Exciting Escapes from Gilgit: Discovering Majestic Mountain Valleys
Gilgit is strategically nestled amidst awe-inspiring landscapes. It opens doors to a multitude of thrilling journeys into the neighboring valleys and mountainous realms. Each of these destinations unveils a harmonious fusion of natural grandeur, cultural legacy, and adventurous prospects. Undoubtedly, the journey casts a spellbinding allure for frequent travelers and adventurers alike. At the same time, these destinations make thrilling excursions from Gilgit.
Gilgit City, perched at the confluence of the Gilgit and Hunza Rivers. It proudly claims its title as the northernmost region of Pakistan. Geographically, Giglit is bordered by China to the east, the Wakhan corridor to the north, Chitral to the west, and Kashmir to the south. This mountainous realm encompasses two divisions which are further split into six districts. Gilgit, Ghizer, Hunza, and Nagar form the Gilgit Division while Diamer and Astor constitute the Diamer Division. Each of these boasts a distinctive charm, presenting a tapestry woven with natural beauty, cultural diversity, and human endeavor. Adding to the region’s allure is its linguistic diversity, with over ten languages spoken in Gilgit and its neighboring valleys. Below, we delve into the exhilarating options for Excursions from Gilgit.
Embarking on a Day Journey to Naltar Valley
The Naltar Valley, an enchanting pine-carpeted expanse, sits majestically at an elevation of 15,000 ft. At 47 km away from Gilgit, Naltar Valley undoubtedly makes a perfect summer retreat. It serves as an internationally acclaimed ski resort and a launching point for two enthralling treks. Naltar beckons adventurers with the Naltar Pakora Trek, winding through a 4,600-meter pass to the Ishkoman Valley. Likewise, Naltar also serves as a base for the 4,636-meter Daintar Pass, leading to the Karakoram Highway via Chalt Valley. Upper Naltar hosts three picturesque lakes: Bashkiri Lake – I or Chimo Bari (Fish Lake), Bashkiri Lake – II or Chakar Bari (Multi-Ends Lake), and Bashkiri Lake – III or Bodolok Bari (Turbid Lake). Nestled close to each other at the end of the gorge, these three lakes craft an ideal picnic spot. Naltar Valley is currently accessible only by a 4WD, although a metal road from Gilgit is under construction.
Exploring the Charms of Phunder Valley on a Day Trip
Phander Valley, nestled along the main Gilgit-Chitral road within the Gupis Valley of the Ghizer district in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, unfurls its breathtaking beauty before your eyes. With turquoise waters cradling pristine lakes and trout aplenty, this valley undoubtedly is a jewel awaiting discovery. Presently, a full day’s journey of 170 km or 4.5 hours from Gilgit takes you to Phunder. It surely makes up one of the most exciting excursions from Gilgit. But take note, road reconstruction is underway, promising a shorter distance and more time to immerse yourself in the valley’s wonders. In Phander Valley, attractions abound, from the vibrant Gahkuch Bazar to the stately Gupis Fort, the tranquil Khalti Lake, the enchanting Phunder Lake, and the mesmerizing Gulaqmoli. Moreover, the valley opens gates to explore the captivating realms of the Shandur Pass.
Unveiling the Enigmatic Yasin Valley on a Day Expedition
Yasin Valley, often referred to as Baba-i-Yasin or Worshigum, remains a hidden gem on the tourist map. Situated approximately 130 km northwest of Gilgit amidst the Hindukush Mountains, this valley extends from Thawoos to the final hamlet of Darkut Valley, meandering through the valleys of Sandhi and Barkulti to the Darkut hot springs, nestled close to the Afghanistan border. The Darkut hot springs, adjacent to the Darkut Pass leading to the Wakhan Corridor, entice trekkers with one of the most celebrated alpine routes. Additionally, the trek from Yarkhun Valley over Zagar & Nazbar to Yasin Valley unveils another picturesque route connecting Chitral and Yasin. The prime time to relish Yasin Valley’s beauty is between April and October when nature paints the landscape with blooming blossoms and a kaleidoscope of summer and autumn hues. The valley also offers a plethora of seasonal fruits in summer and excellent fishing opportunities.
