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Discover the Hunza Valley

The ultimate Karakoram adventure

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate

TOTAL DISTANCE: 1000+ kms of driving

MAX ALTITUDE: 4700 meters (China border)

TOUR DURATION: 15 days

TOTAL TREKKING: 6 days

LODGING: hotels, homestay, camping, cabins

GROUP SIZE: 12 people

tour map of hunza pakistan
Map of Discover Hunza Valley

Overview

Pakistan is the ultimate destination for adventurers.

Our flagship Hunza Valley tour takes you deep into the northern reaches of Pakistan for the trip of a lifetime. This region, hidden away from Western eyes for most of its history, is full of wonderful experiences, soaring peaks, friendly locals, and other “hidden gems.”

Come with us on a real adventure to the Hunza Valley – drive down the legendary Karakoram Highway, hike on a growing glacier, stay in a remote mountain village, feast on tasty local cuisine, and become a member of a fun-loving team of intrepid travelers.

Outside of touring the Hunza Valley, we will also visit two of Pakistan’s most exciting destinations: Fairy Meadows and the city of Lahore. Both will leave you speechless.

We’ve been traveling in Pakistan for the last five years and we have many great friendships in Pakistan. Our unique connections allow us to show you a side of the country few travelers get to see. We can show sides of the Hunza Valley and beyond that you can’t find on the web or other itineraries. This tour is the culmination of years of research and exploration.

So join us as we return to one of our favorite corners of the world. We know you’ll fall in love with it.

Who This Trip is For

  • RAW ADVENTURE: Pakistan is one of the final frontiers of adventure travel. This is not a cookie-cutter Hunza Valley tour but rather for those looking for authentic adventure experiences
  • TREKKING: We embark on a multi-day trek across the famous Passu Glacier to stay at a remote shepherds camp under a sea of stars. The Patundas Meadows will be a highlight of the trip.
  • CULTURE: Pakistan is an extremely diverse country brimming with different cultural and ethnic identities. See a huge range of them as the tour progresses from the Hunza Valley to Lahore.
  • BIG MOUNTAINS: Pakistan is home to some of the biggest and most remote mountains on earth. On more than one occasion, you’ll be surrounding by epic peaks.
  • LOCAL FOOD: If you love to eat, you are going to love trying the local fare and Pakistan’s diverse culinary traditions.
  • INDEPENDENT TRAVELERS AND COUPLES: On average, our group trips consist of 7-8 different nationalities per trip. 

Upcoming Dates

Dates

Places

Deposit

Full

October 8th - 22nd (2022)Limited$650$3125
May 1st - 15th (2023)Available$650$3125
May 18th - June 1st (2023)Available$650$3125

REFUNDS RELATED TO COVID-19 :  Clients are entitled to have FULL TRIP BALANCE moved to a future trip (credit) OR request a FULL REFUND if we cancel the tour due to complications related to Covid-19

GENERAL REFUND POLICY :

  • Cancellation Less than 90 days until the start of the tour: NO REFUND – Trip deposit can be used as credit towards a future trip. 
  • Cancellation with more than 90 days before the start of the tour: 50% of the trip balance payment (less the deposit amount). Trip deposit can be used as credit towards a future trip. 
  • Cancellation with more than 160 days before the start of the tour: Full refund minus the trip deposit. Trip deposit can be used as credit towards a future trip. 

 Read our full refund policy here 

Have a question or ready to book?

Whether you’re just curious about this trip or are ready to make a deposit, we’re here for you.

To submit an inquiry or make a trip deposit, please fill out and submit the form below.

    Your Trip Leaders

    Joao Frietas

    João has born in the mountains of Madeira Island 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.

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

    sohail pakistani guide hunza valley tour

    Sohail Sakhi

    Sohail is one of the most experienced members of 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 the Hunza Valley, 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 logged more trekking miles in a year then most people will do in a lifetime. In the summer of 2021, Sohail summited Gasherbrum 2 – one of Pakistan’s five 8000 meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips, but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

    Trip Highlights

    • Get up close and personal with 7,000 – 8,000 meter peaks
    • Stay with a local family in Ghulkin Village
    • Muti-day trekking to our secret high altitude camp
    • Traverse a massive glacier wearing spikes
    • Ride down the epic Karakoram Highway
    • Visit the Pakistan-China Border @ 4,700 meters
    • Experience the Wagah Border ceremony in Lahore 
    • Trek to Nanga Parbat Basecamp
    • Explore ancient mountain fortresses
    • Experience legendary Hunza Valley hospitality
    • Camp under a sea of stars

    Itinerary

    We recommend arriving into Islamabad one day early so that you can settle in and be ready to go on the morning of day one. Whilst this will require you to pay for an extra nights accommodation on your own – arriving early gives you a comfortable window to join the trip in case of delays, problems with baggage, etc. 

