Pakistan's Silk Road | Karakoram, Nanga Parbat & Shimshal to Khunjurab Pass

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Join Kamzang Journey's 'exploratory' trip through Pakistan, especially crafted by one of Pakistan's top tour and trekking companies. With the help of Shaheen, we have created a unique, 'best-of' Pakistan trip following much of the ancient Silk Road from Islamabad, over the Khunjurab Pass, into China (with the option to fly back to Islamabad).

We start out journey in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, where we spend a day seeing the sites. Next, a spectacular flight to Skardu, from where we drive to the Deosai Plains National Park. We'll spend an idyllic day here hiking, and then drive to Tarshing in the Nanga Parbat region were we embark on a 3-day trek to Nanga Parbat's Rupal (south) Base Camp. 

Driving along the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to the Astore valley & Gilgit, we have time to explore Gilgit and surroundings, including an  ancient Buddha carved into a rock-face. We continue along the Karakoram Highway to Karimabad (Baltit), in the mythical Hunza Valley. Here, we have time to explore the Karimabad Fort, the Hopar Glacier and perhaps Nagir village. Further up the KKH, following the Indus, is Passu where we take a hike along the Batura and Passu glaciers.

One of the trip's highlights is Shimshal village (home of Shaheen, our host), a remote and traditional village in the idyllic High Pamirs where we spend an additional 2 days hiking and experiencing some real Pakistani culture and hospitality. Fantastic mountain views throughout as we travel by jeep along the old Silk Road. 

Our journey ends with the historic crossing of the Khunjurab Pass into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, where we drive to Kashgar. You also have the option to fly back to Islamabad and end the journey in Pakistan.

Join us!

 

Trip

Day 1 - Fly Islamabad
Day 2 - Rawalpindi & Islamabad | Sightseeing
Day 3 - Fly Skardu
Day 4 - Skardu | Sightseeing
Day 5 - Drive Deosai Plains National Park
Day 6 - Deosai Plains National Park | Day hike
Day 7 - Drive Tarshing - Nanga Parbat
Days 8, 9 & 10 - Nanga Parbat Trek | Tarshing to Rupal Base Camp
Day 11 - Drive Astore Valley
Day 12 - Drive Gilgit
Day 13 - Gilgit | Sightseeing
Day 14 - Drive KKH to Karimibad | Baltit, Hunza Valley
Day 15 & 16 - Karimibad | Sightseeing
Day 17 - Drive Passu
Day 18 - Passu | Day hike Passu + Batura glaciers
Day 19 & 20 - Shimshal | Shimshal + High Pamirs Exploration
Day 21 - Drive Sost
Day 22 - Drive Pakistan-China border. Cross Kunjarab Pass into China (Stay Tashkurgen)
Day 23 - Drive to Kashgar. Trip Ends

NOTE: Make sure you have reliable travel & travel medical insurance

Highlights+Reviews

Trip Advisor Reviews

Read More Testimonials
Trekkers' Comments

Trip Highlights

  • Exploring Rawalpindi + Islamabad
  • Spectacular flight to Skardu
  • Tarshing to Rupal Base Camp trek (Nanga Parbat)
  • Deosai Plains National Park hike
  • Passu & Batura glacier hikes
  • Humza & Karimabad (Baltit) Fort
  • Gilgit
  • Shimshal & High Pamirs exploration
  • Karakoram Highway (KKH)
  • Crossing the Khunjerab Pass to Kashgar (China)
  • Traditional villages of Pakistan
  • Expert local guides

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Himalayan Photos
Wildlife
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Birdlife
Himalayan Bird Photos

Flowers
Himalayan Flowers Photos

Travel Reading
Travel Books

Date+Price

2018 Dates
June (23 days)
Islamabad (Pakistan) - Kashgar (China)
or
Islamabad (Pakistan) - Islamabad (Pakistan)

+ Custom Departures Available - Inquire

Cost - $tba
International flights NOT included (meet in Islamabad)
Single supplement $tba

