Chillinji pass (5,335 m) was the trek I had chosen for year 2017 as my annual trekking trip. Chillinji pass was not only a challenge as a trek but also a challenge to manage permission, from both civilian and as well as army, for going beyond Ziarat in Chapursan in Hunza valley and crossing Chillinj pass towards Ishkoman valley.
We were 4 friends i.e. myself Sher Ali Saafi, Abdullah Saleem and Mustafai Subhani. My duty as always was to create a public Facebook event in order to gather 4-5 people for the trek, Abdullah’s duty like always started as soon the trip started to manage the logistics during the trip. Amjed bhae prior to trip made sure that we all are in and don’t backout at last minute.
Chamb waterfall is real small hidden gem of Azar Jammu & Kashmir. It is located 200km away from Islamabad in Chinari, Hatian Bala district.
The road to the waterfall is partly good and partly in real bad condition. You set out from Islamabad towards AJK via Murree Expressway. This means the start of the journey is on one of the best roads but once you reach Murree then the poorest portion of road journey begins until Kohala bridge on river Jhelum which connects Punjab with AJK. The next phase of road journey from Kohala bridge to Chinari is real smooth.
Once you reach Chinari then you have to hire a local 4×4 jeep or old 80s model Datsun, which are in abundance there and cheap compared to 4×4 jeeps. The Datsun cost Rs. 1200 for round trip but if you plan to spend around couple of hours there then you might end up paying as much as Rs. 3,000.
Karomber lake trek is one of the most diverse treks in northern areas of Pakistan and has many entry and exit points to the lake. It is also one of the most beautiful treks. Karomber lake lies on the boundary of Broghil valley in Chitral and Ishkoman valley in Gilgit Baltistan. The easy and shortest route to Karomber lake is from Chitral side (via Mastuj, Broghil valley).
In 2015 my yearly long trekking plan was to do Karomber lake trek. I had assembled a strong group of 16 members from different cities of Pakistan. All of us had done many treks together except 2 who were friends with one of the member with whom I had done K2-Gondogoro La trek in 2014.
The initial plan was to take the usual route that is to take the Islamabad to Chitral route via Lowari pass. We were supposed to start our trek on 3rd day of Eid-ul-Fitr. Unfortunately as the days of trek came close the monsoon season started picking up and then there were severe flooding in Chitral region which cut off the road communication at many locations between Lowari pass and Mastuj.
Couple of days, before the start of the trek, I decided to cancel our plan because it wasn’t feasible anymore but most of the members had taken leaves from offices so we had to do something at least. I gave few alternate options to the team members but most of them were determined to do the Karomber lake trek. We discussed the alternate routes of Karomber lake trek and decided to do it totally the opposite way of our original plan. The original plan was to explore Broghil valley up to Karomber lake and then exit via Darkot (aka Darkut) pass into Yasin valley. So now we had to start our trekking from Darkot village to cross Darkot pass into Broghil valley.
Day-1: Islamabad to Gilgit
We started our journey around 9pm from Islamabad towards Gilgit in a booked vehicle. We reached Gilgit right before the sunset. We spent our first night at “Life Adventure Guest house” hotel in Gilgit city.
Are you a lakes’ lover and want to explore as much as 20 lakes of Pakistan in one week?
In 2014 a friend, Talha Umair along with Adnan Gulfam prepared an itinerary for Nature Explorers tourism company based on Google maps to explore 19+ lakes in one week. Some of the lakes were famous and routes were known while others were just guess work as the maps had been prepared from Google maps website. The lakes were located in Kaghan and Neelum valleys.
As a lakes’ lover and explorer I didn’t want to miss exploring so many lakes of Pakistan in one week so I signed up for the trip. The trip was lead by Usama Shah, a young energetic and ambitious trekker who already had lots of experience working with Nature Explorers.
Which is the best mobile network operator for travelers in Pakistan? There are many options to choose from but when it comes to frequent traveling in remote areas then one must do some research and choose the one which works in most of the areas with good signal strength.
