June 2016 - Travel Pakistan

Kel Valley Azad Jammu Kashmir

Hunza Valley in Autumn

K-2 Siren of the Himalayas

Malam Jabba Swat Valley

Shangrilla Resort Skardu

Kohe Safed FATA

Passu Cones Gilgit-Baltistan

Jun 6, 2016

By Road, Islamabad to Gilgit, Skardu and Hunza

What are the possible routes?

By road journey from Islamabad or Rawalpindi to Gilgit and Skardu is one of the adventurous and enjoyable journeys of the world, because departing from Islamabad to Skardu or Gilgit the vehicles pass from scenic wonderlands and panoramic valleys i.e almost all the beautiful places of the KPK. There are two routes to reach Gilgit-Baltistan from Islamabad or Rawalpindi. One is directly through KKH (Karakorum Highway) which is named as N35. If you follow this route you will see the beautiful places of KPK like Mansehra, Abbottabad, Batgram, Chatarplane, Patan and Bisham etc.

Karakorum Highway passing through the Gilgit-Baltistan 

Another way is same from Islamabad to Mansehra city of KPK but from here it follows the national highway named as N15. If you follow this route that also meets to KKH at Chilas District of Gilgit-Baltistan, you will see the most beautiful and panoramic places of Pakistan i.e. Naran and Kaghan valley and Babusar Top of Gilgit-Baltistan. You can see the map below to understand the route better.

Major cities and towns along the route»

Route 1 
Islamabad » Taxila» Haripur » Abbottabad » Mansehra »  Batgram» Thakot » Bisham » Dasu » Chilas »  Gilgit » Skardu  
Route 2  
Islamabad » Taxila» Haripur » Abbottabad » Mansehra » Balakot » Mahandri »Kagahn » Naran  » Chilas » Gilgit » Skardu 


You will never forget the journey and will be proud of it which you have made through worlds highest road network, KKH (Karakoram Highway) passing through worlds three mightiest ranges of mountains (The Himalayas emerging from India and Nepal, the Karakorum from north Pakistan and Hindukush from Afghanistan).

Departing from Islamabad or Rawalpindi the more you cover the distance the more you will be going higher and higher towards the land of Peaks.   
It takes about 4 or four and half hours to reach Mansehra and vehicle, whatever you have chosen, will make a stop for tea or meal depending upon the time of departure. After that, passing through green carpeted lands of KPK you will reach the Besham City. Here the vehicles will make a stop for meal or tea.  From here the KKH will be following every twist and turn of the Indus River. Now passing through Kohistan, the last district of KPK, you will be hugged by the Peaks of Gilgit-Baltistan. Entering the Diamer District you will reach at district headquarter, Chilas. Mostly the vehicles depart late noon, in that case, you will be in Chilas for breakfast but if you have left Islamabad before noon you will be at Jougloat for breakfast. After departing from here you will reach a junction separating ways of Gilgit and Skardu. 

If you are going to Gilgit it will take about a half an hour to reach Gilgit city from this junction. But if you are determined to go to Skardu you will have to cover 200 km more. It will take about four to five hours to reach Skardu. On the way towards Skardu, the vehicle will make a stop for lunch at  PTDC motel Stak Valley which will be the last tea or meal.  Now, after 2 and half hours, you will reach Skardu city and will be enjoying the beautiful weather and places of Skardu.


Junction of Indus and Gilgit River from where ways of Skardu and Gilgit split


A close view of Skardu Road across the Gilgit River

Going to Hunza

If you are interested in going to Hunza, there are two ways to reach there. First is, if you buy a direct ticket, the vehicle will carry you directly to Hunza passing through Gilgit city. Second is, if you buy a ticket for Gilgit city the vehicle will make last stop at the Gilgit city and from here you can go there by yourself which is about one and a half to two hours drive from the Gilgit city.
The way to Hunza is same as to Gilgit i.e vehicle passing through Gilgit reaches Hunza. 

How long does it take to reach Gilgit and Skardu from Islamabad? 

Mostly people ask this question, so here is the answer. For Gilgit, it takes 18-20 hours and for Skardu, it takes 24-26 hours in normal traffic and if there hasn't been any temporary blockade. 
Nowadays the Karakoram Highway is under maintenance and the work from the China border to the periphery of Chilas city has been completed. Therefore travel time from Chilas city to the Gilgit city has been reduced as compare to the earlier times. But the condition of KKH from Chilas city to the Bisham city of KPK is not satisfactory. Also, the Gilgit-Skardu road is in a dilapidated condition and there are talks of reconstruction of the road.
Once you are in Gilgit and Skardu you can visit other cities as well from these two, these two cities are accessible via by air travel as well. From Gilgit, you can visit all cities of Gilgit-Baltistan in different directions. It will take 5 hours for Skardu, about 2 hours for Hunza and Nagar, 2 hours for Ghizer and about 3-4 hours for Astore and Chilas. 

List of Transport Agencies
There is no shortage of transport agencies. You will have your own choice of vehicle. Also, you may take rental vehicles for private use to reach Gilgit or Skardu.
For more information, you can visit Stations and Terminals.
The list of transport agencies are:
NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Corporation) 
Mshabrum Tours
Himalaya Tours
K2 Tours

The Karakoram Highway (8th wonder of the world)



Mostly people ask why the Karakorum highway is known as the 8th wonder of the world?

