Day Trips from Karachi

by Khalid Omar

Just outside Karachi in any direction is some marvelous sightseeing country. Most people living in Karachi do not wander far from the city, at most to the beach and back. Those who do travel, go further away to other cities, or all the way north to the mountains. Like just about any large city, the surrounding areas of Karachi have a lot to offer.

The distinguishing features of Karachi which led to the formation of the original fishing village of Kolachi have long since been swallowed up by the increasingly massive population and haphazard unplanned expansion, but moving just a few miles away from the city reveals the natural beauty of the place.

There are a large number of travel guides on Pakistan, and lots of internet sites already up with information on day trips near Karachi. Therefore you won’t find much detail about the places I’m going to write about as the facts are available elsewhere, but a personal account of places near Karachi and whether or not they’re worth seeing.

The Sea

The obvious direction is the sea, for which one needs a boat. That can be easily rented along with a crew from Kemari, or Port Qasim. Prices vary according to the size of the boat and the number of people intending to go on it, but if a group is going to split the costs between them, then it is quite affordable for just about anyone. On an average, including food and everything else, it should cost less than a meal at McDonalds per person. For a leisurely trip, crabbing is always fun. You are not going to actually catch any crabs, but the boatman keeps enough crabs on hand and cooks them fresh along with fish. Delicious! A crabbing trip is easy to arrange and can be done just about any day of the week.

For the more hardy, they can arrange to rent a fishing boat at least a day earlier, and leave in the wee hours of the morning to fish. Any activity out on the sea is advisable (and possible) only in the winter months. For fishing you will need to bring your own gear. All sorts of fishing tackle is available at Aziz Agha’s fishing store just off Tariq Road. Anyone you find on Tariq Road should be able to guide you there. An article by him on fishing:

Earnest Hemingway once said, “I do not know of anything other than fishing that can give a person more enjoyment through life”.

Even on days when fish catching is slow, the excitement of being outdoors is always there. The early morning mist. The foggy and hazy sights of the slowly fading shoreline. The songs of the fluttering seagulls. The dazzling play of light on the water. The sight of dolphins playing in the wild. The whales blowing through their blow holes. The ocean sunfish or the presence of a basking shark in the open waters. The predatory barracuda, breaking the water surface, hunting for some easy prey. The view of an offshore island. The solitude. The wild wilderness away from the noisy city life and the picturesque sunset… All these are adventures that offshore fishing in Karachi offers.

Nature has been generous by blessing our blue waters with a variety of gamefish. From the gigantic marlin and sailfish (ghora machli) yellowfin and big eye tuna (gidder and dawan), wahoo and barred mackerel (gore and surmai), cobia (sangra) queenfish (aal), mahimahi (abroose), barracuda (kund), red snapper and blubberlip snapper (hira and gokh mahi), barramundi (dangri), grouper (ghisser), threadfin (ramas), emperor (mulla), gilthead bream (dandh) ladyfish (bhambore) and loads of other species. The anglers have only to know the where, when, and how of fishing and fish are all there.
>> Dawn: It’s a water world to behold

The Beaches

There are also a number of beaches about an hours drive from the center of Karachi. Sandspit, Hawkesbay, Paradise Point, the French Beach etc., are all near and are a favorite spot for picnickers. Unfortunately, all these beaches are getting increasingly crowded and dirty. Just about any local from Karachi can tell you the inside-outside details of the local beaches, so I’m not going to write more about them.

The other direction is towards Baluchistan. On the way there are the most amazing beaches. Unfortunately, the Army and the Navy have taken them over. However, one can go to Gadani where all the shipbreaking used to occur back in the 70’s. There are still a ship or two being slowly broken up there, but it’s a far cry from the bustling activity of days gone by. The Tasman Spirit is the newest addition to Gaddani. It’s not safe to swim there, for there are a large number of wrecks everywhere at Gaddani, but the beach is worth seeing. There is a viewpoint on a small cliff at Gaddani where one can take a vista of the entire beach.

The real diehards can continue past Hub onto the Makran coastal highway. The highway a very scenic & pleasant drive after the mad traffic and bad roads of Karachi, and one sees the most amazing beaches soon after entering the highway. About 3 hours from Karachi, just stop at any of the beaches along the way.

Hub Dam

Drive into Hub, the first town in Baluchistan entering from Karachi, then turn right and head for Hub Dam, about an hour’s drive from Karachi. It’s a small industrial town which remains dry and dusty year around, so there really isn’t much there to see. What is worthwhile is a trip to Hub Dam, which is Pakistan’s third largest dam and a protected wild-life sanctuary. In 2003 the water level had fallen alarmingly low, but with the heavy rains last summer the water level is back up once again.

