If I had to name my favorite country in the world, that would be Pakistan.
Home to staggering and unspoiled landscapes, Pakistan is the only country where you find the three highest mountain ranges in the world, the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush.
From trekking to glaciers, reaching the Nanga Parbat base camp or just relaxing in alpine lakes, in this tour, we will explore the most gorgeous northern valleys, including the off-the-beaten-track and barely visited regions of Shimshal and Astore.
Nevertheless, Pakistan is also known for its beautiful, welcoming, and charming people, some of the most hospitable people I have ever met during my travels, so this tour will also have a strong focus on learning about the local community.
The tour will take place during one of the best months for visiting Pakistan, right after Ramadan and just before the summer months, when the valleys are beautifully green, yet free of crowds.
August 13th to 26th
Lead by Oriol López
Day 1 – Arrival in Islamabad
Day 2 – Driving the Karakoram Highway to Chilas
Day 3 – Driving the Karakoram Highway to Gulmit
Day 4 – Trekking around Gulmit
Day 5 – Passu and Shimshal
Day 6 – Trekking to Yazghil glacier in Shimshal
Day 7 – Attabad Lake and Karimabad
Day 8 – Explore Karimabad
Day 9 – Driving to Tarishing
Day 10 – Trekking to Nanga Parbat base camp
Day 11 – Trekking to Rama Lake
Day 12 – Driving to Chillas
Day 13 – Driving to Islamabad
Day 14 – Departure
Day 1 is the arrival day in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
We will spend the day picking you up from the airport and checking in at the hotel.
In the evening, we will invite you for a welcome dinner at Monal Restaurant, one of the most popular restaurants in town, serving high-quality Pakistani food.
The drive between Islamabad and Gilgit Baltistan is a 600-kilometer ride over an entangled road, not feasible to do it in one day, so we will stop and spend the night in Chilas, a small town along the Karakoram, where we will get our first glimpse of the local life in this part of Pakistan.
The whole journey from Islamabad to Chilas takes around 12 hours, with breaks and checkpoints included.
The drive is very scenic and of course, we will be stopping for pictures and stretching our legs when needed, like in Lulusar Lake.
We will continue our journey through the Karakoram Highway towards Gulmit.
Located in the heart of Hunza, Gulmit is a picturesque village located in a jaw-dropping area of Gilgit-Baltistan, surrounded by absolutely outstanding mountains and perhaps, the most welcoming village in the country.
In Gulmit, the local communities have been doing a tremendous effort in attracting tourism, making it the most charming place to visit in Pakistan.
Overnight in Gulmit.
We will spend the day exploring Gulmit and its surroundings, focusing on the local culture, including visiting a women-run carpet workshop and having lunch in a local house.
In the afternoon, we will trek to Ondra Polygah for the best views of the valley.
Overnight in Gulmit.
Day 5 is among traveler’s favorites.
Early in the morning, we will head for Shimshal, not without first stopping at Hussaini bridge, a vertiginous, suspension bridge.
We will cross it over and do the trek to the village of Passu. Those who don’t wish to trek can just hang out in Passu, which is pretty stunning by the way.
After lunch, we will head for Shimshal.
Overnight in Shimshal.
Shimshal is the highest settlement in Hunza, and one of the less visited areas in the country.
Needless to say, the valley is obviously gorgeous and early in the morning, we will hike to Yazghil glacier, a 20-kilometer trek.
We will have lunch overlooking the magnificent glacier before heading back to the village and enjoying our time with the local people there.
Overnight in Shimshal.
We will say goodbye to Shimshal and head for Karimabad.
On the way, however, there are many places to stop by, we can keep it flexible, but the best is to stop at Attabad Lake for a picnic lunch and relaxing afternoon.
Karimabad is the largest settlement in Hunza, a proper town with comfortable accommodations and facilities, and wehere we might even get the chance to have a cold beer!
Time to relax!
After several days in the mountains, Karimabad feels like a big city but it’s more like a small town home to some pretty cool forts and amazing scenery, besides a pretty lively local market.
