Shimshal Kuch Festival is one of the most important and well-celebrated festivals in Shimshal, a remote village in upper Hunza when the people of Shimshal bring their livestock to high Pamir pastures where they live for five months grazing them.
During this time they collect yeast, cheese, and butter for their families to be used in the harsh winter season. The joy and happiness of being reunited with the rest of the family members are celebrated when shepherds return with their flock from high Pamir pastures.
With thousands of sheep, yaks, and goats, the welcome back is a spectacular experience. Following their hundreds of years old tradition of goat sacrifice at the Shimshal Bridge is a way to express their gratitude to God for the safe return of their family and herds from the high pastures.
The people of Shimshal are Wakhi and speak the Wakhi language, their culture and tradition are unique. Due to being remotest and difficult accessibility, much of their tradition and culture has remained intact. In ancient times these people were passing very simple life dictated by the seasons and nature around them. Their life circled around the festivals which gave them some entertainment and passed harsh time, waiting for these traditional festivals to celebrate that gives them some joy.
The event takes place between 15th and 18th October every year in Shimshal Valley.
For more information on Shimshal Kuch Festival and the tours that we run there, contact us via:
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Departure for Pakistan
Arrive at ISB, and welcome reception at the airport. Transfer to hotel for fresh up. After a lunch city tour of the twin cities of Rawalpindi & Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan. Overnight hotel.
Today our journey starts from driving on the historic Grand Trunk Road. On our, Taxila has situated 34 km from Islamabad, which is the former capital of Gandhara Buddhist civilization. We visit the splendid site Museum and the archaeological site. After Taxila, we will leave the GT road and turn north on the Karakoram highway. Pass through the lush green alpine landscape of Hazara and arrive at Sharkool and cool place situated on top of a hill. As we descend from Sharkool, we emerge on the bank of Indus river at Thakot. From here we enter the narrow rocky gorge of Indus. Overnight hotel. (300 km, 7/8 hours)
Continue driving on the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit. Building the KKH, was a joint venture between the Pakistan army and Chinese engineers and it took 20 years & sacrifice of 850 lives to complete this 8th wonder of the world. In the afternoon we would have a fascinating view of Nanga Parbat (8,125 M) as we get closer to Gilgit. Overnight at the hotel. (330 km, 10/11 hours)
Morning visit to the town. Gilgit at 1,600 M is the administrative capital of northern areas of Pakistan and a traditional staging post on historical Silk Route from Kashgar. From the bazaar, we could walk to the suspension bridges over Gilgit & Ghizer rivers. Continue driving on the Karakoram Highway to the charming village of Passu in the heart of Karakoram Mountains. We have fascinating views of soaring peaks all around us, including Rakaposhi (7,788 M). Overnight in Passu Tourist Lodge, 2500 meters. 2 hours drive in the narrow valley of Shimshal up to Waeenben. At Waeenben our bags will be shifted from jeeps on to the Yaks, our companions for the next two weeks. After crossing two suspension bridges we will reach in Ziarat. This is the place where the famous Sufi Saint Shams-e-Tabriz had stayed for a long time for meditation and fasting. The symbols are still kept on the rock. Shams-e-Tabriz had come from Tabriz, to preach Islam in the region. The followers of the Sufi saint visit this sacred place to cadge prayers. They put colorful flags on the rocks around. Three houses have been constructed by the people of Shimshal here in Ziarat, as Ziarat is in their daily route up or down from the civilization. We will take lunch in Ziarat. Continue journey towards Kuk. It takes 3 hours to get in Kuk. Kuk is well known for its hot spring water. The visitors take bath and enjoy the view of Malangoti Glacier. When the weather is clear, the great Dastagir (7885m) can be seen on the head of the Malangoti glacier. Other peaks like Madhelsar, Shimshal white horn, Malangoti Sar etc. can also be seen from this point. Overnight stay in Kuk. (2 hrs drive 5/6 hrs to walk 2800)
Four hours walk up to Shimshal. After crossing a suspension bridge we get in Kutdoor and we climb a small steep rocky patch. From the top, two small villages of Shimshal Tangashsar and Farmanabad can be seen. We will reach in Farmanabad, where lives the famous climber of Pakistan Mr. Rajab Shah. Rajab Shah is the only Pakistani climber who has climbed all eight-thousander meter peaks of Pakistan. A short tea break can be taken at Rajab’s house. An hours easy walk up to the center of the village. Arrive main Shimshal valley for overnight camping. ( 4/5 hrs Walk 3000 M)
