Day 01 Arrival to Islamabad
Arrive in Islamabad. A representative of Karakorum Explorers will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. This representative will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to the hotel in Islamabad. Discover the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi is an old British -era settlement and Islamabad is the capital city and administrative centre built some time after the partition of India in elevation in 1947. The cities are Located at about 1,500 feet in elevation in the hot and steamy plains of Pakistan’s upper Punjab. You may wish to explore Rawalpindi by wandering among its many and varied bazaars, or visit the imposing Shah Faisal Mosque superbly situated at the foot of the Margalla Hills. This mosque is one of the largest in the world, with room for 15,000 worshippers inside and 85,000 in the courtyard. This day we will attend a trek briefing at the Alpine club of Pakistan. Overnight at Guest House/Islamabad continental Hotel.
Day 02 Fly to Skardu/Drive to Chilas
Fly to Skardu (subject to weather) and on arrival transfer to Hotel. If flight cancelled drive to Chilas along the Karakorum Highway and Indus gorges. The journey on the Karakorum Highway is most exciting and thrilling. It is a monument to the engineering feast and one of the most spectacular roads and the world’s highest metalled border crossing. It connects Pakistan and China stretching over a distance of 1300km between Islamabad and Kashgar, winding through three mountain ranges and following the ancient Silk route along the Indus Valley to the Chinese border at Khunjerab Pass. Soon after 1 hour drive from Islamabad we pass through the historical town of Taxila, beautiful hill station of Abbottabad, quake affected lush green towns of Mansehra, Shinkiari and finally meet the great Indus on Thakot Bridge. From there onward the road snails along the bank of the Indus with contrasting landscape after every two kilometres. We pass through Besham, Dassu, Komila and Shatial to arrive at Chilas with many rocks carving and inscriptions along the way left by Chinese pilgrims and ancient travellers of 5th century A.D. Overnight at Shangri-La Midway House. 460 Km, 10/12 Hours
Breakfast is included
Day 03 Free Day in Skardu/Drive to Skardu
We have a free day in Skardu if we flown the previous day. We have free time explore the town and visit the historic fort of Skardu situated 40 feet high on the northern hill side of main Skardu city. The fort lock from east and north angles by mighty Indus river, so it possesses tremendous strategically advantage and significant geographical position from military point of view. Therefore it is locally called “Kharpocho” which means Strong Fort. We’ll explore its narrow bazaars and in the afternoon visit Turquoise blue Sadpara Lake by bus or a jeep which is about four miles south of the town.
If by road drive to Skardu first 2 hours along the Indus river and then we turn north east towards Skardu near Jaglot by crossing Alam Bridge over Indus. The drive through the Indus Gorge is guaranteed to knock your socks off! The view after crossing the Raikot Bridge of Nanga Parbat is without any parallel. Standing at around 1,000 m. you see a mountain which rises to above 8,000 m! This is the largest land escarpment in the world. This is also where the three greatest mountain ranges meet; Himalaya, Hindukush and Karakorum. Mashabrum Hotel Skardu. Approx. 8/10 hrs
Full Board, all meals included.
Day 04 Drive to Askole
We will travel by jeep with our crew and supplies along the Shigar and Braldu valleys to Askole. Village in Shigar have changed little in over five hundred years; farms with fields of barley, wheat and vegetables surrounded by stone walls and stands of poplar, willow and apricot trees. The apricot is a very important crop in the north, having a multitude of uses to the Balti and Hunzakut people. Villagers greet us as we pass through on the rugged dirt and stone road that leads to Baltoro. As we approach, the landscapes become desert like and once within the sheer valley of the Braldu, it is necessary to cross the river several times by suspension bridges. At various points the road may have collapsed due to erosion and we will transfer the gear across on foot to a vehicle on the other side. The journey may take anywhere from six to twelve hours, with patience, we will arrive at our first camp of the trek. In Askole the villagers grow their own cereals, vegetables and fruit and own large herds of sheep, goats and dzos. Overnight in tents. Approx. 8 hrs.
Full Board, all meals included
Day 05 Trek to Namla
As loads are distributed among the porters in the early morning light, we start our trek entering an incredible wilderness of rock, ice and sky. It takes 1 hours to walk through Askole, an absolutely beautiful place - green terraced fields in a wide valley flanked by minor snow peaks. Leaving behind
human habitation we turn west onto the Biafo Glacier at a point about 10km east of Askole. We will take lunch before a short ascent is made over a shoulder to gain the left moraine and descend, first on to the glacier, and then back on to the left bank to a grassy camping site known as Namla. Probably the porters will sing and dance in the evening - a favourite pastime of Balti porters. Camp overnight.
