Trekking in Northern Pakistan

karakorum highway
Karakorum Highway

Day 1

Depart Home Country.

Day 2

In transit.

Day 3

Arrive Islamabad.

Welcome at Islamabad airport, transfer to hotel. Most flights arrive very early am (it is possible to arrive 1 day later but not recommended).

After morning rest, we will make an afternoon visit to the ancient ruins of Taxila. This longtime capital of the Gandharan Empire (800 BCE to 500 CE), was a Buddhist driven civilization that combined Greek and Indian culture known for  its multi-culturism and artistic development.

Taxila: Most of the archaeological sites of Taxila (600 BC to 500 AD) are located around Taxila museum. For over one thousand-years Taxila remained famous as a center of learning Gandhara art of sculpture, architecture, education, and Buddhism in the formidable days of this era. There are over 50 archaeological sites scattered in a radius of 30 km around Taxila.

Taxila museum: A museum comprising various sections with rich archaeological finds of Taxila. It is one of the best and well-maintained site museums of Pakistan. Here we can get a glimpse as to the level of sophistication and beauty of the artisans.

hunza valley forest
The Hunza Valley is a mountainous valley, situated north/west of the Hunza River, at an elevation of around 2,500 m. The territory of Hunza is about 7,900 square km (3,100 sq mi). Aliabad is the main town, while Baltit and Altit are popular tourist destination because of the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains.

Day 4

Fly to Gilgit and onward travel to village of Passu.

(Should the flight be cancelled, we will commence on driving up to the Karakorum Highway over the Babusar Pass 4,173 m. The pass is the highest point and connects the Kaghan Valley with town of Chilas.  It’s one of the most famous hairpin roads in the world. We overnight on in route and arrive Passu the following day).

Home of the mighty Passu cones (jagged peak above the village, Passu epitomizes the beauty of both the mountains and local village life that make Northern Pakistan so intriguing. This will be our base for the next few days as we take on a series of stunning days hikes with breathtaking mountain views, and can include remote valleys, outing to Borith Lake, visits with local villagers, timber wood plank suspension bridge crossings (in continuous use for hundreds of years) and walks along the bed of the Indus River and the possibility of glacier crossings, conditions permitting.

Passu is part of the famed Northern Hunza Valley (often referred to as Gojal) and has a long history of proud and pioneering people who originated in the Wakhan Corridor of Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. The language and ethnic group is known as Wakhi or as they say “we are Wakhi from Wakhan”.

Passu is one of my favorite places in all the world” – G. Janow Director of Programs

passu cones
Passu Cones

Day 5

Trekking in and around Passu.

Day 6

Trekking in and around Passu.

baltit fort 1
Baltit Fort: Located on a high valley between China and the Indian subcontinent, Baltit Fort is poised majestically above Karimabad, the present-day capital of Hunza (Baltit was the capital of the old state of Hunza and is now included in the Karimabad settlement area).

Day 7

Vist Duiker Valley

We drive to Duiker Valley (roof of the world) via Gulmit Village (second capital of Hunza in 960 CE) where we visit the small women’s weaving center and onward to the valley via Attabad Lake.

Duiker Valley will serve as our base to visit the forts of Karimabad and neighboring areas. From Duiker we have a breathtaking view of the Hunza Valley and many peaks over 7000 meters such as Rakaposhi (7,788 m), Diran Peak (7,266 m), Spantik (7,027 m), Ultar Sar (7,388 m).

Dukker Valley visit to include:

Walks on the water channel which starts from Karimabad village and ends in Hyderabad Nala. During the water channel walk you will have close interaction with local people, and it is a great opportunity to get enmeshed in local village life. Karimabad also has a vibrant tourist bazaar (mostly designed for domestic visitors, but a good chance to shop for gifts).

“The people are cheerful and friendly. Almost all speak Burushaski and in upper Hunza they speak Wakhi. The miracle of the Hunzakuts longevity, supposedly resulting from their mostly vegetarian diet of cereals and fruits from Hunza Valley.”


Day 8

Continue tour in Duiker Valley area. Visit Hopper Valley, Altit & Baltit.

Morning drive to Hopper Valley, The Hopper Valley is a scenic portion of the Nagar Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan. Hopper Valley is home of the Spantik and Hopper glaciers. After lunch we visit Baltit Fort 700 Years old and Altit Fort (900-Years-old), after a walk in the Karimabad bazaar.

The Fort offers breathtaking views of the magnificent high mountains as well as a bird’s eye view of the villages in the valley. Baltit Fort has great historical, cultural and symbolic value to the local community. Historically, it was the seat of the Mirs of Hunza, a family that ruled the region for centuries. Culturally it is a record of the architectural evolution of the area, with some buildings dating back to 12th century. The main building is an impressive stone structure with intricately detailed timber features. Its architecture is a significant example of Pakistan’s diverse heritage, reflecting distinct Tibetan influence as seen by the presence of a Tibetan ‘sky-light’ in the roof.

Altit Fort: Built on a sheer rock-cliff that falls 300 meters into the Hunza River and is much older than the Baltit Fort. The extreme gullies, sharp drop-off, and location high above the river made this settlement highly defensible and an older settlement than many in the central valley.

The majestic Altit Fort is center of attraction due to its architectural design and strategic location. Altit is the birthplace of the Hunza Kingdom and Altit fort is the first fort of the region. The fort has been constructed in six different stages by using various natural levels of the rock. The construction has been made right-on the edge of a sheer rock cliff that drops 1,000 feet straight down to the Hunza River. In the beginning it was built as a palace, soon after the addition of the watch tower a defensive architectural element it transformed to a fort. There is great possibility that different stages of the fort have been constructed during different times because the actual age of the fort is said to be more than 800 years, around 50-100 years older than Baltit Fort.

