Some of the world's tallest, most imposing mountain ranges can be found in Pakistan. Scenic peaks in the northern regions make the country a paradise for those who like trekking and mountaineering. The Himalayan, Karakoram and the Hindukush mountain ranges are in the north of the country, where the world's longest glaciers outside of the polar regions can also be found nestled between the mighty slopes. Northern Pakistan used to be comprised of small, fiercely independent mountain kingdoms. These have been absorbed into Pakistan, although the local inhabitants still take pride in their mountain warrior heritage. Pakistan International Airways (PIA) and several independent Pakistani tour companies can arrange trekking itineraries for visitors, depending on fitness and group sizes. One of the most spectacular ways of viewing the mountains without strapping on crampons or risking frostbite is to take the once-a-week Air Safari Flight from Islamabad offered by the national carrier. For US$225, the one-hour 45-minute flight takes passengers close to the tallest peaks of the Karakorams and Hindukush. Against the clear blue skies, photogenic Rakaposhi stands imposing and proud at 7,788 metres. The spectacular K-2 (the second highest peak in the world at 8,611 m), which was first climbed in 1954 by two Italians, dominates the ranges. Trekking in Pakistan can vary from a day's walk to an expedition-like hike that ends at the base camp of K-2. Many of the routes follow old trading paths and the Silk Road. Jeep safaris and mountain cycling tours are alternative ways of getting around. Permits and procedures for gaining access to the foothills and mountain ranges have been relaxed, making it easier for the visitor to organise a trip to the area. People looking for a less demanding vacation can explore the Swat Valley in the Malakand Hills, almost 200 kilometres from Peshawar. The valley was home to villagers more than 2,000 years ago. Alexander the Great, in 327 BC, fought in the fields that surrounded the towns of Udegram and Barikot.