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Testimonials

Whether we are planning travels for an adventure group,  cultural group - the trip of a lifetime for a group of friends, or the perfect honeymoon for a couple, we create a journey beyond the ordinary. Here are some of our fantastic reviews!

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 I am quite well though sad to have ended such a memorable holiday! I truly hope that more people visit Pakistan to see the beauty of your land and the warmth of your people firsthand.

Ahh, did you know that I hassled Sharif almost every day regarding the ‘comments, suggestions, criticisms, etc.’? I think I told you in one of my many boring, emails that as long as I was outside enjoying nature I was fine with the itinerary. Well I stayed true to my comment. I was so content with visiting northern Pakistan for the first time that I had no complaints or criticisms! Truly I was well taken care of by Sharif, Latif and Amman, sweet Amman – you know they were all one of a kind. They seemed to read me like a book and before I even knew I was cold or hungry or tired they had my sleeping bag out or snacks available or made me take a break. My only complaints are on a personal level and by that I mean they are geared toward me. I wish I had been in better health, I wish I knew what I had wanted and stayed in the mountains longer. Next time I will know better.
I do appreciate how you have been so helpful and so patient. Thank you for everything.

 

Bertha Horcasitas

 

Los Angeles,

U.S.A

 

19th November 2008

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I'm truly sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. Work has been extremely busy for both Robby and myself since we have returned from Pakistan. We normally are never this busy! Pakistan has been on our minds, and we are both still working on finishing up our trip notes and selecting which photos to post on our website...its a work in progress and hopefully we will have it up online soon. Inshallah! :)

Our Northern Areas journey was fantastic...we have only the best memories from our trip there. The itinerary that Saeed helped us develop was excellent as we had a nice, broad overview of many Northern Areas, which is fantastically beautiful and the stuff of dreams. We never knew how gorgeous the scenery would be up North...even though we had read the reviews of other travellers who were equally enamoured. I know that tourism in Pakistan is still developing, and wanted to provide you with some feedback that future customers may find helpful.

1. Pre-trip planning: The trip dossier that you provided (with recommended packing list) was very helpful and gave us a good expectation of what to expect. Of course, situations constantly change, so remind your clients to remain flexible...for example, we had planned on attending the Boroghil Festival but were unable to because it was cancelled. Conditions in Pakistan are fluid and clients should keep that in mind when they are booking a tour.

2. Payment: I must admit, if we weren't repeat customers, I would have been a bit leery about making full payment in advance of arrival. I think many of your other clients may have the same fears, so it would be helpful for them to read about other client's testimonials so they have ease of mind that they are dealing with a reputable company. The more feedback from a wide range of clients, the better. That way, any potential clients will realize that VE isn't some "fly by night" operation but has had numerous years of experience catered to foreign guests.

3. Itinerary: Thank God for Saeed! He worked with me to custom build an itinerary that would suit Robby's and my interests...I think the recommended itineraries on your website are equally invaluable. They give the first time visitor to Pakistan a good first impression of what the country has to offer. Even after our second trip to Pakistan, I am still stunned at the wide range of activities that are possible in Pakistan (i.e. camel riding in the South, trout fishing, kite flying, camping, trekking, white water rafting, etc). One thing that most clients to Pakistan realize already, although it wouldn't hurt to mention, is that in the Northern Areas, many of the destinations are at high elevations. Being in the best possible shape one can be is vital! Our daily hikes were physically challenging at times...I can't even imagine what it must be like to trek one of the routes labeled "tough" considering the easy treks weren't that easy!

4. Food: We really like how, unlike many of the other tours we take in other countries, VE allows complete flexibility on our food stops and choices. If we feel like eating Chinese food, no problem. Or if we want to skip lunch to catch in an extra sight, so be it. It really was nice not to be tied down to eating at a certain restaurant at a certain time. My favorite dish now is karai! I love that stuff. Oh, and the apricots in full bloom everywhere...delicious. I had no idea there were sooooo many types of Apricots in Pakistan. Free for the picking....

5. Hotels: Very good. We like the PTDC chain and found them to be very friendly, clean and hospitable. The Shigar Fort was our favorite....two huge thumbs up! One thing we didn't realize was how electricity would be limited at some places, with the generator only kicking on from 8 pm - 10 pm. Something to let clients know so they can be ready to charge their batteries!