At the end of the day we can return to Karimabad bazaar for last minute shopping and a chance to drink the ever elusive Cappuccino.

hunza valley 1
Duiker Valley with Rakaposhi in the distance.

Day 9

Drive to the small village of Manapin our launch point to the trek to Rakaposhi base camp. The drive provides excellent views of Rakaposhi (7788m) and Diran peak (7266m) while skirting the edge of the old Silk Road.

After an early start we hike to meadow camp at Hapakun in 4-5 hours. The trail begins behind the Minapin village, where we cross a bridge to the Minapin River’s true left bank. The step path gives wide views of the Minapin Glacier, and eventually of the entire Rakaposhi-Diran crest line as we reach Hapakun camp. (5.8km, 792m ascent, 2,814 m). Here we enjoy the views from the meadow and take a 2-hour break for lunch.

After lunch we make the ascent up to Rakaposhi Basecamp also known as Tagaphia camp. The trek takes 3 – 4 hours.

Our hike in the afternoon has us crossing the canal between the two camps, the trail heads south, rising across rock-strewn open ground beyond Hapakun’ s largest camp and we climb immediately west up switchbacks through a fir forest. After 15 – 30 minutes, the trail eases off and contours the rocky slope for 30 – 45 minutes to a verdant bowl where wildflowers and colorful songbirds thrive. Sweeping gently through the meadows, the trail enters scattered juniper stands and climbs via switchbacks to the windy ridge top, where Diran, Rakaposhi and their interconnecting ice wall finally come into full dramatic view. From here the trail flattens as we make the final walk to base camp, hugging the mountainside until the meadow opens before us at base camp. Overnight in tents.

Glacier walk on Rakaposhi.

Day 10

Overnight Rakaposhi Basecamp

We leave camp early morning and make our way towards Rakaposhi eventually reaching the large glacier (non-technical) crossing to Diran base camp where we lunch before return. This is a full day outing and truly brings us deep in the Karakorum range.

Day 11

Descend to Village of Manpin

We descend at a slow pace back to village of Manapin where we overnight at a small lodge.

nanga parbat full
Nanga Parbat, the 7th highest mountain in the world.

Day 12

Trek to Nanga Parbat

We drive to Raikot Bridge (1 hour), then transfer by jeep and travel a rough and exhilarating road to Tato village (1.5 hours) and trek to Fairy Meadows (2-3 hours, 5.5 km).

The Fairy Meadows lie at an altitude of 3,306 m. Here we have a spectacular view of Nanga Parbat, 8,125 m. Overnight in huts.

Driving the road to Raikot Bridge, we stop at the junction point of the three world famous mountain ranges where The Himalayas (means the “Home of Snow”), The Karakoram (means black gravel) and The Hindu Kush (means the “Killer of Hindus”) meet just at the northern region of Pakistan

Hermann Buhl, the Austrian climber who made the first ascent of Nanga Parbat in 1953, named this area Fairy Meadows due to its wonderful scenery.

fairy meadows
Fairy Meadow is a lush green plateau at 3,300 m, offering a breath-taking view of Majestic Nanga Parbat (“The Sleeping Beauty”). Many people have called it “Heaven on Earth”. These lush green meadows and forests lie at the base of Nanga Parbat at the western edge of the Himalayan range.

Day 13

Excursion to Nanga Parbat viewpoint & Back to Fairy Meadows.

Full day excursion to Nanga Parbat view point, altitude 3,967 m, 467 m ascent, 467 m descent, and trek back to Fairy Meadows. On this trek we will have panoramic views of Nanga Parbat 8,126 m, Raikot Peak 7,070 m, Chongra Peak 6,830 m and Ganalo Peak 6,608 m.

Confluence of Indus and Gilgit Rivers and the meeting point of the three great mountain ranges, The Himalaya (on the right), The Karakorum (middle), and the Hindu Kush (near left)

Day 14

Return to Raikot Bridge and travel to Gilgit, the largest city in the area. In Gilgit we will visit the Kargha Buddha wall carving, Gilgit suspension bridge and bazaar area.

Day 15

Travel to Islamabad

Fly Gilgit to Islamabad. In case of cancellation, we will begin our drive to Islamabad overnighting at hotel along the way.

Day 16

Islamabad Tour (arrive Islamabad if driving)

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the ninth largest city in the country with a population of 1.4 million. It is a modern city located on the Pothohar Plateau in the northeastern part of the country. The region has historically been the crossroad of the provinces Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan) and Punjab (India), with Margalla pass acting as the gateway between the two regions. The city was built during the 1960s to replace Karachi as Pakistan’s capital.

Rawalpindi is a lively, bustling city with crowded streets and colorful bazaars. Though it lacks the grand monuments of Islamabad, its bazaars should appeal to anyone with a desire to see the real Pakistan. The buzzing Rajah Bazaar is a kaleidoscope of people and merchandise spreading in every direction from the chaotic Fawara Chowk junction. Dotted throughout the city are crumbling stone towers marking old Hindu temples.

Day 17

Depart for home country

Day 18

Arrive home country.

From India Trek: When Gordon announced an exploratory trip with trekking, I made the decision to participate. From beginning to end it was a dream come true. The sights, sounds, people, food, and majestic landscape were truly an incredible experience.


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