Day 1. Arrive in Islamabad
A member of the staff will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. This representative will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to the hotel in Rawalpindi. After check inn we go to Ministry of Tourism for trek briefing.. Afternoon is free to rest, relax or explore on your own,
Day 2. Travel to Chilas
Drive to Chilas and the frontier town of Gilgit on the Karakorum Highway. We will overnight at the Shangri La Midway House in Chilas.
Day 3. Travel to Skardu
We will drive through the narrow gorge of the Indus River to Skardu, transfer to Masherbrum Hotel.
Day 4. Drive to Askole (3000m) approx 8 hrs
We will travel by jeep with our crew and supplies along the Shigar and Braldu valleys to Askole. Village in Shigar have changed little in over five hundred years; farms with fields of barley, wheat and vegetables surrounded by stone walls and stands of poplar, willow and apricot trees. The apricot is a very important crop in the north, having a multitude of uses to the Balti and Hunzakut people. Villagers greet us as we pass through on the rugged dirt and stone road that leads to Baltoro.
As we approach, the landscapes become desert like and once within the sheer valley of the Braldu, it is necessary to cross the river several times by suspension bridges. At various points the road may have collapsed due to erosion and we will transfer the gear across on foot to a vehicle on the other side. The journey may take anywhere from six to twelve hours, with patience, we will arrive at our first camp of the trek. In Askole the villagers grow their own cereals, vegetables and fruit and own large herds of sheep, goats and dzos. Overnight in tents.
Day 5. Trek to Jhola (3200m) approx 6 hrs
After considerable organisation of equipment, supplies and porter loads for the journey ahead, we commence trekking towards Jhola. The valley opens out to reveal the Biafo Glacier flowing for more than fifty kilometers from the Hispar La pass to the Braldu. We have our first taste of moraine walking as we cross the snout of the glacier and descend to our lunch spot beside the river at Korofon. We also experience the harsh, stark environment that forms the base of these great mountains.
Our route takes us to the confluence of the Braldu and Dumordo Rivers where the infamous flying fox or ‘Jola’ is located. It is still there, however a footbridge has now been built making the passage much easier by every perspective. (Consider individual passage of 50 to 70 people with loads, compared with walking straight across a steel bridge!). In past years it was necessary to make a high traverse across a rocky face and descend steeply to the riverside of the Dumordo to gain the flying fox. There is now a safe and pleasant pathway above the river. It is this valley, fed by the Panmah Glacier, that was once a passage between Baltistan and Yarkhand across the West Mustagh Pass (5370m) into China. Once across, we descend beside the river to the Braldu and then follow along it’s banks to our camp at Jhola. Overnight in tents.
Day 6. To Paiju (3450m) approx 7 – 8 hrs
The route is mainly at riverside throughout the day, switching up and down somewhat according to the level of erosion and water levels of the Braldu. The Masherbrum Group may be glimpsed to our right via the Xiangang Valley. The range is a vast array of peaks that extend almost the full length of the southern side of Baltoro. Walking conditions are hot and dry and care must be taken to prevent sunburn, As we approach camp several small glacially fed rivulets flow down from the north and the first peaks of the Trango and Uli Biaho group appear on the distant ridge line. The vast snout of the Baltoro glacier, the fourth longest in Pakistan, is also visible but it’s hard to gather a sense of scale from here. Overnight in tents at Paiju.
Day 7. Paiju – rest day
An important preparatory stage for our crew and porters. Our goats are slaughtered and roti (breads) baked throughout the day for the journey ahead on the glacier. It is a welcome opportunity for us to relax, read and take photos. Perhaps do some washing and simply enjoy being in the mountains.
Day 8. To Khoburtse (3930m) approx 7-8 hrs
Making the short approach to the glacier, the great expanse of ice stretching across the Braldu comes into perspective when we see the many porters forming an ant-like trail across it. Ice cliffs tower more than sixty metres above the turbulent waters at the origin of the Braldu River. As a result of its continually changing nature, the glacial moraine may be difficult to trek upon at this stage and our route varies somewhat each time. One should be prepared for a hard day of walking and carry plenty of fluid. Once at the other side, the trail will hug the side and occasionally necessitate a glacier or river crossing. There are now uninterrupted views of Paiju Peak (6610m), Uli Biaho group, Trango Group and Cathedral Group – a majestic, spired collection of mountains that the Karakorum are so well known for. Behind us the steep grassy slopes make high grazing pastures for ibex and the rocks are home to mouse hares (Pikas) and colourful hoopoe birds which forage for food scraps. Overnight in tents.
Day 9. To Urdukus (4050m) approx 3-4 hrs
An easier day’s walk, following a good trail at the side of the Baltoro with two feeding glaciers to cross en-route. It is Great Trango (5844m), facing eastwards, that is considered the greatest cliff face in the world and the point from which two Australians made a world record base jump in 1992. On the trail, pony trains carrying supplies to army camps are often passed and occasional helicopters overhead provide a reminder of our proximity to the disputed territory of Kashmir nearby. The grassy camp of Urdukas is well located before the mountains and is our last before continuing glacial camps. If the weather is clear at the head of the valley we may see Broad Peak (8050m) and Gasherbrum IV (7930m), two of the most prominent peaks of the region.