6. Guides: Saeed is our favorite! We were really sad he had a family crisis and couldn't be with us the entire trip but it was completely understandable as family comes first. Zia did a good job taking over from Saeed. He tried his very best to ensure that we were satisfied and happy, which is all we can really ask for in a guide.

7. Drivers: Both Hamid and Jan were EXCELLENT! We loved them both. They were very careful, cautious drivers who paid attention to the road and to our safety. Always courteous, friendly and uncomplaining...the perfect drivers.

8. Vehicles: Our first jeep had mechanical problems that started on our first day. We stopped several times to have it looked at, but the problem persisted. Due to our itinerary, we realized the first place we'd be able to swap out vehicles would be Gilgit, so we had to put up with the jeep for about a week until we could get a replacement jeep. The replacement jeep was great, and we had no further problems throughout the trip.

9. People and Culture: Pakistanis are some of the most amazing people on earth. Nothing quite prepares you for the attention and hospitality that is encountered in Pakistan. Of course, it really helps to respect the local culture, so I'd strongly advise clients to adopt the local dress (shalwar kameez) for both men and women. Very comfortable and practical...easy to hand wash and dry. Thanks so much for arranging ours beforehand...we loved them!

In closing, I think that Pakistan is one of the most alluring countries we've visited (and we've been all around the world). Something compels us to return again and again. In fact, we are already scheming about our return trip and where we want to visit! We really hope more tourists visit and enjoy all that Pakistan has to offer. If you'd like to share our testimonial with everyone, feel free. We'd be happy to answer any questions folks might have. Oh, and photos/trip notes will be posted on our website soon: www.thinkbigadventures.com Click on Pakistan and then "Northern Areas"...

 

Becky Clark Thomas

 

12th September 2008

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Well, I have been home for two weeks, recovered from my jet lag and am starting to get my pictures sorted out! I am enclosing the pix of the "Yak" that "chased" us and hope that you can make an identification.
I can't thank you enough for such a memorable trek. It was everything I hoped it would be. Trekking Baltoro glacier and Gondogoro la was the dream of a life time and you set me up with the best guide in the country. Everything was smoothly arranged and I just only had to sit back and enjoy. Thanks for your courtesy and professionalism
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Anyhow, please feel free to use my comments on your testimonial page and if you want me to re-write or re-phrase it in the form of a "recommendation" please let me know as I would be happy to do so.

Thank you once again for the best day ever and if I get back (which I hope becomes a reality) you can be sure I'll be calling on you.

All the best and I hope you have many more wonderful days ahead.

With warm wishes and more,

Kathryn,

 

Cape Town,

 

19th August 2008

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I enjoyed very much my trip to Pakistan and thank you for your excellent assistance.
I was wonderfully taken care of by your most friendly staff I ever met.
My next trip to Pakistan is on a way soon so I will definitely contact you again and also will recommend your company to my friends.

 

Kanao Yamaoka,

 

Hong Kong

 

21st July, 2008

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It is with pleasure and full confidence that I am able to recommend Vertical Explorers. As a seasoned traveler, having experienced all kinds of holidays over 50 years in different countries and different continents, our K2 trek/vacation had plenty to measure up against. Without hesitation, my wife and I emphatically agree it was the greatest holiday experience we have ever had. Our Northern Areas tour combined spectacular sights, fascinating history, and the excellent company of our guide. An unparalleled level of service began with our first email enquiry, and continued until the moment we departed Pakistan. The destinations and accommodations incorporated into the tour could not be faulted. I would strongly recommend them to anybody seeking a safe, insightful and highly comfortable Pakistan Vacation.

 

Daphne & David Murray,

Ontario,

Canada

 

15th July,2008

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We traveled with Vertical Explorers to the Northern Areas, and also on a sightseeing tour in Kalash and Chitral this June. Both trips where excellent! The guide where very pleasant and informative, and driving an air-conditioned vehicle was wonderful for us from the cold north. We will definitely use Vertical Explorers again if, or more correctly when, we return to Pakistan.


Ingrid Hunnes, Thor Harald Killi, Guttorm Bringa & Gry A. Fjeldstad,

Norway

2nd July, 2008

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I must certainly thank you and Vertical Explorers for preparing such a wonderful trip for us! We had a superb time and it couldn't have gone more smoothly. Traveling, guide scheduling - all went so comfortably. Everything ran smoothly from the first to the last day, very well organized and completely hassle free. We especially loved Swat for its beauty of the land and mountains! and the tranquility of the lakes.

