HIGHLIGHTS

   

Besham

Kalash

Patundas

Chilas

Khaplu

Rupel Valley

Chitral

Khunjerab Pass

Rush Lake

Concordia

K2 Base Camp

Satpara Lake

Fairy Meadows

Masherbrum Base

Shimshal Valley

Gilgit

Naltar Plateau

Skardu

Gulmit

Nanga Parbat

Snow Lake

Hispar Pass

Nanga Parbat (FM)

Swat

Hunza Valley

Paiyu

Tararshing

Hushe Valley

Passu

Thui Ann Pass

 

 

Besham

A small bazaar strung along the Karakorum Highway , Besham is midway between Rawalpindi and Gilgit . It is cut into the hillside above the Indus. Before building of the bridge for centuries   a raft made of inflated cow-skin used to ply its way across the river here, pulling upstream in the lee of rocks and then drifting with the current to the other side.

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Chilas

 

Chilas is the mid-way stop between Rawalpindi and Skardu/Hunza It is a semi desert town by Indus river as being on the old Silk Road one can see the rock engravings of old traders and pilgrimages passing through here. A jeep road from here crosses the Babusar pass to Kaghan valley the old road to Gilgit before the building of KKH. Nanga Parbat can be seen about 15 km before chilas.

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Chitral

Once an independent principality ruled by the Mahatir is a town bordering Afghanistan. The principal attraction is the bazaar, the fort and mosque by the river and the summer palace of the ex-ruler of Chitral on the hilltop.

Chitral fort stands on the bend of the Kunhar river, beside the 100 year old Shahi mosque surrounded by clusters of enormous Chinar trees. The impressive fort is the ancestral home of the Mehtars of Chitral ( ex ruling family)

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Concordia

 

The joining palace of five glaciers got is name from Martin Conway in 1892, after the place “ de la Concorde” in Paris, it is the place upon reaching which you can see K2 standing isolated from its neighbors right in front of you. As so many high peaks are visible all around from here that is why it is also called the Throne room of the Mountain Gods.

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Fairy Meadows

 

Fairy Meadow is lush green plateau situated in the foots gin of Nanga Parbat at the Western edge of the Himalayan Range. The name Fairy Meadows is part of the legend that Fairy’s have their heaven on this lush green plateau. This legendry name Fairy Meadows is everlasting gift of the western tourist to the local people. Fairy Meadow offers superb views of the Nanga Parbat (8125 m) the highest mountain in Pakistan in Himalayas. (9th highest in the world)

Nanga Parbat is a Persian word, which means “Naked Mountain”, the local People call “ Diamer (Monarch of the God). It is also know “Killer Mountain” among the mountaineers as more 40 climbers have lost their lives trying to conquer it during expeditions.

It is about 540 km drive through Karakorum Highway, from Islamabad to Raikot Bridge (1400 m). Where local Jeeps will take you up to the Tatto village. It is one and half hour excited drive from Raikot Bridge to the last village of Tatto (2900 m). There are several photo stop on the way up to Tatto, including most impressive view of Karakorum Highway & River Indus from the one of the sharp turn of the road. On arrival at Tatto have lunch in the local restaurant, after lunch hire Porters and start trekking on very easy old jeep road for (02 – 03 hours). It would be a great experience to have overnight in fixed camping side, or in the traditionally built wood Huts, which offers magnificent view of the North face of the Nanga Parbat.

 

There are several short walks on this plateau, including the full day excursion up to the base camp (3900 m) of Nanga Parbat. It is very easy walk through the forest till then the edge of the plateau call Beyal Camp (3500 m). Whereas the trek from Beyal Camp to base camp is little difficult along the Raikot Glacier.

 

The lush green Plateau of Fairy Meadows is well know for its thick forest of Pine trees and wild flowers including Edelweiss. The friendly people of the high mountains of Himalayas still remember the Fairy’s and Nanga Parbat in their songs. It can be a soul-stirring experience to share music and dance during campfire.   

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Gilgit

 

The capital of Northern areas has been inhabited for thousands of years . The various waves of invaders that passed through the lower Pakistan also reached Gilgit ., Bringing their customs and religions with them . Inscriptions and pictures carved on rocks throughout the region reveal snatches of its history.

