Sorry about the radio silence on the subject these past few days. We have been trying to confirm if the festival is taking place at all this year. The reason we have been told is the large number of 'shahadat's' that occurred in Guyari landslide. Most of the Jawans were from Gilgit so rumour is that the Gilgit team may not participate as a mark of respect. Traditionally the finals and in fact the festival itself focuses around the Gilgit and Chitral teams. Now if one of the team opts to stay away the holding of the festival is doubtful.
Meanwhile we are working on the arrangements and are all systems go for the flag off on July 05. Please go ahead and apply for your leave of absence from your work. The entire trip should be 8 days but plan to take an extra 2 days off to take care of any travel related delays. If the extra days are not needed you could just turn up for work or sit at home relax and sort out the tons of pictures you would have shot on the trip.
In case the festival is cancelled, we have a Plan B and that is to visit the Deosai plains. (alt. 13,500 ft approx). Please get your vehicles in top shape for the trip either way.
Please note that all entrants would need to bring the vehicles in for a mechanical check and any remedial repairs (if any) before flag off. There would be NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule.
If you don't get your VW checked by the rally mechanic prior to leaving you would not be allowed to participate in the rally. Period.
It does not matter if you do all the DIY yourself and consider yourself to be a top notch guru or consider maintenance done by your regular mechanic adequate. The vehicle would still need to be brought in.
You would need to pay for any repairs and parts (if needed).
We cannot stress enuff on this point because once we start our journey we stay together. Breakdowns mean delaying everyone. We would have a support team at hand but lets not spoil everyone's fun. (in case of a breakdown that cannot be fixed on the spot, the car would be towed to the nearest safe spot and its occupants would be offered a ride in the support vehicle. While we would assist in getting the car back to Islamabad, the cost would be the responsibility of the car owner)
The cost of participating has been fixed at Rs. 25,000 per two member team (Driver and passenger) and needs to be paid in advance. This would include toll along the way, hotel stay and food. You would be responsible for the cost of fuel and lubricant along the way. We would be doing some serious uphill (as well as downhill) driving so don't load up your car with friends just to split the costs. In any case the amount mentioned above covers room and board for two people per car. Any extras passengers would need to pay for their own room and food.
That's all for now. Please fire away any questions and they would be responded to within reasonable time.