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Astola Island (Island of Seven Hills)

An Unforgettable Journey to Astola Island

Some places always call travelers, but there is always a set time to visit those places. From a long time I was keen to explore the gem of Balochistan located in centre of Arabian Sea i.e Astola Island. In Balochi language its called as Jazeera Hafta Lar or Island of Seven Hills. Finally on 28th October time arrived to start our journey, I was leading a group of 32 members with one another friend Zahid Iqbal.

We all were really excited to reach their ASAP, we left from Karachi by 12:00 am and by taking some short stops of Mechanical errors of vehicle and fueling we reached Agore early in the morning before sunrise. Sky was dark and almost everyone was sleeping including the hotel owner who is my good friend because of my continuous visits to Hingol National Park.

I wake him up and adviced him to prepare breakfast for the whole group, while I leave in the backyard in darkness to enjoy the glowing stars. It was a cold night and I realized that since its around 5AM and soon sun will show his first sight still stars are clear so definitely night on Astola Island will be rocked with stargazing.

Although we came prepared and also visited Pasni from where we have to get boat for Astola Island one week before our group tour but still few things were not in our favor. We get late due to some access stops and when we reached pasni the water level rises down and it was impossible for the boat to cross jetty. We had left with no other option other than wait for the sea level to rise. One of my really good friend Jahangeer Ali who is captain in army was also part of our journey and he tried his level best to get boat from Coast Guard which was standing in sea so we can get to our destination early but it didn’t work.

Traveling is an art, And I want to die as an artist. Hammad Shakil

Win or Die Situation

We decided to stay in Pasni hotel where our cook will prepare food for us and we will wait for the sea level to rise. After getting done with lunch and other things my clock was showing that its 5PM, seems like its yelling that Hammad its getting late do something.

An Unforgettable Journey at Night in Arabian Sea

At that time our group was split in two sections some were saying we don’t care about night boat ride all we want is to reach our destination Astola Island while others were insisting that we can go to someother place i.e Gwadar , Ormara or else we should go back to Karachi. It was a tough time for us as we ourselves don’t want to go back as our sole purpose was to visit Astola Island.

Finally we did voting and it was decided that we all are going to Astola Island, we went straight towards Jetty and start loading our luggage on boat, It takes another two hours to leave from jetty because our boat person went to have dinner. Soon at around 8 PM we left from Pasni towards Astola Island, we all were yelling with joy.

Soon we all fell asleep because all of us were hell tired because of all day journey, sea was smooth but at some points our boat start acting like a joy ride. After continuous 3 hours of tough boat ride we were close to the Island, it was looking like a huge ghost in darkness which was staring at us. Boat stopped by getting closer to the maximum possible point from where we have to reach on Island by crossing 5 feet deep sea.

 

Jahangeer jumped into the water to guide us the sea level because most of us don’t know swimming. We managed to cross our ladies by boarding them in a small boat to the island. While rest of us jumped into the water. It takes an hour more to settle and adjust into that island. Island was smooth and calm and we start to explore that unexplored place.

Our cook started making delicious biryani for us while some start dancing on songs and some were just laying on the beach sand to enjoy the glowing stars. We found few huge turtles sitting in the sand where they lay their eggs so we find it dangerous to go closer to them. Island was also famous because of different reptiles but we didn’t find any but yes we find different snails and crabs.

Although we don’t have any proper tripod which will help us to enjoy night photography but my friend Zarmeen has a small tripod which helped us in taking few clicks. Soon at 4AM we decided to take a small nap. Some of us were sleeping in camps while rest decided to spend night under open sky.

When I lay down on my mattress and look towards the sky it was like I am in heaven, Sky was crystal clear and many times we saw shooting stars. Milky Way was clear and welcoming us, soon I felt asleep but couldn’t sleep for more than 2 hours and woke up so I can enjoy the view of sunrise at Island.  We managed to get to the highest point of the Island from where we can enjoy the sunrise, view was breathtaking on one side it was a large cone shaped rock attached with the huge and gigantic mountain while on the other side was curved in shape. We waited for the sun to rise but unfortunately sky was cloudy and we didn’t get a clear sight of sun but yes we enjoyed red sky.

Getting on the top was not that difficult but when we decided to go down it was really tough as we choose shortcut, it takes 15 minutes to get back to the beach where we find a small mosque  which was named on a Sufi Saint Pir Khwaja Khizr, fisherman visit this mosque on regular basis. We were lucky to experience turtle breeding on island as well.

At around 9 AM we left the island to pasni as we have to reach at 12 PM so that our boat can easily ship at jetty as after 12 Sea level will again go down. On our way back the sun was torchoring us while sea was rough at some points it was difficult to choose the option that either to close the eyes or open it. As when I lay down and try to sleep while closing the eyes it felt like I am going down in a tunnel. But soon sea gets smooth and we start to enjoy and take pictures.

We reached back to pasni at 12:30 PM where we took a short stop for washroom and refreshments and soon left pasni to Karachi. After that we didn’t take any major stop just a few stops for washroom and stopped at Agore for late lunch at around 6 PM. This was our last stop before Karachi where we shared thoughts about the journey.

I believe traveling is all about coming out of our comfort zones, as we all try to make journey comfortable but sometimes things goes wrong and that result in making the journey tough that’s what happened with us as well but my opinion is a journey should be target oriented and our target was to explore Astola Island which we explored successfully Alhamdulilah.

 

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