Day 06 Trek to Mango
Approximately 5 hours trek. A relatively short and moderate day on the glacier. Initially you have to cross through a jumble of ice and rubble to reach the flat, dry ice in the centre of the glacier. Here the going is easy and views of ever more spectacular granite peaks draw closer. We camp overnight on the left bank of the Biafo in an excellent grassy site.
Day 07 Trek to Biantha
A longer day\'s walk on easy \'dry\' ice up the centre of the glacier. We exit stage right to gain a path that traverses a cliff on a narrow ledge, past a hunter\'s hideout. We have lunch next to a large rock in an ablation valley. Afterwards we cross the \'beach\' and continue through meadows and past small lakes to a flat green meadow. Great pointed granite peaks march off into the distance, and we are now near the junction of the Biafo-Biantha Glaciers. Today we will see the Latok group of mountains, ranging in height to 23,500ft/7,163m. Camp overnight.
Day 08 Free day to Aid Acclimatisation at Baintha
This is an opportunity for our hard-working porters to rest and for us to wash clothes and relax and to explore up a side valley for fantastic views of the Ogre and the Latok group. Camp overnight.
Day 09 Trek to Simgang
(14,850ft/4,527m). 7-9 hours. We trek now towards the Simgang/Biafo junction. This is a hard, long day rewarded with breathtaking views of dozens of nameless peaks. There are granite spires thousands of feet high - extremely impressive! Today is the first time we will get a sight of the Hispar La and first glimpses of Snow Lake. We camp overnight on little levelled areas among a big pile of boulders.
Day 10 Ascend the Hispar La.
By now there will be a covering of snow on the glacier and we will rope up to safeguard against the possibility of falling into a crevasse. It takes four hours to cross the awesome Snow Lake. The situation is in a grand scale all of its own. Watch out for Yeti footprints. Tilman saw some here in 1939. We then take a lunch break at the foot of the Hispar La. It takes only 2 hours to struggle up to the flat pass. Nowhere is the ascent particularly steep, but the altitude will have a telling effect. Naturally, as you gain height you will obtain an incredible panorama of the entire Snow Lake and its surrounding peaks, the Biafo Glacier, its tributaries and start to see the countless peaks of the Hispar side. Mountains scattered around in gay abandon. Camp overnight on the pass.
Day 11 Rest Day at Snow Lake
Depending on the interest of the group we have allowed a day for exploration and minor climbs from the pass. If weather conditions do not allow us to camp on the pass then today can be taken as a rest and exploration day later in the itinerary. Camp overnight.
Day 12 Descend from Hispar Pass, trek to Khani Basa
We will make an early rise to drop down from the snow-covered Hispar La. Care will need to be taken in parts, as there are large crevasses in this area. Trekking under the shadow of the Tah Rutum and Balchish groups of mountains, we descend to the junction with the Khani Basa Glacier and camp for the night. The scenery on this side of the pass is in complete contrast to the Biafo side. The peaks are much closer and black and white, rock and ice as opposed to the golden granite before. In a way they are even more impressive. Camp overnight.
Day 13 Trek to Yutmaru
Another wonderful day, perhaps the clouds will be sticking like cotton wool to the peaks and hanging in layers down the valley. The peaks are so close on the other side that it is worth playing with echoes. You have to cross the Khani Basa glacier on the way which is a heaving mass of rubble, and during the day you see Kanjut Sar II, 22,411ft/6,832m. Every time there is a glacier crossing your porters will probably have a loud prayer session! Our overnight campsite is a nice grassy spot.
Day 14 Trek to Dachigam
Firstly we cross the Yutmaru glacier which takes about 2 hours, threading our way through mounds of moraine. Views to the north of Pumeri Chhish, 24,580ft/7,493m, and her satellites. Up a steep slope to gain easier walking through increasingly green valleys. There are many pleasant campsites to choose from. You may well see herds of yaks. We camp by a stream in a lovely place an hour or two from the next glacier, though clear water here is a difficulty. On sheet 2 of the 1:200,000 map of the Karakoram Dachigam is shown near where we stop, but locals and other guides know/show it as being on the other side of the next glacier. Camp overnight.
