Hindu Kush & Karakorum Pakistan

from US$2,950

A 14-day road trip through the awe-inspiring Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountain ranges of Northern Pakistan. These mountains contain a kaleidoscope of people as well as some of the earth’s most incredible scenery.

  • Reviews 0 Reviews
    0/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
      Culture
    • Activity Level Leisurely
      1/8
    • Group Size Medium Group
      10
    All about the Hindu Kush & Karakorum Pakistan.

    A 14-day road trip through the awe-inspiring Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountain ranges of Northern Pakistan. These mountains contain a kaleidoscope of people as well as some of the earth’s most incredible scenery. We’ll begin by taking a flight from Islamabad to Chitral. There we will take our time experiencing life in the pagan Kalasha valleys. From there we take a three-day roadtrip through the Hindu Kush range and into Karakorum. Next, it is the Hunza valley, exploring the rope bridges of Husseini, Passu glacier and learning about life in the high mountains of Pakistan. Finally, we’ll take one of life’s great road trips, the Karakorum Highway, back to Islamabad.

    Highlights:

    • Experience life in the pagan villages of the Kalasha valleys
    • Explore the wonderful Hunza valley
    • Cross Husseini rope bridge
    • Drive the legendary Karakorum Highway

    Start point  – Islamabad
    End point   – Islamabad
    Maximum number of people: 10

    The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
    What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
    • All accommodation
    • Breakfast
    • Transport
    • Guiding
    • Meals in the Kalasha Valleys
    • One internal flight between Islamabad and Chitral
    What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
    • Any necessary visas
    • Insurance
    • Flights to Pakistan
    • Entrance fees
    • Lunch & dinner
    • Drinks
    • Tips
    1. Day 1 Islamabad

      After meeting you from the airport and checking in to your guesthouse, we will take a short tour of Islamabad. It is assumed guess will arrive in the small hours of the morning of the 6th June, so there will be time during the day to explore various sites throughout the city. At the foot of the Margalla Hills, the futuristic Faisal Mosque offers an interesting example of Pakistani contemporary architecture, constructed from a series of interlacing concrete shells inspired by the design of a Bedouin tent. The mosque reflects Islamabad’s role as a carefully constructed federal capital, built to project post-partition prosperity, peace, and order. For a different perspective, the Daman-e Koh Viewpoint and hill-side garden offer an impressive view of the city, clearly showing the grid system and careful urban planning.
      Overnight at guesthouse in Islamabad.

    2. Day 2 Fly from Islamabad to Chitral

      We will catch a scenic flight over the heart of the Hindu Kush to the remote Chitral valley. Chitral is cut off from the rest of Pakistan for six months of the year and therefore feels very different from the Punjabi plains of Islamabad.
      The afternoon in Chitral can be spent visiting the red brick fort, the local bazaar, and the Shahi Mosque. Over its three domes and double minarets, the snow-capped peaks of the distant mountains create a particularly evocative image on a clear day.
      Overnight at a simple hotel in Chitral.
      (If the flight is delayed then we will take a twelve-hour drive to Chitral).

    3. Days 3-5 Chitral and the Kalasha Valleys

      We will spend three days visiting Rumbour and Bumboret valleys, staying in locally owned guesthouses, eating local foods, and savouring the locally made wine. The days will be spent relaxing, walking, or jeeping to the Kalasha villages of these isolated valleys.
      The Kalash people are known as “wearers of the black robe”, referring to the richly embroidered black clothing traditionally worn by women. Their fascinating animistic spiritual beliefs are unique to the area and date back to pre-Zoroastrian and Vedic Indo-Iranian origins. We will visit the Kalasha Dur Museum, which was founded by the “Greek Volunteers” in 2001 with the aim of preserving traditional Kalasha objects for future generations and visitors. The Greek connection is also important because the Kalash regard themselves as descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers, which resulted in their ethnoreligious and linguistic isolation from the rest of the region. The religious sites, and particularly the graveyards of the Kalash, are of further interest. The wooden coffins are traditionally left aboveground and ornamented with beautiful carvings, though this practice is slowly dying out due to its expense. We will ensure that the accommodation is with Kalasha families, so you get a chance to immerse yourself and learn first-hand about the unique culture of this community.
      Overnight in Chitral or the Kalasha valleys. Note that the Kalasha homestay accommodation at this stage in the trip is very basic, but all meals will be provided.

