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A Year in the Life of Epic Backpacker Tours: 2022 Review

pakistan travel

Words and photos by Epic Backpacker Tours founder Chris Lininger

Like most travel companies working on the other side of the Covid-Era – a lot happened over here at Epic in 2022. 

We laughed, we cried, and we did some truly epic shit. 

2022 was the most important year for Epic Backpacker Tours on many levels with lots of achievements to celebrate and a lot of lessons learned. 

Below is a recap of our year and some insights into how life in adventure tourism went for us in 2022. 

epic backpacker tours

Back to Business - About Damn Time

2020 and 2021 sucked for the travel industry – full stop. 

Tour operators – and especially niche tour operators like us who travel to unusual destinations –  were some of the first businesses to close and some of the last to reopen. 

We did not run a single trip for 18 months or take a paycheck during that period. Wow.  

The vibe in 2022 was just different – in the best possible way. 

We were finally able to get back out there again and it felt damn good. We got more clients out on bucket-list adventures than ever before – doubling our client totals from past years in 2022. 

Seeing 2022 from the perspective of the other side – I am full of gratitude for the hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and positive mindset our current team displayed these past few years. 

We stuck with it, and gave every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears we had – and the result was that Epic survived the Covid era; something I am very proud of. 

Launching New Tour Destinations: Iran, Finally!

This year, we launched many new tours in several different countries. 

The one we were most stoked on was finally getting the chance to run our Ultimate Iran Adventure tour. This expedition has had a rough launch due to many factors, primarily the fact that Covid shut down Iran the day we were due to start a sold-out trip in March 2020. 

After years of anticipation, we ran TWO trips to Iran this year and it was very satisfying to see the trip FINALLY run. 

Special thanks to Pedro and our ground team in Iran for making these trips so memorable. 

As of the time of writing, our hearts really go out to the people of Iran and we hope that the sustained protests that have been happening in Iran since September 2022 will result in the much-needed change for that country. 

Snow Lake Trek: The Craziest Trip of 2022

The Snow Lake Expedition in Pakistan we did back in August was without a doubt the most intense and wild trip of the year. 

We ran this trip in collaboration with our good friend Jackson Groves and hand-selected participants for the trip.

The resulting team was made up of really cool people from all over the world and something about the dynamic of this group just clicked in a way that I have not experienced before as a guide. The wolf pack was born. 

Through all kinds of weather and terrain conditions, the team succeeded in crossing the challenging Hispar La pass – making us the only team of the year to cross from the Biafo Glacier to the Hispar Glacier (we heard 27 other teams failed; stat unconfirmed) – which we did in a bloody whiteout snowstorm. 

The Snow Lake trip pretty much sums up why I got into the business of adventure tourism as we had a little bit of everything thrown at us mixed with the fact that a big part of the trekking itinerary was new to me. It is safe to say that we came out the other side of that trip with our memory banks full of epic and our hearts and mind content.

Our Adventures in Pakistan Continue

Pakistan is where it all started for us and this year we did more in Pakistan than ever before with 4 different itineraries and 7 expeditions in Pakistan total in 2022. 

Our Discover the Hunza Valley + the Trekking Amongst Giants trips experienced great weather, diverse teams, countless laughs, a few upset bellies, and many once-in-a-lifetime moments along the way. 

It is always a treat for us to get back to Hunza and to see our dear friends in Ghulkin Village and the Northern Areas. We look forward to getting back there again next spring. 

Multiple Successful K2 Base Camp Trek Trips!

Our cornerstone adventure trip – the K2 Base Camp Trek – is always intense, fun as hell, and another major highlight of our year. 

This past summer we ran several K2 Base Camp Trek trips at the same time – getting a record number of people (for Epic) out onto the Baltoro Glacier and K2 Base Camp. 

The major highlight experienced by our first group was the opportunity to ascend Gondogoro La (5600 meters) in perfect weather. I have never seen Gondogoro La so clear and we had crazy views in all directions from the “summit” of the pass. 

One member of our team – Mr. Larry – also became the oldest person to cross Gondogoro La this year – which he did at the age of 74. Good job Larry! What a badass. 

Epic leading tours in Europe? What??

An exciting deviation happened from the more traditional Epic Backpacker Tours destinations like Pakistan and Iran; in 2022 we ran our first ever trip in Europe!

But this was not your classic European tourist trip to Italy or Paris – because if we started doing that, people would lose their minds. 

