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Day 5: Gilgit to Karimabad (Hunza Valley)

Author: Nawab Tanweer Ahmad
Date of Trip: September 2015

Date: 19th September 2015

Agreeing to our itinerary, we only hold a night stay at Gilgit, but will be persisting for long on our return from Hunza. Today we have to reach Karimabad, a very beautiful town of Hunza. After having a hot bath, we went to the hotel restaurant for Breakfast. One thing to remember for the travelers is that in these budget hotels hot water is only available from 7 A.M. till 9 A.M. so wake up early to have a hot bath. The view of nearby mountains, especially from the roof of the hotel was awesome, you can also have this view from the balconies of the first floor.

To travel to our destination of Hunza, we went to a Bus Stand in Gilgit. The Bus Stand in Gilgit is on the outskirt of the city to protect the city from pollution, noise and traffic. From this Bus Stand transport for many cities of Pakistan is available, including Hunza, Skardu, Lahore, Rawalpindi, and even to Karachi. We decided to travel to Karimabad City (Hunza Valley) via Van. These vans travel seat by seat and move after all seats are occupied, hence we have to wait for some time before our journey starts toward Karimabad, Hunza.

We were traveling on Karakoram Highway toward Karimabad, Hunza. Since we are 4 people we have been allotted a complete seat of the van so we all sit together. In the front seats, there are all ladies sitting and behind us there are all gents. They are all local people in the van only we are from outside this neighborhood and can be clearly identified because of our look and speech. People in the region are very nice and friendly and they are treating us very nicely.

We are in the Kingdom of Himalaya and Karakoram with K2 (Godwin Austen), Nanga Parbat and other world’s highest mountains nearby, along both sides of Karakoram Highway there are green plains and valley surrounded by mountains with their summit covered with snow, these mountains are part of the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges.

Considering the marvelous scenery and passing different cities like Sultan Abad, Rahim Abad, Chalt Valley, this valley is extremely beautiful and can be seen from the Karakoram Highway on the other side of the river, we were moving toward Karimabad. Crossing many cities, and also stopping at some cities to pick and drop passengers, we also crossed a point known as Rakaposhi View Point. This is the base of Rakaposhi Mountian and complete view of the mountain, along with its peak is clearly visible from this place. Since we were journeying on a public van we can’t reveal here, but we possess a plan for breaking off here on our return journey toward Gilgit.

Traveling on this beautiful route we reached Aliabad. Aliabad is a main & a business city in Hunza Valley with Banks, Hotels, Restaurant and Market. People belonging to Hunza have Business in this city and they also visit this city for monthly shopping. We stop there for 15 to 20 minutes as some of the passengers need to buy just about fruits from the store before proceeding to their home in Hunza Valley. Subsequently a couple of kilometers from Aliabad we left Karakoram Highway and struck a left turn on an ascending road, the road sign informs us that this road is leading to Karimabad City.

Hunza Valley is situated at an elevation of 2,438 meters and is one of the most exotic places in Pakistan. It is surrounded by several high peaks rise above 6,000m. Hunza Valley is divided into three regions, Upper Hunza, Centre Hunza and Lower Hunza. Karimabad is the capital of Hunza Valley and lay in Centre Hunza region. It is named after Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Aga Khan Community. The valley provides spectacular views of some of the most beautiful and magnificent mountains of the world which include: Rakaposhi 7,788 m (25,551 ft), Ultar Sar 7,388 m (24,239 ft), Bojahagur Duanasir II 7,329 m (24,045 ft), Ghenta Peak 7,090 m (15,631 ft), Hunza Peak 6,270 m (20,571 ft), Darmyani Peak 6,090 m (19,980 ft), and Bublimating (Ladyfinger Peak) 6,000 m (19,685 ft).

Dropping some passengers at different locations, our van driver told us that we are now in Karimabad and must mention a place where he can drop us. We need him to drop us at some nearby hotel. We didn’t have any advance reservation for a hotel so we have to look for the hotel. Thither are many hotels in Karimabad, infect there are all hotels along the main road of Karimabad since Karimabad is a tourist place. All around the year there is a number of tourists visiting this area, particularly in the summer season. In that respect are both luxury and budget hotels in Karimabad. After visiting different hotels, we decided to stay at Hotel Blue Moon situated near the main market in Karimabad city. On the ground level are the shops and climbing some steps is the reception and food court of the hotel. Rooms start from the foremost floor. The hotel is at an awesome location, in front there is the beautiful valley of Hunza, with the view of Rakaposhi Mountain and behind is the snow covered mountains of the Ultar Sar Peak and Ladyfinger Peak.

Ultar Sar is the southeastern most major peak of the Batura Muztagh, a subrange of the Karakoram range. It lies about 10km northeast of the Karimabad city and rises over 7,388m (24,239ft). The adjacent peaks are Shispare, Bojohagur Duanasir, Hunza Peak and Bablimotin.

Another popular peak at Karimabad is the Ladyfinger peak. It rests on the southwest ridge of the Ultar Sar massif, the most southeasterly of the major groups of the Batura Muztagh. The whole massif rises precipitously above the Hunza Valley to the southeast. The weather was cold and the sun was shining, the amazing thing is that if in this cold winter you stand in the sun you will start feeling hot.

Settling ourselves at the hotel after this 4 hours of journey from Gilgit we decided to get some rest and extended into our room to have some nap. We wake up at evening, in front of our room, there is a large balcony with table and chairs positioned around for sitting. We sit in the balcony and placed an order for tea, in front of us is the most hypnotizing scenic view we ever witnessed in our life, The Hunza Valley. The valley in front of us is lush green with countless trees of Apple, Apricot, Walnut and many more, below in the valley we can abide the Hunza River flows in between these trees. Either you look in front, at the left, right or back there are trees all around surrounded by snow covered mountains.

While we were having tasty tea the staff boy at the hotel told us that we will experience a marvelous view of the valley if we climb to the rooftop. Concluding the tea we move upward to the rooftop from where we discovered the valley behind the hotel. The view was alluring, from here we can see the valley of the Altit and Duikar. The green plains, the woods, the sights and the waterfall on the Altit side is magnificent, the historic Altit Fort and the Eagle’s Nest in Duikar can also be observed at a distance. There are apple trees, Walnut trees and grapes branches on the roof top of the hotel too, we picked more or less apples to try them and found them mouthwatering. All of my family members are too much happy on visiting such a heavenly place. The spectacular view makes us feels like we are on the roof of the world, surrounded by snow covered mountains. No wonder this place is called as the “Heaven on Earth”.

After spending some precious time on the rooftop, we went down stair on the main road, to visit the Karimabad city. Along both sides of the main road, there are stores and hotel constructions, the residential houses are either below in the valley or just little up on the mountain. We roam around the road for an hour or so, bought the Biryani for dinner and return back to our room. One thing to remember is that in these areas all stores and markets shuts down as soon as the sun sets. We had dinner in the beautiful ambiance of the balcony and sat there having chit-chat before going to bed. For tomorrow, we have plans to explore the Karimabad city and my wife had plans for lots of shopping. The night was too cold, but we were provided with sufficient blankets to keep ourselves warm, discussing our journey we all fell asleep.

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