Best to avoid traveling by road from Quetta to Taftan (PAK/IRAN border)
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Apr 22, 2013 5:38 AM Last Post By: k2_heights
Dec 21, 2012 8:30 PM
I stayed at the Bloomstar Hotel (1000 Rupees a night) The room was reasonably clean and the staff helpful. Wi-Fi was available for 250 Rupees
The very next morning I went to the Civil Secretariat, Home Department office to get a "No Objection Certificate" (NOC) to enable me to travel from Quetta to Taftan by bus. (All foreigners need an NOC. The bus company will not carry you if you don't have one and your NOC will be checked at police checkpoints enroute)
The staff at the Bloomstar hotel told me that the NOC process would take about 2.5 hours. It took me 5 hours!
I was hoping to leave Quetta the very same day but was told that it was impossible as the bus service nominated by government officials (Zahireen bus company) had already left for the day.
I was told that Zahireen is used by Pakistani Muslims that are going on pilgrimage to Iran and I got the impression that it's the only service that carries an armed escort for which you don't have to pay. If you travel by any other bus service (eg Sadabahar. Tel: 081 245 2290) you will be required to pay for your escort (Cost of return ticket 2000 Rp plus 1000 Rp for food and drink. Total 3000 Rp)
The person who will approve your NOC at the Home Department is Section Officer Mr. Khadim Hussain. Tel: 081 920 1878. (Only call this number if you really need to) His staff will prepare the documentation and guide you
Getting a NOC is a long process and you will have to go multiple offices. Remember to be patient, polite and to shake hands with all the staff members that you meet. Smiling also helps!
The officials will ask you personal questions that may seem intrusive - don't be upset! Ythey are just being curious!
As I wanted to leave the same day on the Sadabahar bus, I was told to go to the Deputy Commissioners Office (a 10 minute walk) to organize my armed escort (provided by Pakistan Levies - a paramilitary organization)
After that it was mad rush to get to the hotel with the Levies escort, pack my bags and then dash to the bus terminal (10 minutes from the Bloomstar)
The cost of the bus ticket was 1000 Rupees. If you are traveling with a Levies escort, you will have to pay for his ticket as well.
Remember to take food and drink with you on the journey as the eating establishments along the way are not very sanitary. (The Bloomstar hotel packed dinner for me but it was not too good!)
The bus left at 4 pm. The scenery was spectacular - snow capped mountains in a distance, beautiful sunset and the crisp air.
If you are carrying a mobile phone and need to make any calls, it's best to do so within 30 minutes of leaving Quetta. After that there is no mobile reception until you get to some of the smaller towns along the way.
Do not expect to get much sleep on this journey! The road is rough and bumpy most of the way. If you happen to have noisy passengers on the bus that will make it even more uncomfortable.
My bus stopped at two police checkpoints along the way. My passport and NOC were inspected but I did not have to get off the bus.
About 25 km from Taftan, a passenger on the bus developed a stomach upset but the driver refused to stop the bus saying that it was too dangerous! Fortunately, the passenger was able to hold off until the bus stopped!
Just outside Taftan, I noticed a military convoy consisting of pick-up trucks with machine guns mounted in the back heading towards Quetta!
Recommendation: If you can help it, it's best to avoid this journey. The security issues as well as the time spent in getting the NOC and the discomfort of traveling can take a heavy toll on the traveler. If you need to get to/from Iran , try booking a flight on Shaheen Airline. They operate a service from Mashhad to Pakistan and I am told that if you book in advance, you can get a cheap seat. Zahedan should be avoided altogether. See my post in the Iran section)
Potential problems: If you happen to travel with a Levies guard, be sure that you agree on the total cost of his service before you leave the Deputy Commissioners Office. My Levies escort was a bit belligerent and wanted more money. He also wanted me to pay for his accommodation in Taftan. Fortunately, I had the mobile number of the officer at the DC office and was able to resolve the dispute in my favor. However, this matter created a lot of stress for me - something you don't need when you are traveling.
If you are not sure about your travel dates, get the officials to state a date range. In my case it was December 19/20.
Edited by: SSSLAS
Dec 22, 2012 4:48 AM
1Thanks SSSLAS for the updates about traveling from Taftn to Quetta.