Setting Foot at the Junction Point of Three Mountain Ranges
The junction point of the three mountain ranges stands as an extraordinary spectacle near Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway, about 40 km southeast of Gilgit, Pakistan. This unique convergence is where the world’s three renowned mountain ranges – the Karakoram, the Himalaya, and the Hindukush – intersect, creating the knot known as the “Junction Point of the world’s three mountain ranges.” Additionally, this exclusive spot serves as the confluence of the Gilgit and Indus Rivers, with the Skardu Road branching out from the KKH nearby.
Other historic sites worth exploring include Partab Pul, Bhoop Singh Pari, and Nanga Parbat View Point. Partab Pul, an ancient bridge spanning the Indus River, once served as the primary link between Gilgit and Bunji, Astore, and Kashmir before the advent of the Karakoram Highway. Bhoop Singh Pari stands as a historical landmark along the main Karakoram Highway (KKH), where Raja Gohar Aman of Yasin vanquished a Sikh invader named Bhoop Singh in 1852, securing Gilgit’s liberation. Further south on the Karakoram Highway, the Nanga Parbat View Point treats you to awe-inspiring vistas of Nanga Parbat (8126m), Pakistan’s second-tallest mountain and the world’s ninth tallest.
Venturing into Bagrot Valley on a Day Outing
Situated approximately 38 km northeast of Gilgit, the Bagrot Valley stretches along the Gilgit River and the Karakoram Highway to Oshikhandas. It makes up south of the Karakoram Range and ranks as one of the perfect half-day excursions from Gilgit. This concealed paradise is renowned for its picturesque beauty, verdant meadows, fertile fields, towering peaks, and sprawling glaciers. The local Shina-speaking populace takes pride in preserving a distinctive cultural heritage. Bagrot Valley gains prominence for its fruit orchards, bursting into bloom in spring, yielding an array of fruits and vegetables in summer, and presenting a symphony of natural hues in autumn. Moreover, the valley invites camping and hiking enthusiasts to witness nature’s vibrant transformation during blossoming springs and autumn’s colorful embrace.
Exploring Skardu & Shigar Valley on an Expedition
Skardu, located approximately 210 km (3 – 3.5 hours) from Gilgit city, beckons with easily accessible day trips, thanks to the revamped Gilgit-Skardu road. With long summer days at your disposal, you can embark on a journey from Gilgit, delve into the region’s key attractions, and return to Gilgit, all within a single day. Skardu unfolds a tapestry of mesmerizing spots, including Lower Kachura, Upper Kachura, Manthal Buddha, Sadpara Lake, Nansoq Organic Village, and the historic Kharpocho Fort. Lower Kachura boasts Shangrila Resort, often referred to as the ‘Heaven on Earth,’ offering stunning lake views and a tranquil ambiance. The mesmerizing Upper Kachura Lake, with its crystal-clear waters mirroring the surrounding mountains, serves as a tranquil retreat.
Alternatively, you can choose to head directly to Shigar Valley, another gem in the region. Here, you can explore remarkable attractions such as the Safaranga Cold Desert, Blind Lake, Shigar Fort, Amburiq Mosque, Shigar Valley, and Hashupi Garden.
Journeying to Astore & Rama Valley
Astore, situated about 110 km from Gilgit, takes around 2.5 hours to reach. The road to Astore, though a two-way metalled road, winds through narrow passages with sharp turns. However, this route rewards travelers with scenic vistas that make the journey itself a memorable experience. Rama Valley, an additional 7.5 km uphill drive from Astore, awaits at the end of this journey. To reach Rama Lake, a 2.5 km hike with a significant altitude gain is necessary.
Although long, one of the enchanting excursions from Gilgit; the Astore and Rama Valley combines natural beauty with adventure. The valley is home to several prominent peaks, including Golden Peak or Spantik (7027 m), Bawalter Peak, Rush Peak, and Miar Peak (7257 m), all visible from the valley. Glaciers like Hoper Glacier, Barpu Glacier, and Mair Glacier converge at the valley’s end. The region is also renowned for its rich biodiversity, including yaks and various wild animals. Astore offers a captivating experience, and it’s a destination to explore in all four seasons.