Includes

  • Hotels in Pakistan + China
  • Airport transfers
  • Group transportation by private vehicle
  • All trekking/hiking arrangements (including meals)
  • Pakistani (local) guide

Safety & Health Precautions

  • Thuraya satellite phone
  • Helicopter evacuation services (excuding cost of evacuation)
  • Oxygen saturation monitoring system
  • PAC bag (portable oxygen chamber)
  • Full medical kit & stretcher
  • Kayadyn filtered water
  • Safe, sanitary, delicious & plentiful food and drinks

Excludes

  • International flights
  • Domestic flights (if returning via Islamabad - We can arrange)
  • Some meals in Pakistan
  • Pakistan + Chinese Visas
  • Travel or travel medical insurance
  • Helicopter Rescue Service Cost
  • Equipment rental
  • Boiled drinking water
  • Alcohol & soft drinks
  • Showers
  • Laundry
  • Tipping & other items of a personal nature

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $300 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) and tips. We recommend $200 per trekker thrown into the tips pool for the crew.

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Kamzang Journeys Contact
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet & India)

Pakistan Contact
Shams Alpine
Shaheen Baig
info@shamsalpine.com.pk
Tel: +92 5813 480258
Mobile: +92 3445000341

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Office: +(977) 01 4488352
Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361

Satellite Phone
NOTE: Mobile phones + wifi work throughout much of the Everest region.
We carry a satellite phone with us for emergencies. Send us a free message at the online Thuraya link below. We can call you back or email you back. If you want a return call or email include your contact info. You can send this in two SMSs if needed.

Kim Satellite#1: +88216 (21277980) – Nepal
Lhakpa Satellite: +88216 (87710076)
Thuraya

Islamabad Arrival Hotel
Margalla Hotel or Hills View Hotel

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Visas
You'll have to have your Pakistani visa in your passport before arrival in Islamabad. If you're planning on exiting via Kashgar & China, you'll also need a Chinese visa before you arrive in Pakistan.

Health Information
Pakistan Health Information
CDC

We also recommend bringing probiotics with you to help prevent infections while on trek. Doctor's recommendation!

Travel Medical Insurance
Required for your own safely. We carry a copy of your insurance with all contact, personal and policy information with us on the trek and our office in Kathmandu keeps a copy. Note that we almost always trek over 4000 meters (13,000+ feet) and that we don't do any technical climbing with ropes, ice axes or crampons.

Global Rescue
We recommend that our trekkers also sign up for Global Rescue, which is rescue services only, as a supplement to your travel medical insurance.
Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Wicis-Sports Wearable Tech | Sports Package
Live personal heath stats via a wearable chest strap heart rate monitor.
Track your vitals (heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation), the weather, GPS locations, altitude, speed, bearing and stream LIVE via a Thuraya satellite hot spot. Partners: OCENS (weather), Global Rescue, Aspect Solar.

"Thuraya Telecom + WiCis Sports offer connectivity to Himalayan treks + expeditions"

"Founded in 2011 by Harvard and Stanford anesthesiologist Dr. Leo Montejo and located in the Lake Tahoe area, the company’s goal is to promote the use of mHealth and tracking devices to make adventure sports safer and engage their followers with real time data that is either private or also available to social medial platforms."

Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Medical
We have a full medical kit with us including Diamox (for acclimatizing), antibiotics, inhalers, bandages, re-hydration, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs etc. but please bring a supply of all prescription and personal medications. Kim has First Aid, CPR and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications as well as many years of experience with altitude in the Himalaya but is NOT a qualified medic or doctor, so please have a check-up before leaving home, and inform us of any medical issues. This is for YOUR OWN safety.

DO bring all prescription medications and good rehydration/electrolytes. We advise bringing your own Diamox, Ciprofloxin, Azithromyacin & Augmentin. We have all of these with us but the Western versions are always better than the Indian equivalents.