We will visit all of that and finish the day over a few beers.
Overnight in Karimabad.
This is the most beautiful and epic drive of the whole trip, where we will try to reach Tarishing, a small settlement located at the base of Nanga Parbat, an 8,100-meter peak that belongs to the Himalayan range.
Overnight in Tarishing.
Have you ever watched the Brad Pitt-starred movie 7 Years in Tibet? Well, the mountain they try to climb at the beginning of the movie is Nanga Parbat itself and on day 10, we will reach the base camp.
Translating into Killer Mountain, Nanga Parbat is one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the world, but the base camp is quite accessible and can be reached in a few hours.
Picnic lunch in Nanga Parbat base camp before heading back to Tarishing.
For me, this is the best place in all of Pakistan, a mesmerizing, off-the-beaten-track area of Pakistan, filled with remote mountain settlements and jaw-dropping nature.
We will spend the day visiting lovely villages, as well as Rama Lake.
Overnight in Astore.
This will our last day in the mountains so, we will take out time, enjoying breakfast and the beautiful Himalayan range, before heading down to Chilas, slowly, enjoying one last time of the scenery.
In the morning, we will drive back slowly to Islamabad.
After breakfast, we will take care of your transfer to Islamabad airport.
Airport transfers in Islamabad
13 nights of accommodation (twin shared) in hotels mentioned in FAQ
Letter of Invitation (needed for the visa)
Private coaster and Jeeps (when needed) with experienced driver across Pakistan
All meals, including dinner in a fancy restaurant on arrival day + breakfast on departure day
Clearance for all checkpoints
Entrance fees, cultural activities and guided tours to all places listed in the itinerary
International flights to Islamabad
Visa fees (from $35 to $60, depending on nationality).
Alcoholic drinks or any extra drink
Single supplement. Having your own private room for 13 nights costs 350€
August 13th to 26th
Lead by Oriol López
These are the hotels we always stay in – subject to availability.
All are relatively comfortable hotels and lodges with private rooms and attached toilets, usually the best available option in the region we visit.
Price of the tour includes accommodation in a twin room.
If you are a solo traveler, you will be sharing the room with another like-minded traveler from the group. We always try to group people of same gender and age together but note that this won’t always be the case. Moreover, in the hypothetical case there weren’t perfect pairs, one of the rooms would be a triple room.
If you wanted to have your own single room, you will have to pay an additional €350.
With our Letter of Invitation, you’ll be able to apply for a Pakistan tourist visa online.
It’s recommended to start applying 2 months in advance.
Pretty much all nationalities.
As mentioned, in the mountain areas, we always stay in the best available accommodation. However, note those areas of Pakistan are so remote that even the best possible accommodation can be an issue for some, since electricity and running water might not always be reliable.
Moreover, we always try to eat in the cleanest places but note that hygiene standards in Pakistan are poor and many travelers get sick due to the food they eat outside of the hotels we stay.
Nevertheless, if you are keen to have the most epic adventure and are flexible when it comes to tourist facilities, you are welcome to join this tour!
Islamabad has an international airport with plenty of connections with Dubai, Istanbul, Doha, Abu Dhabi and even London.
If you want to visit the cultural capital of Lahore, I recommend flying there, yes, and then you can take a bus to Islamabad (around 5 hours).
Nowadays, Pakistan is quite safe, especially in the northern areas.
We limit our tours to a maximum of 12-14 people.
You can find ATMs in Islamabad better to bring cash for the northern areas.
Both € and $ can be easily exchanged for Pakistani rupees.
We don’t do anything extreme, only day treks, which can be relatively easy for someone in good shape.
In order to secure your spot on the tour, we require a €500 deposit.
Then, the remaining amount shall be sent no later than 45 days before the departure date.
Methods of payment will be shared upon booking your spot.
Either you are joining one of our trips, or you are traveling by yourself, you might want to look for proper travel insurance. Against the Compass has been a partner with IATI for several years already, recommending it to all readers, as well as covering all Joan Torres’ personal trips.
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