In 1995 we (me and my friends) planned for Khunjerab pass and northern areas of Pakistan. It was decided that we’ll do this adventurous tour by public transport. We started our trip from Rawalpindi and reached Haripur by bus and it took us about 4 hours to reach their . After reaching Haripur we took another bus to reach Bisham. It took about 3.5 hours to reach Bisham from Haripur.
Our first night stay was in Bisham. Room rent was 1200 PKR at that time. After one night stay in Bisham we decided to to do some off roading. W left towards swat valley but just to the Shangla top in 2.5 hours depending on road condition. It is said that Shangla top is higher than Murree. You can enjoy a beautiful view from there. After that we came back to Bisham in evening and spent another night there.
Next morning we continued our journey towards Khunjerab and left for chillas. It took us about 3.5 hours. On this route Indus river runs on one side of the road but far below the road level and mountain on other side. It is that point from where taking a left turn you can go to naran via babusar top. We spent night there. T that time the room rent was 1200 PKR.
Next morning we decided that today we’ll visit Babusar top. We left for Babusra top and it took us 3.25-3.5 hours to reach there via jeep. It was very cold and spectacular tourist spot. You can get an excellent view of Nanga Parbat in a clear day. After spending some time there we came back to Chillas for another night stay.
Petroglyphs and Chillas Fort:
While coming back from Babusar top to Chillas there is one more place to visit which is on the other side of river Indus. Chillas city is on the eastern side of river Indus but on the western side of river you can see a tourist attraction, Petroglyphs. These are basically the carvings of different shapes in the mountains of ancient times. Various catalogues and guides are available about them. But worst thing is that after the construction of Diamir-Bhasha dam, they will be drown under water. So, I wish that government will take appropriate steps to preserve such a heritage and tourist attraction.
There is a fort in Chillas city. At that time it was being used as a police station. It’s an old structure and due to poor maintenance it was in bad condition. We were able to visit it by requesting the police officials.
After 2 nights stay in Chillas we moved onto KKH towards Khunjerab and our next stop was Raikot bridge.. There was a restaurant made by Sharngrila Resorts which was not operational at that time. By bus, it took us about 1.5 hours to reach from Chillas to Raikot.
It is the point where a right turn will take you to Fairy Meadows .From there you can go to Fairy Meadows by trekking which is quite an adventurous but exhausting task. The other way to reach Fairy Meadows is to go there by jeep. Private jeeps are not allowed there so there is group of locals how provide you with jeep service. So, park your car at Raikot Bridge and hire a jeep.
Raikot Bridge-Fairy Meadows:
After 1 hour travel from Raikot Bridge we reach Tattoo. It is that place where you can see steaming hot water. We reached upto that point by jeep but after that we had to leave that jrrp as the bridge was collapsed.
We had a cup of tea there and refreshed ourselves. So from there we left towards Fairy Meadows by trekking which took us upto about 2 hours. So if you want to trek towards Fairy Meadows then it’ll take 1.5-2.5 hours or you can also hire a horse from their which will take about 1.5 hour. Their fare vary as per season.
Fairy meadows is at the peak of the mountain. It’s a muthical place and a top tourist attraction across the world. From there you can see KKH. Nanga Parbat also looks very close. On a clear day you can see every detail of Nanga Parbat from there. There is a lake in Fairy meadows. On a clear day you can see the reflection of Nanga Parbat in that lake.
If you have plan for night stay at Fairy Meadows then you should know that there is no proper guest house to stay in Fairy Meadows so the only option for night stay is to hire a tent. Their rates are usually high because as I told you earlier that only one party manages this. Same is the case with food. So, it’s better to take snacks with you. If you want to trek from Fairy meadows to Base camp then you’ll have to leave for it in early morning so that you’ll come back to fairy meadows by evening.
On coming back from Fairy Meadows to Raikot bridge we continued our journey towards Gilgit by bus. It took us about 2.5 hours. Gilgit is a dry Hilly region. River Indus runs in centre of Gilgit city and there are many places to visit in Gilgit. One famous place is Kargah where a sculpture of Buddha is engraved in a mountain. Another point to see is where gilgit river meets with hunza river.
On eastern side of Gilgit you can move towards some very beautiful tourist spots, Rama and Astore. Astore is about 3-3.5 Hours from Gilgit if road is clear. It’s a cold area because of it’s height. Same road will lead you towards Deosai plains via Astore. For this you have to come back towards Raikot bridge. Before Raikot bridge there is a place called Bunji from where you have to hire a jeep, cross the Indus river and go to it’s other side and move towars Astore. In our journey road was blocked due to landslide so it took us about 4.5 hours to reach Astore.
Astore city is far high from road. So if you are planning to go by public transport then try to take the Wagon which go to Astore as it’ll take you into Astore city otherwise you’ll have to walk towards Astore city which is quite a tough task.
At that time there were few small accommodations in Astore city and similarly there was no high class arrangements for food but Daal and Vegetable were easily available. The Hotel charged us 1200 PKR for accommodation. There is army cantonment in Astore so mobilization of Helicopters is normal there. The tourist attraction in Astore is basically it’s topography.