PAC Bag + Oxygen
We carry a Portable Oxygen Chamber, or Gammow Bag, with us on many treks. There is no charge for use of the PAC bag but oxygen is $300 per canister (cost price, pass on to insurance company).

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Arrival Pakistan

Islamabad Arrival Hotel
Margalla Hotel or Hills View Hotel

Visas
You'll have to have your Pakistani visa in your passport before arrival in Islamabad. If you're planning on exiting via Kashgar & China, you'll also need a Chinese visa before you arrive in Pakistan.

Early Arrival in Pakistan
You'll be met at the airport in Islamabad by a representative of Shams Travels and brought to either the Margalla Hotel or the Hills View Hotel in Islamabad. If you arrive early take an extra day to explore Rawalpindi before the group arrives; there is much to see!

Note: Islamabad International Airport is located within the city of Rawalpindi.

Extra Days in Islamabad + Rawalpindi
If you arrive a few days early, consider getting a car and driver and venturing just outside of Islamabad to see some of Pakistan's most interesting sites. It's an hour's drive to Taxila, the historic capital of the Gandara school of Budhism, were the ruins date back to the 8th century and there is an interesting museum and archeological site to explore. Another option is a day trip to the Murree hills, with its neogothic and Tudor architecture dating from the colonial period if it's unbearably hot in Rawalpindi. Murree was the British Raj's summer capital in Punjab until 1864 and is now a popular tourist spot in the western Himalayan foothills (2300m). Summers are much more pleasant here than in the steamy capital ...

Other options are a 3-hour drive  to the Khewra salt cave or a 2-hour drive to visit Peer Sohawa, a fantastic viewpoint to look down on the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Meet Islamabad 550-600m
Welcome to Islamabad, Pothohar Plateau, the clean and well-planned capital of Pakistan, but also one of the earliest sites of human settlement in Asia. You'll be met at the airport by a representative of Shams Alpine and taken to our hotel in Islamabad, either the Margalla Hotel or the Hills View Hotel. Both are close to the markets and Jinnah supermarket.

Note: Islamabad International Airport is located within the city of Rawalpindi.

Day 2 - Rawalpindi + Islamabad | Sightseeing
We'll spend a day with a local guide seeing the sights of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the 'sister city' of Islamabad, an older city with strong colonial influences and bustling bazaars of which Raja Bazaar is the largest and most interesting. The National Art Council will be able to advise about various festivals and musical programs.

Rawalpindi sites: Liaqat Bagh Gardens, Nawaz Sharif Park, Jinnah Park, Ayub Park, Eidgah Sarif, Shah Chun Charah.

Islamabad sites: Pakistan Monument, Faisal Mosque (the largest mosque in South Asia & the 4th largest mosque in the world), Lok Versa Museum.

Day 3 - Fly Skardu 2500m
The 1h 15m morning flight from Islamabad to Skardu, the capital of Skardu District in Gilgit-Baltistan (northeastern Gulam Kashmir) is about as spectacular as they come. Depending on the weather and our arrival time, will spend the rest of the day exploring Skardu. We'll stay at either the Masherburm Hotel or the K2 Hotel.

Skardu is located in the scenic Skardu valley at the confluence of the Indus and the Shigar River; although the Karakoram range is just behind Skardu, it is hidden from sight by the surrounding dun-colored peaks. There are 3 lakes nearby: Upper Kachura Lake, Lower Kachura Lake and Sadpara Lake. An interesting aside: the Tibetan translation of the name means 'star stone', or meteorite ...

Day 4 - Skardu
We've scheduled an extra day in Skardu to acclimitize ...

Day 5 - Drive Deosai Plains National Park 4115m
We have a scenic, 6-hour jeep safari on back roads (but good ones) to reach the spectacular Deosai Plains National Park (3000 sq km), one of the highest plateaus in the world. Once we've made it there, we'll camp near the bridge of the Deosai National Park entrance.

