Adventure sports for someone like me are the best bet and the ultimate attraction to make me want to visit a country. In the past few years, Pakistan has drawn several female solo travelers to its lands and the stage has been set for women pursuing independent travel. Foreign visitors aside, there is no scarcity of girls’ trips up North and around, as women become more confident in travelling in all-female groups. Moreover, the 21st century woman is no ordinary woman – she seeks more than fresh air, relaxing views and a holiday spent in haze. The woman of today is instead found horseback mounted, deep diving, and strapped for flight, all whilst gracefully dismantling the dated notion of a damsel in distress.
Pakistan is home to some of the most thrilling adventure sports not just for men but also for women. From skiing in the gorgeous and one of its kind, Pakistan’s first ever Malam Jabba skiing resort, located in the Swat Valley to zip lining, para- and hang-gliding, and trekking and hiking in the lush green hills of the Margalla is on everyone's to-do list. The Killer Mountain, Nanga Parbat, has one of its kind, extremely tedious trek for enthusiasts visiting from around the world. Or the Rakaposhi, which is the most popular and one of the highest in the region, with its trek winding around scenic glaciers and valleys like Bargot, Minapin and Jaglot, is mountaineers and trekkers paradise. Pakistan also offers some of the best spots for white water rafting, paragliding, scuba diving, snorkeling, rock climbing and camel desert safari. With almost 162 high peaks, Pakistan is nothing less than a heaven for rock climbers. Bicycling on Karakoram Highway, the world’s highest paved road with mountains lining it as high as 7,000-meters, mesmerizing glaciers along the way, green hills and valleys as deep as one can see, is another experience to be had. On this route the beauty of the people and their rich culture can be seen, admired and experienced.
The Naltar Ski Resort has been at the heart of Pakistan's efforts to draw winter sports tourists since 2015. Such efforts are in the hopes to collaborate with other nations to develop safe and secure mountain tourism in Pakistan. Mabali Island at Khanpur Dam is the perfect weekend getaway located near Taxila. Packed with adrenaline rushing activities for all, the island offers an array of activities like para-sailing, jet skiing, wake tubing, Tarzan jumping, kayaking, zip lining, shooting, archery, hiking, trekking and beach volleyball. Ziplining and hang-gliding along the mountains great adventures at Shah Allah Ditta caves located in Islamabad. Churna Island located near Mubarak Goth in Sindh, is popular for snorkeling, scuba diving and cliff diving along with many other water sports activities.
Women are found traveling to all of these places and more, as the country opens up its arms to inflow of tourists. It has raised the standards and conditions of all adventure sports’ base camps and HQs for easier access to know-how and guidance for local and foreign tourists. In Winter in Himalaya — An Ultimate Challenge, Berenice Rocfort and Emilie Brouze state: “Pakistan offers attractive and competitive opportunities for international mountaineers, in addition to its unspoiled and virgin landscapes.” The book recounts nail-biting experiences of the six daring and experienced mountaineers including French alpinist Elisabeth Revol and her brave attempt to climb Nanga Parbat.
Women have exhibited a great deal of fervor when it comes to adventure sports and seek out the excitement of an exhilarating experience when travelling. With that being the case, it is important to recognize that to activate female tourism at a large scale, we must consider taking steps of improved safety and induct a female workforce into the industry. The latter helps to propagate the image of an environment that is conducive to women and makes these activities more accessible to those who might be looking to indulge.
Some of the shining stars of adventure sports in Pakistan are Ifrah Wali, a Pakistani alpine skier. She is the first winner of the Giant Slalom event at South Asian Winter Games 2011, when she won at the inaugural games held in India. Samina Khayal Baig is a Pakistani high-altitude mountaineer who climbed Mount Everest in 2013 and then all Seven Summits until 2014. She is the first ever Pakistani woman to achieve the climb at Everest and the Seven Summits. Rosheen Khan, also known as 'Mermaid of Churna Island', has become the first and the only female scuba-diving instructor in Pakistan. All of these and many more have touched the peaks of success in various adventure sports now that Pakistan has safe and healthy competitions as well as access to all these daring sports for women.
Pakistan might not be an ideal option for those who seek out daylong shopping sprees but its lands have fostered and made room for strong, audacious women and girls like Zenith Irfan, Selena Khawaja, Samina Baig and Maria Soomro. These women and the headlines they have made, speak volumes to the potential of activating adventure sports and thrilling travel opportunities for women. Initiatives like Lost with Purpose that boasts the tagline of Pakistan for women, by women, work actively to eradicate the misconceptions of unsafe travel for local and international women in the country. These efforts have already identified the room for expansion in this niche of culture of female travel and our working to develop it. It is important, however, to retrofit and gear the adventure sports industry to accommodate women as the idea of them pursuing adrenaline-pumping activities gains more and more traction. Sports tourism is a reality for naturally blessed countries like Pakistan. The government has taken steps focusing on improving tourism, security, visa policy and infrastructure. An in-depth virtual tour of how to join these sports and be a part of the thrilling experience will attract more sports enthusiasts in the future and help promote tourism in Pakistan. HH
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