Next day we left from Astore to Rama Valley which was quite a high point. It took us about 30 mins by jeep but if you choose to trek than it will take almost 2-2.5 hours due to it’s elevation. It’s a beautiful and scenic tourist point. Going further ahead we went to Rama lake. The track to Rama lake is also very scenic that you can see the northern edge of Nanga Parbat, not as clear as from Fairy meadows, but still a good view. Distance of Rama Lake from Rama is hiking of about 1-1.5 hour. There is also a glacier in this track. It’s not too much high point but it’s a beautiful lake.
In present time a PTDC motel is available in Rama but at that time there was no such facility so we reserved a PWD rest house from Astore in just 5 mins. We stayed there for a night. The watchman there was very friendly and he arranged the dinner for us by cooking Daal and Vegetable for us. So according to my experience , whatever you want to eat in Rama, try to take that item from Astore with you amd ask the servant or watchman to cook it for you.
If you want to go Rupal, another scenic tourist attraction, then you can get a Wagon from Astore. So, you can also see the Rupal side face of Nanga Parbat. That side of Nanga Parbat is so vertical that even ice can’t stay there and that side stays naked throughout the year. That’s the reason that it is known as Nanga Parbat.
From Rama and Astore we came back to Gilgit and before going to hunza we planned to take a side trip to Naltar Valley. One can hire a jeep to go Naltar Valley as this is the only way to reach there as trekking will take aroung 6 hours. And if you don’t want to hire a private jeep, then in season of potatoes the jeeps go from Gilgit to Naltar to bring potatoes. So, you can deal with those jeeps and it will be a cheaper source to reach Naltar. Distance of Gilgit to Naltar is take about 1.5-2 hours. The distance is not too much but the track is narrow which consumes much time. Naltar Valley is higher than Gilgit so it’s weather is colder. It’s a small city and a small stream passes through the city. One other side of the stream there is a skiing resort of PAF where skiing competitions are held in winters.
There were 2 accommodations only. One was Pasban Inn which was being managed by army and the other was a small private hotel. But hopefully now you can get multiple options to stay.
From Naltar there is an excellent 1 day tour to Naltar Lakes. You can either go by trekking or by jeep. But it will be more joyful if you can get a horse from Naltar valley to Naltar lakes. If you’ll leave from Naltar Valley in early morning then you can easily come back to Naltar valley easily. There are about 5 lakes but you can easily visit first two lakes. These are very peaceful and relaxing lakes.
We came back to Gilgit from Naltar. We left for Hunza next morning. The road from Gilgit to Hunza was excellent and it took us about 2 hours to reach there.Hunza is an exceptionally beautiful place. In hunza there are many fruit farms of apple, almond, walnut and apricot. There are cemented water channels in these farms and you can easily have walk of more than an hour by side of any of these channels. It’s very scenic, relaxing and joyful. And it’s on level. The other attractions include Altit and Baltit forts.
Another special thing about Hunza is it’s culture. Most of habitants in Gilgit are Aghakhani people so they have their own norms, clothes and traditions. So it was a memorable tour for us.
The highest point in Hunza Karimabad is Duikar. From here you can have an exceptional view of complete valley. You can easily get accommodation and food there. There are some very unique shapes engraved on stones, shapes like those on animals and fictional charaters. To reach Duikar from Karimabad it takes about 30 mins by jeep and 2-2.5 hours by walk. We went their by walking and enjoying scenic views of different fruit farms. It’s also a one day tour.
From hunza to sost it takes about 1-1.5 hours depending on road condition. Sost is the point upto where you can go by using your car. If you want to go Khujerab pass from there then you’ll have to hire a jeep. Sost to Khunjerab takes about 2-2.5 hours. It’s completely a hilly area. Dhee and Koksal are the small villages and check posts on your way to Khunjerab. And there is no other place on your way to Khunjerab so it’s better to take eatables from Sost with you.
Before Karimabad there is a place named Gulmit. We traveled from Passu to Gulmit which took us about 35 minutes. The speciality of Gulmit was that the palace of Mir of Nagar is located here. A museum was also located nearby but now the museum is transformed into a hotel named Marcopolo Inn.
Gulmit-Sacred Rock of Hunza-Ganesh
Next day we continued our journey towards Karimabad. Just before Karimabad and on our right hand side we saw Sacred Rock of Hunza. It is said that these are the orders/edicts of king Ashoka engraved in the rocks.
Next to these rocks was Ganesh village. It was in Hunza but it was located exactly on KKH while Karimabad was at elevation. The wooden houses and Mosques were the speciality of this village.
Hisper and Hopper
From Karimabad we planned a half day tour to Hisper and Hopper. It took us about 1 hour to rach Hisper village by jeep. The route was very beautiful. The river was running by the road. It was said that the river contained gold particles which flow with water. So. we saw many locals sitting by the river and trying to collect those gold particles.
Hopper glacier was 20 minutes away from Hisper. It was the last approachable point on that route. There was a restaurant named Hopper Hilton.
From Hopper a track leads to SKardu which is a trekking of about 8 days. In these 8 days you have to walk on the glacier for 3-4 days. We met a guide their who lead such trekking tours. His skin was damaged due to frist bite because you have to walk for 7 days in extreme conditions.