Day 6 - Deosai Plains National Park
Deosai Plains is renown for its fishing, wild flowers and animal life, and we've planned a long day-hike through this beautiful region. The rolling meadows of the park are devoid of trees and shrubs, and is covered in snow for much of the year. Spring comes late to the Deosai, when millions of wild flowers bloom all over the lush, green grasslands. This is a magical time of flowers blanketing rolling hills, crystal clear streams, lakes and snow-peaks. The largest lake in the park, Sheosar Lake (or 'blind lake'), is located near the Chilim valley and is one of the highest in the world at 4115 meters.

Other options: fishing, wild flower photography & looking for animals (maybe even brown bears).

Day 7- Drive Nanga Parbat (Tarshing) 2865m
Another jeep safari of about 5 hours to Tarshing, the jumping off point for the hike to Nanga Parbat's Rupal base camp. This jeep trip will be quite a wild journey as we take a beautiful shortcut ... At Tarshing, we'll spent the night at a hotel before setting out on a a three-day return hike to one of the Himalaya's most spectacular mountains.

Days 8, 9 & 10 - Trekking Tarshing to Rupal Base Camp Trek
Our trek in the Nanga Parbat region begins. Shaheen, who has summited K2 amongst other peaks, will lead us to Ropal base camp on a 3-day (2-night) trek through the Nanga Parbat region.

Nanga Parbat (8126m), which translates as 'naked mountain' in Urdu, is the 9th highest mountain in the world and the westernmost end of the Himalayan chain. It's been called the 'killer mountain' because of the dangers of climbing it, and along with K2 is one of the only peaks to not have been climbed in the winter season. The southern or Rupal Face rises 4600 meters above the base of the mountain.

NOTE: Karakoram is actually Turkic word which translates as 'black gravel', and was first coined by old traders to refer to the Karakoram Pass. Early European travelers the likes of Moorcroft and Hayward began to use 'Karakoram' to refer to the range of mountains to the west of the pass (they also used the term Muztagh). The range is now known as the Karakoram Range.

Day 11 - Drive Astore Valley 2600m
We'll have another scenic drive towards Gilgit via Rama Lake, a lovely spot to explore, and then continue on to the Astore Valley, where people speak Shina. We'll spend the night at a hotel and head out for some delicious Pakistani fare ...

Day 12 - Drive Gilgit 1500m
We'll have an early start for our 5-hour drive along the Karakorum Highway to Gilgit, 10 kilometers off the KKH, where we'll spend the afternoon doing some sightseeing and checking Gilgit's colorful bazaars. Gilgit was once an important city along the ancient Silk Road, along which Buddhism was spread from South Asia to other parts of Asia and Central Asia. The original local inhabitants were Dards and Shinas and had a Buddhist heritage before Islam moved in. 

NOTE: The 1,300 kilometer Karakorum Highway, built jointly by China & Pakistan, was started in 1959 and completed in 1979, and only open to the public since 1986. It follows one of the ancient Silk Route routes, connecting the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan to the ancient Silk Road in Kashgar, China.

Day 13 - Gilgit (sightseeing)
An extra day to explore around Gilgit. Some highlights are Kargah Buddha, located near Kargah Nallah (ravine), about 10 km from Gilgit. The buddha is a rock statue carved in the 7th century which adjoins a monastery and three stupas (about 400 meters upriver from the buddha statue). The complex was discovered in 1938.

*** OPTIONAL FLIGHT BACK TO ISLAMABAD FROM GILGIT ***

Day 14 - Drive to Karimibad/Baltit (Hunza Valley) 2500m
Back in the jeeps, we continue for about 3 hours along the Karakoram Highway to Karimibad, also called Baltit and reknown as the fabled Hunza Valley.The Karakoram Highway (KKH) has been undergoing expansion for many years, and should be finished at the end of 2014. En route, you'll have views of Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Poprush Peak and the junction of three great mountains ranges: the Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindu Kush. After the highway expansion, you'll be able to do some additional sightseeing at Nomal, Rakaposhi viewpoint, Deram viewpoint and have a view of the Hunza & Nagar valley. Once in Karimabad we'll check into our hotel and head out for a bit of afternoon sightseeing.

