Northern Pakistan: Wonders of the Karakoram

Group Tour

14 Days From £3,095

Overview

On this amazing journey through the mountains of the famous Karakoram Highway - the eighth wonder of the world - we will experience stunning scenery, historical forts, regional cuisine, imposing plateaus and heritage properties as we venture into the Baltistan region.

Beginning in Islamabad, we travel north through the beautiful forested landscapes of Kaghan Valley and over the spectacular Babusar Pass to the classic frontier town of Gilgit. From here we continue to Hunza, home to ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

13 x Breakfasts
13 x Lunches
13 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use local Prado jeeps or classic re-conditioned 1970s Willys jeeps for certain sections in the north, opening the roof when the weather allows. We are embracing the nature of adventure travel with this mode of transport as it maximises our opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery. We will use minibus coasters everywhere else.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

Contributions to carbon offset & tree planting projects for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Northern Pakistan: Wonders of the Karakoram
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN ISLAMABAD

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN ISLAMABAD

Today the tour starts in Islamabad, 'City of Islam', Pakistan's capital city. It replaced Karachi back in 1967 and is now the political and commercial heart of the country. Situated against the lush backdrop of the Margalla Hills it is a city where old and new collide. Leafy green boulevards are home to modern buildings, and shopping malls, but also dotted with traditional homes and mosques. The group flight doesn't arrive until late evening so anyone arriving early might want to take a stroll and familiarise themselves with the city.

Hotel

DAY 2: ISLAMABAD – NARAN

DAY 2: ISLAMABAD – NARAN

After breakfast leave for the beautiful valley of Kaghan, a drive of approximately 7 hours. The valley has a beautiful river flowing through it, flanked by stunning mountains. Check into the hotel in Naran in the late afternoon and enjoy an evening at leisure. The majority of the people here are Pashtun and you should have the opportunity to have a stroll around the bazaar this evening or sit and watch the world go by in one of the rooftop cafes.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: NARAN - GILGIT

DAY 3: NARAN - GILGIT

Departing early this morning we will continue through the forested Kaghan Valley and over the spectacular Babusar Pass and Raikot Bridge, enjoying more spectacular scenery as we drive along the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: GILGIT - HUNZA

DAY 4: GILGIT - HUNZA

This morning we have a chance to take a look around this classic frontier town, once considered the furthest outpost of the empire. We will see the Christian graveyard and the bazaar, before heading north on the KKH to Hunza in the famed Hunza Valley. We know we use a lot of superlatives in this tour but this journey really is epic, particularly as you round the corner and see the titanic form of Mount Rakaposhi basking in the sun, right beside the road. We will take lunch on the way – at the Rakaposhi View Restaurant – before continuing on to Hunza. On arrival we will have the chance to explore this laidback little town and admire the mountains that surround it before continuing on to our hotel for our first night situated, as the name suggests, 2,850m above sea level, 800m above the valley floor with panoramic views of seven 7,000m peaks!

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: AROUND HUNZA

DAY 5: AROUND HUNZA

After breakfast we rejoin the Karakorum Highway and drive to Gulmit (located in Upper Hunza) along the banks of the newly-formed Attabad Lake, a significant addition to the natural beauty of Hunza. On reaching Gulmit we can enjoy a walk through the village and learn more about carpet weaving and other traditional handicrafts. From here we will drive on to Borith Lake situated just north of Gulmit, stopping en route to see the spectacular Hussaini Hanging Bridge. The lake can be reached from Husseini village, which lies adjacent to Gulmit village. Proceed to Passu to enjoy fabulous views of Tupupdan Sar, Passu Peaks, Shispare and Boyohagur, before enjoying refreshments at the local hotel and then returning to Hunza.


Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: AROUND HUNZA

DAY 6: AROUND HUNZA

Another full day around Hunza gives us the chance to take a wonderful water channel walk down to Hunza town where we’ll visit the famous Baltit Fort, recently restored by the Aga Khan Trust to a fantastic standard, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll also have plenty of time for shopping in the town’s pretty bazaar as well as time simply to relax. After all this is a holiday!

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: HUNZA - RAMA LAKE

DAY 7: HUNZA - RAMA LAKE

Today we return south and head for the alpine meadows of Rama Lake and Astore. The 215km-long journey will take around 5-6 hours as we pass through some of the region's most impressive landscape. Continuing on the KKH to Thilachi, we then divert into the 55km-long narrow Astore Gorge, eventually reaching our hotel. This afternoon we will then visit Rama Lake, which will involve a walk of around 3km each way to reach the lake from the road. After soaking up the stunning lake views, return to Astore for the evening. 

