Now is the right time to travel and explore the majestic hilly areas of Pakistan but as most of us belong to plain areas and have no idea on how to reach the hill stations efficiently and safely, we have arranged a guide for you to give you some general idea on what to pack before heading out and how to drive in hills.
This is more or less a precautionary guide that highlights the problems that may arise while traveling in Pakistan and driving in hilly areas.
First and foremost your car or jeep should be in a perfect shape with no oil leakages and a 100% working cooling system, since you will be going uphill and using the car’s engine to full potential, the oils, lubricants and coolant should be changed before heading out. Special consideration should be given to vehicles braking system, and brake pads/shoes should be changed and tested for extreme heats if you are planning for few days where your car would be going uphill or downhill randomly. We also recommend an extra set of brake pads and brake shoes in case you are heading out to very remote areas where extreme slopes are involved.
- Start early
The best thing to start a long journey is to plan a day ahead and start as early as the suns first rays hit the roads, some four legged animals are a bit hyper in early morning so please avoid over speeding and have small stops planned in a way that you reach your destination before sunset. Driving on hills at night is very difficult because of different angles of approaching cars headlights. Keep a safe distance and do not overtake until you can see at least 300 meters ahead.
- Understanding your car’s gear system
Be fully aware of your cars gear systems be it manual or automatic, since many automatic cars coming nowadays have different arrangements of gear systems, it is recommended to carefully go through the vehicles manual for exact settings during climbs and downhill’s. if it’s a 4 x 4 try all gear settings before heading out to hills. Experimenting with different shift positions when your gearbox is already under immense pressure and heat is not the brightest of ideas.
- Driving etiquettes
Hilly areas have an entirely different culture of driving and you should be careful about not violating them at any cost. First of all the uphill traffic has right of way, especially on narrow roads, you may even have to change sides to accommodate a loaded truck towards the mountain and not the gorge. Always use the horn when in doubt especially around hairpins and S-turns. Whenever you came across a breathtaking view or a waterfall, make a stop and then bathe in the glory of the scenery rather than letting it divert your attention from driving. Always stop where the oncoming vehicles can see you well in advance. Make sure you are not parked right after a sharp/blind turn. Someone might end up in the back of your vehicle. Be careful for others and yourself because freak accidents cause more damage in hilly areas comparatively.
- Motion sickness
Carry basic medicines to give to children for anti-nausea as the turns and the continuous elevation of the mountains might cause vertigo and can eventually make them vomit. This will waste your time and it gets dangerous to stop randomly. Also keep in mind not to stare at sharp red brake lights at night as they can have a hypnotic effect on you and make you oblivious of your surroundings, making you unaware of your actions. This is bound to happen because overtaking is almost impossible at night on hills. It is also a reason for causing drowsiness and slow reflexes. Your cars cabin should have a supply of fresh air as well due to lack of oxygen at high altitudes.
- Tools to carry
Keeping in mind that the civilizations are far apart in hilly areas and requires a lot of walking, one should be fully equipped with basic and life saving tools. We are listing a few for you that may help you in a case of breakdown.
- Strong rope, toe strap.
- Torch, with extra batteries.
- Extra fuel can.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Radiator repair kit, sealing kit.
- Extra water (both for car and passengers).
- Pack of chocolates. Canned food etc.
- Medicines like anti allergic, pain killers.
- Spare wheel with a quick puncture kit.
- Air pump, if possible.
- Weather proof jackets, pull over.
- Basic wrench set, set of pliers, robo-grip etc.
- Extra set of fan belt, generator belt.
There are always new people who want to go visit the natural beauty of Pakistan first hand, but they usually are unaware of the risks and lack the preparation. It is always better to be fully aware about the terrain you are about to visit. Folks from plain regions of Pakistan are not fully aware how much toll driving in hilly/mountainous areas can take on you and your vehicle.