Skip to content

Everything you need to know about trekking in Pakistan

Everything you need to know about trekking in Pakistan Uncategorized The Natural Adventure

This blog aims to open a window onto the Karakoram Mountains, introducing you to various adventures into the heart of Pakistan’s pride and joy. Its most famous trek is to K2 Basecamp, the second highest mountain in the world.  However, trekking in Pakistan isn’t just about the king of the Karakorams,  although it is a pretty k-olossal reason to go there. You can also experience peak Pakistan without pushing so hard, in the likes of the Hunza Valley or our Nangma Valley Trek. And the Queen of the Karakorams, Masherbrum, formerly known as K1, is a pretty manageable monarch too. Here are some more tips and thoughts about trekking in Pakistan. 

Keeping up with the Karakorams – Top treks in Pakistan

K2 Basecamp trek

Our 19-day K2 Basecamp Trek is one of the world’s most iconic expeditions into Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains. The camp is located at the confluence of the Baltoro and Godwin Austen glaciers, in the shadow of K2, the earth’s second-highest mountain at 8,611m. Along the trek, you’re enveloped by mammoth sights of Broad Peak, Gasherbrum, Masherbrum, Mitre Peak, Chogolisa and Trango Towers, collectively known as the Throne Room of the Gods. This guided expedition is led by qualified mountain guides and trek crew, all experts from the local Baltistan community.

K2 – sheer perfection.

Masherbrum Basecamp trek

Also known as the Queen of Karakoram, and formally as K1, this is a journey into the heart of the Karakorams, trekking in more accessible terrain than K2 over 11 days. Soaring up to 7,821m, its white peak overlooking Hushe village and valley, the Masherbrum Basecamp trek is categorised as easy to moderate, with daily hiking limited to a few hours. You head to Basecamp (4,200m) on day four of the tour, giving you plenty of time to acclimatise, get to know Hushe village and the exquisite environs of this queen’s rambling realm. 

Nangma Valley trek

This trip is for those who want to experience sleeping under the stars in one of the most magnificent mountain landscapes in the world, but without training for months or pushing themselves beyond your physical limits. It’s a ten day adventure that takes you to one of the most colossal campsites in the world, in the Nangma Valley, at 3,950m. You take it in stages, hiking through summer mountain meadows to camp at Mingulo Broq (3,500m). This gives you plenty of time to take in a landscape of giant rock walls and towers overlooked by peaks over 4,000m. These are typical of the area and are the reason it’s sometimes given the nickname, Yosemite of Pakistan. You then ascend slowly, following a glacial stream to Nangma Valley (3,950m), where you can chill for a day or take on another trek if you fancy it. No pressure. This is Pakistan, where it’s all about going with flow and enjoying the natural heritage of which they are naturally proud. 

Hunza Valley trek

Our Hunza Valley holiday is more of a cultural expedition, albeit surrounded by Karakoram peaks. You almost bow down and kiss the feet of the majestic Mount Rakaposhi (7,788m) on this easy, less elevated yet epic adventure. Staying in hotels throughout, spend nine days exploring traditional mountain villages, having dinner with a local historian and being transferred to some of the region’s top viewpoints. Natural highlights include views of the high peaks, Attabad and Borith Lakes, Hoper, Passu and Batura glaciers.

The Hoper Glacier in the Hunza Valley, at 2,800m.

Best time to go trekking in Pakistan

All of our treks in Pakistan are small group guided tours, led by local mountain experts who know the seasons and reasons to go trekking inside out. The real skipper of our Karakoram treks is, however, the weather. Which is never predictable, and why building in contingency days to our itineraries is a Karakoram norm. 

Best time to do the K2 Basecamp trek

The King of the Karakorams, K2 Basecamp, only holds court once a year, in August, so you need to book that one quickly. We generally have bookings open a year in advance, meaning that you can train over a period of time before their holiday. And also keep an eye out for good value flights. During August, temperatures can be as high as 30C at Skardu and 25C at Askole (at 3,000m). However, once you get to Concordia, the last stop before basecamp, daytime temperatures are down to a single figure, with overnight temperatures dropping as low as -10C.

Best time to do the Masherbrum Basecamp trek

Queen Masherbrum, however, receives ramblers for set dates in June, July, August and September. This is because at 4,200m it’s significantly lower than K2 Basecamp (5,117m) and so trails are more accessible during summer months. As with K1, temperatures range between 23-30C during summer months at lower elevations. However, as soon as you get to Dumsum Valley and the glaciers, or elevations above 3,000m, temperatures dip to single figures. Especially in the earlier summer months. Throughout the season, temperatures can drop as low as -10C at higher elevations. So take your pick. 

Best time to go trekking at lower elevations

With places like the Hunza Valley or the Nangma Valley Trek, you have more seasons to play with, the former hosting adventurers between early April and the end of October, and the latter between June and September. The Hunza Valley holiday is a cultural tour, with little trekking but lots of sightseeing, and so some may want to avoid the extremely high temperatures of over 30C in July, August and September, with temperatures a more pleasant 15-25C between April and June. April is also when the air is crisp and the almond and apricot blossoms start to come out. The Hunza Valley also gets a lot of tourists in July and August, so either side of these months will be less bustly. 

The Nangma Valley is a cultural and trekking combination, with temperatures similar to the Hunza Valley. However, if you want to take up the optional trekking opportunities, you may choose to go during the slightly cooler months of June or September, but do be prepared to wrap up at night at higher altitudes. 