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: RAMA LAKE – DEOSAI PLATEAU – SKARDU

DAY 8: RAMA LAKE – DEOSAI PLATEAU – SKARDU

After an early breakfast we'll set off for the amazing Deosai Plateau National Park. Deosai Plain has an average elevation of 4,114m above sea level, making it one of the highest plateaus in the world. We’ll enjoy a hearty picnic lunch with views of the Himalayas before continuing on to Skardu. Today will be a long day as we are covering large distances but will be rewarded with yet even more striking scenery.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: SKARDU - KHAPLU

DAY 9: SKARDU - KHAPLU

This morning we’ll visit the old bazaar, and then head out to see the Manthal Buddha rock carving just outside Skardu. After this we’ll drive to Khaplu for a real treat as we stay in one of the most wonderful heritage hotels in the whole subcontinent. This has been recently converted by the Aga Khan Cultural Development Trust and runs as a community project.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: AROUND KHAPLU

DAY 10: AROUND KHAPLU

Today the adventure continues as we follow the Shyok and Hushe Rivers into the heart of the Karakoram. Draining an enormous area of the eastern Karakoram, much of which is now in India, the Shyok and Hushe rivers cut a spectacular trail into this eastern most part of Baltistan. We'll drive up the Hushe Valley, where we have the opportunity to visit the Wild Frontiers Foundation-sponsored school in the remote village of Baleygon. From here we’ll continue right up the valley to the end of the road where the magnificent 7,000m Mashabrum Mountain stands sentinel. In the late afternoon, as the sun is setting, we’ll return to Khaplu.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: KHAPLU - SKARDU

DAY 11: KHAPLU - SKARDU

Today we drive the shorter two-hour drive back to Skardu. In the afternoon we can then spend some time exploring Kharapocho, also known as Skardu Fort, before visiting the sand dunes of Skardu's unusual 'Cold Desert'.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: SKARDU - ISLAMABAD

DAY 12: SKARDU - ISLAMABAD

This morning we will fly south back to Islamabad. After checking in, we can enjoy some lunch at a local restaurant before setting off for the neighbouring 'twin city' of Rawalpindi. Here we will visit the colourful Raja Bazaar and Raj-era Christ's Church before finally visiting the Marghalla Hills to enjoy magnificent views over the twin cities.


Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: AROUND ISLAMABAD

DAY 13: AROUND ISLAMABAD

Today we will have a relaxed start and take a short drive to Taxila to explore this fascinating Buddhist university town, dating back to the Gandaharan era of Alexander the Great. We’ll then return to Islamabad.

Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN ISLAMABAD

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN ISLAMABAD

Today we have the chance to visit some of the famous sights of Islamabad including the Faisal Mosque, the largest in South East Asia, and 5th largest mosque in the world. We will also take time to visit the Lok Virsa Museum and Pakistan Monument. If time allows there will also be a chance for some last minute shopping before our farewell dinner, after which the tour ends. Wash and change facilities will be made available to those on the group flight, which departs in the early hours of the following day.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Baleygon School – Hushe Valley, Northern Pakistan

On this tour you have the opportunity to visit the Wild Frontiers Foundation sponsored school in the remote Hushe Valley village of Baleygon. The building and ongoing support of the Baleygon Village School has been our biggest and most challenging project to date, spanning over 10 years. With government funding often not forthcoming at the time, hamlets, villages and entire regions had little in the way of educational facilities, denying children of even a basic level of tuition. This was the case in Baleygon village, where stood a dilapidated two-roomed building with 10 broken desks and around 100 students (most of whom had to sit on a hard concrete floor even in mid-winter to learn), one teacher in charge of all students from 4 to 14-year-olds, and very little else in the way of equipment. Recognising the needs of the village and the students, the Wild Frontiers Foundation’s first major project was initiated in 2010. It was a long process, but the initial funds raised through a charity trek to K2,  led to huge developments at the school including land purchase, three new classrooms and a new teacher. In 2012 there was an official opening of the new school extension amid much celebration.

We now work with educational charity partner, the Felix Foundation Baltistan, which manages the school on our behalf to help ensure a good quality of education and student attendance. As guardians of the school, the Wild Frontiers Foundation’s continued support funds teachers’ wages, teaching aids, equipment and contributes to the general maintenance and upkeep of the building and grounds, while helping to secure the future education of the children in Baleygon and surrounding villages.  

 

 

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
BA 2261 London Gatwick (LGW) 10:30 Islamabad Airport (ISB) 22:20
BA 2260 Islamabad Airport (ISB) 00:20 London Gatwick (LGW) 05:05

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Pakistan.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Lahore & the Wagah Border

Why not spend a few extra days visiting Lahore to see this famous old Moghul city and the ‘Closing of the Gate’ ceremony at the Wagah Border. Allow 3-5 days.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

The weather conditions can be extremely varied. In the mountains of Pakistan, where you will often be travelling at heights of up to 3,000 metres, even in the middle of summer it can turn bitter; at the same time the temperature in Islamabad could be nudging 40 degrees.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. Please note there are some long driving days and in places the drive can be bumpy. 

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip. On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 7514 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION