Nestled deep inside the Karakoram mountain range of Northern Pakistan lies a rare patch of earth where some of the world’s highest peaks jut of vast glacier systems, rock, and ice. This region is steeped in mystery, climbing lore, and the stuff of adventure legend.
Central Karakoram National Park is home to FOUR 8000 meter peaks – one of them being the world’s second-highest mountain, K2.
Making the trek to the base of the world’s second-highest mountain is an experience like no other for many reasons; below we break down why the K2 Base Camp Trek should be the top multi-day trekking expedition on your list…
1. K2 Base Camp Trek vs Everest Base Camp
Before Covid hit, Everest Base Camp saw no fewer than 100,000 trekkers pour in every year. When you start talking about those sorts of numbers, you are also talking about the associated trash, human waste, and environmental impacts that go along with it. You are also just talking about a lot of people being around all the time.
K2 Base Camp on average sees less than 1000 trekkers a year INCLUDING mountaineering expeditions.
The K2 Base Camp Trek provides the incredible grandeur of the Everest region, without the associated circus, and crowds that go with it.
2. The K2 Base Camp Trek is an Expedition Style Trek
Unlike other big mountain treks in Nepal and elsewhere, the K2 Base Camp Trek is a true expedition-style trek. There are no tea houses, proper shops, permanent settlements, restaurants, or gear shops to be found once you leave the jeep required to access the national park and begin the start of the trek.
Trekkers sleep in comfortable tents, not in hotel beds. Meals are prepared by camp chefs, not in a restaurant kitchen.
The point is, if you are looking for a truly wild experience among the world’s biggest peaks, the K2 Base Camp Trek delivers that in spades.
3. The Campsite at Concorida
The last established campsite before Broad Peak and K2 Base Camps is the famous glacial campsite known as Concordia. Concordia camp sits at the confluence of the Baltoro and Godwin-Austen Glacier – and delivers some of the most insane mountain views you’ll find anywhere.
I can’t think of another campsite where multiple 8000 and 7000-meter peaks (including K2) are so in your face visible. On a dark clear night, the stars overhead are enough to make your head spin.
4. There are Multiple Routes That Offer Even More Adventure
There is no technical climbing experience required to take this route, but typically are clipped in with a harness, etc.
5. Balti Culture
Expedition teams employ local Balti guides, porters, cooks, mulemen to help run the expedition. Without these guys, the trip is not possible for a large group. Balti people are among the most genuine, kind, and hard-working people you will find anywhere – plus they like to break out drums, traditional songs, and dance at a moment’s notice when they have downtime at the camps – I mean who does not want to have a dance party at 5000 meters right?
6. The Camaraderie is Real
Due to the fact that trekkers must join an organized group to enter the restricted area that is Central Karakoram National Park – if you plan on doing the K2 Base Camp Trek, then you will be doing so with a fellow group of adventurous souls like yourself.
Over the 12-14 days it takes to complete the trek strong friendships, bonds, and even romantic relationships are formed as each team member endures the highs, lows, and splendor of all that the trek entails. The laughs, the tears, the jokes, the pain; it’s all part of the collective shared experience that brings humans together.
7. You Get to Trek on a Glacier for 120+ Kilometers
After day 2 of the trek, you are either trekking on or very near the famous Baltoro Glacier all the way to Concordia. Otherworldy ice formations the size of a 3 three-story building, glacier rivers, rocks, rocks, and more rocks, crevasses, and other glacial features dominate the landscape. Don’t worry, this section of the glacier is totally safe and no crampons are required.
The best part, when you go to re-fill your water bottle the glacial streams are ice cold.
8. There is ZERO Light Pollution
Even if you are not a photographer trying to shoot the milky way, the sheer volume and brightness of the starry landscape is enough to leave you slack-jawed.
9. The K2 Base Camp Trek Cost is Lower Than You Think
Compared to many other guided multi-day treks, the K2 Base Camp Trek is far more affordable.
A 21 day guided trip where all the permits, food, porters, equipment, internal flights, and everything else is included is not something you will find in other countries for under $4000.
The big mountain expedition experiences value versus the cost
10. Pakistan is One of The Last True Adventure Destinations
Pakistan is many things, but one thing it is not is developed for mass international tourism. So much about this country and the K2 Base Camp trekking region, in particular, remains relatively untouched by western influences, tourism, and culture. Many of the local people in the mountains live as they have lived for centuries (ok there is the internet and smartphones now).
Maybe in 20 years, Pakistan will have more in the way of tourism infrastructure, but for now, Pakistan remains the “wild west”, in the sense that it delivers that feeling of “I wish I could have seen Nepal 50 years ago”.
If you are looking for a real adventure destination, Pakistan is king, and the K2 Base Camp is the jewel in the adventure crown.