The trekking trip to NORTHERN AREAS of Pakistan.
Short on time and money but still want a great vacation?
Look no further. Our beautiful country has many undiscovered destinations that appeal to all the senses. Whether you’re in the mood for adventure, peace, relaxation or culture, you’ll find the right mix in the Northern region of Pakistan. But by Northern I don’t mean Murree and Nathiagali. The hill stations have become too congested and have lost a great deal of their charm. More and more trees and natural features are being cleared off to make room for the rapid commercialization of the area. Think more North. It’s about the Gilgit, Baltistan, Skardu and Hunza area.
How to get there?
If you’re short on time, your best bet is to take the PIA flight to Gilgit. It’s not for the faint hearted because it’s a tiny plane meandering around tall mountains. But rest assured, you’ll have the best view of Pakistan. Otherwise, go by car from Islamabad. It’s time consuming but it’s a safe and convenient option. From Gilgit, make your way to Karimabad on jeeps or vans that are available for rent at affordable prices. Karimabad is a small interesting town in the Hunza Valley that lies in the centre of all the beautiful places you can explore. From Karimabad, if you want to take a camping/trekking trip further some of your best options would be Naltar, Rakaposhi, Hopar and Haramosh. The scenic beauty that lies here is incredible and there are tonnes of stuff for you to do.
Things to take with you, trekking essentials.
It’s going to be cold. You’re running away from the summer heat to come to this weather, so please enjoy it! And the only way you can do that, is if you have the right gear. Don’t forget to pack warm clothes and a waterproof jacket (preferably the ones with fleece lining underneath). Right shoes are very important. The terrain is hilly, rocky, muddy, icy, wet and grassy, so you’ll need comfortable trekking shoes that have considerable grip. If you’re going for trekking then a backpack and sleeping bag are essential. Prepare against downpour by ensuring all your gear is waterproof. Mufflers, socks, boots and thermals are other essentials. Sunrays, especially at this altitude, are extremely harmful. You can easily get sunburn. Keep a pair of trusty sunglasses on you at all times. Do not skimp on sun block. Also keep baby wipes, they will be your best friend, when there is no water (or extremely cold water), and you will use them for everything! So keep a couple of packs.
At Karimabad, there are plenty of day trips to choose from. Take a short van/bus ride to Attabad Lake. It’s absolutely breathtaking. The azure lake is massive and freezing (so please, no swimming!). Taking a boat ride on one of the local boats here is an absolute must. Keep a jacket on throughout and brace yourselves for icy water splashes! For the next day, wake up extremely early and make your way to Duikkar near Eagles Nest Hotel to watch the sunrise. You can enjoy the parathas after the sunrise. You even have the option to paraglide from one of the top peaks. If you have it in you then this would, hands down, be the highlight of your trip. Explore the history of the area by walking through the narrow inclined paths of Karimabad. At a short walk’s distance you’ll find Baltit Fort and Altit fort.
Adventure trekking in Northern Pakistan
If you’re up for a real adventure, opt for a nature-filled, no-frills, bathroom-less trekking trip. You’ll have to go in like wild, but trust me there is nothing more liberating. With everything you have on your back, you’ll trek through green pastures, climb some rocky mountains and squish through icy glaciers. You’ll be surviving on happy cow cheese, dairy milks and tang. It’s going to snow, it’s going to rain. And then the shy sun will come out one day and you will seek it at every turn. The experience is like no other. Get energies throughout the way with chocolate, cheese, biscuits, limo pani and tang. Depending on the trip you choose to go to, the scenery is varied. Always follow the path that has been set for the trek, avoid ‘short cuts’. Take breaks whenever you feel over exhausted. Eat as well as you can and make sure to stay hydrated. Don’t push yourself too hard. Adventure trekking is not the only way to enjoy the scenic beauty of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Where to stay?
There are plenty of hotels in Karimabad. Hilltop Hotel is considered the most central. It has comfortable rooms and extremely accommodating staff. Infect, you’ll find that the local people are very friendly and hospitable. They will try to help out in any way possible. If you want to indulge yourself, opt for the Serena Hotel. The hotel has great service and spectacular views overlooking the valley.
If you’ve revved up an appetite after a long days hike, go hit any of the local restaurants that are lined up one after the other. They serve finger-licking qormas, handis and kababs with straight out of the tandoor hot naans. Karimabad also has this lovely place called Cafe de Hunza. It’s a superb place to come have breakfast. They serve food that you wouldn’t commonly assume to be available in Hunza delicious nutella pancakes, cheese omelettes and rosti. Foreigners in the area find this cafe the best coffee spot with a superb view.
Where to shop?
There are many local souvenir shops that sell art, paintings, jewelry and local handicrafts.