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Gulmit

 

Gulmit the capital of Gojal is a fertile plateau 2500 meters high, with irrigated fields on either side of the road. The interesting places in and around Gulmit are the Gulmit museum which is full of traditional ethnic artifacts is in a room of Raja Bahadur Khans house. There is also the old Mirs residence which is no longer used and the old Ismaili mosque carved of wood, the tomb of Silum III , water mills and old houses are all worth visiting. The higher village of Kamaris offer fine views  back to the jagged Passu spires about half an hours walk takes you to the 200 year old Andra fort

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Hispar Pass

 

The crossing point between Baltistan and Hunza valley is the Hispar pass which is at the elevation of 5151 meters from the top looking back gives a feeling of vast snowy space without a hint of vegetation. Coiling out from snow lake smooth glaciers writhe between nameless and unclimbed peaks the highest peak due east is the Baintha Brak 7285 meters high. In the west the Hispar glacier rough and snow covered stretches down as far as the eye can see, Separating the Hispar Muztag range on the right from the Rakaposhi and Balchish range.

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Hunza Valley

 

Dominated by the Baltit fort, the famous irrigated terraces of central Hunza arranged as nearly as fish scales, ripple down the lower slopes of Ultar Mountain. Across the valley the gleaming snows of Rakaposhi thrust a vertical 5 kilometers skywards the isolation of this famous beauty spot ended in 1978 by the building of KKH.

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Hushe valley

Hushe valley Runs from Masherbrum mountain 7821 meters south to Shyok river opposite Khaplu . Hushe is the last village up the valley it is the starting point for treks to various summer pastures up five glaciers. 

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Kalash

 

The Kalash people live in three valleys between Kunhar river and the Afghan border, these valleys of Birir, Bomburet and Rum bur are on the edge of the monsoon belt so the vegetation is dense with giant walnut trees and fruit trees draped in grapevines overhanging swiftly flowing streams. Lush green fields on the valley floor grow wheat, barley, vegetables and fodder, and the steep 3000-meter ridges between the valleys are covered with evergreen forest right to the top.  

The Kalash love music and dancing and perform different dances for their various festivals, which are celebrated in May, August, November and December.

The 3000 Kalash living in about 20 villages were once part of much larger group living in neighboring Afghanistan, but the Kalash of Afghanistan converted to Islam and the place is now called Nuristan. The Kalash of Chitral still follow their own religion a mixture of animism, ancestor and fire worship and have retained some of their original culture. They make offerings to several Gods each protecting a different aspect of daily life. Sajigor the highest God is in charge of everything, Surisan protects the cattle, Goshedoi the milk products and Praba looks after the food.

Kalash women wear black woolen robes like old-fashioned nuns. They hang multiple strings of beads around their necks and plait their hair into five narrow braids, which stick out from under a magnificent headdress, made of black material covered with rows of cowrie shells and assorted buttons and crowned with a reddish woolen tasseled pompom.

Most of the Kalash are pale skinned and some of them even have fair hair

and blue eyes all of which give rise to the usual legend that they are descended from the followers of Alexander the Great. Some historians maintain that Alexander did actually go to Chitral and he was certainly in nearby Dir.   

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Khaplu

 

The second largest kingdom of old Baltistan was Khaplu guarding the trade route from Ladakh along the Shyok River. Khaplu is not a town but a collection of scattered hamlets set amid terraced fields on the wide alluvial fan that stretches from the base of semi circular wall of mountain and drops some 300 meters to river level. The people are more liberal and tolerant.

Dominating the valley from the top end of the alluvial fan, the imposing summer palace of the ex Raja gazes down on the kingdom.

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Khunjerab Pass

 

At 4700 meters is reputedly the highest mettaled border crossing in the world. A red sign announces China drive right. The highway was opened in 1982.the Khunjerab pass is on a continental watershed . All water on the Pakistani side flows down the Indian ocean while on the Chinese side it is absorbed in the Taklamakan Desert. The scenery is remarkably different on the two sides of the pass. The Pakistani side is a vertical world of desert gorges devoid of any sign of human life for the last 30 Kilometers. The Chinese side is wide open and grassy , a high altitude plateau with grazing herds .      

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K2 Base Camp

 

At an elevation of 5000 meters the base camp is a marvelous sight and following mountains can be seen from here as well.

 

K2                                   8616 Meters

Broad peak                    8060 Meters

Gasherbrum 1V             7925 Meters

Golden Throne               7312 Meters

Mitre Peak                      6025 Meters        

Crystal peak                   6252 Meters

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Masherbrum Base

At a elevation of 4200 meters a small grassy patch below the cliff face, looking across the glacier at the fluted ice gullies and steep rock ridges of Masherbrum is your campsite. This is top of the valley, a dead end in a wide bowl completely filled with glacier. Ice faces soar out of deep crevasses, sheer rock walls enclose the bowl and a curtain of 7000 meters peaks prevent the access to the Baltoro glacier beyond.

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Naltar Plateau

 

Hidden in the mountains –up a dramatic barren gorge 19 kilometers long is the surprisingly green and lush valley of Naltar. Some climatic quirk gives Naltar 410 mm of rainfall per year, more than three times of Gilgit and the valley is heavily wooded with pine, spruce, birch, rowan and juniper. It is at an elevation of 2880 meters.

