I stood there amongst the trees, the wind moving through the leaves, making a whistling sound. The entire campsite was bathed in bright moonlight, so bright that you did not need a torch. The Hingol River flowed along between the mountains. Sometimes that landscape becomes harsh. This reads like an extract from a fiction novel, doesn’t it? Well we made our way by travelling only 240 kilometers from Karachi to make this fiction a reality. That is, if you have the gumption to make it out to Hingol National Park in Baluchistan. I got the chance to do so with the team of adventure travelers known as Off-road Pakistan. I refer them as a team because that’s what they are, and that’s what one needs to make it through the terrain of Baluchistan, which comprises bogs, jungle, mountains, and quicksand with a few wagons. On this trip, the team included inventors, doctors and a few lowly scribes such as me, and we all had one thing in common, that was: “the love of nature.”
Off-roading is a peculiar pastime—it is neither camping nor hunting, but sometimes requires the use of both to survive. Off-roading involves a triumvirate of man, machine, and terrain, with the last pitting itself against the first two to see who will win. Well, we won, but it took us about a day of jolts, stuck jeeps, winching, and general mayhem to do so. Besides getting school books to the happy recipients, the point of this recent expedition was to off-road to a remote mountain gorge known as PolDat This site was about 28 kilometers upstream from our campsite in the national park and is the point at which five different rivers merge to create the Hingol River, which then flows in to the Arabian Sea. About five years ago, some off-roaders from the group, this, had arrived at this location with some difficulty. Now it was our turn.
We started the climb up to Pol Dat early Saturday morning, stopping along the way for rest and strategic discussions. People think off-roading is similar to dune bashing practiced in the Middle East. On the contrary, off-roading requires strategizing about how to navigate vehicles in and around a difficult landscape. Suffice to say it took us about four hours to reach the dead end which the gorge before Pol Dat represents. The gorge is home to a blue lagoon and is surrounded by majestic mountains. The spot is absolutely untouched and so beautiful that it sets something primal racing within a person. Not being satisfied with this final hurdle, some members of the group made a further 40-minute-long trek to get to the other side of the gorge and the actual Pol Dat point beyond it. This wasn’t the last of our thrills, though. On the way back to Karachi, we stopped at a 5,000 year old Hindu temple called Nani Mandir. The temple boasts a fertility tunnel through which those who desire children pass to earn their wish.
Hearing about my trip, some people may be tempted to ask, so, what’s the point? In response I can only say, what is the point of getting to a place where hardly a handful of people from this city will ever go, seeing nature in its full glory, eating food cooked on a camp fire made by pulling branches from trees, and bathing in a river dotted with crocs along its banks? One achieves a sense of being out of touch that only the wild can provide, where there are no laptops and no mobile phones, where the day does not revolve around Facebook or Twitter. As a fellow off-roader quipped, “the rules of society do not apply here.” A brief sojourn such as this makes one wonder about the true worth of our greedy, rat-race societies. One also realizes somewhere along the way that what we seek on vacations all over this world is available at a stone’s throw from one’s doorstep. All you need is the spirit to let go and off-road to the glory of nature.
Kaiser Willys Jeep Blog Story – Zubair Siddiqui
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