Everybody knows about the incredible natural beauty of northern Pakistan, home to places like Hunza Valley, Fairy Meadows, and Skardu, but have you ever thought about visiting Balochistan?
Balochistan is perhaps the greatest hidden gem in Pakistan. The region is vast and home to various impressive landscapes and amazing people. Unfortunately, many destinations in Balochistan remain off the radar for many travelers due to their remoteness but did you know that you can visit the most stunning places in a single day trip from Karachi?
The following itinerary covers all the must-visit places along the coast of Balochistan that can be visited within a day from Karachi. The route follows the renowned Makran Coastal Highway into Hingol National Park, allowing for a scenic nature drive away from the noise of Karachi.
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Where Is Balochistan?
Balochistan is a region in Asia covering the south-west of Pakistan, south of Afghanistan, and south-east of Iran. The region is home to the Baloch people as well as various other ethnic groups.
This post primarily refers to the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which covers places like Quetta, Ziarat, the Bolan Pass, and the coastal regions.
Why Visit Balochistan?
Simple answer: Because it’s beautiful.
Long answer: Balochistan is a vast region consisting of mostly arid and mountainous land. You’ll find some of Pakistan’s most beautiful places there, such as deserts, mountains, waterfalls, and beaches, proving that not everything beautiful has to be lush and green. Plus, the people in Balochistan are friendlier than you could ever imagine.
This post focuses on the coastal part of Balochistan, home to pristine beaches, unique rock formations, and sweltering deserts.
Is Balochistan Safe For Travel?
Whenever Balochistan is in the news, it probably isn’t for good things. As of today, the region is still troubled by occasional unrest caused by religious and ethnic feuds as well as an ongoing independence movement. For this reason, Balochistan is oftentimes considered the least safe province of Pakistan.
However, if you’re an experienced traveler, you’ll know that safety is always relative. More often than not travelers can roam around Balochistan and encounter nothing but limitless hospitality. And luckily for travelers from Karachi, the coastal regions are especially safe thanks to their low population density.
You can see more and more tour companies offering day trips from Karachi to places like Kund Malir Beach and Hingol National Park without any incidents, further proving that all the places listed in this post are safe for travel.
Can Foreigners Go To Balochistan?
Unfortunately, as of today most parts of Balochistan are prohibited zones for foreigners, meaning that foreigners must obtain a nonobjection certificate (NOC) from the interior ministry in Islamabad prior to traveling. The only ways that foreigners can visit Balochistan without an NOC are by:
- Flying into Quetta: Foreigners are allowed to roam around the city but can only leave the city with a registered tour company.
- Crossing overland from Iran via the Taftan Border: Foreigners are picked up by military or police and escorted to Quetta. According to first-hand accounts, this journey is very nerve-racking and overall not recommended.
There are also accounts of foreigners “smuggling” themselves into Balochistan in a variety of ways, from traveling with fake IDs to bribing fishermen to take them to the other side. Although this worked out fine for most people, the stakes are high if you are caught and can result in detention for weeks and the involvement of your embassy.
Due to the difficulty of visiting the coastal areas as a foreigner, this itinerary is geared mostly towards domestic travelers.
How To Get To Balochistan’s Coastal Regions
Simple answer. Public transportation is pretty much nonexistent along the Makran Coastal Highway and you need to get around independently. So if you don’t have your own car or have a good friend who has a car, you’ll have to rent one – or just hire a driver for the day. This makes a day trip from Karachi to Balochistan a little pricey.
Sorry budget travelers.
The good news is that you can always share a car with other travelers, so instead of 18,000 rs (~ $112 USD), you might only have to pay 6,000 rs for the trip.
Itinerary For An Incredible Balochistan Day Trip From Karachi
Enough of all that yadi-yada, let’s get going!
This itinerary includes all the major sights of the eastern half of the coastline that can be seen during a day trip from Karachi. The schedule is quite stuffed, so if you intend to visit all of these sites, it’s imperative to leave Karachi early in the morning. Leaving the house around 7:00 AM should be your goal.
Gadani Ship-Breaking Yard
Only a two-hour drive from Karachi lies the first rather eerie stop on our Balochistan day trip from Karachi. The coastal town of Gadani in Lasbela district is home to the world’s third-largest ship-breaking yard, where local men work all day on disassembling large ships from around the world. With a bit of luck, you might be able to enter the yard and witness the egregious conditions under which these people work.
Why bother visiting such ugly places, you might be wondering.
Turns out that right next to the ship-breaking yard, you’ll find one of the most beautiful untouched beaches in Pakistan. Blessed with pink rocks, smooth sand, and turquoise water, Gadani Beach is like a piece of Heaven. Enjoy an aerial view from the rocks or dip your feet in the refreshing sea, but beware of the currents.
