Eight Day Journey along the Karakoram Highway to Hunza Valley with Day Treks, Seven Nights Hotels
Experience the confluence of the highest mountain ranges of the world: Karakoram, Himalayas, and the Hindu Kush as you travel along the Karakoram Highway, reputed as the 8th wonder of the world, through the dramatic, deep gorges of the Indus: the Lion River.
Spend a few days in Hunza, a region inhabited by Ismaili Muslims and renowned for the longevity of its inhabitants. Walk to the glaciers flowing down from the soaring peaks.
Morning flight to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city. At the airport, you will be met by a “Rock Valley Tours” and begin the 28km drive to Taxila, the ancient capital of Buddhist Gandhara civilization which is regarded as one of the most important archaeological sites on the sub-continent. Here we will visit the ruins of a former city (Sirkup), a hill-top former monastery (Julian), and the splendid site museum that contains artifacts excavated from the sites. Among these are gold and silver coins from the time of Alexander the Great (326 BC). After lunch, we head towards the Karakoram Highway (KKH) via the beautiful lush green valleys of Mansehra District. The highway was a joint project between Pakistan and China and took 20 years to complete. During its construction 300 Chinese and 600 Pakistani workers lost their lives. Overnight at the motel. (4-5 hour drive, 200 km)
Early morning drive to Gilgit, the capital of Pakistan’s Northern Areas. At Thakot, we cross a Chinese-made bridge and enter the Indus River gorge. For centuries this branch of the Silk Route was used by the traders and Buddhist missionaries. There are many rock carving sites dating back to that time, including the carvings at Shatial. After lunch at Chilas, we stop at Thalichi, the best viewpoint of Nanga Parbat (8125m) the 9th highest peak in the world and the second-highest in Pakistan after K2, which is also known as the Killer Mountain. There are also spectacular views of Rakaposhi (7788m) and the Haramosh Range from the same spot. As we drive north we reach the meeting point of the world’s three highest mountain ranges – the Karakoram, Himalayas and the Hindukush. At this amazing place, the Gilgit River also joins the mighty Indus. We follow the Gilgit River to Gilgit and overnight at a hotel. (6-7 hours, 320 km)
After crossing a suspension bridge of the river we reach Kargah and visit the 7th century Buddha carved into the rock. In ancient times the Kargah Valley was used by Buddhist monks as a route to and from Taxila. Our tour continues along the breathtaking Hunza Valley where we will be able to see the original Silk Route used by both traders and monks. En route, we will make a short stop at the Rakaposhi (7788m) viewpoint before arriving at Karimabad, the capital of the Hunza Valley. Overnight at Hotel. (2-3-hour drive, 110 km)
A free day in Karimabad with time for short walks to the Altit and Baltit forts, and for more exploration of the Hunza Valley. There are superb views of the Karakoram Range from here – Rakaposhi 7788m, Diran 7266m, Ultar 7400m, Golden Peak 7027m, along with glimpses of the Nagar Valley on the other side of the river. The friendly, long-lived people of the Hunza are almost self-sufficient, growing wheat, maize, apricots, and walnuts and making their own clothes, shoes, and wooden and stone bowls. In the afternoon there will be time to walk to the Ultar Glacier by following the irrigation channel through the village or to stroll through the single-lane bazaar to enjoy more spectacular views of the mountain peaks soaring around you. Overnight at Hotel.
Today we take a short drive into the heart of Karakorams. We will stop at the village of Gulmit, in the shadow of the unclimbed Gulmit Tower, and walk through the village fields to visit the polo ground and historic houses, and later take a short trek to the Gulkin glaciers and Borit Lake. Our transport will meet us near Borit Lake to take us the 15km to Passu. Passu is a charming village set against a backdrop of the soaring Passu Cones, and the Passu and Batura glaciers within short walking distance. About 70 years ago Passu was the second largest settlement in Hunza after Karimabad. However, the glacier upstream on the Hunza River began to advance, creating a dam which later broke, washing away houses and fertile fields. Now the river occupies the major share of the valley. There will be time for a walk through the village before overnight at a lodge. (1 hour, 50 km)
Morning walk to the Passu Glacier and Passu Lake (45 minutes one-way). From the snout of the glacier, there are spectacular views of Shispar ( 7611m) and Passu Peak (7478m). Walk back to Lodge for lunch and afterward visit the famous suspension bridges of Passu. These 800 feet long bridges over the Hunza River are still used by the local people. Overnight at lodge.
Drive back along the KKH following the Hunza River enjoying more amazing views of the Karakorams. We spend the night at Besham/ Narran on the banks of the Indus River. (6-7-hour drive, 260km)
Besham/ Narran – Islamabad – Departure
We start early for the 8-hour drive along the KKH to Islamabad, with a short stop at Abbottabad for lunch. Transfer to the airport for the flight to home destination. (11-12-hours’ drive, 500 km)