There are so many adventure treks in Pakistan some of which include K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La (5,940m) trek, Snow lake trek, Karomber lake trek, Rush lake trek, Fairy Meadows & Nanga Parbat base camp trek, Rakaposhi basecamp 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
This is mother of all treks in 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.
Do you need a guide?
K2 base camp and Gondogoro La is a long and hard trek and should only be handled by a travel company which offers touring services for this trek. There are lots of companies in Pakistan and specifically in Skardu which offer trips to K2 base camp with professional guides.
When to go?
The weather in Karakorams in more unpredictable and dramatic than Himalayas. This trek should be done between May and September. June to August is monsoon season (rainy season) in Pakistan but this is also the time when most of the snow melts and glacier crevasses are visible making it easy to choose your path.
Food and accommodation
The travel company organizing your trip will handle all the logistics including food, camping and hotel stays.
Snow Lake Trek
Snow lake is actually it a leveled ground of snow having about 16km of diameter at about 16,000 feet (4,877 m) above sea level. This lake forms two great glaicers i.e Biafo & Hisper. one flows down to skardu while the other to the Hisper Nagar. The journey to Snow Lake typically starts from Skardu, which can be reached in 45 minutes by plane or in 2 days by road from Islamabad. From Skardu, a jeep takes travelers through the Braldu Gorge to the last inhabitable village of Askole. Askole is the same place from where the trek to both Snow lake and K2 starts initially. After 2 of hours long trek to Khorofong the trek then turns northwest up the Biafo Glacier to Snow Lake.
Snow lake is 21 days long trek from Islamabad to Islamabad. This one of the toughest treks in Gilgit-Baltistan region. The trekkers have to be roped for almost the whole trek duration as there are chances of being falling into crevasses. Snow lake provides one of the best panoramic views of high mountains. The end of trek leads to Hunza valley which itself is one of the most beautiful valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan region and offers stunning views of Rakaposhi (7788m), Lady-Finger and various other sky-rocketing peaks.
Do you need a guide?
Like K2 base camp trek Snowlake trek is also a long and hard trek. You hit the Biafo glacier on the very first day of the trek. The first two days of trek on Biafo glacier are tricky as you navigate through the slippery slops of the unstable end of this mighty glacier. You should hire services of a professional travel services provider.
When to go?
Snowlake is also located in Karakorams so weather here is same as that of K2 base camp trek. June to September is recommended time for this trek.
Food and accommodation
All the logistics including food, camping and hotel stays should be handled by the company managing your trip.
Karomber Lake Trek
Karomber lake is not only one of the highest lakes of Pakistan but also unspoiled by human beings so far. I believe the main reason that Karomber still safe from human encroachment is because that it is located in one of the remotest areas. To reach here from Islamabad it takes at least 5 days.
Karomber lake is situated at the boundary of Broghil valley, Chitral, KP and Ishkoman, Gilgit Baltistan but is considered to be part of Ishkoman, Gilgit Baltistan.
There are multiple treks which lead to Karomber lake. Most of the trekkers use the Chitral route to complete this trek but few daring souls have completed this trek via Chillinji pass (5,335 m) from Chuparsan, Gilgit Baltistan side. Another famous mountain pass which is often combined with Karomber lake trek is Darkot pass (4,703 m). Normally trekkers go to Karomber lake via Chitral-Mastuj-Kashmanja route and exit via Chikar-Darkut-Yasin-Gilgit route. An alternate option is to exit via Ishkoman valley in Gilgit Baltistan.
Broghil valley is known to be largest wetlands of Pakistan. It runs in parallel to Wakhan corridor in Afghanistan and the people on both sides not only share the Wakhi culture but also have family relationships with each other. Another major attraction of Karomber lake trek is Yaks which you will find in abundance in Broghil valley.
Karomber lake trek is among one of the most beautiful adventure treks in Pakistan.
Rush Lake Trek, Nagar Valley
Rush lake is the jewel of Nagar valley. Rush lake is highest alpine lake of Pakistan. It is one of the best mid size treks and offers some of the stunning views of mountains. Some of those mountains are above 7,000m e.g. Spantik peak (7,027 m), Malubiting peak (7,458), Ultar Sar (7,388 m) etc.
The trek of Rush lake starts from Hopper valley in Nagar district of Gilgit Baltistan region. Just after few minutes you hit the first glacier i.e. Baultar glacier. After 1 and half hour trek through dry patch you come across Barpu grey glacier. Afterwards is around 3 hours of trek to the first campsite of the trek known as Barichkor.
2nd day of Rush lake trek is very steep. One gains almost 1,200m altitude on this day. Couple of hours further trek up to Rush Phari peak offers view of some of the giants of Karakorams e.g. K2 (8,611 m).