Jan 16, 2013 7:37 PM
Jan 28, 2013 1:32 AM
3Thank you so much. This is certainly an interesting read. I was in the bus from Quetta to Taftan on December 30 with the convoy of Zaireen (pilgrims) visiting some shrines in Iran and than Iraq. It was the convoy of 3 busses and equipped with 2 escort vehicles by Levies but still our first bus became the target of a suicide explosion in Mastung, about 45 km from Quetta and 31 people died.
After reading your post, I feel if I go on public bus i.e Sadabahar etc. it won't be as risky as going with Zaireen.
Jan 28, 2013 4:51 AM
Jan 28, 2013 7:22 AM
First thing first your Report is amazing thank you so much for filing a Detail report it will save a lot of time and life decisions will be
easy to make on the bases of your experience and analist.
Just for the record im a British National just been granted Visa for Iran i have planned my trip for the last 3 years its been a difficult
journey to convince myself and my family for Iran. I have done my home work i tried my very level best not to take the route from
Quetta to Taftan due to my friends cancelling at the last minute. Which gave me No choice but to go with my cousin to Iran he is
from Pakistan. My plan is to get a Domestic Flight from Lahore to Quetta and from there by rd to Taftan i have studying the Route
and noticed its a very dangerous journey with the killing of Shias on buses etc. Also a very unstable in Quetta, My cousin who is
highly ranked in the Pakistan Army will try and get me a Military Escort from Quetta to Taftan however thats not for definate.
This NOC you are referring to is News to me first i have heard of this i would of found out once i get there in Quetta thanks again.
You Mentioned about Zahedan my Original plan was once i get to Taftan i will take the route to Zahedan please get back to me
ASAP im very intreaged to know of your experience and journey inshAllah look forward from hearing from you thanks.
My E Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 31, 2013 12:39 AM
I plan to visit Iran, I got my visa valid till March 11 and I was the one of the survivals in Mastung incident. Myself an eyewitness and first-hand experience. I can be a pool as well but if you opt the security escort then you become visible instantly. There are about 60 to 70 vehicles traveling on this route on daily basis from either side. I have decided to go the same route again but with any convoy or security escort. My second option which is also not quite safe but to me mentally it is my first preference, is to go to Kabul via Torkhum and then Mazar, few days in Mazar and then to Herat via Maymana, which would avoid the Helmand as well. And from Herat I would go to Mashhad via Islam Qilla border... But we can chat about it ... let me know what do you think about it...
I got my Afghan visa yesterday, though they did not issue double entry but guaranteed that I can effortlessly get another one in Afghan Embassy in Mashhad.
What’s your opinion ??
Jan 31, 2013 12:42 AM
Feb 18, 2013 8:11 AM
I'm in Quetta right now, arrived by road from Taftan yesterday. The security situation is not pretty at all, there was a massive bombing close to Quetta two days ago, over 80 people are dead. Foreigners are only allowed to stay in very few mid-range hotels, most places will turn you down saying they cannot guarantee your safety. Most people head to Hotel Bloom Star, which is a very friendly place, as others said, 1000 Rs per night, 250 for internet.
There's a curfew imposed on foreigners after 6 PM. The hotel owners would get in trouble if you are caught outside of the hotel after this time, so they are pretty serious about it.
Coming from Taftan, we were given an armed guard, our bus left at 4 PM. At midnight, all of sudden, our guard told us to take our bags and get off the bus. We were in the middle of nowhere and had no clue what was going on. We had to spend the night at a remote army checkpoint in a tiny shack. Definitely an experience, there was a stove in the middle of the room so we weren't freezing, but sleeping on the floor can be tough, so bring a sleeping bag. We had no clue why they kicked us off the bus, thinking it's a way to make money by making us stay there - but in the morning it turned out that there were other foreigners sleeping nearby and we'd go in a convoy next morning. Apparently all foreigner travel is forbidden at night, so be prepared to get kicked out from the bus at a checkpoint and forced to wait until morning when they put you on another bus or transport you in their pickup trucks.
The next day we traveled in a convoy, from checkpoint to checkpoint, where they would transfer us to the next district militia like a hot-potato and we'd have to change our car. This happened around 10x and mostly was synchronized, when it wasn't we had to wait until the next pickup truck arrived. The whole trip took around 24 hours from Taftan, we slept around 8 out of those.