Day 10. To Goro II (4350m) approx 7-8 hrs
Trek to Goro II. Across the Baltoro glacier we have exciting views of Paiju Peak (6600m), Choricho (6756m), Uli Biaho, Trango Towers, Cathedrals, and Biale (6750m).) .After crossing the green pastures of Urdukas (approximately 4250m, we cross the side crevasses, then walk on the medial moraine of the Baltoro to Biango campsite. Biango, at 4350m., is part of the yermanadu Glacier flowing down from Masherbrum Pass (5360m). From here we have a spectacular view of the snowy triangle of Masherbrum (7821m.), the 24th highest peak in the world. After lunch here we walk another two hours to reach our campsite at Goro II (4350m). Seven to eight hours hiking.
Day 11. To the incredible sanctuary of Concordia (4650m). 4-5 hrs
As we make our approach, Gasherbrum IV(7925m) stand guard in the east, with Gasherbrum II (8035m) peering from its right shoulder, More extraordinary mountain views await us at Concordia, where we see K2 (8611m), Broad Peak (8047m), Golden Throne (7300m),Mitre Peak (6017m), and a vast array of other peaks. Overnight in tents.
Day 12. Day excursion to K2 Base Camp (5100m). 10 – 12 hrs
K-2 Base Camp. Day hike to K2 Base Camp, as strenuous, 10-12 hours round-trip hike over snow , rock and ice. As we start hiking from Concordia, we cross the crevasses of the Baltoro Glacier, then walk on the Medial moraine of the Godwin-Austin Glacier to Broad Peak base camp. When we look back towards Concordia, we can see the zebra -striped Glaciers sweeping around the corner and disappearing into the Baltoro Glacier K-2 Base Camp normally accommodates five to six mountaineering expeditions during the climbing season. Return to Concordia camp for overnight.
Day 13. Rest day at Concordia
Rest day and exploration, here we find many climbing expeditions attempting to climb GI and GII. Overnight in tents at base camp.
Day 14. Trek back to Urdukus
Trek back to Urdukus, camp. 8/10 hrs. Overnight in tents.
Day 15. Trek to Paiju
Trek back to Paiju, camp. 7/8 hrs. Overnight in tents.
Day 16. Trek to Jhola
Trek down to Jhola, camp. 6/7hrs. Overnight in tents.
Day 17. Trek to Askole
Trek back to Askole, camp. 6/7 hrs. Overnight intents.
Day 18. By Jeep to Skardu.
Meet with jeeps and drive six to eight hours to Skardu, passing through many picturesque villages perched on vertical rocks. Overnight at Mashabrum Hotel.
Day 19. Return to Islamabad
Fly from Skardu to Islamabad, weather permitting, if flight cancelled drive to Besham on the Karakorum Highway along the Indus River. Transfer to Besham continental hotel.
Day 20. Explore Islamabad or Arrive Islamabad
A free day in Islamabad follows a short debriefing at the Ministry of Tourism . Optional excursion to Taxila, an archaeological site located about 20 miles from Islamabad . Here lie the remains of three great cities and many Buddhist monasteries dating from 600 BC to 600 AD. Taxila was situated at the juncture of trade routes linking China, India, Central Asia and the West and thus became the cultural cross-roads of the ancient world. If by road today we arrive Islamabad from Besham, hotel. Overnight at Hotel Shalimar.
Day 21. Fly home
Transfer to airport and fly home from Islamabad.
We are glad to quote the following for the above itinerary for 21 days.
- Pax 2/3 – 2145 USD per person
- Pax 4/5 – 1705 USD per person
- Pax 7/9 – 1650 USD per person
- Pax 10 – 1540 USD per person
- Letter of invitation (LOI)
- 6 nights Hotel accommodation at tourist class hotels with B/B.
- All meals during trek.
- Sleeping tents,, kitchen, toilet and mess tents with tables/stools.
- Kitchen equipment, crockery, fuel and related camping gear.
- Services of English speaking mountain guide, assistant guides, cooks, Sirdar and low altitude porters.
- 12.5 kg of personal baggage during the trek.
- Arranging Trekking Permit from Ministry of Tourism, Insurance of our field staff, porters/guides.
- Safety rope and basic necessary gear.
Services Not Included:
- International /domestic airfare and airport tax.
- Excess weight.
- Sleeping bags and personal nature clothing/equipment.
- Main meals and extras at hotels like drinks, laundry, phone calls.
- Insurance liability and other under force majeure conditions, medical aid, and helicopter rescue coverage etc.
- Any other services not mentioned above.