So we are going to list the features of the KKH owing to which it is counted as the 8th wonder of the world.




A brief introduction about the Karakoram Highway (KKH)

The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is the highest paved international road in the world. It was constructed by the governments of Pakistan and China, started in 1959 and completed in 1979 (open to the public since 1986).  About 810 Pakistanis and about 200 Chinese workers lost their lives, mostly in landslides and falls while building the highway. It connects China and Pakistan across the Karakorum mountain ranges, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an elevation of 4,693 meters (15,397 ft). It connects China's Xinjiang region with Pakistan's Gilgit–Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions and also serves as a popular tourist attraction.  Its length is 1300 km. 

It is pertinent to mention here that the highway passes along such geographical localities that one cannot imagine such variations might exist, like when some places along the highway experience a scorching heat of about 50 degree Celsius in May, some places still receive snow and freezes.  

Reason for counting as 8th wonder

  • The K.K.H. passes through a scenic wonderland. The landscape changes almost after every mile. Starting from Hasan Abdal about 60 kilometers away from Islamabad, every second of drive leads one up and up towards the land of peaks; Gilgit-Baltistan.  
  • When in Hasan Abdal, it is totally a plain area having small ridges around but one cannot find high altitude terrain and forest areas. Moving further the hills grow in altitude and forest becomes thicker. 
  • When Mansehra is crossed, the highway enters into breathtaking and heavenly valleys like Chatar Plain, Battal and Batgram etc. These valleys are in fact a piece of heaven; thickly forested, the vehicles are lost in the forest. 
  • When in Kohistan, the last district of KPK, the highway follows every twist and turns of the Indus River. Sometimes the highway carved through the rocky mountain passes through the climax of the mountain, having sight of Indus River deep in the ravine, it seems like one is flying in plane or helicopter. 
  • Until the end of the KPK the mountains are covered by the thick evergreen forest, but as one enters the Gilgit-Baltistan there is a complete shift in mountain structures. The giant goldish rocky mountains are covered by snow and there is a very little forest on it.
  •  There are hundreds of suspension bridges on Indus River across the KKH connecting world's two mightiest mountain ranges (Himalaya emerging from India and Hindukush from Afghanistan). 
  • One can have sight of the gleaming icy summits of world's highest mountains: Nanga Parbat and Rakaposhi ( 9th and the 27th highest peak in the world) from the highway. 
  • Many glaciers can be seen while traveling on the highway which includes: Minapin, Passu, Gulkin and Khunjrab glaciers.
  • The highway transects a number of rivers including; Gilgit, Hunza, Indus and Khunjrab River.
  • Hundreds of streams can be seen along the highway. 
  • One can see the road carved into the rocky mountains; even the sign of rods of machines which were used to bore the rock is visible along the road.
  • There are more than 50,000 pieces of rock art and petroglyphs all along the highway that are concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial. The carvings were left by invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the trade route, as well as by locals. The earliest date back to between 5000 and 1000 BC, showing single animals, triangular men, and hunting scenes in which the animals are larger than the hunters. 




KKH passing through Passu Village

How to enjoy the sublime beauty of the KKH

If you are an adventure lover and looking for a thrill then you must travel on KKH because it would be one of a kind of road journey experience in your life. It is not only the landscape you would enjoy, there are many other things along the highway which will turn your journey into a memorable one and you would be proud of it.
The beauty of land journey is that you enjoy many things, the landscape, people, culture, lifestyle of people, generosity and hospitality of people and much more. The KKH connects countries, people, cultures, cities, and regions. It is not only the landscape which changes after every mile, the culture, people, their lifestyle, appearances and hospitality also change. 
If you want to explore the KKH we would recommend you to arrange your trip with a great flexibility of time because there are dozens and dozens of spots and many other things in which you would find awe and spending time in those places, with those people and enjoying those cultures would be the best thing while traveling on KKH. You can choose any kind of conveyance, be it a simple bike, motorbike or any other kind of four-wheel vehicle as long as you are traveling between June-August, beyond this timeline it would be hard to explore the KKH because some regions experience very harsh weather. 

The landscape

The landscape is one of the most prominent things to enjoy when you are traveling on KKH. Initially, you pass through the plain areas when you start the journey from Islamabad but as you move northward it changes to hilly areas. At some point, the road passes through thickly wooded lush green mountains and you would be lost in the wood. Passing through the hairpin road thickly covered by the pine trees would be the best experience to enjoy. 
The further you move upward the mountains grows in size and the green mountains turns into bald rocky mountains when you enter the Gilgit-Baltistan. At some places, you would observe small desert plains, but in most of the cases, the road will pass through the packed ravines along the Indus River till the periphery of Gilgit city.  There would be villages, hamlets and small towns to cities along the highway. At the close of the Pakistan-China border, you would be at a great height, some 15,000 feets above the sea level so it would be better to accompany some warm fabrics and other travel gears. 

Gilgit-Skardu Road

Below are pictures of Gilgit-Skardu Road which is alike KKH. We are uploading these because we have mentioned above that the highway is carved through mighty rocky mountains and the second reason is, we don't have any clear and new pictures of KKH right now.