    4. Day 6 Kalasha Valleys - Chitral - Mastuj

      The road between Chitral and Gilgit crosses through the Hindu Kush, and as the mountains get bigger, the road condition deteriorates. We take three days to make the journey, but the slower pace allows for plenty of time to enjoy the incredible scenery. The first night, we break the journey in Mastuj, a collection of smallholdings linked by winding lanes, and the perfect place to do nothing except drink in the views.
      Overnight in a simple hotel in Mastuj.

    5. Day 7 Mastuj – Shandur Pass – Phandur

      We continue our drive through the Hindu Kush, crossing the three thousand, seven hundred metre Shandur Pass, home to the world’s highest polo ground. The men of this region are famed for their skill in polo and excellent horsemanship. Stonewalled polo arenas with tiered seating can be found scattered among the fertile valleys and rich pine forests. In the afternoon, we break the journey at Phandur to relax by the lake, an important freshwater source and a local spot for trout fishing.
      Overnight in a simple hotel in Phandur.

    6. Day 8 Phandur - Gilgit - Hunza

      We join the famous Karakorum Highway at Gilgit, where we will also stop for lunch, before heading to the fabled Hunza valley. The epic natural beauty of this drive is something that will stay with you for life and even the wonders of modern photography are unable to fully capture the sheer scale and atmosphere of the landscape. The Rakaposhi Viewpoint is a particularly beautiful stopping place, offering a view of the Ghulmet glacier and an opportunity to stretch your legs by the tumbling river of melting ice water.
      For some history, we will pause six miles out of Gilgit to see the seventh-century Kargah Buddha rock carving, a remnant of the area’s past as a Buddhist centre. The enormous carving has been co-opted into local Islamic tradition, now supposedly the body of a man-eating giantess who was pinned to the rock by a Sufi holy man.
      It’s hard to miss the elaborately embellished “jingle” trucks on the road, decorated with motifs and images reflecting social and political trends, local artistic styles, and sometimes utilising popular religious iconography. These trucks are great sources of pride for both owners and decorators and have become an artistic phenomenon in Pakistan as well as a valuable cultural export. We will use Hunza as a base for exploring the surrounding area.
      Overnight at three-star equivalent hotel in Hunza.

    7. Days 9-11 Around Hunza

      We have three days of exciting trips planned in Hunza. However, you may want to do nothing more than sit under an apricot tree, watch the mountains, and read a book. The apricots are a particular feature of this area and are prominent in the Hunza cuisine. The local speciality “Bataring Daudo” (Apricot soup) is somewhat of an acquired taste since the dried apricots give an intense toffee-like flavour to dishes.
      On the first day, we will pass the newly formed Attabad Lake on the road to Passu. The thirty-kilometre- long lake was formed in 2010 after a massive landslide dammed the mighty Indus river. On the second day, we will visit the eighth and eleventh-century forts of Baltit and Altit, which were the traditional residences of the “Mirs” (rulers) of Hunza. We will also travel to the Eagle’s Nest Viewpoint for stunning views of the surrounding rust-coloured mountains and distant snowy peaks. On the final day, those feeling fit can walk on the high irrigation channels cut into the rock, giving an insight into how the people of Hunza created this Shangri-La. Whether eternal youth is gained from the predominantly vegetarian diet, the incredible air quality, or the celestial natural beauty, the area has fascinated physicians and travellers for centuries.
      Overnight at three-star equivalent hotel in Hunza.

    8. Day 12 Hunza - Naran

      A long day’s drive from Hunza to Naran. The first section will be on the Karakorum Highway where we pass the point where the Karakorum, Hindukush, and Himalayas meet. After passing between these three great mountain ranges, we leave the Karakorum Highway and cross the four thousand-metre-high Babasur Pass, before breaking our journey in Naran in the Kaghan Valley.
      Overnight in simple hotel Naran. Note that if the Babasur Pass is not yet open for the season, we will drive the Karakorum highway via Besham.