The majority of people from Karachi going to the dam are for duck hunting during the winters. One can hire small boats from the locals to hunt, or to sightsee. It’s strange that such a vast lake is left pretty much untouched by the massive population of Karachi just an hour’s drive away. Hardly anyone but gun toting shikaris and anglers from Karachi go there.

Hub Dam supplies a large percentage of Karachi’s water, but regulated water sports/activities on the lake should not pollute the water. Rawal Dam in Islamabad has a water sports club and also an active sailing club. The locals at Hub Dam warn visitors not to swim there - they warn that there are “wagoo” (crocodiles) in the water. I personally have never seen one there, or come across anyone who has either seen one or known someone else who had. There are people who claim to know someone who knew someone who knew someone else that had heard of yet another someone being bitten by a crocodile, but with so many degrees of separation it’s doubtful. Nevertheless, Khar Game Reserve is not too far away and is home to over 50 crocodiles. It’s quite possible that an escapee or two from the crocodile breeding program made its way to the Dam, and could be breeding in a tributary somewhere.

Regardless of crocodiles and duck hunters, the dam is a wonderful place to explore in a boat. One can get off on one of the small islands or the further shores accessible only by boat for a picnic.

Mangroves

These are best seen by hiring a local boat from Port Qasim. A local guide is needed, but the person you hire the boat from will arrange that. The mangroves have been slowly dying off for years now, and with the oil spill in the summer of 2003 there have been many dire predictions by environmentalists that the Mangroves are going to slowly disappear in a decade or two.

See Dawn: Protecting the mangroves. Not only are the mangroves dying due to rampant pollution, but they’re also being chopped down by the timber mafia, and the building mafia as well.

The Indus Delta

This requires a local guide or two, for the delta is impossible to navigate otherwise. The best way to explore the delta is in rubber dinghys with outboard motors. Most of the channels are very shallow, and a regular boat cannot make its way through, or will get stuck in the process. You can take a boat from Keti Bandar or Shah Bandar. Rumour has it that the Indus Delta used to be a smugglers paradise once upon many a times.

Chaukandi Tombs

To the east, and slightly to the north about 20 miles from Karachi are the Chaukandi Tombs. There are numerous tombs dating back to the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.
A visit to the tombs can be combined with a trip to Haleji Lake, as the tombs are on the way to the lake. Head onto the Northen Bypass from Karachi, and just a bit outside the city you’ll see the tombs some ways off the road. There is sometimes even a signboard on the highway marking the tombs.

Haleji Lake

Haleji is 50 miles from Karachi and about a kilometer of the Thatta road. Back in the days (so I’d told by those over 40) it was a very popular & beautiful spot, but not any longer. Haleji was famous for fishing but now the fishes are all dead, or not fit to eat. [more to follow]

Haleji lake is populated by over 70 species if migratory aquatic birds, including flamingoes, pelicans, herons, egrets and pheasant tailed jacanas as well as marsh crocodiles.

Thatta

This can be combined with a visit to the Chaukandi Tombs to make a round trip of about 8-10 hours. It’s a long drive, but extremely interesting. Thatta has a number of places worth visiting, and the city is in the World Heritage List. Alexander the Great stopped here for a short breather while he was about conquering the world. See Travelwebs entry on Thatta.

Keenjhar lake (also known as Kalri) is just to the west of Thatta. One can bird watch, or just enjoy the water. From Wild Life of Pakistan:

A large natural freshwater lake, the largest in Pakistan, with extensive reed-beds, particularly in the shallow western and northern parts. This lake also contains many different species of birds different from Haleji and Hadeiro. Kinjhar Lake supports a very diverse flora and fauna, and is an extremely important breeding, staging and wintering area for a wide variety of waterfowl. Mid-winter waterfowl counts in the four winters 1986/87 to 1989/90 averaged 140,000 (maximum 205,000 in 1987/88).

Makli Tombs

Makli is 98 km from Karachi - if you leave 10am, you should arrive by noon. 3 to 4 hours is the time you need to see the tombs etc.

This is one of the most visually stunning archaelogical sites in Pakistan. Covering 15-1/2 sqaure kilometers, and said to contain over one million tombs, it is considered to be the world’s largest necropolis. The tombs and mausoleums are seen as the most substantial remains of Sind’s greatness between the 14th and 18th centuries, with many belonging to kings, queens, saints, governors, military commanders, philophers and poets.

