Charlie Baker & Nick Joyce – England Tour of Pakistan 2022
Not Out Travel Managing Director Charlie Baker was joined by Tour Manager Nick Joyce for an inspection tour of a new country for England fans and the company, Pakistan. Taking place over ten days in late September, they visited every location on the tour to ensure the arrangements gave our party the best possible experience of the country.
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Check out our Paksistan 2022 Tours
Including options to take in any of the three Tests, and add the Hunza Valley extension
The anticipation we had heading out to Pakistan during the first English tour to the country in close to two decades was extremely high. We didn’t know quite what to expect, but what Nick and I were met with was gracious hospitality, outstanding sightseeing and quality hotels. Completing the tour itinerary in reverse, we started in Karachi, flew up to Lahore, drove south to Multan then north to Rawalpindi, before finally flying up into the northern most reaches of the country and the views of the Hunza Valley, which left us both in awe. Every city offered something slightly different while all having a distinctive Pakistani culture, and it’s fair to say, it has hugely heightened our expectations for an exciting tour.
As a new country for many of the England touring contingent, we found it imperative we visited Pakistan to meet all necessary partners, hotels, grounds and sightseeing options to ensure everything would be organised correctly, and our groups would be safe and comfortable. Also important was finding the best places to eat, where people are able to buy and consume alcohol should they wish and the best way to get the most out of your trip to this country.
We made a number of changes to our planned itinerary and believe what we have added and organised will enhance the tour massively. Our opinion is that Pakistan is an un-tapped tourist destination, with ancient and recent history in abundance, quite incredible sights, fantastic local and internationally inspired eating options and a culture that couldn’t be any more welcoming. The stadiums in Pindi and Multan offer some of the best views in cricket from our seats, while the cities all offered something rather unique.
With every location new to us, we were hosted by our ground partners throughout. The representative, Bilal, filled us with confidence in their organisation, and his knowledge of the history of the country was impressive. Certainly, some of the claims at Lahore Museum regarding the history and founding of the games of cricket and chess may surprise a few!
The people of this country are delighted to have international cricket back in their stadiums, and as you may have seen, they really filled out the T20s. Although Test cricket is harder for the locals to get to, their vocal love of the game is guaranteed to come through in every stadium.
A highlight for both of us was the Hunza Valley trip. The views and sights really do have to be seen to be believed. It felt very much like a hidden gem, with only backpacking Europeans and some more adventurous Americans really visiting. The prime time for tourism in the Valley is in the Autumn months, however locals to the area say it is at it’s most beautiful during the winter, though it does get a little too cold for the domestic tourism! Once the negative connotations that come with the country are pushed aside, we expect this area will become a tourist hotspot. Certainly, you can see some internationally branded hotels starting to be built along the main roads.
With this being Not Out Travel’s first ever tour, to a country that no England team or fan has visited in close to 20 years, it’s no secret that we were quite nervous before flying out for this inspection. However, it didn’t take long to become excited at the potential this country has for cricket touring.
We are confident that having conducted our on the ground research, on the ground, that these tours are the best way to experience a quite fascinating country. We both left as huge advocates of the country, and hope it gets the interest and plaudits it deserves when the England team visit in December.
This itinerary really was awe-inspiring. It’s hard to put into words just how imposing multiple peaks over 7,000 metres in the Karakoram National Park can be, especially when you are viewing them from a road which is higher than Mt Blanc! Upon touchdown in Gilgit airport following a propeller aircraft flight where you skim across the top of the mountains for the majority of the journey, you are surrounded by aggressive peaks, and the higher you go and deeper into the valleys, the more impressive they get.
Locals say that if you can manage the cold, the winter is exceedingly beautiful, with Glacier’s at their full size, lakes frozen an icy blue and wildlife coming down from the mountains to shelter from the cold. The area play’s host to four of the worlds fourteen peaks over 8,000 meters and allow you to view them from an extremely comfortable hotel, where drawing back the curtain in the morning is quite something. Nick was also a huge advocate of the locally produced apple juice, butter and jams.
With this being the most northerly area of the country, the weather will be wintery during this time. So much so, that tourism tends to be down for locals during this time, however this is prime time for Europeans to visit Hunza, who are more acclimatised to the cold! The altitude will also add to the cold feeling with temperature barely getting into double figures in the day and regularly dropping below freezing in the evening.
Serena, Altit Fort Residence
A very comfortable and well located hotel, with a very special view from every tent-style room. The rooms are comfortable, however this was the only hotel on the itinerary that didn’t host English plugs, so ensure you bring an adapter. The restaurant boasted similar views, and a range of local Hunza food, which is slightly different to the rest of Pakistan, as well as international dishes available. The hotel is based in Altit Fort, meaning shops and local restaurants sit just outside the hotel. The locals are extremely welcoming.
Serena Hotel, Gilgit
We stopped for breakfast here after the early morning flight. The sight from the restaurant is quite something to behold, a panoramic view of the entrance to the National Park is a great taste of what’s to come. The rooms were extremely plush with all the amenities you’d expect, as well as UK plug sockets.
First Test Match
The first Test Match England will play in Pakistan since 2005 will be played at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, or Pindi Stadium as it is known. Our groups will be based in Pindi for the Test Match, which was initially the garrison town of nearby Islamabad, but now both cities have grown to such a size that there is no obvious border. Pindi offers ample opportunities to enjoy the city, with local and international cuisine available in the nearby area, as well as the hotel, local shopping can also be found nearby to the Pearl Continental.
