Hunza Shangrila Pilgrimage trip
Day 01. Arrival at Islamabad, transfer to Hotel for overnight.
Islamabad, situated at the foot of Marghalla Hills is the modern City and Capital of Pakistan. The city was carefully planned and drawn up by Greek architects in the early 60s.With its wide boulevards, vistas, greenery and fountains, Islamabad is quite a pleasant city. Worth seeing places are: Shah Fiasal Mosque, National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Islamabad Museum, Daman – e – Koh and Rawal Lake. The-adjoining Rawalpindi is an old city, which has been the path of many invaders to south Asia. The British captured it in 1849 and made it their largest Army cantonment. Today it’s a lively, and bustling city with colorful and crowded bazaars offering varieties of shopping opportunities. It shares an International Airport, Railway Station and Bus Terminal with Islamabad. Despite it’s old history the town lacks historical monument. However, at a distance of just 35km, the neighboring town of Taxila is of great historical significance. Time permitting a half-day sightseeing of Taxila ruins and Archeological site as well as Museum would be worth its while. Alexander the Great conquered it in 327 BC and the city progressed under Mayuryans, and the great Kushan Kings. Under the most famous Kushan King, Kanishka, Taxila became a great center of the Gandhara Art, culture and Buddhist “Holy land” and a center of learning.
a) Fly to Skardu (Subject to weather). Transfer to Shangri-La hotel for overnight.
The 42 minutes flight to Skardu is a very thrilling and unique experience of flying between the towering icy peaks of the mighty Himalayan and rugged Karakorum ranges with extra-ordinary and unforgettable aerial views of clusters of mountains, and Glaciers. While flying don’t miss to see the most spectacular views of Nanga Parbat (8124m) and K2 (8611m) from the cockpit. These two mountains tower over all the others. The town of Skardu (2234m) is situated along the south side of the Indus River. It is a broad Valley about 40km long and 10km wide. Skardu was captured by Sikhs in 1840 and after 1846 it came under the control of the Maharaja of Jamu and Kashmir. During the war of freedom the Gilgit scouts laid siege of the Skardu Fort, which lasted for about 6 months. Finally, the Chitral Scouts liberated Skardu on 14th August, 1948 and it acceded to Pakistan like the other parts of Northern Area. Skardu is now the administrative center of the District and also transportation and commercial hub of Baltistan region.
b) In case of cancellation of flight (10-12 hrs) drive by coach to Chilas (480 km) on Karakorum Highway. Overnight at hotel
a) Full day at Skardu for Short walks and sightseeing.
Skardu Fort is situated half way up the gigantic rock of Skardu, which stands near the bank of the mighty Indus. The fort is known by different names like Karpochu, Askandria and Mandoq Fort. During the war for freedom of Northern Area the Gilgit Scout had besieged the Dogra forces in this fort. After exploring the ruined rooms and walls we can go for views. From the grassy top the view is simply unbelievable. It is a sublime panorama of valleys, cliffs, terraces and mountains. On the south side you can see the whole of Skardu and the hills leading to Deosai Plateau behind. In the north you can visualize the broad fertile Shigar Valley running down to join Indus Valley.
Satpara Lake is eight kilometers south of Skardu. It is 20 minutes steep drive or steep walking for at least 1½ hour. Before the lake from the top of a ridge one can have a stunning view of South and North. The lake with its blue water and fish is refreshing site. You can row out to a small islet in the boat moored by the PTDC Rest House and also enjoy fishing. You can just relax there and admire the natural beauty in its best.
The Satpara Buddha is the meditating Buddha, which was carved out, in 7th century. It has been carved on a large rock, which faces the road, half way between Skardu and Satpara.
b) If you are driving, complete road journey (07–08 hrs) to Skardu (275 km) En-route have good views of Nanga Parbat (8125m) at the junction of Indus River, the rapids and fall. Overnight at hotel
Day 04. Full day Excursion to Khaplu and Shigar Valley.
Khaplu (2560m) is 103 kilometers East of Skardu and situated on the bank of the River Shyok, which is fed by the tributaries flowing from the famous Saichen Glacier. In olden times it was the second largest kingdom in Baltistan. The town stretches from the semi circular wall of the mountain down to the river bed.
We will visit the old palace of the former rulers of Khaplu, which had been built in Tibetan style about 150 years ago. From its carved wooden balcony one can have a panorama of Khaplu and North across the Shyok and up the Hushe Valley to the white pyramid of Masherbrum Mountain at (7821m). The view is simply mesmerizing. Further up the valley behind the palace is Chak-Chang, a carved wooden Mosque, which is considered to be the oldest Mosque in Baltistan. It has Tibetan architecture.
