Trekking and Culture in Hunza Pakistan

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Discover Hunza Valley
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Enjoy Hunza Valley Pakistan !!

The last 10 years we've been travelling the world for a lot of places and met a lot of people.  Tourists, as us, and local people.   From all these travels one place has truly hit our the heart and this is where this website is about.

Discover Hunza Valley

How it started

The previous journey (2001) was a trek around the Annapurna Range in Nepal.  Sixteen days of unseen beauty and in the wake of 9/11 and the ongoing troubles in Nepal, a very onpopular backpackers destiantion.  But, my God, what a beauty. 

 

Next year (2002) we were lucky to be able to combine our 2002 holiday with the first weeks of 2003 and therefore enjoying 6 weeks.  What to do with six weeks of holiday ?  Where to go to ?  Luxuary as a problem !  Scenery in Nepal was beautiful and the sight of monks wandering around their stupa quite impressive, but for some reason it was not a place to spend 6 weeks.  There were some topics on our 'request' list : there had to be mountains, BIG ones, it had to be accessible in winter time (December-January), it had to be a Moslim country (since we had never been before in a Moslim country besides Marokko), culture would have te be 'challenging' and most of all people had to be open and friendly.   For obvious reasons not easy to find !  So we came up with the idea of going to Pakistan and India.  Both countries are so big we had to choose which places to visit so we split the Journey in 3 places: Northern areas in Pakistan, Rajasthan in India and to close the year and start a new one : Kerala in South-India.  From these 3, Northern Areas in Pakistan was the most difficult.  I saw a picture on the internet of Baltit Fort in Karimabad and .... done, nobody could set this beauty out of my mind.  This was the place I wanted to visit, even it would be snow covered in Winter, not easy to acces and...unknown ??? 

In all places : Pakistan 

The idea of going to the mountain area of the Karakoram, finding the castle, doing the KKH (Karakoram Highway) in wintertime, the end of Ramazam (december 2002), visit the beautiful city of Lahore with its wonderful old Fort and town,.... We had a thouht about it (5 seconds) and yes, this is the place we wanted to see !!   Even if it would take us the whole 6 weeks, we wanted to visit Pakistan and Northern Areas  (even as if I'm writing memories are coming back).   Can't really say our folks liked the idea, but...why worry.

Lahore Mosque

Where the streets have ....

Well, when planning the trip, the streets didn't have a name, but as I'm writing this, I would take the airplane, get on the bus, take a taxi and get there in a second.  It seemed difficult, but in fact, doing the trip was quite easy.

So, December and January 2002-2003 we would fly on Delhi, head by train to Amritsar, cross the border at Wagah and head for Lahore.  Lahore would be are "base camp" for a few days where we would try to get some usefull information about the road to Gilgit.  The Karakoram Highway had been blocked by  earthquakes a few days before we took off and flying to Gilgit is not always possible in winter time.  

Your Guide to Shandoor Polo : Ifitkhar Hussain

If Lahore would give us the answer to are questions, we would head the KKH for Gilgit, and from Gilgit try to head for Karimabad.  The route to Karimabad would depend on the weather conditions. It was December and snow is common in the Karakoram from November 'till May.  Bye the time we would be freezed out, we would head back for Gilgit and try for Lahore.  If all worked fine, we would come back from Gilgit to Lahore and cross the border back into India to visit Rajasthan and Southern India, Kerala (Christmas on the beach !).

We did manage to do all this, including some extra's, but this webpage is not about the whole trip, it's about this little palace, Baltit fort, it's valley, it's nature, it's (freezing) cold, it's unnatural beauty and escpecially.... it's warm people.  Not that I'd want the whole world visit this place, but if you're goodhearted, enjoy nature and are in for some adventure...

 

9/11

The world has become a little bit different since 9/11 and the war in Afhanistan, Iraq....  Blame it on Osama, blame it on Uncle George, it doesn't really matter.  Besides the casualties (Bless them on both sides cause they are a son of a mother and father), the wounds are not that deep in our Western Countries. 

Local Man from Northern Areas wearing traditional Hunza Hat
Karakoram Mountain scenery

But people in countries like Pakistan, India, Nepal, Indonesia,.... who are dependant on foreign tourism suffer a lot (and still are).  As backpacker, you can help the local people in these troubled times.  Head for their country.and enjoy their hospitallity.  Spend some money so they can fund their schools and education.   Beauty and Grace didn't chance since 9/11.  So don't worry..... and go.

Iftikhar Hussain

This webpage is also dedicated to my friend, Iftikhar Hussain.  We met Ifti a few times by accident on our first trip (Winter 2002 - 2003) when he helped us out with the PIA tickets to Rawalpindi and gave us his e-mail: "in case you would ever come back to Pakistan, give me an e-mail and I manage some things out".  Six months later (September 2003) we decided to go back and dropped him an e-mail: "Ifti, can you help us out on some trekkings we'd like to do".

So in September 2003 we head back for Pakistan to see the same Hunza Valley in Autumn.  We stayed for two weeks in Hunza and Nager Valley, enjoyed the warm hospitallity of Ifti,  his family and Rowena (a Canadian NGO worker but with one hell of an English accent), met the wonderfull people from the Medina Guesthouse in Gilgit again (where we had a wonderful experience in December 2002), and enjoyed Hunza valley again.  Snow was already low for this time of the year, so the scenery was amazing.  Forget the Alps, forget Matterhorn, forget Annapurna.  If Reinhold Messner would be 40 years younger, he would do it all over again, 

Glacier

but he would definitely start in the Karakoram.  No place on earth has this amazing beauty.  Mount Everest may be the highest, but K2 is the most impressive.   Iftikhar helped us on our trip to see some of the beauty hidden in the Karakoram mountains: the people, their culture and their nature.

I hope you enjoy this website and spend some time in this wonderful country.  

 This page was last adapted on  25-03-04.