For this trip you will need the following: 4 season sleeping bag, Thermarest or similar sleeping mat, walking boots, waterproof jacket and trousers (rainpants), fleece jacket or similar, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, a daypack, head torch (headlamp) and batteries, water bottles, sun cream. A down jacket is also recommended.
A typical day on trek
Shortly after first light one of the cook crew will wake you with a cup of tea or coffee brought to your tent. You will have plenty of time to get up and pack your kitbag before sitting down to a hot breakfast, during which camp will be struck and the porters given their loads. Setting off in the pleasant cool of the morning, we will generally reach our lunch stop by 11 a.m. The cook crew, having overtaken us on the trail, will already have the lunch preparations well under way. Lunch usually takes an hour or even two and again this is a cooked meal. This is a great time for relaxing, reading and sitting in the sun. The pack-animals usually catch up with the group during lunch and are well on their way to camp which we hope to establish by the afternoon, well before dusk. It is usual for the afternoon’s walk to be shorter than the morning session. During the day you are free to walk at your own pace. On arrival at camp, the Sherpas will quickly put the tents up and a hot drink will soon follow. Dinner is a 3-course meal served in the mess tent. This is a great time of day for reliving the events of the trek so far and for general socialising. After dark, the temperature quickly falls and everyone will soon be tucked up in their sleeping bags.
Your baggage on trek will be carried by porters. The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking including your sleeping bag and camping mattress should be no more than 12.5 kgs. (27 pounds). It is possible to leave items not required on trek at the group hotel in Skardu.
During this trip the group will have 2 nights hotel accommodation in Khaplu and Shigar Fort aftern return from the trek. Whilst on trek there will be a total of 13 nights spent camping. All accommodation is based on twin sharing. If you are traveling by yourself you will be paired with another single client of the same sex. It is possible to hire a single tent while on trek and single Rooms in hotels for an additional cost.
On trek, the food is a mixture of local and Western, dishes using ingredients mostly purchased in Pakistan and cooked by our highly trained trek cooks. Breakfasts consist of cereal, muesli or porridge, eggs, bread or chapatti, tea and coffee. Lunches are a picnic from a choice of canned fish, tinned meats, cheese, pickles, pate, and crackers or chapattis, sometimes accompanied by hot soup and noodles, and finished off with tea or coffee. Dinner taken in a group ‘mess’ tent, is a three course meal. We do routinely cater for vegetarians but you must inform us if you wish your diet to be exclusively vegetarian.
Drinking water which has been treated with iodine is provided by the trek kitchen during breakfast, at the lunch stop and while in camp. We use spring water wherever possible but on some days we have no choice except to use glacial melt which may contain silt. Conventional filters do not work well with glacial silt and in camp the kitchen will use a large water barrel which allows the silt to settle away. You should bring a little bicarbonate of soda if you find the taste of iodine unpalatable.
General Information Language
Urdu is the only official language of Pakistan, although English is widely spoken in the cities and is the language of business and most of the government ministries. Urdu is closely related to Hindi but is written in a different alphabet. Many other languages are spoken in Pakistan, and in the area of our trek, Balti which is related to ancient Tibetan is the regional language. Your local guide will have a reasonable knowledge of English and porters will know some words.
In July and August, we can expect to encounter temperatures as high as 30°C / 86°F at Skardu and 25°C / 77°F at Askole (at 3000m. / 10,000ft.). In early June and late September we may encounter snow on the upper part of the Baltoro Glacier, but this has usually melted by July. However, snow can fall at Concordia even in August/September. At any time of the season the night-time temperature at Concordia can drop to as low as -10°C / 14°F. The Karakorum Mountains are sheltered from the full effects of the monsoon which means summer is the best season for trekking and climbing here. However, weather in mountainous areas is notoriously difficult to predict, and short-lived storms can occur at any time of the year.
You should bring your own personal first aid kit consisting of the following: A broad spectrum antibiotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), altitude (Diamox), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent (DEET), and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea.
This trek involves going to fairly high altitudes. This is not something that you should worry about. The human body is capable of adapting to a very wide range of barometric pressures and there is plenty of oxygen even at the highest point of our trips. However, this process of adaptation or acclimatization does take time and the most important rule is to gain height slowly. There is a correlation between daily fluid intake and successful acclimatization and you must drink at least 3 litres and up to 6 litres per day during trekking at high altitude
Preparing for your trip
It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a trekking trip getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. For this trip you need to be aerobically fit and also comfortable with walking up to 10 hours on some days. We would suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime leading up to your trip. Regular hiking in hill country is the best training but jogging, squash and swimming are also good for developing cardio vascular fitness and stamina. Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.
Reference Books and Maps Books:
- Trekking in Pakistan. Isobel Shaw. Karakorum Highway. John King.
- Top Treks of the World. Steve Razzetti. Throne Room of the Mountain Gods. Galen Rowell.
- K2 Triumph and Tragedy. Jim Curran.