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Nanga Parbat Base Camp

 

Also known as Herligkofer Base camp named after the German Mountaineering organizer who has led eight expeditions to Nanga Parbat including the first ascent of Herman Buhl in 1953. From here there is superb view of Nanga Parbat South face. Elevation of this place is 3660 meters.

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Nanga Parbat Base Camp (Fairy Meadows)

 

Nanga Parbat base is a half a days walk from fairy meadows and you follow the narrow path along the Raikot glacier and after turning the valley it is thought by the old hands to be the best view. This is the best view of this fantastic valley. Nanga Parbat is also known as the killer mountain as it has killed more mountaineers than any other mountain. It literally means the naked mountains as not much snow stays on top the steep rocky slopes.

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Paiyu

 

Meaning salt in Balti language, it is here that porters prepare themselves and their food for the glacier journey. Usually a goat is slaughtered and porters singsong and dance through most of the night. However the place is polluted.

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Passu

At 2450 meters is a 150 years old settlement of farmers and mountain guides. This is the setting off point for climbing expeditions up the Batura , Passu, Kuk and Lupgar groups of peaks, and trekking trips up the Shimshal valley and Batura Glacier.    

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Patundas

 

Is a summer pasture at 4183 meters on the ridge between the Passu and Batura glaciers. It belongs to Gulkin villagers, who occupy it from June to August. The views are magnificent from here.

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Rupal valley

Has two compact villages ,in the upper Rupal  the houses so close together that a laden donkey cannot pass between them. Here the people are Gujars , and women wear round pill-box hats covered with veils.

The people of lower Rupal originated from Baltistan and still speak a form of Balti mixed with Shina . The women wear Balti hear dress decorated with beads and buttons and a brown felt tail hanging down on the back – reminiscent of headdress of Ladakh.

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Rush lake

Standing at a elevation of 4760 meters with superb views all around specially of Rakaposhi Diran peak and many other peaks.

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Satpara Lake

 

Eight kilometers south of Skardu on the jeep road to the Deo-Sai plateau is the well stocked with trout fish the Satpara Lake. There is a stunning view north and south from the top of the ridge before the lake. You can row to the small islet on the boat moored by the PTDC rest house. Nearby on a large rock, facing road halfway between Skardu and Satpara is the Buddha in mediating style carved in the 7th century.

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Shimshal valley

 

Remote and in accessible, Shimshal was once a penal colony where the Mir of Hunza exiled criminals and troublemakers. The 120 households of Shimshal have about 1000 people. The attractions for trekkers are the unspoiled seclusion of the valley, the many glaciers and various exciting possibilities for return trip.

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Skardu

 

Skardu is the capital of Baltistan and the starting point of some of the best trekking and mountaineering in the world. The Karpocho fort perched high on the cliff guards the town. The Indus river bisects it and on the northern bank the main block of Karakorum mountain rises in a serried wall 150 Km thick with almost 100 peaks rising to over 7000 meters asl. In no other part of the world are there such a large number of high mountains in a confined space.

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Snow lake

The name snow lake was given in 1892 by W Martin Conway the first foreign visitors in these parts. As obvious from its name this lake is in middle of high mountains below the Hispar pass with superb views all around.

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Swat

 

Historically Swat is the most interesting valley in Pakistan. It is also one of the most beautiful as it lies in the monsoon belt and is greener and more fertile than the valleys further north. In the lower swat the valley is wide and the fields on the either side of the river are full of wheat and Lucerne the villages here are prosperous and surrounded by fruit orchards. In upper Swat the narrow river tumbles through pine forests hemmed in by snow capped mountains Swat offer some of the best walking in Pakistan and as well as excellent fishing and climbing. The excavated archaeological sites here range from prehistoric caves through Aryan graveyards to the Buddhist monasteries of which there were once 500 in the valley.

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Tararshing

 

Being the end of the road of the Astore gorge which is 30 km in length south is the Deo-Sai Plateau and up north is the massif of Nanga Parbat.

From here the trek to Nanga Parbat Base Camp starts and just across is the lateral moraine of the Tararshing glacier. The elevation is 2911 meters. 

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Thui Ann Pass

 

Is the crossing point between two different tribes at an elevation of 4499 meters. The top is of gravel and the winds are usually biting. The views to the Yasin side show a  circle of pointed , rocky 6000 meters peaks touched with snow , with a wide green meadow on the rounded hill in the foreground and the Aghost Bar Glacier snaking down to the Thui Valley.

On the Chitral side the view is blocked by semi circle of 5000 to 6000 meter peaks enclosing the glaciated bowl.

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