As today’s track is steep and hard so we will take an early start. After crossing the Shimshal river, we will reach in Band-e-Sar and we’ll enter the narrow gorge of Tang, which goes up to Zartgarben. When we climb the steep up, we cross through a memorious gate and reach in Zartgarban. The plain land is charming and encircled with high mountains. Zartgarban is basically a summer pasture where villagers keep their animals for 5/6 months in summer. (6/7 hrs 3700 M)
This might be the hard part of the trek. We start from the camp with a steep ascent of 200 meters on the cliff. This day we have to cross two passes. The first pass is Wayeen Sar (4800m), which takes two hours from Zartgarben to reach the top and one hour to descend in Yarzeen, the lunch place. After having lunch we will continue ascending to Shach Merk Pass (4500m), which takes three hours to reach the top. We make a small pause on the pass to take photos of the peaks in the surrounding. Many peaks of the area can be seen from both high passes. We descend to the Targaryen valley, which is the camping place tonight. We will pitch the tents up on the left bank of a small stream. It takes more than three hours to reach in Puryear, place for our lunch today. We will follow the Maidoor river today and reach Puryen. After having lunch here we will cross a small bridge and we climb the high steep of Puryear Sar. We will cross through two wooden gates. These gates were built by the people of Shimshal to defend the village from the troops from China. In ancient time when there was no friendship between China and Pakistan and the area was disputed. In 1974 it was officially announced by the govt. of China that this area is in Shimshal. After that, there is complete peace in the area. When we reach on the top of Puryen Sar, we can see the Manglik Sar (6050m) in front of us. This is a trekking peak in the heart of the Pasture. Arrive Arbab Parian for overnight camping. This is a beautiful and colorful place with spring water. Nice place to take bath in the crystal clear water. ( 4/5 hrs 4150M)
We will continue walking east in the direction of Manglik Sar and reach Shujerab. The last summer pasture before Shimshal Pass. From Shujerab a 200 meters gradual ascent will bring us just under Manglik Sar. Now we will be walking in the wide area of Shimshal Pass running east to west, with two lakes located just before the Shimshal Pass. In summer Yaks, goats and sheep roam around the green wide pastures of Shimshal Pass. We’ll pitch our tents near the two lakes of Shimshal Pass. In the evening one can walk to Shuwart summer settlement at Shimshal Pass, consisting of 60 houses. We might get invited for dinner by the people settled there with their animals. That will be a great chance to visit local houses and also to taste the energetic nomad food made from Yak’s cheese, butter and wheat flour. Overnight camping at Shimshal Pass. (4/5 hours, 4735m)
A rest day after long trekking for personal activities.
We will follow the same track came through on our way to Shimshal Pass. But it will take us a very short time because of continues descend. Back to Arbad Parian. Overnight camping. (5/6 hours)
It is an easy downhill walk. We follow a stream flowing from Shuwart to Maidur. There are many summer settlements in Maidur Valley. We will pitch our tents at a small settlement having only two or three houses. It is a beautiful Valley and water is easily accessible here. Camp overnight. (4/5 hours 4500M)
Today we take early morning start to cross Shapodin Pass (5150m). The climb up to pass is not technical and one can climb it with the help of walking poles only. Passu Peak (7478m) and Shispar Peak (7611m) are visible from the Pass. Water is easily available on the way. After crossing the Pass we will arrive at the camping place of Shapodin which is also a summer settlement. Camp overnight. (7/8 hours 5150 M)
This would be an easy walk on the plain pasture up to Zartgarban. From Zartgarban we will continue our trek and descend down to the Shimshal village. Camp (4 /5 hours )
In one long day, we will reach Passu from Shimshal. 7/8 hours walk to reach the trek end and from there two hours in jeeps to Passu. Overnight stay in Passu tourist Lodge.
Short drive to Karimabad, the capital of Hunza Valley. Here we have time to visit the Altit & Baltit forts and walk through the bazaar, shops are full of traditional woolen gowns, caps and ladies suits and lots of decoration pieces, which are prepared by the ladies of Hunza. View of the fascinating mountains around Hunza, like Rakaposhi, Ultar Peak, Golden Peak, and Ladyfinger increases the charm and attraction of the valley. People in both central and upper Hunza are very friendly and educated. ( 50 km 2250 M)
It takes three hours to reach Gilgit from Karimabad. Before having lunch we can visit the Kargah Nala where we can see the image of Buddha from the 4th Century AD. After Lunch, we will continue driving down to Chilas. A photo stop at the famous spot, where worlds three highest mountain ranges Himalayas, Karakoram & Hindukush are meeting and it is also the meeting point of the Indus river with Gilgit river. From here we can also view of Nanga Parbat. Overnight stay at a hotel in Chilas. (230 km 6/7 hrs)
This would be a long drive through the Indus Gorge on the KKH. Lunch break in Besham. By evening we will reach Islamabad. Arrive and transfer to hotel.
(425 km 11/12 hrs)
Transfer to the airport for international departure flight.