5 Friends, a Car and a thousand Selfies (Part 1)



A trip to Hunza had always been on my (never ending) wishlist. But honestly I had no idea that it will be this beautiful. It was an achanak trip, with little planning and very little publicity. We didn't invite all our friends for the event, it was just a sudden plan to go on a car and before the rest of our group knew it we were on our way to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Quick Itinerary of trip

Date Description
Sept 12, 2015 Departure from Lahore at 10:45pm
Sept 13, 2015

Reached Naran at 10am. Left for Hunza at 12noon. Reached Aliabad at 8pm. Night stay at PTDC Hunza.

Sept 14, 2015

Explored Karimabad, Baltit Fort, Altit Fort and Night stay at Eagle's Nest Duikar.

Sept 15, 2015

Left Eagle's Nest at 10:15am, Crossed Attabad Lake on boat and Reached Khunjerab at about 3:40pm. Short stay at the border, and Night stay at Glacier Breeze Passu.

Sept 16, 2015

Left Passu at 11:16am. Crossed the newly opened Attabad Tunnel. Explored Ganesh. Shopping at Karimabad bazaar. Night stay in Karimabad.

Sept 17, 2015

Left Karimabad at 8am. Reached Nomal, got a jeep for Naltar, Visited Naltar Lakes. Night stay at Naltar.

Sept 18, 2015

Nomal to Astore, and then Astore to Rama. Visited Rama Lake and stayed the night at PTDC Rama.

Sept 19, 2015

Left Rama at about 8am. Reached Lahore after a 21 hour long journey at 5am the next morning i.e 20th Sept.

Quick details of trip

Members Khurram Saeed,Shaheer Shahid, Ali Irtaqa, Fahad Nadeem, Usman Shafqat
Vehicle Toyota Altis 1.6 (2012)
Distance Travelled Almost 2300km
Total Fuel Cost 14,800
Total cost: 76,000

Places we stayed

Hotels Price paid Notes Contact#
PTDC, Hunza 3,500/- PKR Dulex Room. +92-5823-457069

Eagles Nest, Duikher

3,000/- PKR

- Standard room with one extra mattress.
- 5 complimentary breakfasts

+92-344-9494224

Glacier Breeze Restaurant, Passu

300/- PKR

They don't have any rooms. Just a restaurant and a campsite.

+92-5813-448016

Some ordinary Sasta Sa Hotel. Karimabad

1,500/- PKR Infront of Darbar Hotel. N/A

Naltar Continental Hotel, Naltar Bala

1,400/- PKR

It was a very good hotel, and had nice clean rooms.

+92-5811-485085

+92-312-885358

+92-341-8926535

PTDC Rama

4,000/- PKR Standard Room with 3 extra mattresses +92-5817-59049

Ashiq Hussain, Naltar

Pejaro Driver, Naltar Valley.

+92-355-4172350

Got the fuel tank filled at PSO thokar for PKR 3000. We Stopped at Bhera service area for a little refreshments and continued towards Abbottabad. We eent through some serious checking at haripur chowki, the policemen even smelled our wallets, but when they found nothing they took our all favourite 'nutro' wafers ka packet. "kisi wafer ko kho denay pay kabhi itna dukh nahi hua jitna uss din hua tha." 

Offered Fajr at Abbottabad and when we were crossing Mansehra, this is what we witnessed.

Beautiful views from KKH between Abbottabad and Mansehra
Beautiful views from KKH between Abbottabad and Mansehra
Good Morning Mahsehra. Views from KKH in Mansehra
Good Morning Mahsehra. Views from KKH in Mansehra

We reached Naran at 10am. It which was not looking appealing at all at the start of autumn, Naran which was all deserted, Naran which was all dirty (thanks to our tourists). So as soon as we reached Naran, I called my friend, who was on his way back from a successful project K2K (Karachi to Khunjerab) on bike. So we had a short GTG in NaranOur initial plan was to spend the night at Naran, but as we were still feeling fresh and we had the whole day ahead of us, after consulting with sufian we decided to go to hunza directly. Lahore to Hunza in one leg.

Tea stop at Mid Mount Malang Zada hotel
Tea stop at Mid Mount Malang Zada hotel

Turned on the fast and furious mode and reached lulusar at 1pm.

Turned on the fast and furious mode and reached lulusar at 1pm.
@Lulusar Lake, Kaghan Valley
Lulusar Lake, Kaghan Valley
Lulusar Lake, Kaghan Valley

Towards Babusar Top. There's just a small portion of the road before the top which needs some attention, except that, it's a carpeted road throughout.

