Options: Islamabad to back Islamabad, Islamabad to Sost (Tashkurgan - China), Sost to Islamabad.
Note: The best time to visit North is from April/September and South is from September/ May. In Winter North is too cold and in Summer South is too hot.
This tour is designed to enable you to experience Hunza, which many people quickly pass or miss when traveling to the north of Pakistan or to/from China. To us, it is one of the most wealthy parts of the country in culture and scenery with something to interest every traveller. It is a trouble-free area where visitors feel comfortable to freely roam about and the friendliness of the locals will surprise you. Many onward connections and suggestions are available. A few are listed, but we suggest you or your agent contact us for our remarks. We can help design a tour to suit you.
Gilgit and Hunza are at their best during spring (April) with fruit and walnut trees in blossom and autumn (October) when the trees turn brilliant orange, red and brown. What a contrast to the snowy peaks which are all around. The highlight of this tour is Hunza, comprising of a number of villages. Karimabad, the main centre for Hunza is like a stage setting. The attractive crescent- shaped valley laid our before you in encircled with mountains. From your hotel, views in one direction include Ultar Peak, at 7388m still unconquered and in the opposite direction Rakaposhi 7788m, undoubtedly the most prominent and well-known mountain in the Gilgit/Hunza area.
Hunzakuts are famed for their long-levity - some to over 100 !!! This unfounded reputation is the result of their healthy and unique diet consistingheavily of walnuts and fruit, particularly the apricot which grows abundantly. Life is fairly simple here - there are very few stresses as are known in the cities. Their existence though is very tough and everyone works extremely hard. Hunzakuts are Ismailis - a moderate sect of Islam whose religious leader is the Aga Khan. With their distinct culture and their own languages the people are extremely proud of their Hunza heritage. Until 1974 Hunza was an independent kingdom, greatly isolated from the rest of the country until completion of the Karakoram Highway to China in 1978. The have a rich history though of attacking and being attacked by invaders and with prosperous trading along the Silk Route, gained many spoils from raiding the caravans.
Route can be: Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Swat, Chilas via Shangla Pass, Gilgit, Hunza Valley and departure for China via Khunjerab Pass.
07 DAYS ITINERARY
DAY 01 ISLAMABAD / RAWALPINDI After a brief rest, proceed for a sightseeing excursion of Islamabad. This includes visits to Faisal Mosque - the biggest in the world; Damen-e-Koh - a scenic hill view point presenting the bird eye's view of Islamabad; & National Art Gallery - housing the rich collection of the Eternal Artist. PM : After lunch proceed to Rawalpindi for a sightseeing excursion. Beginning with some of the most exotic spots of the town including Kasai Galli ; Raja Bazaar - The multicolored "king" of bazaars ; Sarafa Bazaar - Where gold smiths still use primitive tools ; Moti Bazaar - Exclusively for ladies ; Return to your for overnight. Breakfast, lunch & dinner included.
DAY 02 ISLAMABAD -TO- BESHAM AM : After an early breakfast, drive to Besham, a major town on the upper course of the Indus & a gateway to Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu, Nanga Parbat & Kaghan Valleys. The whole journey will proceed on the Karakoram Highway, also known as the "eight wonder" of the world. Karakoram Highway - connects Pakistan to China, twisting through the three mighty ranges of the world, the Karakorams, the Himalayas & the Pamirs - & follows the ancient Silk Route along the Indus, Gilgit & Hunza Rivers up the Chinese border at the Khunjerab Pass where it concludes in the Taklamakan Desert after winding through the Pamirs & Kashgar districts. On arrival transfer to your hotel in Besham. All meals included. Distance : 280 km, Drive : 07-08 hrs, Altitude : 950 meters
DAY 03 BESHAM -TO- GILGIT AM : Resume road journey to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway via Chilas whose ancient name was "Silvata", a Sunsikrit word which meant Rock or Stone. The name went in vogue because of the 06th & 08th centuries carvings & paintings on the nearby boulders at the banks of the Indus. Lunch at Chilas. PM : On arrival at Gilgit, transfer to your hotel.
