Health and Old Age Places with High Longevity: Hunza Pakistan Part 4

About the area of Hunza in Pakistan which has a high level of longevity, about the people and tourism.


Hunza is famed and fabled for its slim, erect, graceful people who "glide rather than walk," and whose "mature men have the appearance of boys," as John H. Tobe describes them in Hunza: Adventures in a Land of Paradise. The Mir pointed out that in Hunza, unlike the West, "The young envy the old." As Hunzukuts passed the 100-year mark, they journeyed from their villages to the palace in Baltit to "pay their respects" to the Mir. The Mir held court each day at 10 A.M., at which time he was advised by a Council of Elders, all 20 of whom were men in their 90s or over. Whether it is diet, exercise, or the relaxed atmosphere, Hunzukuts are one of the world's healthiest people. Dr. Alexander Leaf attributes the "high degree of cardiovascular fitness as well as the general muscular tone" to physical exercise; it is necessary for the Hunzukuts to "traverse the hills on foot during the day's activities." But there is a magic and mystery as yet unsolved in Hunza, for the apricot trees, too, live to a hundred, whereas in America the average life of a fruit tree is from 25 to 30 years. Moreover, even without chemical sprays or birds, the fruits of Hunza are free of worms and insect pests.

The outside world, however, is taking its toll on Hunza. Dental caries have begun to appear among the youth, partly explained by the fact that for the 1st time Hunzukuts are importing sugar, having tired of their only sweetener--a puree of dried apricots. Goiter also has appeared now that pure white salt is being imported to replace the "impure" brownish salt, with its natural minerals including iodine and fluoride, that is found in Hunza.

Guidebook. Travelers seeking the fountain of youth--or the mixed blessings of a long life--should put Hunza on their list of places to visit. Once inaccessible both because of its remote location and the attitude of the Pakistan Government, it is now ready to cater to tourism. The visitor must get a visa to Pakistan (easy enough); then he must obtain permission from the political agent in Gilgit (available only after you arrive in Rawalpindi and pull government strings on the spot).

A modern plane whisks the visitor to Gilgit, and a new highway connects this city with Baltit, where both hotels and camping sites are available.

Interested? Better hurry. The 20th century is riding that plane and marching down that highway, along with 1,000 tourists a month. It's now or never, if you want to see the old Hunza--the original Shangri-La.

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