In the spirit of adventure we let the orginial plan float from day one. The weather gods would have us wait for a flight up north as it has to be perfect conditions for the plane to land. We quickly settled on spending the time driving instead of waiting, and our excellent liaison officer Ali (some would call him a guide, but that would be belitteling his capabilities) promptly arranged for a two-leg drive to Gilgit.
We left Islamabad in the comforts of an airconditioned minivan (while seeing smoke from the blast at the World Food Programme offices as we were getting onto the highways) and set the course for Naran.
The normal route north would be via the Karakoram Highway, but as this road is prone to delays from rockslides and passes through a limited area we did not want to travel through due to tensions, we instead took a more easterly road; less highway, more dirt tracks and new scenery for those of us who had the pleasure of driving a good leg of the KKH last year.
After quite a leisurley drive yesterday, we had the brilliant idea of getting up before sunrise today to catch the first rays of sun on the mountains over a small alpine lake -- a detour of two hours which was bumpy enough to shake the four hours of sleep in two nights out of the body quickly.
Yesterdays minivan would not have been up to todays rocky road, so two Jeeps came down during the night to meet ut in Naran and drive us onwards to Gilgit. Not the same comfort but with open sides, so the drive by photoshooting opportunities were ample.
That being said, the last three or four hours of todays (counting) fifteenish hour trip were more rallycross in a duststorm than scenic road trip....
I don't have the time to sift through and find the best landscape shots from today (we crossed a pass at 4600 m above sea level - a soon-to-be-beaten personal record), and my ever-growing collection of portraits of beautiful, friendly and happy Pakisanis needs more post-processing, so I therefore give you a photo of our trusted jeep. Note the badass Peshawar plates along with the various decorations.
Thanks to Thomas for letting me borrow his 16-35mm f/2.8 L on this trip, and Tor for handy tips on how to handhold a graduated neutral density filter in front of the lens while shooting - this is a first attempt at the wide angle + flash + GND combo to get the best of a car while nudging the sky bluer.