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Pakistan - The Old Silk Route

Karakoram Highway

Road from Shimshal

Karakoram Highway

Pakistan - The Old Silk Route

Karakoram Highway

Pakistan - The Old Silk Route Cycling Holiday

Mountains and Glaciers

Day 1: Islamabad

Arrive at Islamabad airport. Complementary airport to hotel transfers are included for all flight times. At 6pm you will meet the group and our representative at the hotel for a briefing.  

Islamabad Altitude: 540 metres (1,770 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (D)

Day 2: Islamabad to Gilgit

We will try to take the early morning flight to Gilgit (not included in trip cost); this is one of the most dramatic flight routes in the world. A small Fokker Friendship plane flies around Nanga Parbat at 8,125m; the sharp triangle of K-2, the second highest mountain in the world, is clearly visible on the horizon. The pilot sometimes invites passengers into the cockpit to see some of Pakistan's 82 peaks over 7,000m, which stretch, range after range, as far as the eye can see.

This route is 'weather dependent' with about one third of flights cancelled, some at the last moment. If the flight is cancelled we will travel by coach to Gilgit.

On arrival in Gilgit we will be transferred to our hotel.

Gilgit Altitude: 1,500m (4,921ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (L,D)

Day 3: Gilgit

We spend the day relaxing in Gilgit. You have the option of visiting the incredible seventh century Kargah Buddha, a three metre high statute carved half way up a cliff-face. A 10-minute walk from here is the Shuko Gah, a small village where a Buddhist birchbark text (now called the Gilgit manuscripts) was found in 1931. The manuscripts are now divided among museums in London, Rome, Delhi and Karachi.

Gilgit Altitude: 1,500m (4921ft)
Cycle Distance: 18km (11 miles)
Total Climb: 225m (738ft)

Total Descent: 225m (738ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B)

Day 4: Gilgit to Chira

Today we set off on the bikes and cycle into the beautiful and remote Bagrote Valley which spans a distance of 25km and is 43km from Gilgit. Located at the heart of the Karakorum Mountains, it is surrounded by four Mountain Peaks: Rakapushi to the West, Dirn to the North, Popurash to the East and Dubani to the South East. The Bagrote River flows through the steep valley and merges with the Gilgit. The lower region of the valley has been likened to a lunar landscape and is in strong contrast to the upper valley. We cycle up the narrow road to the summer pastures passing beautiful terraced fields and meadows. The crops and orchards are irrigated by water channels from the Barchi and Hinarchi glaciers and mountain snow. Ice from the glacier is transported to Gilgit as the town has no ice factory. Chirah is the final village along the track, with a view of Hinarche Glacier and a series of ridges culminating in the Diran Peak (7270m). Nagyr is on the other side. Tonight we will be camping.

Chirah Altitude: 2,445m (8,022ft)
Cycling Distance: 43km (27 miles)
Total Climb: 1,377m (4,518ft)

Total Descent: 372m (1,220ft)                                                                                                           Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)

Day 5: Chira to Gilgit

This morning we visit the local school and women’s sewing centre, a vocational training project; both are supported by redspokes LVCF charity. We have the opportunity to meet families from the community. There is time to walk around and enjoy the view of the prominent Dobani peak and the Hinarche Glacier. We cycle back to Gilgit, mainly downhill; a gentle trip compared with yesterday’s ascent up the valley. Back in Gilgit you will have time to look around, visit a tea shop or pick up some of the handicrafts for sale in the town.

Gilgit Altitude: 1,500m (4921ft)
Cycle Distance: 43km (27 miles)
Total Climb: 372m (1,220ft)

Total Descent: 1,377m (4,518ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L)                                                                                                 

Day 6: Gilgit to Minapin

Shortly after leaving Gilgit we rejoin the KKH. The road climbs slowly passing a few small villages, before we start to witness the huge spiral of Rakaposhi looming in the distance. The road goes so close to its base that it is hidden most of the way. It is only when we arrive at our small family guesthouse at Minapin that we really witness the true beauty of Rakaposhi. Our accommodation for the night is situated in a beautiful tranquil orchard.

Minapin Altitude: 2,030m (6,660ft)
Cycle Distance: 82km (51 miles)
Total Climb: 1,353m (4,439ft)

Total Descent: 772m (2,533ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)

Day 7: Minapin to Karimabad

The Karakoram highway (KKH) is at its most spectacular between Ghulmit and Gulmit. The road rides high on the eastern side of the river, twisting and turning around the barren foot of the Hispar Range, which boasts six peaks over 7,000 metres. On the opposite bank, villages cling implausibly to the side of the 7,388m Ultar Mountain. Above, the jagged teeth along the ridge hide the highest snow-covered peaks from view. A short but spectacular day to Karimabad, the capital of Hunza.

Karimabad Altitude: 2,400m (7,874ft)
Cycle Distance: 35km (22 miles)
Total Climb: 703m (2,306ft)

Total Descent: 341m (1,119ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B)                                                                                                            

Day 8: Karimabad

A rest day, but with so much to see in this enchanting village, it is unlikely that you will get much rest. Highlights are a visit to the 13th Century Baltit Fort or a visit to see the Sacred Rocks of Hunza. For the really adventuress amongst you a trek up to Hon will give you incredible views across the whole of the Nagar valley.    