Babusar top
Towards Babusar top, Kaghan Valley
Selfiiieeee at Babusar top
We stopped at Babusar top for while.

The descend towards Chilas side. It's a very steep and long descend. Though we mostly used engine braking and avoided using the brakes more often then not. By the time we reached down our brake discs were emitting quite alot of heat and burning smell.

Descend towards <a href=
Descend towards Chilas from Babusar top

We had Left babusar at 2:40pm and reached Chilas at 4pm. went a little towards the city to get signals. made a few call and we were off again.

Place where we stopped for phone calls
Chilas: Place where we stopped for phone calls

Refueled from Chilas for 1,200 @ 73.8/ltr. and continued our journey.

Near Jaglot 6pm. Last Rays of light on the killer mountain.
Near Jaglot 6pm. Last Rays of light on the killer mountain.
Before the sunset near Jaglot
Before the sunset near Jaglot

From here onwards, we went non-stop to PTDC Motel Hunza, and got a deluxe room with 2 extra mattresses 3500. The room was clean and comfortable. We were tired and lied down straight away. When we went to the restaurant for dinner, it was closed. upon asking the waiter, we were told that we'll get something from aliabad.

"Roti ki talaash mei hum aliabad ko nikal paray, raat k 9:30 baj chukay thay aur aliabad mei sannata goonj raha tha. ghoom ghoom k puray aliabad say 6 rotio ka intazaam hua, sath mei 2 sheer maal bhi liye, aur Allah ka shukar ada kiya"

Baltit Fort from PTDC
Baltit Fort from PTDC, Hunza

Day 3: Exploring Karimabad

Sept 14, 2015

In the next morning we decided to explore Hunza & target was to see Baltit fort, Altit fort and Eagle's Nest.

Leaving PTDC Hunza
Leaving PTDC Hunza to explore Hunza Valley
Baltit Fort, Karimabad, Hunza
Baltit Fort, Karimabad, Hunza
View from Baltit Fort, Hunza
View from Baltit Fort, Hunza
View from Baltit Fort, Hunza
View from Baltit Fort, Hunza

Purchased tickets for visit to altit fort, and our guide took us towards it, Saw these gardens, and we kept looking at them for quite a few minutes, they were truly magical. I had already seen S.M Bukhari's pictures of the gardens and loved them but watching them in real was too good an experience.

Beautiful garden of Altit Fort
Beautiful garden of Altit Fort

I repeat, the gardens of altit were beautiful. We sat at Kha-Basi for quite some time, looking at these gardens. They were purely pleasure to the eyes and seemed to have some spiritual connection with us because they looked mystical, magical and unreal.

Beautiful garden of Altit Fort
Beautiful garden of Altit Fort
Beautiful KKH going towards Khunjerab, View from Altit Fort
Beautiful KKH going towards Khunjerab, View from Altit Fort

We had refreshments at Kha Basi Cafe, Altit. It is a cafe run by serena hotels and is managed by females. a very positive step towards women empowerment. The people of hunza impressed us in all possible ways. they were educated, hospitable, humble, self dependent and very gentle.

We left Altit and headed towards Eagle's nest, Duikar. The plan was to see sunset from Duikar and return to Karimabad for night-stay. We had decided that eagle's nest hotel was not in our budget. Khair, We reached eagle's nest some time near sunset, and just for chaskay, went to the reception and asked about the rates. Uncle say thori bohat gupshup lagi, Uncle hamein pasand aye. We got 2 rooms and came back to the reception for musical dance.

Unka hotel bhi hamein pasand aya, phir unho nay hamein rooms dikhaye, wo bhi hamein pasand aye. lekin jb unho nay hamein rate bataye tou wo hamein bilkul pasand nahi aye.

Picture of Hunza valley on the way to Duikher
Picture of Hunza valley on the way to Duikher
Hunza valley after it gets dark
Hunza valley after it gets dark

The german couple wearing local dresses gifted by their tour operator. There was a cake cutting ceremony, and after that the music began.

The german couple wearing local dresses gifted by their tour operator. There was a cake cutting ceremony, and after that the music began.
The german couple wearing local dresses gifted by their tour operator.

We literally had dinner in 5mins and were back in the main lobby to enjoy the dances. Locals ka raqs daikh k hum say bhi raha na gaya aur maidaan mei aa gaye. Sb say pehlay niazi shb, jo k kuch ziada he excited thay.