NOTE: Baltit has become a popular place to visit because of the spectacular peaks and scenery. Peaks surrounding the Hunza Valley: Ultar Sar, Rakaposhi, Bojahagur Duanasir II, Ghenta Peak, Hunza Peak, Passu Peak, Diran Peak & Bublimotin (Ladyfinger Peak), all at least 6000 meters.

Days 15 & 16 - Karimibad
We have two free days to hike around Karimibad, and explore the fantastic sites of Hunza, the most famous being the Baltit Fort. Don't miss picking up handfuls of garnets just behind the fort! We'll spend the second day on a Hopar Glacier trek to Nagir village, during which we'll have stunning views of the Hispar valley, south to the Rakaposhi Range, of Diran (known locally as Golden Peak) and north to the Shimshal Mountains ...

Day 17 - Drive to Passu  2500m
An exciting drive as we head up the Karakoram Highway, broken up by a 2-hour boat ride on a newly formed at Gulmit/Aliabad. Passu, a small village which follows the Ismaili sect of Islam, sits next to the Khunjerab River and next to the Batura and Passu glaciers. The locals speak Wakhi. In Passu, we'll stay at the Passu Ambassador Hotel, the best in town.

Day 18 - Passu
It's worth spending a day in Pasu to take a hike along the beautiful and unique Batura and Passu glaciers. A 4WD jeep will drop us at Boruit Lake to start our explorations.

Days 19, 20 & 21 - Shimshal
We'll drive 3-hours on a jeep road to Shimshal, the home village of our host, Shaheen, so we'll spend a few days exploring the idyllic high Pamirs and Shimshal village. En route to Shimshal we'll see Manlangutti Glacier, Dastagir Sar (7885m), Dastagir Corner 1, 11 & 111 & Malangutti Sar (all peaks).

Some of the highlights of the Shimshal area are Whitehorn Peak, Korun Peak and the surrounding peaks, and there are several short day walks during which we can explore the high Pamirs, the high, green pastures, lakes and incredibly beautiful scenery. Nearby is Shuijerab, the high altitude summer pastures of the people from Shimshal.

NOTE: One year we will do a longer trek (8-9 days) over teh Shimshal Pass and back to Shimshal village.

Day 22 - Drive Sost
Our last day of driving in Pakistan, we need to stop at the small settlement of Sost for the night to clear our documents for the crossing from Pakistan into China tomorrow. It's the major customs clearance port before leaving Pakistan.

Day 22 - Cross ‪Khunjerab Pass‬ (4693m) into Tashkurgan (China) 3100m
In the morning we'll make the historic crossing of the ‪Khunjerab Pass‬ into China, heading for the border town of Tashkurgan about an hour below the pass, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The name of the pass comes from the Wakhi term for 'khun', meaning 'home' and 'jerav', meaning 'falling water'.

Abdul Ramen will make our arrangements from here to Kashgar, and further on if needed ...

Day 23 - Drive Kashgar - Trip Ends
We finally arrive in the fabled Silk Road city of Kashgar, home of the Uighers and the end of our trip.

Note: Chitral-Gilgit Polo Festival
Every year between July 7-9 there is a polo festival at Shandhur, between Chitral & Gilgit, the highest polo ground in the world. Shandhur is almost 200 km from Gilgit; en route from Gilgit you can see the traditional villages of Gahkuch, Gupis, Phandar as well as many beautiful lakes. The drive takes approximately 6 hours, and accommodation is in tents. Inquire if you are planning a private trip in July!

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