Karimabad Altitude: 2,400m (7,874ft)
Accommodation: Hotel 

Day 9: Karimabad to Passu

As we leave Karimabad the road drops down to the village of Ganesh before we begin a fairly hard 15 km climb. Remember that if at any time you have had enough, just wait around for the back-up vehicle. Due to the floods of 2010, a section of the KKH between the village of Gulmet, and Gulkin is now impassable and we will take a ferry here to continue along the route. This afternoon we cycle on a further 16 km to Passu. The road climbs with intermittent glimpses of glaciers, precipices and gleaming white peaks, before the 10 km descent to Passu, which brings us directly in front of the incredible Passu Glacier where we will stop for the night.

Passu Altitude: 2,480m (8136ft)
Cycle Distance: 41km (25 miles)
Total Climb: 910m (2,985ft)

Total Descent: 762m (2,500ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L) 

Day 10: Passu to Shimshal

Today you can either cycle or transfer by vehicle. The first 6km along the KKH before turning just beyond the Batura Glacier to cross a suspension bridge over the Hunza River and follow a jeep track up to Shimshal. The road has been described as a miracle of engineering by some. On our approach to Shimshal we pass fields of stones partitioned by dry stone walls, and houses built of mud and stone. In the distance we may catch a glimpse of Odver Sar (6,303m). The village herdsmen pasture their sheep, yak and goats in the seasonal mountain grasslands, located several days walk from the village. The people of Shimshal are Wakhi.  

Shimshal Altitude: 3,100m (10,170ft)
Cycle Distance: 59km (37 miles)
Total Climb: 972m (3,189ft)

Total Descent: 383m (1,256ft) 
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)                                                                                               

Day 11: Shimshal to Gulmit

Today we cycle down the valley passing the Mulungutti Glacier as we travel through a stunning scenery. The valley is home to herds of sheep, goats and yaks that are moved up and down the area with the seasons. But we see little evidence of settlement apart from the few shepherd's huts on the narrow track road. We cross the Hunza River over a suspension bridge before re-joining the KKH about 6km north of Passu. From here we will transfer to Gulmit.

Gulmit Altitude: 2,465m (8,087ft)
Cycle Distance: 59km (37 miles)
Total Climb: 383m (1,256ft)
Total Descent: 972m (3,189ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L) 

Day 12: Gulmit to Minapin

We journey back passing Karimabad once more enjoying our surroundings in the beautiful Hunza valley; the mountains to soar high above us and the road is lined with apricot trees. Minapin is a small detour off of the main road; we climb through tiny villages where friendly locals will greet us. Near Minapin we will enjoy a spectacular view of Mt Rakaposhi from the road. At a height of 7788 meters, Rakaposhi has an uninterrupted vertical rise of approximately 6000 m making it the tallest mountain on land when measured from the base to peak.

Minapin Altitude: 2,030m (6,660ft)
Cycling Distance: 68km (42 miles)
Total climb: 680m (2,231ft)
Total descent: 1,450m (4,757ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D) 

Day 13: Minapin 

We will trek around the local area this morning. We are surrounded by steep hillsides where small conifers grow. The village of Minapin is a popular destination as it provides the easiest access to three peaks that mountaineers are fond of scaling: the 7,788m Rakaposhi peak, the 7,266m Diran peak and the Miachar peak in the Karakoram Range. The valley’s natural beauty and the hospitality, culture and traditions of the locals all contribute to its popularity. The valley is also known for an abundance of fruit production, including apricots, apples, mulberry, walnuts and pomegranates.

Altitude: 2,030m (6,660ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)  

Day 14: Minapin to Islamabad

This morning we return to Islamabad. You either fly or travel by road. Those who opt to fly will have time to explore Islamabad. The city’s monuments, shrines and places of interest include Pakistan's largest mosque: Faisal Mosque and the Lok Virsa Museum where you'll see an interesting collection of folk and traditional artefacts. Just an hour by taxi from Islamabad is the Unesco World Heritage site Taxila. Meaning "City of Cut Stone" or "Takṣa Rock", Taxila is an important archaeological site where you can see remains of four early settlement sites, Buddhist monasteries, and a Muslim mosque and madrassa.

The journey by road takes approximately a day and a half. If you take this option please make sure to book your flight home on Day 14 later in the day - late afternoon or evening. 

Accommodation: Hotel (B)

Day 15: Islamabad

Transfer to airport for our late afternoon/evening flight home.



Important Note:

The above itinerary is intended as a working guide. Although every effort will be made to adhere to it, changes may be made because of weather conditions, transport failure or other unforeseen events.

If you need assistance or wish to discuss the tour, please feel free to call us on +44 (0) 1463 417707.

Alternatively, you can email us on office@redspokes.co.uk for more information on this adventure holiday.