Hingol National Park/Princess of Hope
After driving a few miles on the Makran Coastal Highway, you’ll enter Hingol National Park, the largest national park in Pakistan. Unlike most national parks in the north, Hingol National Park isn’t known for green valleys and 8000-er peaks but for deserts and unique rock formations like the “Sphynx” and the “Princess of Hope”.
The Princess of Hope is the western-most point on this day trip from Karachi. This naturally-formed human-shaped rock formation received its name after a visit by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie. Its elevated position makes it an incredible viewpoint to follow the princess’ gaze into the Arabian Sea.
Interested in more national parks in Pakistan? Find out how to visit the iconic Deosai National Park in this Skardu travel guide!
Kund Malir Beach
Slightly southeast of the Princess of Hope lies Kund Malir Beach, one of Pakistan’s most famous resort beaches. As tourism in the region is increasing, there are more and more activities that visitors can engage in, such as bathing, surfing, paragliding, and ATV rides.
Although all of these activities are great fun, it’s advised to spend only a short time at the beach if you intend to visit all the sights on this itinerary.
Hinglaj Mata Mandir
The next stop is quite off the beaten path and you might have to ask locals for exact directions but the effort is undoubtedly worth it. Hinglaj Mata Mandir and Nani Mandir belong to a complex of Hindu temples hidden in a refreshing oasis about half an hour inland from the coast. The settlement is extremely remote, housing only around 20 settlers during normal times, however, once a year, this important pilgrimage site attracts hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees traveling from as far as India!
I don’t want to spoil all the interesting stuff in this post, you should visit yourself, but it’s impossible to write about these temples without praising the incredible hospitality of the people living there. Despite being a religious minority, Hindus are just as friendly as everyone else in Pakistan. That being said, have a cup of chai, listen to the caretakers’ stories, but don’t forget about the time!
Did this pique your curiosity? Read the full story about my incredible experience at Hinglaj Mata Mandir in this Instagram post!
Chandragup Mud Volcanoes
The last stop of this Balochistan day trip from Karachi is a group of three volcanoes known as the Chandragup Volcanoes. If you’re scared of lava, relax. The Chandragup Volcanoes won’t spontaneously spit out hot lava and burn you alive because they are entirely made out of mud, only making a few blub sounds every once in a while. Due to their location near the temples, the nearly 100-meter-tall mud volcanoes are a significant place of worship for Hindu devotees.
The Chandragup volcanoes lie slightly off the road but the dry clay terrain is easy to drive on for all types of cars. What’s more important is to wear shoes with a good grip that you don’t mind getting dirty. There are staircases that go up the volcanoes but for the last few meters, you’ll have to make your way through the thick and sticky mud. Luckily, you’ll forget about the struggle as soon as you reach the crater because the top of the Chandragup volcanoes is an incredible place to enjoy the sunset at the end of an incredible Balochistan day trip from Karachi.
Not sure what shoes to pack? Get inspired by this complete Pakistan packing list and prepare yourself optimally for the trip of a lifetime!
If You Have More Than One Day
The itinerary above promises an amazing day trip from Karachi but if you have some more free time on your hands, why not take advantage of it? Below are a couple of suggested additions to your Balochistan trip if you have two or more days to spare.
Ormara Beach (2 Days Trip)
Ormara Beach is another popular resort beach in Balochistan west of Hingol National Park. The beach is a popular camping spot where you can rent tents or stay in cabins right beside the sea. And due to the low population density of the coastal areas, Ormara Beach is a fantastic spot for stargazing!
If you have two days to spare, head to Ormara after exploring Hingol National Park and spend the night there. This way, you can cover the main attractions in a more relaxed manner.
Gwadar (Multi-Day Trip)
If you have multiple days to spare, you can embark on the ultimate Makran road trip and travel all the way to Gwadar, the westernmost city of Pakistan. The distance from Karachi to Gwadar is 630 km but the journey takes only eight hours if you travel non-stop on the Makran Coastal Highway.
Gwadar is one of the most fascinating cities in Pakistan, if not the world. The “Shenzhen of Balochistan”, as I like to call it, used to be a tiny fishing village until just a few years ago but thanks to CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), Gwadar is now home to the deepest seaport in the world and on the way to becoming a sprawling ultra-modern city like Dubai. But despite all of these developments, Gwadar is nothing short of idyllic beaches and authentic local culture.
Things To Keep In Mind When Traveling To Balochistan
This itinerary lists all of the important places that travelers to Balochistan mustn’t miss out on during a day trip from Karachi but an itinerary alone doesn’t prepare you for a trip.