Once in Quetta, you need NOC for ANY onward travel. We waited at the office for 5 hours to get our papers at one point it looked as if they wouldn't give me NOC for my bus travel to Karachi and would force me to take a train instead, but fortunately it all worked out for everyone - there was a group heading to Lahore, another person to Taftan and myself to Karachi. You need NOC to buy a bus ticket, if you try to be smart and somehow get a ticket without it, police will simply take you off the bus at the next checkpoint.
So right now, definitely think twice about your trip via Quetta, the situation is unstable, even locals are afraid an don't remember being it this bad. Sure, it's still doable, but it's definitely a pain and hard to plan with all the restrictions in place.
Feb 19, 2013 7:51 AM
Feb 19, 2013 9:33 AM
10Dutchiesontheroad, here is my take on your questions.
1. Pakistani visas don't have any entry-points on them, once you get a visa, you can enter in any way you like. Never mention at the consulate/embassy that you'll be going via Baluchistan, they might just reject your visa. Instead get an invitation letter from Horizons Unlimited or similar agency stating you'll be visiting safe areas. Think about it, the government in Pakistan provides you with protection once you enter and it costs them time/money/worries, they would prefer not to do it. Especially imagine that you tell the embassy that you'll be entering via Taftan, then something happens to you, then everyone will point the finger at the ambassador asking him why on earth he gave you a visa to travel in dangerous area.
2. The route is safe, whoever is behind the latest attacks is after big publicity (scores of dead people), so if you are just a couple of people in a van, I wouldn't worry too much. Actually the security services prefer you to travel in your own transport, because then they either give you a guard to drive with you (if you have extra space) or just escort you with different cars from checkpoint to checkpoint. Bus transport is much harder, since you can't travel after-dark, they'll have to coordinate where you sleep, how to move you the next day since your original bus is gone = trouble for them. The other group we traveled with had their own truck, the biggest problem for them was having to wait for us at the checkpoint while we were changing from car to car.
Hope this helps
Mar 15, 2013 2:03 AM
Mar 18, 2013 10:21 AM
12Guys, maybe get refundable tickets somewhere - I also had to show tickets, but just contacted a travel agency and asked them to make a 24 hour booking and send me the confirmation. I used this confirmation to obtain the visa.
However given the latest events on the Taftan-Quetta road (kidnapping of 2 Czech girls), you might want to reconsider your journey anyways.
Best of luck
Apr 16, 2013 5:44 AM
I crossed from Iran to Pakistan via Taftan in my 4x4 last June. I was travelling solo, and was also extremely nervous prior to my crossing... Nothing to add new really...
Few tips I received. Stay on the main road and take the advice of the Balochi Levies. The Levies in theory should be free, but a tip here and there doesn't go astray, and usually they will ask for it... Your call but I wanted these guys on my side, so I obliged.
I went from Zahedan (Ira) to Dalbandin (Pak) on the first day. Took most of the day especially with escorts. I had choice of police station or hotel, I took hotel... This leg, the road quality is ok. From Dalbandin to Quetta, the road is awful.
Only a couple of times I felt like the Levies were taking it serious. Once near the border of Afghan, higher in the mountains. And when going into Quetta (had multiple machine gun, escorts in a truck)....
Travel by day and leave early morning.... Save yourself some hassle and scope some hotels before you go.... I had trouble in many places around Pak.... Too nervous to accept me.
Everyone knows Quetta is a voilent place... Stay away from Grand Bazzar unless you really wanna go there... I found the NOC painless and enjoy the confines of the Bloomstar....
The Balochi leg is dangerous and its important to keep yourself open and flexible... If your getting close and the situation flares up to bad, you may have to adapt or change your itinerary. Just go with it... If your getting there and things look ok, then you should be alright...
Keep in mind, all voilence recently has been targeted at Shia's. Only 1 foreigner in recent memory was murdered in Baloch (british aid worker in Quetta late '11 or early '12)
Other than that once your their, try and Enjoy Pak... Its a truly amazing experience...
anything else, ill be pleased to offer advice
Apr 22, 2013 5:38 AM
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