No visit to Pakistan is complete without a Hunza Valley Tour and Karakoram Highway (KKH) Tour through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, and the Hunza Valley to Khunjerab Pass at the China border, some 4714m above the beach!
People travel for different reasons and just because you join our Australian Cricket Tour of Pakistan, doesn’t mean you want to see the spectacular North, but do consider it. The region is Pakistan’s primary tourist destination, and it is easy to know why, by imagery alone. Thus, plan your cricket tour so you can also join our incredible road trip!
Home to the world’s 2nd highest peak (K2), border crossing, paved road, ATM, and what locals call the world’s bluest lake, is a fraction of the geographic and engineering wonders of the region. The famous KKH, connecting Gilgit–Baltistan to the ancient Silk Road, stretches 1300km from Kashgar, China to Abbottabad, Pakistan, some 120km north of Pindi Cricket Ground.
We’ll drive from and fly back to Islamabad over 8 fantastic nights. Experiencing Pakistan’s stretch of one the world’s most spectacular highways is a life box to tick. And it's not just driving the Karakoram Highway, but experiencing the Hunza District and culture. Hunza Valley Tourism is the lifeline of the Hunza People who embrace visitors year-round.
Late-March is not the best time to visit but the Hunza Valley is just starting to spring bloom. And not being long into spring, late ‘winter surges’ can still disrupt flights, thus we will drive north. We wouldn’t want to be on board only then to be told Gilgit Airport is closed. We trust the weather will be good for flying to back Islamabad in April.
We’d love to drive to China and on our return to Gilgit go west over Shandur Pass (annual polo festivalJuly 7 - 9) to Chitral, Peshawar, and Khyber Pass however Shandur Pass is closed until May, thus we must go from & to Islamabad!
Day 1 we leave Islamabad and cruise the plains & pastures of eastern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the city of Abbottabad (Bin Laden's last 'huzzah') before climbing into the heavens after 1-night in Besham City on the Indus River!
Day 2 will be our longest drive as we creep & crawl 330km to Gilgit in incredible scenery that includes Nanga Parbat, the world’s 9th highest mountain (8126m). From Nanga Parbat viewpoint you can drive and trek (2-3hrs) to delightful Fairy Meadows, but sadly the meadow is closed until May. Having waited 24 years for a Pakistan Cricket Tour, we can’t moan it being the wrong time of year!
With 3 nights in Gilgit, Day 3 is without driving to recover from the taxing drive the days before. Your ‘spare day’ can be spent exploring Gilgit's Bazaars filled with Chinese crafts, spices, foods, and fabrics if not hiking the easy local trails to Kargah Buddha and Victory Monument of Taj Mughal.
Day 4 will be spent driving (casually) the Shandur-Gilgit Road along the Gilgit River. We will have lunch in Gupis before returning to Gilgit for dinner.
From Gilgit, it's just two-hours to Hunza from where we will absorb the full whack of the Karakoram Ranges. The drive includes a break at Rakaposhi Peak (7708m) viewpoint, the collision point of Indian & Eurasian continental plates, and the viewpoint of the old Silk Road, before reaching Hunza for 4 nights of delicious Hunza food!
On Days 5, 6, 7, and 8 in the Hunza Valley, we'll see (conditions dictating the order) Baltit & Altit Forts, Hoper Glacier, and Duiker viewpoint for sunset over the 7000+ m peaks of Rakaposhi, Diran, Spantik, and Ultar. We will see Haldeikish Sacred Rocks, Borith Lake, Hussaini Galcier, and take a perilous walk across the famous Hussaini Suspension Bridge; listed as one of the world’s most dangerous.
Surviving the bridge, we will see the spectacular Attabad Lake, formed in 2010 by the damming of the Hunza River after a landslide. 25km of the KKH was lost to what is now (one of) the world’s bluest lake. The realigned KKH was re-opened in 2016 to include the Pak-China friendship tunnels through which we travel to see Passu Glacier, Passu Cones, Passu Peak (7478m) and Shispar Peak (7611m) along with Batura Glacier and the villages of Gulmit, Khyber, Markhoon, Gircha, and Sost.
From Sost we venture to Khunjerab Pass and the Pakistan/China Arch. At 4693m this is not for the hard of breathing, but we will not spend enough time here to be deeply afflicted by the thin air. Lots of water will be required and provided. The weather should be OK in April to drive up and back but like regional airports, the road is subject to conditions that will be determined suitable and safe at the time by our experienced drivers and guides.
**China has 144-hrs visa-free entry for Aussies, but the border is not open until May 1 so the temptation to cross for a cheeky chop-suey is moot. Even still, immigration is 75km inside Pakistan and 100km inside China and you can only cross on dedicated buses. Even if the border was open there isn’t time to go to China and back in a day. Bugger!**
After 4 nights in spectacular Hunza Valley, we roll downhill to Gilgit after breakfast for our flight to Islamabad, allowing time to stop for photos. We can’t control the light so the sun may be shining on the return if it wasn’t on the out-lap.
When we tour depends on the cricket. We hope the ODI/T20’s are first so we can go straight after the Tests but who are we to question cricket schedules? If the Tests are played first we can’t go until after the ODI & T20’s as the weather may be too uncertain in mid-March to invest in the disappointment.
We will still be prepared (so you can too) to do this amazing trip, created & hosted by Apricot Tours, specialists in Northern Pakistan.
Our good friend ‘Lala’, whom we met in 2007 when preparing for our 2008 cricket tour, is the founding operator of Apricot Tours, based in Islamabad. Starting in 2005 with a trip to Fairy Meadows, Lala now creates and hosts set-itinerary and bespoke tours to Pakistan's highest peaks, passes, pastures, and paths by foot, bike, bus, 4x4, motorbike, and car.
Lala has passionate and experienced teams of guides, drivers, riders, and climbers that host fun, safe, unique, and informative trips throughout the Swat Valley, Chitral, Skardu, Gilgit, and of course the spectacular Hunza Valley and Hunza District.
In such a geographically challenging region, we would not consider ‘doing this ourselves’ unlike South Africa where hiring and driving are as easy as 'waving the flag' at the cricket. Thus, we asked Lala to create something special, and which makes the Hunza Valley very safe for you.
Though we list many remarkable Hunza Valley sights, Lala will introduce many aspects of Hunza people that you won't find in a ‘brochure’. Whether musicians, weavers, cooks, tailors, communities, or galleries, Lala will ensure we feel every heart-beat of the Hunza people in which he was born & raised.
Working on this since mid-2020, Lala has created a flexible itinerary to include all we can do considering the time of year, travel time, hotels, & flights. Flexible means adjusting plans to the weather such as going to Khunjerab as soon as we have a clear day, instead of 'Day 7 to Khunjerab' only to be snowed out!
Usually 1 guide per 12 persons, we will have 1 guide per 8-10 persons pending the vehicle. We want all to hear the guide's every word, have a window seat, and be comfortable, especially on long drives. We'll work on this with Lala and keep you posted.
OurHunza Valley Tourincludes all meals, travel, hotels, bottled-water, side-trips, entry fees, and experienced drivers & guides!
300+ so far 'wish' to join our Australian Cricket Tour of Pakistan so for our Hunza Valley Tour, we must say spaces are limited. We’d love everyone on our Cricket Tour in Pakistan to experience this special region but Hunza hotels and flights from Gilgit won't have availability! In any case, we can’t confirm our Hunza Tour until our cricket tour is confirmed.
Once cricket dates are confirmed, you can cancel if they do not suit travel plans. Late confirmation will limit the number of places so the first to book will have first refusal. We hope for many because Apricot Toursplant 5 trees for every visitor.