Gilgit is the Capital of Northern Pakistan is a thriving frontier town that has expanded rapidly to include over 40,000 inhabitants since the Karakoram Highway was opened in 1978. It sits in a wide irrigated bowl 1500 M above sea level at the Eastern end of the Gilgit Valley. The quaint little town of Gilgit has a cluster of interesting places in it short radius, including a beautiful rock carving of Buddha, a victory monument of Taj Mughal, built 700 years ago and the longest suspension bridge in Asia (600 ft long) The favorite sport in Gilgit is Polo, which the locals claim originated here. It is a more rugged style than the sedate variety known in the plains. The polo tournament held in the 1st two weeks of November is a festive occasion and attracts a large number of spectators. Overnight . All meals included. Distance : 326 km, Drive : 06-07 hrs, Altitude : 1500 meters
DAY 04 GILGIT -TO- HUNZA AM : After breakfast proceed for a brief tour of Kargah Nulla, & Gilgit Bazaar. The Kargah Nulla is famous for its huge rock carving. This sculpture was carved in seventh century. A monastery, 03 stupas and Gilgit manuscripts were also found in the vicinity between 1931-39. They are now housed in London, Delhi, Rome and Karachi. The interesting legend behind this sculpture narrates - the villagers asked a passing saint to help them get rid of a man- eater ogress called Yakhshini who lived at Kargah. The saint succeeded in pinning her to the rock and declared she won,t bother them for as long as he was alive, however, if they buried him at the foot of the rock, she would never be free. So the villagers killed the saint and buried him below the rock. The Yakhshini is still slave and villagers are now safe. The Gilgit Bazaar is famous for its handicrafts such as woolen gowns known as chughas, waist coats, shoes, musical instruments, silver jewelry, caps, woolen rugs and embroideries. The Gilgit town has also become a major dry port for trade between Pakistan and China through Khunjerab Pass. Due to this dramatic reform one can easily purchase China wares, paintings, silk clothes, glass and various other Chinese products of excellent quality. Later, proceed to Chinar Bagh, where trees as much as 300 years old haughtily overlook the Gilgit river. This beautiful park is adorned with a bronze ibex mounted on a tall marble pillar. The monument was built to pay tribute to the local soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of their motherland. On our way back to hotel, we will drive across the Asia's longest suspension bridge (600 feet long 6 feet wide). PM : After lunch, drive to Gulmit, the prettiest valley of Hunza. Eric Shipton declared it as the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur Yes ! the Legendary Hunza - whose very name is overwhelming ! is known for its towering snow covered peaks, creeping glaciers, fragrant apricot orchards & the longevity of its people. Lord Curson noted that "The little State of Hunza contains more summits of over 20,000 ft than there are of over 10,000 ft in the entire Alps". This magical land of contrasting geology abounds in glaciers too, including the 58 Km (world's 5th longest ) Batura Glacier. The Nubra, Braldu, Hushe and Saltoro Rivers are born in the Karakoram glacial vastness: the Shayok River encircles the entire flanks of the range: but only the Hunza river literally cuts through the width of the Karakoram Range. Hunza's extreme isolation thus imposed by the unbelievably steep gorges of the Karakoram, rise to a long standing, wholly indigenous & pure diet consisting almost entirely of apricots, wheat and "Hunza Water", a locally brewed wine, & hence the long living inhabitants. The hardy people of Hunza are thought to be the descendants of the Alexander's lost column of army. Until 1974, Hunza remained a semi - autonomous princely state presided over by a benevolent "MIR" who personally held a daily court & the subjects paid taxes in goods rather than money. Nestled under the shadows of Rakaposhi 7788 m, perches its capital Karimabad - guarded with centuries old sentinel of Altit & Baltit. Our approach to Hunza is by jeep on the Karakoram Highway, a thin ribbon of pavement carved into the walls of the stupendous Karakoram. This road completed in 1978 , now links the ancient trails of the Silk Route from Gilgit to Kashgar. Hunza's 35000 inhabitants have been ruled by the same family since the 11th century. A legend relates that the Hunzakuts, (as the people of Hunza are known) are the descendants of the 05 lost soldiers of the Alexander's Army. Brushuski, an aboriginal language is spoken in the central Hunza & Wakhi, related to Chinese Turkistan is spoken in the upper Gojal. Hunzakuts lived off the fruits of caravan- raiding, slave trading & attacking their neighbors. The kingdom retained independence until the British took over in 1891 and became part of Pakistan in 1974. The society is co-operative rather than competitive. Each family grows enough food for its own use. As the Hunzakuts lived aloof from the outer world, each citizen was self sufficient in making his own shoes, clothes & bowls, until, the Karakoram Highway linked them with the world. The people are cheerful & friendly. Almost the entire population belongs to the Ismaili Shias sect headed by the Prince Karim Agha Khan. The women wear bright clothes, long shirts over baggy trousers and little embroided pillbox hats over which they drape their shawls. PM : Arrive Hunza for overnight at your hotel. All meals included. Distance : 100 km, Drive : 03 hrs, Altitude : 2500 meters
DAY 05 HUNZA -TO- GULMIT AM : Visit the remaining part of Karimabad - Hunza, evening drive to Gulmit, a fertile plateau with irrigated fields on either side of the KKH. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel, Evening free to explore the Gulmit village.
DAY 06 GULMIT -TO- SUST AM : Drive from Gulmit to Passu, a setting off point for climbers for the Batura, Passu, Kuk & Lupghar Groups. Located under the shadows of Shispar & Passu Cones, the fabulous trek to the legendary Shimshal too begins from Passu. From the outskirts of Passu, 30 Kms before Sust, (immigration check post) begins the Khunjerab National Park, the natural habitat of the endangered Marco Polo Sheep & Snow Leopard. The last stretch of the road winds up round 12 wide, well engineered hairpin bends to the top. Khunjerab Pass 4703 M, is the highest border crossing on a paved road in the world. The Khunjerab Pass is the continental watershed, on the Pakistan side flowing down to the Indian Ocean and that on the Chinese side being swallowed by the Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin. Taklamakan literally means, "IF YOU GO IN YOU WON"T COME OUT". The scenery is remarkably different on either side of the pass. The Pakistani side is marked with barren deserted gorges with no sign of human life for the last 40 Kms before border, the Chinese side, however, is wide, open, grassy, high altitude plateau, with herds of yaks, sheep & low humped Bactrian camels tended by the smiling colorful TAJIKS. Subject to permission, we shall pay a brief visit to Raja Bahadur Khan, one of the Mirs of the Royal family to behold his invaluable personal collection of antique weapons, musical instruments, rugs, pots & jewelry. Overnight at your hotel. all meals included. Distance : 75 km, Drive : 1.30 hrs, Altitude : 3000-3500 meters
DAY 07 SOST -TO- TASHKHURGAN (CHINA) AM : Transfer to Pakistani boarder post at Sust, for your further journey to China. Distance : 140 Km, Drive : 08 Hrs, Altitude : 2900 M
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