Embarking on a Day Journey to Gapa Valley
Gapa Valley, a picturesque meadow in the Nagar District of Gilgit-Baltistan, stands as an ideal day trip from Gilgit. Already attracting domestic and international tourists, Gapa Valley promises a 360-degree view of enchanting landscapes, mountains, meadows, and glaciers. It provides unique opportunities for hiking and trekking, along with spectacular views of nature. Gapa also serves as a starting point for treks to Naltar Valley. The thrilling drive through Chalt Valley, the mesmerizing beauty of the pastureland, and the compelling view of Rakaposhi attracts adventure enthusiasts and nature-loving tourists. The locals of Gapa Valley are known for their hospitality and warm welcome. Gapa is reachable in about one and a half hours from the main Karakoram Highway by taking the Chalt road near the Collision Point of Continental Plates by the police check post. The journey from the Karakoram Highway to Gapa offers diverse vistas of mountains and valleys.
Experiencing the World’s Highest Natural Cricket Stadium
The world’s highest natural Cricket Stadium is located in Pissan Valley of District Nagar in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan. Situated at an elevation of 8,500 feet above sea level, the Pissan cricket ground lies in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and glaciers. It’s within walking distance of approximately about 1.5 km (1 hour) from the Main Bazaar. The Natural Cricket Stadium nestles under the shadows of the snow-covered Rakaposhi and Diran peaks, adding to its uniqueness. The lush green carpet beneath the mountains certainly makes this stadium stand out from others. Cricket can be enjoyed here in highly favorable weather (around 20°C) during peak summer when the rest of the country faces scorching heat. Therefore, the pleasant summer weather makes it an ideal location for cricket enthusiasts. However, during winter, the area can become slightly challenging due to colder temperatures. The temperature usually remains below 25°C in summer.
Day Excursion to Hunza Valley
The 100 km picturesque voyage along the Karakoram Highway to the enchanting Hunza Valley is one of the not-to-miss excursions from Gilgit. At 2,500m, Hunza is a prominent tourist destination renowned for its stunning natural beauty, rich historic monuments, and unique culture. The landscapes, lush green valleys, crystal-clear rivers, serene lakes, and surrounding majestic peaks such as Rakaposhi, Hunza Peak, Diran Peak, and Golden Peak offer breathtaking views. With a history dating back over 2,000 years, Hunza played a significant role as a stop on the ancient Silk Road. The region has witnessed the rule of various dynasties and empires, including the Greeks, Persians, Mongols, and British. One can go trekking, hiking, mountaineering, enjoy traditional cuisine and organic dry fruits, and shopping. Furthermore, Hunza boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Pakistan and is renowned for the local people’s longevity.
Reveling in the Charms of Hoper Valley
The Hoper Valley, nestled amid the grandeur of Gilgit-Baltistan, stands as a picturesque paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. This valley serves as a launching pad for a multitude of thrilling activities. As one of the exciting excursions from Gilgit, the Hoper Valley offers breathtaking natural beauty, a unique cultural tapestry, and adventure-filled opportunities. The Hoper Valley offers a gateway to some of the most exhilarating adventures in Gilgit-Baltistan. Key adventures include Rush Lake, Golden Peak or Spantik, Bawalter Peak, Rush Peak, and Miar Peak. Hoper Valley is known for its awe-inspiring glaciers which also play a crucial role in the region’s ecosystem. Additionally, the region provides a habitat for various wild animals, making it a rewarding destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Hoper Valley’s charm knows no seasonal boundaries. Whether you visit in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, you’ll be treated to a unique and enchanting landscape.
Day excursion to Khunjerab Pass
At 4,693m, the Khunjerab Pass is a high-altitude mountain pass and one of the highest paved international border crossings. Khunjerab is located in the Pamir Range on the border between Pakistan and China and is one of the exciting excursions from Gilgit. The Pass offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and mountains in the background. Moreover, Khunjerab National Park is home to various wildlife species, including the snow leopard and Marco Polo sheep. Historically, Khunjerab Pass has been an essential trade route between Pakistan and China, being part of the ancient Silk Route. The Karakoram Highway leading to the pass is considered one of the most adventurous and scenic roads globally. The pass remains open from April until the end of October. Khunjerab remains closed for the rest of the year due to harsh weather conditions.