No, no – we started running trips to a place called Madeira Island. Many of you probably could not find Madeira on a map – which is exactly why we thought it would be the perfect destination for a new Epic tour. 

Our first Madeira trip in November 2022 was so much fun. This island is so rewarding for the people who come here and we are exceptionally proud to offer a one-of-a-kind itinerary here. 

Look out for more Madeira Island expeditions to be offered in 2023!

Epic Changes

Towards the end of 2021 – one of the founding members of Epic decided the adventure tourism game was not for him and moved on to greener pastures. His departure marked an end of an era for Epic. 

With his departure, the course for 2022 was set in an entirely new direction.

Such is the game in life, business, and pandemics – people come and go and things can not stay the same forever if you want to be an innovative industry leader. 

2022 was the year that Epic got to spread its wings and operate as a true team and family through hard work, grit, persistence, and a little bit of luck from the mountain gods. 

Fortune favors the brave and at the end of 2022 the Epic community is larger and more vibrant than ever – and perhaps most importantly – everyone involved with Epic is actively involved in making us on the cutting edge of adventure tourism.

I am proud to say that our current tight-knit community of passionate adventure junkies are among the best in the business who genuinely care about delivering authentic, off-beat adventure experiences to our clients. 

k2 gondogoro la trek

2023: What is Next?

Despite having our most successful year at Epic to date, to say that we are satisfied would simply be false. 

We are hungry for more and we want to continue our mission to provide raw, authentic adventure experiences for our community. 

I think it is important to celebrate the wins of this year, but it is also important to not get too comfortable. 

This is true in the mountains, in life, in relationships, etc. This concept of not getting too comfortable kind of relates to everything. If you get too comfortable, the wheels will start to rust and will eventually fall off. 

There is a LOT to look forward to in 2023. New trips, new countries, new mountains – the stoke is coming and the fire of excitement for what 2023 brings is burning. 

Two trips we are especially stoked on for next year:

Island Peak Expedition – Nepal – Epic is leading our first expedition in Nepal! This one was only offered to past Epic clients and was not directly advertised (that is why you can’t find it on our website). As a trip leader, there is nothing better than having a whole team made up of people I already know and trust – which for Island Peak – will be awesome. 

Fann Mountains Trek – Tajikistan/Uzbekistan – We are also branching out to a few more “Stans”!

Another new destination on the horizon awaits us in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan/Uzbekistan. This trip is a proper multi-day adventure with many days out in the backcountry. We are already getting booked up for this trip, so get in touch if you want to be a part of the expedition! 

For those of you who joined us this year, or will be joining us in 2023, thank you for supporting our small (but mighty) adventure company. It means the world to us that you have become part of our tight-knit community. 

We wish everyone happy holidays and happiness, health, and big adventure days in 2023.  

Cheers, all! 

Chris

Founder of Epic 

 

More from the blog

2 Replies to “A Year in the Life of Epic Backpacker Tours: 2022 Review”

  1. The launch of the new destination of Iran coincided with my search for more adventure in 2023!
    I’ve been doing adventure travel since well before 2009, having crossed the Himalayas (twice) with various other adventure destinations around the world. In 2022, I set my goal to summit Kilimanjaro, which I did last August. So, Iran would be the ideal trip for me for this year, so will be signing up.

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Welcome to our Journal!

snow lake trek pakistan

Here at Epic Backpacker Tours, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

What's new in the journal?

The trip we're most stoked about

PAKISTAN
K2 BASE CAMP TREK

Next trip: June 20th – July 10th, 2023

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare.

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic Backpacker Tours team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro will be leading his 11th tour in Iran with EBT this coming spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Backpacker Tours, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Saisun

Touring Iran with EBT in May 2022 was way above our expectation: itineraries well planned and carefully executed, perfect mix of sights and trekking, delicious food, nice accommodation, great guides and wonderful fellow travellers. Trekking can be handled by anyone physically fit. Highly recommended for those who want to experience the real Iran.

– Sumera

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Backpacker Tours and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Backpacker Tours, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin


Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

For the last eleven years, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 65 countries along the way. 

Since 2011, Chris has logged more than 6300 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

In 2017, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and people of Pakistan led Chris to found Epic Backpacker Tours at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 15 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

Long-distance hiking, learning languages, meaningful conversations, all things Turkish food, mountaineering, and making tasty coffee above 6,000 meters rank among his favorite things in life. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

When he is not leading or planning tours, Chris works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan. 

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

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