Usually I avoid using gadgets, except dslr cameras if you include them in the list of gadgets as well, while I am traveling because I want to enjoy the nature to the maximum level but sometime I really need to connect to the world.
I have been a postpaid Mobilink user for almost 10 years. In the mainstream cities like Islamabad, Lahore etc. it works very well but in remote areas especially northern areas of Pakistan I have found Mobilink to be the worst mobile network operator. You can simply say that Mobilink doesn’t exist in the northern areas of Pakistan. For example I would expect Mobilink to work fine in a city like Gilgit but it doesn’t. You cannot even make phone calls let alone using Facebook, Twitter and Instgram apps with Mobilink in northern areas of Pakistan.
As a backup I use Telenor for making calls back home to let them know about my status and it works almost everywhere. Zong and Ufone also work very well but these two doesn’t work in Chitral side. When I went to Chitral first time in 2015 to cover Chilim Jusht festival then I found out that only Telenor works in majority of the areas over there.
SCOM is best alternative but it only works in Gilgit Baltistan. If you are an avid traveler then it is best to carry SIMs of at least two different mobile network operators.
So in short Telenor is my first choice while Zong comes at 2nd number when I am traveling in the northern areas of Pakistan.
Need travel inspiration or want to explore the landscape beauty of Pakistan from the comfort of your home? Follow these Pakistani Instagram travel photographers as they capture the beautiful landscape, people and birds of Pakistan with their lenses.
Best Pakistani Instagram Landscape Photographers (2016)
Yup, that’s me! Before I share my favorite Pakistani Instagram travel photographers, I would like to share my account first. Shameless self-promotion.
My travel photography is a mix of landscape and adventure travel photography. So if you are into adventure travel then follow me to explore the wonders of north of Pakistan through my lens. I have been traveling for the last 5 years, which is not as much as compared to some other travel photographers. But I have been traveling a lot throughout the last five years and have done some of the toughest and longest treks. Major treks include around Nanga Parbat trek, K2 base camp & Gondogoro La trek, Karomber lake trek via Darkot pass and many other adventure treks in Naran-Kaghan and Kashmir valleys.
Northern areas of Pakistan is full of adventure treks which include K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La (5,940m) trek, Snow lake trek, Karomber lake trek, Fairy Meadows & Nanga Parbat base camp trek, Ratti Gali lake trek, Dudipatsar lake trek and many more. Looking for the best trekking options in the Northern Areas of Pakistan? I have picked some of the best based on ease of access, trail conditions, accessibility and perhaps more importantly scenic beauty and the chance to see the fascinating cultural of the region.
K2 Base Camp and Gondogoro La Trek
K2 view from Vigne Glacier while going towards Ali camp for Gongodoro La / Photo: Sher Ali Photography
This is mother of all treks in northern areas of Pakistan. It is one of the best adventure treks in the Central Karakoram National Park. K2 (8611m) is the second tallest mountain in the world and this 18 days trek is a once in life experience. This trek provides one of best views of some of the world’s tallest moutains. Especially Concordia, which is at the junction of the Godwin Austen and Baltoro glaciers, often referred to as “The Throne Room of Gods” provides the best panoramic view of the mighty mountains of Karakoram region including 4 of the 14 8-thousanders high mountains which include K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum-1 and Gasherbrum-2. To reach Concordia trekkers have to walk on Baltoro glacier (63 km), longest glacier outside the polar region, and witness the beauty of Trango Towers, Masherbrum and so many well known peaks of Karakoram in Gilgit Baltistan.
Gondogoro La (5940m) is a high mountain pass which connects Concordia with Hushe valley in Ghangche District of northern Pakistan. This is a highly technical pass and requires usage of fixed ropes and crampons.
As of today K2 is the lone survivor that is that it hasn’t been climbed in winter season. There are 14 peaks over 8000 meters of height above sea level out of which 13 have already been summit-ted in winter season let alone other seasons.