    After our group has assembled on the morning of day 1, we will have our first group meeting/introductions over tea/coffee and then we will hit the road.

    Note on spring tours: we must take a different route due to heavy snow fall/road closures. Instead of driving to Naran, we will be stopping in Besham on the evening of day 1.

    Traveling by comfortable minibus, the Kahn Express, with our fearless driver Mr. Khan – our good friend and driver for the whole adventure, we leave Islamabad behind and embark on our journey! The plan is to drive roughly 10 hours to the mountain bazar town of Naran located in the lush Kaghan Valley. The drive to Besham from Islamabad takes only 4-5 hours, depending on traffic. 

    Here we will rest up for the night at a comfortable hotel before hitting the road again in the morning.

    Besham marks the start of the Karakoram Highway.

    Drive time from Islamabad: 10-14 hours with breaks. 

    We will save visiting the highlights the city of Lahore until the end of the tour.

    The real attractions of Pakistan are in the north and to get there we need to travel along one of the world’s highest paved roads, The Karakoram Highway. Traveling along The Karakoram Highway is an unforgettable experience; you will see peaks and valleys, rivers and glaciers. Twenty-one of the world’s one hundred highest peaks are visible from the KKH and the journey is a great introduction to the mountains as civilization slips away behind us…

    The goal is to reach Aliabad and our guesthouse by late afternoon/early evening.

    This place is awesome and unique to Northern Pakistan and one of our best stopovers of the whole trip!

    Dinner and rest are on the evening agenda. 

    We have the whole next day to relax and explore the stunning mountain village of Karimabad. 

    Drive from Naran or Besham to Aliabad/Karimabad – approx. 9 -12 hours – including breaks along the way.

    Karimabad is the gateway to the mountains and a great place to wander about for a day. Today there is a mix of free time and planned activities.

    After breakfast, we get to grips with the dark history of Baltit Fort and/or Altit Fort (time permitting).

    In the afternoon, take time to explore the cobblestone streets, bargain for rubies and handicrafts, feast on Hunza cuisine, sip espresso in Café Hunza on your own time in the afternoon.

    After a day of exploring Karimabad, we’ll return for our 2nd night at our hotel in Aliabad called Mountain Story.

    Very early morning start today (in the dark) and drive to catch the sunrise above Eagles Nest. Well worth it! Our group will then return to Mountain Story for breakfast before starting our drive to Ghulkin Village in Upper Hunza.

    The small village of Ghulkin is a truly special place where time stands still and mountains march away into the distance on all sides. En route we will take in the scenes at Attabad Lake.

    Upper Hunza is one of the best places in Pakistan to trek, explore glaciers, snack on apricots, camp out under the stars and chat with the locals.

    We will be staying with our good friend Sitara at her home. It is time to expereince life with a family in a remote mountain village in Hunza. 

    Accommodation in Ghulkin will be in one large traditional guest room and we will all be sharing a space. Conditions in the village are very clean (yes, there’s a western toilet!) but are also basic; electricity is sporadic and wifi is slow when it does work. 

    Aliabad to Ghulkin drive time: 2 hours max. 

    In the morning, we go for an easy/moderate hike to visit the legendary Passu Suspension bridge. The bridge itself is far less visited than the more famous Hussaini bridge found directly off of the Karakoram Highway.

    We return to Ghulkin for chill time in the afternoon dinner.

    After a few hectic days of driving and sight seeing, today is overall meant to be a relaxing day and also our first group hike. Part of the experience of staying in a small mountain community is to take the time to fully appreciate the slower pace of life here without constantly rushing to the next thing.

    The hike is a good warm-up for tomorrow’s adventure.

    Total trekking time 2-3 hours

    Today, we are off on an epic road trip adventure…

    Traveling by our van deemed the “Khan Express”, we will head up towards Khunjerab Pass National Park. The scenery from the road is truly incredible and we will make frequent stops for photos and chai. We will make our way up towards the Pakistan-China border crossing, the highest in the world.

