The Taftan border between Iran and Pakistan:
This is the quickest route to travel from Iran to India. You have to cross around 1535 Kilometres to reach Lahore from Taftan within Pakistan. If you are coming from Taftan, there is some not so good news for you. You have to travel with armed guards from "The Levies" (All the time) Sometimes until Multan and sometimes all the way until entering Lahore. You must get a NOC (No Objection Certificate) in Quetta from the Home and Tribal Affairs Office and it's Free. The office stays closed on weekends (Saturday and Sunday), on Friday it's a half day because of the Friday Prayers and will close at 12pm. Reminder!! you can’t continue you journey without getting the NOC so make sure you time your arrival to avoid the office closure times.
Border Crossing Iran to Pakistan:
If you are staying in Zahedan in Iran which is the last town 80 Kilometres from the Taftan Border, it may take an hour to reach the border area. Iranian Police will escort you until the Pakistani Border but this is unpredictable, sometimes they will escort you, other times they may not. A long line of waiting trucks may be present when you arrive but you do not need to stop or wait in the line of trucks, you’re a tourist. There's a lot of mess, no organisation, just as you would expect at the border between Pakistan and Iran. Crossing the border between Iran and Pakistan with an endless road all the way through the desert, very few animals, mostly camels, more commonly spotted is sand and potholes, a lot of potholes, it is a unique and sepcial experience. Welcome to Balochistan and Pakistan.
The Immigration process is not hard, sometime they ask questions like "Why you come to Pakistan? Where are you going? Do you know anyone in Pakistan?" but otherwise it is quite straightforward. You will need to show your visa, (and carnet papers if coming with own vehicle)
Police Check Points:
Within the first few kilometres of crossing the border from Iran, there is the first check point. Be patient and just relax, most of these check point are time consuming. You just need to register yourself by showing your passport. There are many more to come, something like 15 check points are spaced between Taftan to Quetta. Mostly Police and Levies are friendly and will ask you if you need anything like food, tea, toilet. As you come close to Punjab region, check points are more relaxed and sometimes they don’t stop you. After Lahore if you travel northern Pakistan, it's much easier, without checkpoints or escorts.
Route and Rides:
Travelling by motorcycle, the very first thing is safety when you are crossing Pakistan by road. In Pakistan it's most likely completely different from where you call home. The route is rough and tough, be careful and ride safe. It is mostly highway from the border until Quetta and then all the way to Lahore. Here in Pakistan we call it a highway but don’t compare it to a western country highway, there's a lot of heavy duty trucks and buses, bicycles, motorcycles, Tuk Tuk’s and even donkeys will join you here and there, lanes are open to interpretation along with road rules.
Day 01: Taftan to Dalbandin (N-40):
After crossing the border we recommend you take the first night stop in Dalbandin which is 289 Kilometres from the border and will take around 6 hours. There are hotels where you can stay, if the Police have not already taken you to stay with them in Police Station. It can happen, so sweet of them :)
Day 02: Dalbandin to Quetta (N-40):
It's 340 Kilometres from Dalbandin to Quetta and might take 10 hours as you have to stop at lot of check points today. There is only one hotel which allows foreigners to stay, it is called Bloom Star Hotel. It's also near to the railway station and home department from where you have to get your NOC to travel in Pakistan. It's not permitted to leave your hotel without Police escorts. Sometimes you might have to add an extra night in Quetta to get the NOC and rest before leaving for Lahore (for onwards crossing Border into India) or exploring northern Pakistan.
There is another option if you do not want to ride all the way from Quetta to Lahore. You can cargo your motorcycle on the train - more on this below. It's a good idea to book a seat in the same train so when ever you reach your destination you can collect your motorcycle from Pakistan Railways by yourself. The process to cargo your motorcycle by train is not very hard. There will be a fee (the amount will change and it's best to check current fees at the time) and you will need to attach your motorcycle registration documents and permits and copy of your passport and visa.
Day 03: Quetta to Loralai (N-50 AND N-70):
You can make Loralai your next stop before heading onwards to Multan and then Lahore. It's 260 kilometres beyond Quetta City. Loralai is a town in the northeast of Balochistan, there is not a lot to explore here, as an overlander traveller it will be mainly just a stop over for you before travelling into Punjab.
Day 04: Loralai to Multan (N-70):
Today is the day to say goodbye to Balochistan and and enter in South Punjab. Multan can be the best next best stop for a night stay. The distance between Loralai to Multan is around 370 Kilometres which can be done in 7-8 Hours while crossing Fort Monroe, D G Khan and Muzaffargarh cities. Multan has some interesting places to see such as the Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam, Fort Kohna Qasim Garden, Tomb Shah Shams Sabzwari Tabrez, however the most famous thing about Multan is the delicious Sohan Halwa traditional dessert found across West Asia and the Indian subcontinent but very well know as coming from Multan.
