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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Gilgit-Baltistan August 19th 2018

Kashgar marks the end of the 1,300km Karakoram Highway and the end of our journey. We've completed one of the classic travel journeys, following in the footsteps of the many traders, warriors, pilgrims and poets that have gone before us on this remote branch of the ancient Silk Road, through the Himalayas, Hindu Kush and Karakorum mountains. Depending on your perspective we’ve survived one of the world’s most dangerous roads or travelled one of the world’s most spectacular. Either way we mustn’t forget the heavy toll on the workers who built the modern day road in the 1960’s and 70’s. 810 Pakistanis and 200 Chinese lost their lives due to the high elevation and inhospitable terrain. Most from the landslides which continue to be a regular feature of the Highway, and the scars from which – ... read more
Route 2018

Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Hunza August 14th 2018

Sost is Pakistan’s border town, even though it is 84km from the actual border. We knew it is only a small place so hadn’t rushed up there, even thought we know morning is when the only public transport there is would have gone. Instead of plan was stay in Passu for the morning and then see what ride we could to find. Knowing that might take time we had decided we wanted to be hitting the road about mid-afternoon. When the time came we checked out of our hotel and set ourselves up on the Highway just outside. More traffic was heading south than north though it was still barely a trickle. After half an hour maybe half a dozen vehicles had gone past which were either full or just going to the village. One car ... read more
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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Hunza August 13th 2018

Passu is a small isolated village, with just one shop, one cafe and a few hotels. It is dominated by the very photogenic 6100m high jagged peaks of the Cathedral Range. The locals speak Wakhi, the same as in the Tajikistan and Afghanistan Wakhan Valley, which we figured must literally be not far over the mountains behind us. The young guys running our hotel are a perfect combination of relaxed and helpful. The wifi also works well, when the power is on, which often it’s not. Our room was at the back, which was perfect. Not only is there something nice about being at the end of the corridor, particularly when there is a window seat at the end, but we looked out onto a couple of fruit trees and behind that Passu glacier spilling down ... read more
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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Hunza August 12th 2018

The Hunza Valley is said to be the inspiration behind the mythical valley of Shangri-La in James Hilton’s 1933 novel ‘Lost Horizon.’ It’s really not hard to see why. Rehman is infamous in the Pakistan traveller network for hosting foreigners at his family’s home in Ghulkin, a small village in the Hunza Valley just 15 minutes from Gulmit. We’d got in touch with him a few days before to see if we could stay the night. Busy hosting a tour for a British Pakistani family he arranged for his wife Sitara to look after us. She called us the night before to arrange for a family friend to collect us from our Gulmit guesthouse early on Saturday morning. This is Pakistan so little runs on time and our lift was almost an hour late. We didn’t ... read more
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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Hunza August 11th 2018

We were woken at 5am by water gushing out of the tap. All the hotels had water issues and amid many apologies our bathroom bucket had been being filled for us with big bottles of water. The water in Karimabad comes from the glaciers so what comes out of the taps is black/grey and we were definitely not going to complain about having clear water to wash with. The cold water had come back on the night before but this was the hot tap bursting into life that rudely woke us. We got up and watched sunrise on the mountains and valley from our terrace. We also discovered that with no one else up we had a great mobile data signal so uploaded our videos at the same time. Then we dived back in to use ... read more
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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Karimabad August 10th 2018

We’d planned to be up early to catch a minibus to Karimabad, being a 3 hour journey we really didn’t fancy suffering it in the heat. It was another hot night, we’d tried to keep our room as cool as we could by using our sarongs as curtains during the day, that helped but the air temperature just wasn’t in our favour. Cursing both the lack of a fan and our reluctance to face the hassle in the heat of finding somewhere else to stay and moving, we started from the outset with the bedding dragged off on the floor under the window. We tossed and turned and then at 3:45am there was a big cracking roll of thunder. Marie at first thought it was a landslide as nothing followed for 10 minutes, but then it ... read more
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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Gilgit-Baltistan August 9th 2018

The journey from Rama Lake back to Gilgit can best be described as stinking hot. We suffered badly for the lack of A/C. The scenery was stunning, again following a rough road that used to be an ancient trading route, next to the Indus River. It travels through a big gorge until eventually opening up as we rejoined the Karakoram Highway. Kabluie’s slow driving for the 4th day in what we discovered was 40C heat was akin to torture. The mountains were radiating heat so it bounced in through the windows adding to the temperature. It was like being in a furnace blast. We got back to the homestay in the mid-afternoon very hot and dusty. With no fan in our room nor the hang out room we contemplated moving accommodation the next day as there ... read more
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We arrived in Astore, a Himalayan village perched on the mountainside, to find access to our guesthouse blocked by a polo match. It was on the edge of the field, on the other side. We were stoked, polo is the best audience participation sport there is and we’ve only seen a game once before in India. There were some female spectators but generally they were behind the caged section or on nearby rooftops. None were on the edge of the field like us and of course as the only foreigners we were a spectacle in our own right. As we walked the length of the pitch behind the spectators every single head turned to look at us. Even the local media guy wanted to interview us (we declined). We loved being close to the action and ... read more
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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Skardu August 6th 2018

The Deosai Plains are a National Park established to protect the Himalayan Brown Bear. The second highest plateau in the world, it is only open in the summer, linking Skardu and Astore for a few months a year via a rough 4WD track. Covering 3000 sq kmit is vast and is carefully managed by Park Rangers with the help of a park fee of US$8. Aside from the Himalayan Brown Bear there are also snow leopards, with programmes in place to protect both. The Park sits at 3500m to 4500m high. It is surrounded by the Karakoram, Ladakh, Zansker and Himalayan mountain ranges. Given its geography it was a surprise to see how lush and green the landscape is and, dotted by 340 different plant species, in places it is quite colourful with flowers. Everyone knows ... read more
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Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Skardu August 5th 2018

Our 4WD driver had come to Gilgit late on the evening we arrived. We were heading straight out the next day on a 4 day loop; out to Skardu day 1, spend day 2 there, then take 2 days to come back via the Deosai National Park with an overnight stay in Astore, a Himalayan mountain village. The road to Skardu is bad; rough and unsealed, and there’s currently a lot of construction happening to improve it, making it even slower. It took us 9 hours with maybe a half hour lunch stop to travel 168km (that’s an average speed of 19kmh…). Our driver was generally cautious but he could have gone a bit quicker, our Prado is quite old, it has no A/C, sounds rough, makes some funny noises over bumps and before the end ... read more
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