More Information

Notes: Driving times in Pakistan are not accurately reflected by the distance. Road conditions vary to such a great extent that one should not estimate or attempt an average speed of more than 60 km/h on any road or highway in Sindh. There are only a few high speed roads in Pakistan, for which the maximum safe speed is 100-120 km/h. Do take note though, that the laws of physics do not apply to the local buses, except for brief instances now and then during the rare event of an unstoppable object (the bus) colliding with an irresistible force (a loaded truck or a ravine). Intercity buses and commercial traffic travel at extremely high speeds here and under no circumstances should one assert one’s right of way against such a vehicle. The wreckage of crashed and burned vehicles littering highway embankments all over the country is a sobering reminder.

[A work in progress: A Listing of day trips from Karachi]

Posted in Places, October 19, 2004, by Khalid Omar

Your Comments (11)

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Shan on January 30, 2005 07:39 PM

Could u tell me where this place is , and find me more places like these , cause i’m going to make a movie and i need good places to shoot it in. When u email me back , write in subject : PAKISTAN , cause i won’t find it in junk mail.

susannthomsen on February 19, 2005 09:16 PM

hello khalid,
congratulations to job great done (almost!)!
wish i would have had the chance to read this years ago, when i was living in karachi (1989-1994). but nevertheless i will always return, which means to me “coming home” as pakistan is my abolute favorite country and my friends are living there.
i was in the lucky situation riding a 4-wheel-car myself and enjoying many trips to hub dam and mostly hingol. my happiest memory.
as i’m writing this, please tell me: is there a chance for a tourist renting a 4-wheel-car for a decent price? and if so, would it be possible to join someone on a trip?
it would be nice, if you would find some time for a short answer.
take care,
susann

P.S.: my homepage is in german language. I am trying to find as many intresting links and pages as possible for german readers, because i just can’t understand that people know so little about your beautiful homecountry.

umar farooq on March 16, 2005 02:48 PM

Hay: Good job done, highlighting areas around Karachi, invigorating zeal in the local population and also highlighting Pakistan internationally.

Umar

Masood Ahmed on May 31, 2005 05:41 PM

The surrounding areas of Karachi include the Khar centre of Kirthar National Park; the other being Krachat centre in Dadu district. The Khar centre is 80km north of Karachi. There is a fine rest house and in the morning people go for hiking on the hills to have a look at Ibex. I spend a night there back in November 2000.

Rizwan on June 3, 2005 07:58 PM

It was nice to see such great piece of interest, insight and knowlege in the day trip from Karachi.
I really found this site interesting. I acknowlege and appreciate your work. Hope you will be keen in sharing more information regrding traveklling in and outside Karachi.

chelsea on June 7, 2005 03:01 AM

I was in Pakistan for a month with my grandmother in 1988. We absolutely loved it. I am coming back for the first time since then, now with my 8-year-old daughter. We have been invited to a week-long wedding in Karachi. We will also have a week to travel around. I remember fondly my former trip to Chaukandi tombs and Thatta on our way farther north. Since we only have an extra week to travel and it will be extremely hot in July, I’m wondering if it’s possible to get up north or not. I’d like to go to the mountain villages which would be too cold at other times of the year. We will not be trekking, but I like different cultures (and cool air if I can find it).

Thanks for a great site, Chelsea

Afraz on November 22, 2005 04:45 AM

Dude karachi rocks no doubt about it

What i wanna know is there are mangroves in downtown karachi like there is a bridge from where ppl feed school of Buoy i forgot the english name hmmm….MULLETS yea baby mullets….so like i said there are mangroves opposite to dat bridge, can we fish in those areas and the fish are they edible….Oh and if anyone could also tell me some GREAT fishin places Salt or fresh in and around karachi….(not to faar tough lol 100 KM MAX ) _

S.M.Ahsan on November 23, 2005 01:42 AM

Dear Khalid Sahib
I m very happy to see such a nice and interesting site here by u and i some time find such things about our country.I m also very interested in the company of fishing troops by the coast of Karachi and particularly Mubarak village and churna island or let me know about any club.I have been to many nice places by all over the Pakistan and abroad,if u arrange the visiters country wide pictures display so this will be exclusive part of this site.I m resident of karachi.
Regards
Ahsan

nomi on December 18, 2005 02:17 AM

I need to go to port qasim from karachi how far is it and what is the public transport like? Is it safe? I can I fly there? Any info will be appreciated.

Salman Ali on December 20, 2005 11:14 AM

There are any buses which go from Karachi to PQ. You should be able to get one from either the Saddar bus stand near the Empress Market or the Quaidabad Bus stand.

Afzal Janjua on March 14, 2006 08:38 AM

It is a good site.There is sufficient information,Please add pictures alos.Are there any places of speical interest for foreigners in the city and aroumd?

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You are reading Day Trips from Karachi, an entry made on March 14, 2006, filed under Places. This entry is part of offroadpakistan.com.

There have been 11 comments on this entry. The most recent comment is by Afzal Janjua.

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