Here are some things to keep in mind to prepare you for an impeccable day trip from Karachi:
Fortunately, the Makran Coastal Highway is in excellent condition, so you won’t have to fear nightmares like in northern Pakistan. However, due to the low population density of the coastal areas, it’s crucial to fill up on fuel (both for the car and for you) in Karachi or Lasbela. If you run out of gas in the middle of the road, it’ll take a while to find help.
Due to the desert environment, the coastal areas can get unbearably hot in summer. The best time to visit the coastal regions of Balochistan is therefore winter, when temperatures remain pleasant and other destinations in Pakistan are too cold.
Except for the few towns and beach resorts that you’ll pass on the way, there’s mostly no reception along the Makran Coastal Highway. I therefore recommend downloading offline maps in advance.
Hingol National Park and the surrounding areas is rich in wild life, so it’s advised to stay near the roads. Be vigilant around the bushes since there are plenty of venomous snakes and stay away from plants you don’t know.
As sparsely populated as the coastal regions may be, we mustn’t forget that they’re home to locals following their own customs. Although I’ve heard accounts of visitors bathing at Kund Malir in bikinis, I advise travelers to stay modest in respect for the local culture and opt for a burkini instead.
Another “concern” is the immense hospitality of the local people. When I stopped for a cup of chai with my small group, the owners insisted on not letting us pay and it was a tough struggle to convince them otherwise. So if something like this happens to you, insist on paying for your things for a couple of rounds rather than just accepting your freebie right away.
Although the coastal areas are mostly safe, Balochistan as a whole remains a sensitive area. Therefore, it’s advised to play things low-key. Of course, you should have fun and enjoy yourself, just don’t do super crazy things that might raise suspicions.
I’ve talked to some of the bravest solo female travelers in Pakistan, but none of them advises women to travel to Balochistan alone for a variety of reasons. It’s best to travel in a small group with trusted male friends.
Read more: Is Pakistan Safe For Women Travelers? Here’s What It’s REALLY Like
Explore Pakistan With Me
Loved Balochistan? Make sure to also check out these places during your Pakistan tour:
- 10 Awesome Things To Do In Islamabad In A Day
- Top 12 Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Karachi
- How To Visit Taxila Independently As A Tourist
- Hunza Valley: A Full Guide To Pakistan’s Jewel Of The North
- Fairy Meadows And Nanga Parbat Base Camp Trek: Everything You Need To Know
- A Complete Travel Guide To Skardu
- The Ultimate Guide To Naran, Pakistan
Balochistan is hands down the best destination for an incredible day trip from Karachi thanks to its natural beauty. The coastal regions are a must-visit place for nature-lovers who have seen enough green valleys and looking for a more off-the-beaten-path destination. It isn’t the best destination for cultural travel at the first sight due to the low population density but the small settlements like Hinglaj Mata Mandir that you’ll encounter on the way are even more intriguing.
That being said, getting to Balochistan remains a bit of a challenge, especially for foreigners, but perhaps that’s what makes a day trip from Karachi to Balochistan such a special experience. Just keep in mind the things that are mentioned in this post and you’re ready to embark on an incredible Balochistan day trip from Karachi!
Have you been to the coastal regions of Balochistan yet? What was your favorite place? Would you recommend it as a day trip from Karachi? Let me know in the comments below!
Fab post. Thanks for sharing lesser-known Pakistan. Fingers crossed that the near future will allow everyone experience the beauty of Balochistan.
What a beautiful area! The contrast between the colors is amazing!
Absolutely! I love the warm tones of the desert and the turquoise sea so much.
what a lovely guide! I love what you are wearing too! I have always wanted to venture out to pakistan, india and sri lanka – so will be saving this too!
Thank you! I’m wearing a traditional dress from the region in these photos.
Gorgeous! I’d love to visit those beaches for sure. Hopefully someday it will be easier for foreigners to travel here!
I really hope so too! Everyone should be able to witness this incredible place.
Its unlikely that I will get the chance to visit Balochistan…but it was nice to be able to travel vicariously through your beautiful pictures! I would have loved to visit the mud volcanoes:)
Climbing mud volcanoes was an incredible experience. Let’s hope we’ll all be able to visit more easily in the future.
Never heard of Balochistan! Thanks for sharing such a hidden gem 🙂
My mother belonged to baloch tribe ….I checked all pics of your that showed by this page after seen I felt happy because I never travel Baluchistan in my life yet .you are looking gorgeous in balochi dress ….Baluchistan look beautiful Masha Allah keep travel ….I love travel as well
Thank you so much for your kind words, how amazing to hear about your family. It means a lot to me. I really hope you’ll get the chance to visit this beautiful region one day.
Thanks for sharing such amazing hidden Gem!!!
Always welcome 🙂