The broad fertile Shigar Valley stretches down from the North to join the Indus opposite Skardu. The road to the valley bridges the Indus from the Thorego and then crosses sand dunes and climbs a ridge from where you can have superb view up to the head of the valley where Braldu and Basha rivers join to form the Shigar Valley.
The Baldu River flows from the Baltoro glacier and leads to the famous treks into Concordia and K2 and to the strenuous trek North along the Biafo and Hispar glaciers to Hunza. The Basha River empties from the Chogo Lungma glacier and leads to hikes around Haramosh.
Shigar town was once the capital of the relatively prosperous, independent kingdom of Shigar. It boasts of some of the most finely carved wooden houses and Mosques in Baltistan. One Mosque built by the Kashmiri carpenters several hundred years ago has a pyramidal three-tiered roof. There is also the old palace of the Rajas of Shigar, which is being renovated by the Aga Khan culture service. Return to Skardu. Overnight at hotel.
Day 05. Skardu – Hunza (380 km in 8/9 hours)
Drive to Gilgit along the Indus River and continue on KKH through the legendary Hunza where peace and contentment prevails. It is a gateway to China and Central Asia. Buddhism first reached Chinas through the Hunza valley around 200 A. D. It is Shangrila of “Hilton’s Lost Horizons”. The terraced fields of Hunza are watered by a very efficiently designed system of channels reaching almost to the snow line. This scenic valley spreads along the West bank of Hunza River 110km North of Gilgit providing rare views of a very spectacular mountain panorama and is a starting point for climbers, trekkers, presenting great options fir day hikers, sightseeing and diversified cultural activities. Enroute stop at Rakaposhi viewpoint, from where you will have magnificent views of Rakaposhi Mountain (one of the most beautiful and 29th highest peak in the world). Overnight at hotel.
Day 06. Sightseeing at Hunza
We will take you to the 987 years old Altit Fort, and the 610 years old Baltit fort, the old residences of Mirs of Hunza. The state of Hunza was abolished in 1974 as part of Bhutto reforms in the Northern Area and now Hunza is one of the sub-divisions of Gilgit District. The Baltit Fort has now been restored by the Aga Khan Foundation. The Fort lies on a rocky outcrop at the base of the Ultar Nala. Above Hunza stand the prominent rock spire of Bubulimating (6000m), and the Ultar peaks, which continue to turn back climbers. Overnight at hotel.
Day 07. Full day trek to Ultar BC
We will use this trekking day for explorations of rock climbing area in Ultar Gorge. The trek starts from the West Side of Baltit Fort. Follow the irrigation channel behind the Fort for about half an hour to the headwork of the channel. The next hour is steep climbing up a rocky ravine to the end of the glacier, which you see below you on your right. We then come out on a small patch of grass beside a clear stream. After taking lunch and rest we continue our trekking. The last hour is much easier walking along a clear path to the Shepherds’ hut with fantastic views of Ultar Peak (7388m) and Lady’s Finger (Bublimoting) a 6000 meters sheer pinnacle of black granite.
On your return journey, you can take the top most irrigation channel across the cliff face for about one kilometer and come out above Victoria monument. Here you will have breathtaking panoramic views of Hunza, Nagar and Rakaposhi. Trek back to Karimabad. and drive to Gulmit. Overnight at Gulmit.
Day 08. Day hike to Gulkin, Passu and Battura Glaciers
After breakfast drive to Ghulkin Village and then start walking and cross Ghulkin Glacier to Borit Lake and after having lunch there, continue walking to the Snout of Passu Glacier, walk down to KKH and after a short drive to Battura Bridge, walk upto Battura Glacier and return to Gulmit for overnight.
Day 09. Excursion to Khunjerab Pass
We will drive on KKH passing through Passu and Sost, which is the last village and Pakistani immigration and custom post. We proceed to Khunjerab, which is the highest metalled border crossing between China and Pakistan. After visiting Khunjerab (4700m) we will return to Karimabad. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10. Karimabad to Besham (10 – 12 hours)
Drive 445km to Besham on Karakorum Highway along the Indus, which divides the Karakorum and Himalayas as it enters Pakistan at a place called Marol in Baltistan. We will follow the West Bank of Indus to Besham (altitude 850 m) a small transit village fast becoming a town. It is at Junction of Swat valley. A road goes west via scenic Shangla pass into the Swat valley. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11. Besham to Islamabad (7 –8 hors).
Morning drive 275km on KKH to Islamabad. We will leave the Indus River at Thakot by crossing a bridge. And will continue through Chatar plains, Mansehra and Abbottabad to Islamabad, Overnight hotel.
Day 12. Transfer to Airport for your flight back home.