It wouldn’t be wrong to state that every province in Pakistan is equally gifted with unmatched landscapes and natural beauty. Some of these destinations get immense tourist attention, such as the northern areas, while some wait their turn to be explored. Taking account of such untouched and less-explored destinations in the country, we cannot help but mention Kirthar National Park – a wildlife sanctuary in Sindh.
Tourism in the country is boosting, especially since a leading US Travel Magazine has declared Pakistan as the best tourist destination for 2020. So, we took this news as an opportunity to give our readers something new to discover. And, here we are with all the details you can use as a handy guide to visit and explore Kirthar National Park.
Let’s get exploring!
About Kirthar National Park
Whether it is about finding solace in the serene atmosphere of Gorakh hill station or going to the ancient city of Bhanbhore, Sindh, to travel back in time, both destinations rank equally in terms of seizing a backpacker’s attention. Out of the many, insanely gifted tourist destinations in the province is Kirthar National Park – where mountains cross paths with clouds, and green spaces are populated with several exotic animals and birds.
Founded in the year 1974, Kirthar National Park is the second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Pakistan. However, with gradual development in the area, this wildlife sanctuary in Sindh didn’t get as much tourist attention from both national and international travellers as compared to other destinations in the country.
So, what can tourists expect from this wildlife sanctuary in Sindh? Let’s unveil some secrets.
Along with being Pakistan’s first-ever park to make it to the list of “United Nation’s list of famous National Parks of the World”, this wildlife sanctuary in Sindh boasts an exceptional heritage of nurturing a variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Officials of Kirthar National Park claim that the park is home to the largest reserve of some rarely found wildlife such as leopards, wolves, striped hyenas, chinkara, gazelles, wild sheep, and Sindhi ibex. And, the presence of such rare species is what works as a magnet for wildlife photographers, travel enthusiasts, and backpackers.
Gradually, it is becoming one of the most favourite spots for discoverers, and we can confidently predict that the park will reserve a space on the list of best destinations for solo travellers in Pakistan soon.
Furthermore, the park spreads over an area of around 3000 km/square and is divided into three wildlife sanctuaries, including Mahal Kohistan Wildlife Sanctuary, Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary, and Kirthar itself. The park comprises four game reserves, including Eri, Hothiano, Surjan, and Sumbak. There are also two tourist centres within the park, named Khar and Karchat, where tourists can spend a night or two.
The park falls under the jurisdiction of the Sindh Wildlife Department. Hence, the maintenance of the park, keeping a record of wildlife, maintaining a peaceful environment for tourists, and giving special permits are some responsibilities assigned to the department.
How to Get to Kirthar National Park?
Located in the ranges of Kirthar Mountain, Kirthar National Park is almost 160 km from Karachi via Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9). Indus Highway runs southeast of this wildlife sanctuary, while the northwestern side is connected to RCD Highway (N-25).
Travelling to Kirthar National Park generally requires a 4×4 jeep since the roads leading to the mountains from the Highways are mostly rocky. Karchat and Khar are the two main entrances to the park, depending on a traveller’s itinerary.
Khar remains the most common entrance since it is connected to Kirthar Park Road, which is well-paved and can be easily accessed using any automobile. However, if you’re feeling brave and craving some serious adventure, you can opt for Karchat. The roads that connect to Kirthar National Park from Karchat are a bumpy-stretch and not properly marked. These roads are only passable by 4×4 jeeps. It is best to keep a map handy in case you are opting for the latter option.
Meanwhile, several travelling companies in Karachi offer deals for Kirthar National Park for both individuals and groups. The package usually includes all the necessary facilities such as food, water bottles, travel permits, accommodation (sleeping bags and blankets), tour-guide, and transportation to and from the city. However, accommodation is usually offered in camps/tents, but you can request a room since there are guest houses near the wildlife park.