    Set in a craggy bowl of mountains and surrounded by glaciers, this is a truly breathtaking landscape steeped in history. We will return to stay another night in Ghulkin Village in the afternoon 

    There is no trekking or strenuous physical activity on this day. Pack your headphones and snacks

    Today we will be trekking into the mountains not too far from Ghulkin village. We begin the trek at the end of a jeep track at Borith Lake. After about 2-3 hours of steady, but steep hiking we will come to the truly stunning Passu Glacier crossing point.

    We take an easy pace as we hike across the ice as there are a few challenging, but epic sections.

    Here we will traverse the glacier for about 2 hours before arriving at our camp site for the night (3400 meters).

    From here, our group can enjoy stunning views of Shispar Peak, Passu Peak, and the Passu Glacier. The stars at the camp are unreal if the weather is clear! Keep an eye out for eagles and ibex in the mountains above you and soak in some of the freshest air you’ve ever tasted.

    Note: Group gear, tents, and food will be portered. If you would like additional gear portered for you, porter services are available at a reasonable cost.

    Today, we start off on the second leg of our trek after breakfast. The distance is only a few kilometers, but it is straight up the side of a mountain and gains about 900 meters of elevation, so we will take our time and enjoy the views as we go.

    Total trekking time today is roughly 2-3 hours.

    Once on the top, our group will savor in the 360 degree views of the Passu Cones, Batura Glacier, Shispar Peak, and Passu Peak. Formerly only a shepherd’s settlement, only about 100 people come up here a year, so we should have the place to ourselves. The Batura Glacier viewpoint (4300 meters) is truly a magical place and offers up one of the best views in Pakistan.

    After spending the day atop Patundas we will return to our base camp for an epic dinner feast, fire, and maybe even some local music.

    Note: For most of the year there is no water at Patundas Meadow, which means that we will keep our first base camp setup and just visit Patundas as part of an epic day hike. During the early springtime, it may not be possible to visit Patundas due to large amounts of snow covering the trail, but that is why the April/May tours start in the late spring

    Today, we finish our trek via the same route in which we came across the Passu glacier. The going is much easier on the way down, so the whole trek will likely take the group around 3 hours.

    We are staying at a hotel in the small town of Passu where we can rest, do laundry, shower up, and maybe even try a Yak Burger.

     

    Leaving Passu early (5 am start), we will travel to Raikot Bridge where we will transfer into 4×4 jeeps and traverse the legendary Fairy Meadows jeep track – think sheer drops and impossible hair-pin bends… In the distance, if the weather is clear, you will catch your first glimpse of Nanga Parbat; the most beautiful mountain in Pakistan, and the ninth highest mountain in the world. This is the stuff adventure is made of. You may have to hike part of the jeep track as the road is sometimes washed away.

    Arriving at the end of the jeep track we will then hike for two to three hours (porters available for an additional fee). Arriving into The Fairy Meadows, we will spend the next couple of nights in comfortable but basic cabins with wood burners to keep us warm.

    Drive from Passu to Raikot Bridge – 5 – 6 hours – then 1.5 hour jeep journey and 2 – 3 hour trek

    The Fairy Meadows is the perfect place to chill out and unwind; watch the clouds dance past Nanga Parbat, the glacier snaking through the valley below, and explore the cool woods surrounding our log cabins. There are several optional treks available here but the real highlight is the hike to Nanga Parbat Basecamp (6-8 hours return).

    The Fairy Meadows is one of the best places in the world to relax and watch the mountains. At night at the Fairy Meadows we will have an epic bonfire beneath the stars!

    Note: the optional hike to Nanga Parbat basecamp requires a moderate level of fitness and takes around 6 – 8 hours round trip (with time to chill out at base camp, eat lunch, etc). For the spring tours it likely will not be possible to hike beyond the upper view point due to snow pack/rock fall hazard.

    Leaving The Fairy Meadows behind, we will travel back to Raikot Bridge where we will join our minibus and Mr. Khan. 

    Depending on the weather forecast we will head to Gilgit where we will try to have a flight to Lahore the next day. 

    If flying is not possible, we start the long journey back to Abbottabad or Islamabad (spring/fall) via the KKH.

    Note: 3 / 4 hours to reach Raikot Bridge (combination of hiking and the jeep ride down), 12-14 hours to reach Abbottabad/Islamabad with meal / bathroom stops on the way.