    9. Day 13 Naran - Islamabad

      Another day spent enjoying the scenery of the Kaghan Valley and driving the final section of the Karakorum highway. We will arrive back in Islamabad early enough for a final meal together.
      Overnight in guesthouse in Islamabad.
      (Note that if the Babasur Pass is closed we will drive from Besham to Islamabad via the Karakorum Highway).

    10. Day 14 Islamabad - End

      Transfer to airport and fly home.

    Accommodation

    We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. Even if we wanted to, the reality is that standards in Islamabad cannot be compared to a Kalasha guesthouse in an isolated valley in the Hindu Kush. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
    The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing.

    The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance.
    Included in the price:
    • All accommodation
    • Breakfast
    • Transport
    • Guiding
    • Meals in the Kalasha Valleys
    • One internal flight between Islamabad and Chitral
    Not included in the price:
    • Any necessary visas
    • Insurance
    • Flights to Pakistan
    • Entrance fees
    • Lunch & Dinner
    • Drinks
    • Tips

    We do not directly arrange international flights to Pakistan. We recommend Turkish Airlines and Emirates who offer flights either directly or with a layover at Istanbul (IST) or Dubai (DXB). Flights are also run by Qatar Airways with layovers at Hamad International (DOH).

    A tourist e-visa is available for most countries via the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior
    https://visa.nadra.gov.pk/. We will provide visa support in the form of letters of invitation to assist the application process. The visa fee varies upon applicant country but generally costs around US$60 for an individual (less than 3 months), single entry, first-time application tourist visa. The processing time for an e-
    visa is approximately 7-10 working days. If applying directly through an embassy or consulate it can take up
    to a month.

    We include breakfast every day and also some other meals in remote areas. In our experience people sometimes want to eat different things, in different places, at different times. When there is an option, we will be happy for you to have your say. We know some great places and will also happily show you some of our favourite restaurants and tea houses. Some are luxurious, some are more earthy, but all have character. However, we do not pretend to be the arbiters of good taste and are equally happy for you to go off and find your own favourites. However, when restaurants are unavailable, such as when we are living in a Kalasha guesthouse, we ensure that food is provided.
    The food of Pakistan varies greatly according to the region. In the south, the food is generally much spicier than in the north-west, which instead focuses on more aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and black pepper. Except for in Hunza, meat (mainly goat, mutton, beef, and chicken) features predominantly on the menu and is accompanied by rice, bread, and pickles. There are several kinds of bread in Pakistan, but roti is the most universal. For vegetarians, there are many lentil (“dhal”), chickpea (“channa”), and vegetable dishes to choose from. Gourds, cauliflower, okra, potatoes, spinach, cauliflower, eggplant/aubergine, and chilli peppers are the most popular vegetables. Breakfast is often comprised of eggs, bread, jams, fresh fruit, and sometimes sweet baked goods or savoury pastries filled with meat or cheese. Lunch is often a simple curry with rice or bread. Dinner is the heaviest meal of the day and is commonly centred on a meat dish, such as “biryani, kabab, kofte” or Pakistan’s national dish, “nihari” (a slow-cooked shank of beef, lamb, mutton, or goat), all served with yoghurt, pickles and a side salad. For those with a sweet tooth, ice cream, sweet milk puddings, fried dough with sugar syrup, rice puddings, sherbet, and “halvah” are popular desserts. Tea (“chai”) is universally drunk, though there are regional variations which add cardamom or saffron. “Chai” is made by gently cooking black tea leaves with milk and sugar.

    When we choose our vehicles and drivers, we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of the journey, and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Most of the roads on this trip are paved, although the state of the surface can vary, particularly in the mountains off the main highways. From Chitral to Naran, will be in open-sided jeeps with detachable canvas roofs. As a consequence, it can sometimes get quite cold, so we recommend bringing layers to adapt to the weather conditions. Your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is the first priority.

    On this trip, you will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from Untamed Borders. This allows for greater flexibility and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you. It also means we can split into two groups should there be a differing of opinion on what we want to do on a particular day.

    The far North of Pakistan in Chitral, Gilgit, and Hunza are currently stable areas. However, we monitor the situation closely and we listen very carefully to advice from the foreign office and from our friends in the areas we visit. Our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas which we consider to be stable, things can change, and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.

    Overall Rating
    0/5

    LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

    Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
    June 6, 2020 - June 19, 2020
    Available to book
    US$2,950
    N/A