Springtime in the Karakorams, when the apricots and almond trees blossom.

Do I need a guide when trekking in Pakistan?

When trekking in Pakistan, all of our holidays are fully-guided, small group tours, as it’s important to have expert local knowledge and training, especially for the high level treks. However, we also offer all of these tours as privately-guided, as long as there is a minimum of two people, so don’t hesitate to contact our adventure specialists for more details on this. On our small group tours, the maximum number of trekkers is 12.

Will I get altitude sickness while trekking in Pakistan?

Our trekking holidays in the Karakoram Mountains do involve going to high altitudes, however the itineraries are created in such a way that you have plenty of rest and acclimatisation days built in. The guides are well trained in recognising any signs of acute mountain sickness (AMS), and will prepare you accordingly. On the K2 Basecamp trip, where you spend at least one night above 4,000m and trek to 5,000m or above, there are two full acclimatisation days built in. 

On the Nangma Valley trek, you spend at least one night above 3,900m, with an optional day hike up to 4,500m, but the hiking is gentle and slow, and the guides take plenty of steps to make sure you don’t feel adverse effects. On the Hunza Valley tour, however, altitude is not a concern, as you sleep at elevations of below 3,000m and the highest point on the tour is Hoper Glacier at 2,800m.

Fantastic Pakistan experience! My husband and I did a bespoke version of The Hunza Valley Tour in August and we had the BEST time…The whole trip was informative and fun from start to finish with the most spectacular scenery we have ever seen in our years of trekking and travel. The team on the ground was so organised, knowledgeable and everything there went to plan… Can’t recommend this tour enough… All seamlessly delivered by Muneer and his team” – S & S, East of England

Our guides make sure you take things slowly and build in acclimatisation days to avoid altitude sickness.

How is the food when trekking in Pakistan?

All meals are included on our Pakistani trekking tours, with food being a mixture of traditional food, some specific to the Karakorams, and western food. Clean drinking water is always provided. Our expert local guide teams also have cooks, who are well trained in trekking meals, which may not be gastro, but they will be gorgeous. 

While trekking, breakfasts consist of cereal, muesli or porridge, eggs, bread or chapati flatbread, tea and coffee. Our guides are also expert in finding the perfect picnic lunch spots, which consist of cold meats, cheese, crackers or chapati, and there may also be soup and noodles. On camping expeditions, dinner is a three-course meal in a group tent. 

Whether you’re camping or eating in a local restaurant, local specialities to look forward to are flavoursome and definitely filling, with historical influences of Afghan, Persian, Indian and Central Asian cuisine. Such as karahi, which is a meat or vegetable curry with a tomato and chilli base. It can be really hot, but always advise the cooks if you want the spice toned down a bit. A handi curry is creamier and not as spicy, and usually cooked with chicken or lamb in a clay pot. Biryani is a rice feast that’s already well known around the world, and sabzi is a mix of curried root vegetables. Everything comes with chapati or paratha bread, and on your acclimatisation days you may even see your guides starting to prepare the breads for when you are on the trek. 

In the Hunza Valley, you often find dishes with apricots in them, as they are prolific local produce. One delicious example is gyal, which are buckwheat pancakes covered with walnut oil, apricot jam or local honey. Or, to warm you up in the sweetest way, bataring daudo is a soup made from dried apricots. 

You’ll be amazed at the curries that can be cooked up in the Karakorams.

What about special dietary requirements?

Catering for vegetarians is normal in Pakistan, but with other specialty diets it’s not always that easy. We will endeavour, however, to ensure that the trekking team can provide as the best possible options for people with vegan, non-gluten and other specialty diets. Always talk to our adventure specialists prior to booking. 

Is trekking in Pakistan responsible? 

We work in full partnership with local experts who are fully committed to sustainable trekking and tourism in the Karakoram region. You are trekking with qualified mountain guides and trek crew, all experts from the local Baltistan community, where there is a great sense of pride to be a qualified guide. 

In addition, our partners encourage trekkers to dress in a way that is respectful of local traditions and culture; they bring you to local establishments for meals and cultural experiences; and they encourage an open discussion about the history of the region. They also invite you to enjoy small local markets to buy souvenirs, such as fruit and nuts or wooden spoons made from walnut or apricot trees. And leave plenty of room in your luggage for beautifully embroidered bags, slippers and woollen hats. Your guides also seek to ensure that any souvenirs you buy are sustainable. And of course, last but not least, they always practise Leave No Trace

Tipping tips for Pakistan

Our local partner ensures that ground team members such as mountain guides, assistant guides and porters, are fully insured and paid a fair wage. But they do also encourage trekkers to tip, while reassuring that tips are in no way a substitute for wages. We recommend a tip at the end of the tour of between $40-60 per person for your support team. However, as our Hunza Valley trek is nine days long and our K2 Basecamp trek takes an incredible 19 days, you can do the maths and aim a bit higher – not just with your walking. The recommended currency for exchange is actually US$ as they get favourable exchange rates when you arrive. 

There are so many people doing the leg work while hiking in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains. And not those with four legs.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog on trekking in Pakistan and that it has helped your decision-making process about whether to go on a natural adventure there. It certainly has something to offer a wide range of adventurers, if you want to explore in a way that really takes you inside mountain life. For other treks that immerse you in dramatic landscapes and local life, you may also enjoy our blogs on Everything you need to know about the Via Dinarica, All our tales from the Lycian Way Trail, A guide to walking on Crete and Climbing Toubkal, Morocco’s highest mountain.