first video made for Balochistan.
Things I’ve seen … magnificent landscapes, lively creatures, and the lives of people portraying their wonderful culture and tradition.
Thanks to Mr. Yousaf, who arranged this amazing trip for me and also advised me about this great song by Akhtar Chanal.

Videography : Mariko Sawada

Visit of Balochistan : Nov 2019, with Saiyah team

Music Courtesy : Coke Studio, Akhtar Chanal

Category : # Balochistan > ** Video clip of Balochistan
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Pied Avocet –Soon Valley

A flock of Pied Avocets observed in Uchhali Lake, Soon Valley.
Pied Avocet breeds in Europe and Central Asia and travels to Africa and South Asia in the winter season.
In Pakistan, Pied Avocet’s wintering starts on the Indus river basin, lakes, wetlands, and the Arabian Sea coast. Breeding has also been observed in the lagoons of Balochistan coast.

We could not observe it nearby, but its characteristic feathers; black and white wing and the long beak that had warped, and the gray leg, it was undoubtedly a Pied Avocet.

A person in the background herding camels and Pied Avocet in the foreground… It was a very unique and gorgeous view of nature and people together.

Photo: MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH
Observation: end of March 2019, Uchhali Lake, Soon Valley, Punjab
Reference: Birds of Pakistan, Birds of the Indian Subcontinents (Helm Field Guides)

Category : # Punjab > ** Birds of Pakistan > - Pied Avocet > - Soon Valley
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Greater Flamingo in sunset – Soon Valley

We visited Uchhali Lake located in Soon Valley, from Islamabad. The trip’s duration was 1 night and 2 days.
Blessed with the weather, we were able to observe the Greater Flamingos in the gorgeous evening golden light.

Northern Shoveler and Greater Flamingo.

Greater Flamingos flying on a sparkling golden lake’s surface.

Greater Flamingos on the lake’s shore.

Greater Flamingos taking off.

A flock of Greater flamingos flying above Uchhali Lake.

As soon as the sunset, the flamingos became a silhouette. We were so excited to photograph these birds until the dark. If you really want to capture the true beauty of flamingos, then the golden hour is the best time.
No doubt, it was a very lovely day at Uchhali Lake.

Photo: MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH
Observation: end of March 2019, Uchhali Lake, Soon Valley, Punjab
Reference: Birds of Pakistan, Birds of the Indian Subcontinents (Helm Field Guides)

Category : # Punjab > ** Birds of Pakistan > - Greater Flamingo > - Soon Valley
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Pakistan & India Border Flag Ceremony 

Pakistan & India Border Flag Ceremony

On 16th March 2019, Saturday … when tensions between Indian & Pakistan escalated, luckily I had the chance to attend the Wagha flag ceremony.
I’ve been witnessing this ceremony several times, though this one was the best ceremony in my lifetime.

Videography : Mariko Sawada,  Yousaf Akhtar

Visit of Wagha : March 2019 with Saiyah team

Category : # Punjab > ** Video clip of Punjab > - Wagha border
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Enthusiastic Pakistanis at Wagha Border

Enthusiastic Pakistanis at Wagha Border

Enjoying flag ceremony is not only the ceremony itself but the “Pre-ceremony” period.
To witness the Pakistani people who love their country, this is the best place and it is fun too!
Let’s say aloud everyone, (Long-live) Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan!

Videography : Mariko Sawada, Yousaf Akhtar

Visit of wagha : March 2019 with Saiyah team

Category : # Punjab > ** Video clip of Punjab > - Wagha border
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Heritage of LAHORE 

Heritage of LAHORE

On 19th Feb 2019, SUPER MOON DAY … I was in Lahore and was expecting to observe the super moon, but unluckily it was cloudy.
On the other hand, I successfully got permission to fly a drone over the heritage area.

Videography : Mariko SAWADA

Visit of Lahore : Feb 2019 with Saiyah team

Thanks to Ms. Aisha Khan, Deputy Director of Culture Walled City, Lahore

Category : # Punjab > ** Video clip of Punjab > - Lahore
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Greater Flamingo – Soon valley

There are several lakes in Soon Valley located 150 km southeast of Islamabad, some of the famous lakes in this region serving as a habitat for birds are Kallar Kahar Lake, Khabeki Lake, and Uchhali Lake. Comparatively, Uchhali Lake is the best spot for migratory birds to spend winter season. It attracts migratory flamingos due to its salty blackish shallow water.

There were almost no ducks in late March when I visited, but there were more than 200 flamingos.
According to the locals, 20 to 40 birds have been observed so far, but such a large flock is the first time.
In 2016 no flamingos came to this lake, but since mid of 2018, more than 200 birds came and were still in Uchhali Lake.

Greater flamingos flying over the village.
It is said that a Greater Flamingo has an irregular migratory pattern and the local people were also wondering that it has been staying at Uchhali Lake for about 11 months already.

I’m worried that if their habitat is lost due development, there might be nowhere for these flamingos to go…

Greater flamingos are the largest flamingos in the flamingo family at 120cm to 140 cm.
“The largest flamingo” colors Pakistan’s sky. It was an unexpected scene!

Photo: MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH
Observation: end of March 2019, Uchhali Lake, Soon Valley, Punjab
Reference: Birds of Pakistan, Birds of the Indian Subcontinents (Helm Field Guides)

Category : # Punjab > ** Birds of Pakistan > - Greater Flamingo > - Soon Valley
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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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