Musical Dance at Eagles' Nest, Duikher
Musical Dance at Eagles' Nest, Duikher
Eagles' nest, Duikher
Eagles' nest, Duikher

Day 4: Attabad Lake & Khunjerab

Sept 15, 2015

We had a very good night sleep, though it was short lived. Me and Shaheer slept at 1am and woke up again at 4am to see sunrise. it was all dark, we weren't sure about the coordinates of the point from where you see the famous golden moments. we had torches with us and an eerie cold silence surrounding us. we just saw a path going up from outside the hotel and decided that this should be the one. Not knowing where we were going but we kept moving. Never have I seen Shaheer this scared ever before. Anyhow we did reach a point which was overlooking the whole valley, we could see lights of Karimabad and we decided that `yehi hai wo point ha` 

Lady Finger, on a cloudy morning in Hunza
Lady Finger, on a cloudy morning in Hunza

Sat and waited for dawn to our bad luck it was a cloudy morning and slowly light became better but we didn't witness those forst rays of sun on Rakaposhi and Spantik.

A misty, golden morning
A misty, golden morning, Duikher
Altit fort, Hunza River, and KKH
Altit fort, Hunza River, and KKH

We had breakfast at Eagle's nest, which was complimentary. Breakfast was very exquisite and tasty. Checked out from the hotel and left for Khunjerab Pass. Stay at eagle's nest was very nice and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the hotel. Highly recommended.

We reached attabad tunnel at 11:15pm and came to know that it is closed and will open in 15minutes. they told us that as work for ventilation is still under process, the tunnel opens from 11:30 am to 1pm and 7pm to 6am. We had already planned that we will not use the tunnel while going to khunjerab, we wanted to experience the boat ride along with our car.

"It was a big risk taking the car along on the boat while crossing Attabad Lake, but jb tk risk na ho maza he kahan ata hai"

Beautiful view of Attabad Lake, Hunza
Beautiful view of Attabad Lake, Hunza
Crossing Attabad Lake on boat.
Crossing Attabad Lake on boat.
The other side of Attabad Lake
Other end of Attabad Lake. There were signs that the water level has significantly decreased.

We had left Attabad Lake at 12:44pm and stopped for 5 minutes infront of Passu cones. We reached Sost at 1:50pm.

Sost checkpost ki Pehchan
Sost checkpost ki Pehchan

Comparatively reaching Khunjerab pass was easier than Chilas if you compare the assent and road conditions. Finally got the first glimpse of Khunjrab border. The dream had come true; Lahore to Khunjerab a road trip.

Near Khunjrab pass bordere
Near Khunjrab pass border

After reaching the KSF Chowki, we parked our cars infront of the chowki barrier, cars aren't allowed any further. we did insist that we have seen pictures of cars on the borders, but they wouldn't let us go. So our plan to take a picture of ourselves with the car at the border was out of the question. Leaving the car behind was a blessing in disguise, as walking to the border had it's own attraction. We really enjoyed that tiny walk in freezing cold breeze. There were a lot of people on the other side of the border, a trip had just arrived may be. 

Posing at Khunjrab Pass
Posing at Khunjrab Pass

The Chinese were very excited to see us Pakistanis. More excited than us. but they couldn't speak english so instead of sharing our emotions we only said hi hi hello to each other, and ofcourse shared alot of smiles. When we took out our secret weapon, the pakistani flag. They were super excited to see. A few borrowed it to get some pictures.

Feeling excited at Khujrab pass with Chinese.

it was dark by the time we reached Passu. Plan was to stay a night there. Before finding a place to stay, we started hunting for Glacier Breeze Passu. The restaurant famous for it's apricot cake and also for it's owner's appearance on the Humans of NewYork page. So after climbing almost 120 stairs we reached the restaurant. The owner was very welcoming and first of all offered us a free trial of the cake. It was simply superb. We had dinner at the restaurant and then cake for dessert. During dinner we had a pleasant chat with the owner, Ahmed Ali khan also famous as 'khon' who told us that they have a campsite as well. Thus we decided to put the camps and sleeping bags in our car to good use and camp here for the night. They charged 300 per camp as charges for the campsite. The campsite was at the backside of the restaurant facing Passu Glacier. Cold breeze coming from the glacier, and the sound of a gushing water stream accompanied by a clear moonless night. It was just perfect.

 

Campsite, Cold breeze coming from the glacier, and the sound of a gushing water stream accompanied by a clear moonless night. It was just perfect.
Campsite, Cold breeze coming from the glacier, and the sound of a gushing water stream accompanied by a clear moonless night. It was just perfect.

Read Next ...


"5 Friends, a Car and a thousand Selfies: Story of An Epic Road Trip " (PART-1 / PART-2)
- Content and Photos by Usman Shafqat.

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