    We sleep in Abbottabad or Islamabad to break up the long drive. Islamabad or Abbottabad is just a sleep / shower stop at a hotel before moving on back to Lahore in the morning.

    During the spring tours, it is not possible for the group to make it to Islamabad from Raikot Bridge due to the alternate route we must take, thus we will likely sleep in Abbottabad.

    If also goes well with the weather, we will fly from Giglit to Lahore (1 hour 10 mins flight) in the morning.

    If we started driving the day before we will aim to be back in Lahore sometime in the mid-afternoon.

    Arriving into Lahore, we will head straight to our hotel to freshen up / chill for a few hours.

    Depending on our arrival time, we will go to check out the Old Lahore bazaar near the famous Delhi Gate. One of the most beautiful mosques in the city is here. 

    We will then spend the evening taking in the vibe of this crazy South Asian city and having dinner as a group. 

    After a great food introduction to Lahore, we will head back to the hotel to crash. 

    Our final full day of the Hunza Valley tour will be action packed.

    In the morning, We’ll check out Badshahi Mosque; a marvel of red sandstone and polished marble and the Lahore Fort. 

    We will have lunch and then you will have some free time to roam around on your own. 

    The it is time to head to the Wagah Border for the border ceremony towards the end of the afternoon (around 3:45 pm we need to be there).

    After one final feast together (and plenty of laughs and hugs), the tour officially ends (sadly). Prepare for a final Epic feast with a great view atop one of Lahore’s best restaurants. 

    We arrange for transfers to the airport for those who are flying out over the next 12 hours. Check out of the hotel is around 11 am on Day 15.

    You can choose to stay on at the same hotel if you are not flying home right away, though any additional nights at the hotel are not covered by EBT.

    What People Have to Say

    FAQ

    Despite what you hear on the mainstream news, Pakistan is one of the safest countries we have ever traveled to. Part of the ethos of Epic Backpacker Tours is to smash negative stereotypes associated with these countries by showing you what the media never does.

    Late spring is typically the warmer season, though there can still be residual snowfall in the high mountains. Fall trips tend to be cooler, and the cities are not as hot.

    ​​Part of what makes our trips so awesome is the kind of people attracted to our adventures. On average, our trips are made up of 5-8 different nationalities. Over the years, we have had a nearly equal amount of men and women travel with us. The average age of a trip participant is 35. The oldest person to join us was 70 and the youngest was 19.

    Mix of guesthouses/hotels and homestays that offer comfortable, but simple, facilities. Sometimes rooms might be without air-conditioning (although the rooms in Lahore and Islamabad, the two hottest places, will definitely have AC). We offer comfy, quality tents for camping.

    Didn’t find the answer you were looking for? Try reading our extensive Hunza FAQ page first where we break down the tour in more detail. 

    The Hunza Valley - Abridged

    The Hunza Valley is one of the most enchanting and desirable places in all of Pakistan. Once an isolated and wild frontier, ruled by kings and warlike chieftains, it is now quite accessible thanks mostly in part to the construction of the Karakoram Highway. Many Pakistanis visit here on summer holidays to escape the heat of the southern megalopolises and to breath some clean mountain air.

    For much of its existence, Hunza was relatively unknown to the Western world, a blank space on the map and more the stuff of legends. Central Asian merchants and pilgrims knew it well and used the valley to transport both goods – as a detour from the Silk Road – and religion. Buddhism was once the dominate faith here and several archeological sites survive to this day in Hunza despite Islamization in the 15th century. 

    It wasn’t until the British arrived in the 19th century – during which time it was aggressively expanding its empire to counter the expansion of the Russian Empire, a period known as the “Great Game” – that the Hunza Valley was truly known to Westerners. After some campaigning, the British inevitably added the Hunza Valley to its vassal territories. 

    50 years later, following the Partition of India, the Hunza Valley and the regional capital, Gilgit, would play a vital role in the formation and solidification of the Northern Areas of Pakistan (now called Gilgit-Baltistan). 

    Since its incorporation into Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan remains autonomous) and the completion of the Karakoram Highway, Hunza has slowly modernized. But despite new infrastructure and development, Hunza still maintains a certain tranquility and the bucolic. The quality of life is excellent, locals frequently live beyond 100 years, and the education is some of the best in Pakistan. The people of the Hunza Valley are very proud of their home and will be eager to show you everything there is to it. 

    Additional Resources

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