Day 05: Multan to Lahore (N-5):
Welcome to Lahore! The second-most populous city of Pakistan with around 12 million population. Lahore is famous for it's open hearted people, amazing food, architecture and historical sites. The distance between Multan and Lahore is 340 Kilometres which took around 6-7 hours. N-5 will connect you with Grand Trunk Road in Lahore. The Grand Trunk Road is a mad bustling mindbalst and one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads. The road runs roughly 2,400 kilometers from Chittagong in Bangladesh west to Kabul in Afghanistan, passing through India as well as Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan.
Quetta gets very cold in winter and will get snowfall. Temperature goes to an average high of 10 to average Low of -3 degrees celsius. In Summer there is an average high of between 30-35 with record hot days around 40 degrees celsius. In Spring and Autumn the seasonal average high stays between 20-25 degrees celsius and the average low is between 5-10 degree celsius.
Multan is known for having one of the most hottest weather in Pakistan. Record hot day there was 52 degree celsius. Multan gets mild cold in winters. Temperature stay around to Average High 20-25 to Average Low 5-10 degree celsius. In Summers it’s burning hot goings to average high 38-45 degree celsius. In springs and Autumn season Average high stay between 30-35 degree celsius and average low stay around 15-20 degree celsius.
Lahore can get very hot in Summer with cold foggy Winters. In recent times Lahore has had very heavy smog during the beginning of Winter, something to be aware of in regards to visibilty when riding, not to mention air quality. Lahore also has beautiful Spring and Autumn colour. Lahore receives a lot of rainfall in Summer, beginning from the end of June, with the wettest month being July. In Winter temperatures are an average High of 20 to an average Low of 5 degrees celsius. In Summer there is an average high of between 35-40 and the record hot days are around 45 degrees celsius. In Spring and Autumn seasons the average high stays between 27-33 degrees celsius and the average low stays around 15-20 degrees celsius.
Camping and Accomodation:
We do not recommend travellers on this route through Quetta to Lahore to attempt camping. As you are already travelling with escorts and police for the majority of the time they will most likely want you to stay in hotels. The only option we recommend for camping is if you are travelling with a group of your Pakistani friends and have prior permission and is safe to do so.
Lahore is the 2nd biggest city of Pakistan so you can find any kind of accomodation luxury and cheapest. Karakoram Bikers has a homestay in Lahore called Five Giants. Multan and Quetta is bit trickier as most of the hotels don’t allow foreigners to stay. It is mostly the more expensive hotels that allow foreigners.
Finding Fuel Quetta to Lahore:
If are crossing into Pakistan from Quetta, finding a real petrol station might be an issue. The only options on the way between Iran border to Quetta city, are small private petrol shops selling fuel. ther is no gurantee abotu the quality they stock. You will find more major branded petrol stations in Quetta city and all the way from Quetta to Lahore.
The other direction : Crossing the Border from Pakistan to Iran
For travellers who are crossing the border into Pakistan via China or India and wanting to cross into Iran you should get the NOC from Ministry of Interior in Islamabad. This Ministry of Interior office is in Pak Secretariat which stays open between 10:00 and 13:00 from Monday till Friday for public enquiries. The process time may take a week. The application form states it takes 4-6 weeks but that information is not correct, you will usually get the NOC within a week. you need the following documents:
Application form (Ask for this at ministry also you can download it from the this link - https://www.interior.gov.pk/phocadownload/NOC%20Application%20form.pdf)
Copy of passport
Copy of Pakistan visa and entry stamp
Proof of Iran visa
A letter explaining why you need the NOC
One passport size photo
Note 1: You can also get the NOC for the outbound Border crossing to Iran from within Quetta but you will likely have to wait for a week while the process happens. It is therefore much better to do the NOC process in Islamabad so you can keep exploring surrounding areas while you wait.
Note 02: Be ready for lot of Checkpoints and don’t forget to take 15-20 copies of your passport and visa papers to show at checkpoints to police staff.
Note 03: If the plan is to riding from Lahore to Quetta and you prefer to avoid the hectic long ride with many escorts and check points, you can put your bike on train. Then you will just need to ride from Quetta to Taftan, which may take no more than 3 days.
How to freight your Motorcycle by train:
There are many private cargo companies that are working outside Lahore Junction and Quetta Railway Stations. You can easily find them. Do bargaining! They will try to give you an expensive price to cargo your motorcycle however the price for the cargo of your bike should be around the same as your train passenger ticket price.
The Best option is Jaffer Express which took 22-24 hours. Jaffer Express have four options.
AC Lower / Standard - Seat Fare - 3650PKR
AC Business - Seat Fare - 4500PKR
AC Sleeper - Seat Fare - 5400PKR
Economy - Seat Fare - 1550PKR
This price is at Pakistan Railways website on January 2020 https://www.pakrail.gov.pk/index.aspx and you can also book you ticket here but first you need to sign in. Don’t forget to bring your passport with you at the time of purchasing ticket.
Note: Don’t cargo your motorcycle on train if you are not able to travel in the same train to the same destination. Get a receipt of cargo from the cargo company and load your motorcycle in the cargo box in front of you and make it sure that it's the same train you are taking. When you reach your destination the very first thing you should do is get your motorcycle from the Cargo service and take it out from the railway station so you don’t need to worry about yoru beloved bike going missing.