We had excellent guides everywhere - they met us on schedule, they took great care of us and showed us the personality of their own culture. We were certainly welcomed as Americans and appreciated - which surprised me because given the history of the US over there.
 
Thanks again for putting together a trip that gave us a lot of people contact and much countryside visiting. It was truly memorable

Joe, Lucy, Ben MacLean and Claudia Dodge

New York,

USA

24 January, 2007

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We just wanted to thank you and your company for providing us with an experience of a lifetime. In December we have spend a week in Swat and Kaghan region with the crew of Vertical Explorers. They have demonstrated an extreme professionalism and skill even in tough situations. Excellent comfort and food compared to the severe conditions we were.  Thank you once again, and if anyone we know is thinking Pakistan, we will send them your way!

Pam Solvang & Pat Gavin

20 December 2006

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Everything was exceptional - I honestly can't thank you or praise you enough for your thoroughness, attention to detail and over-the-top effort and friendly attention in planning this trip for us. It was a great trip! At Shigar people treated us royally. I felt like a guest of the family, and their place is as nice as you said it would be. The food there is excellent. I put on a few pounds in spite of walking and riding. I especially enjoyed seeing the stars at night and the sunrise, sunset at Duikar Hunza.

We stayed at lots of different places over the course of our visit, but one that I really liked and recommend was the Shigar Fort Residence. It is a new place just at the bank of Shigar river, nicely set up on a hillside, very clean and private. The dining area is wonderful - sort of a tented affair with stone floors. Everything you shared about Northern Area was right on and gave me the confidence to venture forth into an unknown land.

Natasha Spillane, Mooil kim and Peter Kendall

New Zealand

12 November 2006

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In August 2006 my wife Lucy and I made a 14–day trek from Askole to Hushe, the Baltoro valley and Gondogoro La. This was organized by Vertical Explorers, recommended to us by friends in the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District. They had originally met Shair Ali, a few years earlier when he was working as a guide for individuals or groups, throughout the Karakoram.
Our guide on trek was Ali, an engaging 24 year old from Shigar, who is a student at college and hoping to become an engineer. In addition we had a cook and an assistant cook, both from Shigar, porters, all of whom worked extremely hard and were great fun to be with. Lucy and I had a robust and spacious North Face tent to sleep in; we also had a kitchen tent and separate dining tent. As we got higher and being late in the season the dining tent was very cold in the evening and on reflection it might have been easier (and warmer) if we had all eaten together in a larger kitchen tent.
The section from Shigar to Hushe passes through remote valleys and involves crossing on high pass with stunning views of major 8000 meter peaks. This is in contrast to the picturesque and fertile Shigar valley, which during the popular summer months can be busy with trekking groups, but being late summer was quiet and the locals engaged with harvesting their crops and bringing livestock down from the higher pastures.
I have been trekking and climbing in the Karakoram and Himalayas, intermittently, since 1986 and over the years have used a number of different agencies to help with the arrangements. I can honestly say that Vertical Explorers provided the best and most personalized service that I have ever had. I will certainly be using them again and have no hesitation in recommending them to others.

Tom and Lucy

Sydney, Australia

2 November 2006

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You operate a very organized and efficient company where by safety of your clients is paramount. However this commitment to safety does not impede on the immense joy and fascinating insights into the cultural diversity that your company provides.  The dedication of all the staff is genuine & sincere with regular service well beyond the expectations of a business relationship. I thoroughly recommend VE to any individual who would like to experience the best of Pakistan.

Mark F.

4202 Yuculta Crescent
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada
August 2006

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Working with Vertical Explorers' team is an absolute pleasure; they clearly give great value to the qualities that make a successful planner/ operator partnership: trust, equity, creativity, mutual compromise, and tremendous hard work.

Charlie Keenan

Ireland

15 August 2006

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We had an outstanding time and guide in South Pakistan and were enthralled with the historical places of Uch Sharif, Pak Pattan in south, as well as many other great historical monuments. Itinerary was accurate, accommodation very comfortable, we were pampered all along
the trip to south, with excellent meals provided at breakfast, lunch and supper. Keep us informed of other great trips that you plan & we hope in the not too distant future to return to Pakistan & North too! The trip was just wonderful!

Beth Innes, Georgiana Mentis

Vaucluse, 2030,