Day 15 Trek to Bitanmal
After an hour or so we descend to the side glacier which again will take an hour or two to cross. There is a horribly steep bank on the other side. Having gained the parallel valleys again the walking is great. Views of Khunyang Chhish, 25,761ft/7,853m, from the side glacier. In 1995 we in fact camped almost opposite the Makrong Glacier. Camp overnight.
Day 16 Trek to Hispar village
Today we make our last glacier crossing, the Kunyang Glacier. It takes about an hour. Another steep bank to negotiate on the far side which can be partly avoided by moving to the right. Everything is changing now - lots of juniper trees, different plants and herbs, and donkeys grazing. Probably a big song and dance session tonight as it is the last real night in the wild. Before too long we will hit the newly-made jeep trail that descends to Hispar village. There we cross a suspension bridge above the boiling river of liquid mud. The inhabitants of Hispar are a colourful and friendly tribe who are followers of Prince Karim, the Aga Khan. We have now left the Hispar Glacier behind and the relief of seeing blossoming fruit orchards and multi-terraced fields will be quite a shock to the system. Our overnight camp is an hour or so beyond and below the village by a spring next to the road.
Day 17 Jeep to Karimabad
We still have 2½-3 hours walk to reach Hunza where the vehicles meet us. The last half hour is the sting in the tail! We will probably make frequent halts at the many small hamlets of the Nagar Valley on our way to Karimabad. Hunza\'s 35,000 inhabitants have been ruled by the same family since the 11th century. A legend exists, common to many parts of the Himalayas at the western end, that relates that the Hunzakuts (as the people of Hunza are known) are the descendants of the five lost soldiers of Alexander The Great\'s army. The people at Hunza at one time were a very war-like people and well-known for plundering caravans, slave trading and attacking their neighbours. The kingdom remained isolated until the British took over in 1891 and it then became part of Pakistan. The people are also very well known for their longevity. The arrival of the Karakoram Highway linked them to the rest of the world. Almost the entire population belongs to the Ismaili Shias sect, headed by the Aga Khan. The women wear bright clothes, long skirts with baggy trousers and little embroidered pillbox hats over which they drape their shawls. This small kingdom remained isolated really because it is contained within unbelievably steep gorges. The 48km drive to Karimabad takes approx. 2 hours. Overnight at the Mountain View Hotel.
Day 18 Karimabad
Hunza is outstandingly beautifulandthere is plenty to do in Karimabad. Sights to see here are the 400-year-old forts of Altit and Baltit. The latter fort is said to have been made by a princess who married the reigning Mir and brought with her from Baltistan masons, carpenters and craftsmen who built the fort as part of her dowry. It is a curious rambling old palace with 53 rooms on 3 storeys. There is a museum here, which is worth seeing. The Altit fort is even more impressive and is probably 100 years older. The bazaars are worth a look round and don\'t forget to try the local apricots. There are also lovely walks above the town. An excellent place to wind down after the trek. Overnight at the Mountain View Hotel.
Day 19 Morning Karimabad, Afternoon drive to Gilgit
Distance 120km. Driving time three hours. Altitude 5,000ft. Gilgit is a thriving frontier town with a population of over 40,000. The small old town of Gilgit is quaint and has a cluster of interesting places to visit within a short radius. This includes a beautiful rock carving of Buddha, a 700-year-old monument to Taj Mughal and the longest suspension bridge in Asia, 600ft long. The favourite sport in Gilgit is polo, which the locals claim originated here. Also worth hunting for is the old colonial graveyard to see George Hayward\'s grave. He played an important part in the Great Game and early exploration of the area before being murdered by local tribesmen. Gilgit Bazaar is also famous for its handicrafts and you may consider this a good place to do some shopping. Overnight at PTDC Motel.
Day 20 Fly to Islamabad
One hour flight time and again magnificent views of the Karakoram. On arrival in Islamabad we transfer back to the Shalimar Hotel in Rawalpindi. (Please note: if the flight is cancelled we will drive for two days)
Day 21 Islamabad
Also, in case the flight is cancelled due to bad weather, this day can be utilised in driving back to Islamabad from Gilgit. Time to rest, relax and reflect on your achievement. Overnight at the Shalimar Hotel.
Day 22 Departure
You will be transferred to airport for your onward departure. Bon Voyage and Khuda Hafiz.