On the other hand, if you’re thinking of camping, you must know that it comes with its pros and cons. Let’s say that as a part of the pros, you get to sleep under the bare sky and experience what you’ve always watched on the National Geographic Channel. As for cons, you might have a little difficulty adjusting to the public toilets – but you can take our word for it that in the end, it is all going to be worth it.
Tour groups usually offer weekend packages for working individuals and students, starting from Friday night and ending on Sunday. Here’s a tentative itinerary* for a weekend trip to Kirthar National Park:
7:00 AM – Gathering at the meeting point and departure from the city
10:30 AM – Arriving at Hub Dam Cottages for lunch
02:30 PM – Visiting Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
6:00 PM – Back to Cottages for Dinner and Camping
08:00 AM: Breakfast at Hub Cottages
09:00 AM: Departure for Thano Bula Khan
12:00 PM: Lunch
01:00 PM: Arrival at Thano Bula Khan
02:00 PM: Hike to Kirthar National Park
09:00 PM: Dinner and Camping at Thano Bula Khan
09:00 AM: Departure for the city
*The given itinerary is a general plan from Karachi. The timings and plans may vary according to the city and travel group.
Here are some frequently asked questions about visiting Kirthar National Park.
What is the Best Time to Visit Kirthar National Park?
Due to its connectivity to coastal areas, Kirthar maintains a moderate temperature. The climate is not any different from the rest of Sindh. Hence, it gets a little warm and arid during the summers. The temperature increases from March to August, but these months are best to enjoy the natural beauty of this area as the flowers are in full bloom.
As many travellers have suggested, the best time to visit Kirthar National Park is between October to January since the temperature is considerably cooler and easier to get around.
What is the Cost per Head for Visiting Kirthar National Park?
Kirthar National Park is an exclusive tourist destination in Sindh that requires special permits from the Sindh Wildlife Department. So, it is best to tag along with a travelling agency to avoid any hassles. The cost per head for visiting Kirthar National Park with a travelling group usually ranges anywhere between PKR 10,000 to PKR 18,000, depending on the services and the duration of the tour.
What Should You Pack for Visiting Kirthar National Park?
Here’s a list of essential you should carry during your visit to Kirthar National Park:
- Raincoat (in case you’re visiting during monsoon)
- Comfortable Clothes and Joggers
- Flashlights or lighters
- Spare pair of clothes
- Empty bottles
- Light Blanket
- Power banks
What Should You Know Before Visiting Kirthar National Park?
If you’re intrigued to take on this adventure, there are several things that you should know. To begin with, there are a few lodgings and essential facilities within the park, so it is best to book in advance. Also, it would be best for you to bring personal camps and sleeping bags for added measure.
Most travellers are usually charmed by the isolation and wilderness of the park, but it may bring a potential worry for those who are not prepared for sheer silence and maybe some howling at night. Here are a few more things:
- Be well prepared for hiking and trekking. Take first aid-kits, painkillers, and your prescribed medicines.
- Always keep your camera ready. Do not miss sunset or sunrise.
- There’s power at guesthouses, there are generators too, but be prepared for pitch-black nights.
How to Get Entry to Kirthar National Park?
As mentioned earlier, the park falls under the jurisdiction of the Sindh Wildlife Department, so there are no entrance charges, tickets, or fees to enter the park. However, if you want to visit the park on your own, you must have a non-objection certificate (NOC) from the Sindh Wildlife Department. It is recommended to obtain the certificate in advance. One of its offices is situated in Karachi.
About Sindh Wildlife Department
Sindh Wildlife Department works under the banner of the Government of Sindh. According to the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance, the primary duty of this authority is to actively protect and preserve the wildlife in the province.
Karachi Office: Din Mohammad Wafai Road, Civil Lines, Karachi.
Contact Number: 021-99204951
Our aim is to promote tourism in Pakistan, and you can also help us by subscribing to Zameen Blog and sharing this piece. If you have already been to this wildlife sanctuary in Sindh, share your experience with us at email@example.com. You can also message us on our Facebook page.
Image Credits: Images in this blog, including the cover image, has been taken from the official Facebook page of Kirthar National Park.