The weather will hit cold temperatures at night, with lows of 4-5 degrees to be expected. In the day it will be pleasant, with highs of 22 degrees common during early December in Rawalpindi. While there is a threat of rain during this season in Pakistan, we were told by the representatives in the stadium it rarely affects the cricket.
The Pindi Cricket Stadium
The first thing you will notice about the Pindi Stadium is the very impressive view. Looking up into the hills, it is an extremely picturesque ground, with good facilities for food and drink around the stadium. Men’s and ladies facilities are available in every enclosure.
The ground hosts 18,000 spectators and has played host to Sri Lanka and Australia in the past few years.
Located in the heart of Rawalpindi, just a km or two away from a large shopping and restaurant district and a further 10km commute to the ground, this smart internationally branded hotel is the perfect base for the first Test match. The standard rooms we have held are well presented, with a walk-in shower or shower over bath. The beds are comfortable, and the rooms have a spare pillow in the wardrobe. The wardrobe also houses the safe and mini bar, and of course the complimentary hotel slippers! UK plug sockets are available at every outlet.
We found the lobby staff to be friendly and efficient. There were several restaurants on the spacious ground floor with many international flavours and to the rear of the property a good-sized swimming pool and health club. We can highly recommend Jason’s Steak House!
Second Test Match
Multan is a large city, based in central Pakistan in the South Punjab region. Not a place that is used to tourists visiting, it’s fair to say it’s an experience! The local area is busy, with a great grouping of restaurants just ten-minutes’ drive away from the hotel. The city doesn’t have many big-name chain hotels, and the most well known has been booked out completely by the PCB. We did visit some quaint and very personal smaller hotels which offered good options for England Cricket fans.
Multan will be comfortable as the weather represents the middle of winter for the region. We expect evenings to be cool, with temperatures dropping into single figures, while in the day you can expect temperature in the low 20’s. Very similar to late English spring, or early Autumn.
Multan Cricket Stadium
One of the largest grounds in Pakistan seating close to 30,000. The ground last hosted a Test in 2008 and is very well presented, with great viewing areas all around. Our meeting with the Southern Punjab Cricket Association was enlightening and highlighted the region’s love for cricket – we expect this to be one of the bigger crowds for the Test matches. There are catering facilities just behind our seats, with ladies and gents’ facilities on the same level.
The last international cricket that was played here was when the West Indies visited for three ODIs in June, when the temperature was regularly over 40 degrees in the day, luckily, we won’t experience that type of heat!
Faletti’s Grand Hotel
Located in the Diplomatic district of the town. We conducted our usual full inspection. This is a new 62 room hotel with spacious comfortable rooms, a small restaurant of high standards and varied menu. The Gym is very small, however they are in the process of renovating the facility which should be completed by our arrival. It had a very personal feel and staff were extremely attentive.
The rooms are well decorated and of a good size. They come with large beds and all the amenities you’d expect, as well as UK plug outlets. The non-smoking side of the hotel looks over a local cricket ground, which seemed to have games going on all through the day.
Third Test Match
The third Test between England and Pakistan on this historic tour will be played at the National Stadium in Karachi. As you leave the airport you are greeted by a sign reading ‘Welcome to Karachi, The City of Cricket’, which only goes some of the way to show how mad the city’s inhabitants are of the sport.
The most International city in Pakistan, due to its port, Karachi offers a slightly different and more westernised culture than the rest of the country. With ample food options around the city, including along the seafront, one of which is a must-visit, Karachi will offer something for every taste. While the electric atmosphere Nick and I experienced at the ground will play back-drop to what is (hopefully) an exciting and deciding Test match in the series.
Despite experiencing Pakistan’s shortest day on day five of the Test match, the weather in Karachi will be warm. With highs of 29 degrees expected and cool evenings dropping into the teens. The sunset is expected to be prior to 6pm during our time in the city.
The National Stadium
One of the oldest stadiums in the country, having been established in the 1950’s, the National Stadium comes with some impressive history including Brian Lara’s 111 against South Africa in the 1996 World Cup. A canopy now sits around all the ground, apart from the Pavilion which stands tall at one end. Although the view in the ground is impacted by fencing, the atmosphere promises to be electric.
We were lucky that our trip coincided with the 4th T20 of the tour, where we watched England fall to a very narrow defeat. The Pakistan fans were there in their numbers, completely filling the stadium. The atmosphere was incredible, and it was great to see the home fans supporting the cricket as a whole, as well as their own team. There were a lot of nervous faces around when Liam Dawson started hitting the boundary rope towards the end!
Boasting six restaurants including Lebanese, Chinese, Italian, Pakistani (which we can highly recommend!) and 24-hour lounge bar and room service, you will not be short of international options within the hotel. The air-conditioned rooms are extremely spacious and come equipped with a fridge, free tea and coffee, and soft drinks and snacks available in the room. You will find many outlets, including English plug-sockets and a large TV. The bathroom is also spacious, with a walk-in shower. The rooms were kept fantastically clean and tidy, with the only downside being that the tempting balconies are sealed shut. A heated outdoor pool and very smart gym facilities are also on offer in a large hotel accustomed to international business travel.
During the T20s the England and Pakistan teams were also in the hotel. Meaning that there was an increased police presence in and around the hotel, although we found this unobstructive and encountered no issues with entering or leaving the complex. Having viewed other options in the city, we are certain this is the best options for our travelling contingent to enjoy the city.
Check out our Paksistan 2022 Tours
Including options to take in any of the three Tests, and add the Hunza Valley extension