I said I’ll only write about cycling days, but here’s another exception (still, I’ll include some cycling tips as well here): our bus ride from Rapalwindi to Chilas, where we were expecting to start cycling.
1. The bus cost us Rs 1500. They said the could charge us a maximum of Rs 200 per bike; the driver tried to charge us Rs 2200, but in the end we managed not to pay a penny.
2. The bus was expected to leave at 16.00 and arrive at 07.00 next morning. It left at 17.00 and arrived at 10.30 next morning.
3. The road is hell. Bumpy and very slow. Going by car or minibus can make it feel less bumpy, but it won’t be much faster: they drove as if they were trying to scape from the end of the world. Be ready. (Still, it felt safe enough)
4. Yes they do stop for food. Not much but they do.
5. Can you cycle out of Rawalpindi or Islamabad? Yes of course. The motorway is not such according to European standards (and neither according to American standars, both north and south), traffic is not very heavy nor fast, and you’ll be out of the city quite fast. Just one “but”: beware of the heat.
6. If I had known, I’d have started cycling in Manshera, or maybe a little bit farther away, but never beyond Besham area. From that point onwards, the road is SPECTACULAR. True, this region is VERY strict with clothes and things like that, so some local clothes to cover your tight cycling-lycras is recommendable.
7. Do children throw stones at cyclists? Maybe. I didn’t see any, but maybe they do. Or they have in the past. I don’t think they do, because it didn’t give me that feeling, but you never know. Still, the road is very likely to see rock falls. Not huge but small ones. So be VERY CAREFUL. Rocks will fall from very high up.
8. From Dasu onwards, the road turns drier. I liked the previous kilometers better, since it was greener, but specially because the road is more spectacular. This last bit is very nice, but I’ve seen similar places in this world (Ouarzazate area in Marocco, Cañón del Pato in Perú, some of the USA…).
Now, it’s your call. Enjoy!