My favourite thing about Rush lake is the reflection of peaks. At dawn or dust the reflections of mountains in the lake create unmatched views. It is one of the best adventure treks in Pakistan. On the way back one can either choose the same route or choose a slightly different route to spend a night at one of the most beautiful campsites i.e. Hamdaar. Hamdaar offers stunning views of Spantik peak.
Nanga Parbat Base Camp Trek
Nanga Parbat (8126 m) base camp trek is another good trek in the north of Pakistan. Nanga Parbat is 9th highest mountain in the world and 2nd highest in Pakistan after K2 hence it doesn’t only attract trekkers but also climbers.
The adventurous trek of Nanga Parbat base camp starts from Raikot bridge on Karakoram Highway road which is 61km away from the nearest city of Chillas. First a jeep ride of 1-2 hours takes you to Tattu village and believe me this jeep ride is one of the most adventurous and thrilling one in the world. From Tattu village you trek continuously for 3-4 hours to reach Fairy Meadows which is a piece of heaven at 3,300 meters above sea level.
The Nanga Parbat base camp trek starts from Fairy Meadows. The first 30-40 minutes of hiking is very easy and takes you through the beautiful Beyal camp. From Beyal camp it is a steep hike of 4-5 hours to reach base camp. Once you are base camp then you can relax there or may be have a bowl of soap and a cup of tea from a small hut operated by a local.
It is one of the most popular adventure treks in Pakistan. It serves as a launching pad for those who are new into adventure travel.
Chitta Katha Lake Trek
Chitta Katha lake (13,500 feet or 4,100 m) is situated in the Shounter valley and has a unique water color and landscape around it. Chitta Katha lake is accessible from Kel by a 20 km long jeep track and then further 5-6 km hiking trek leads to the lake.
An adrenaline jeep ride of 2 hours takes you to upper Domel. From upper Domel you start hiking towards the lake and camp at either deck-1 or deck-2. Next morning you start hiking towards the lake and and after couple of hours of steep hike you reach the lake.
The best time to do this trek is August to September because this is the period in which the lake melts fully. This trek can be done in 4 days starting from Islamabad.
This one is my favorite among short adventure treks.
Kutwal Lake, Haramosh Valley Trek
Kutwal lake is located in Haramosh valley. Haramosh valley itself is located in Gilgit district on Skardu road. It takes 2 hours drive from Gilgit to Sassi from where you can hire 4×4 jeep for a ride into Haramosh valley. Around 2 hours of jeep ride will take you to Iskere village and then after 4-5 hours of trek you will be at Kutwal lake.
Haramosh valley consists of 2 sub-valleys. One is Kutwal valley and the other is Khaltoro valley. Though both valleys are beautiful but Kutwal valley is known is its jewel of Kutwal lake as well as for the Haramosh pass which connects Haramosh valley with Arandu valley in Baltistan region.
From Kutwal lake you can see mighty Haramosh peak (7,397 m). You can venture a little further up towards Haramosh La base camp. From Haramosh pass base camp you can see the beautiful Laila peak.
Dagri Bangla Trek
Dagri Bangla Trek is one of my favourite short treks in Pakistan. It can be either 2 days trek from Bhiran Gali to Nathiagali or 3 days trek from Thandiani to Nathiagali.
If you start the trek from Thandiani then you spend 1st night at Bhiran Gali forest rest-house, 2nd night at Dagri bangla forest rest-house and finish the trek on 3rd day at Nathiagali. If you do it in 2 days from Bhiran Gali to Nathiagali then you spend the only night at Dagri Bangla forest rest-house and next day you finish your trek at Nathiagali.
From Nathiagali to Dagri Bungalow it is around 15km long track and takes 8 to 9 hours to complete the trek. From Dagri Bangla to Bhiran Gali it is 13km trail which takes another 9-10 hours to complete the trek. Beerangali to Thandiani extension is another 10km. Total trek distance from Nathiagali to Thandiani is almost 40km.
I personally prefer to start the trek from Bhiran Gali and end at Naghiali to make it a perfect weekend trip. To do this trek in 2 days from Islamabad you will hire a private taxi to take you to Abbotabad early in the morning. From Abbotabad you will book a local 4×4 jeep for Bhiran Gali. By 12pm you should start your trek because the trek is not easy and you might have to trek in the dark by end of the day.
Some people start the trek from Nathiagali, spend the night at Dagri Bangla and next day come back to Nathiagali. This is an easy option for those who want to avoid the hassle of managing the transport via Islamaabd-Abbotabad route.
Do you need a guide?
If you have done Nathiagali trek before then it might be easy to follow the trail from the point where there is a signboard, on a ridge where a trail goes south-west while the Maranjani trail goes north-west, which points towards Dagri Bangla. So it is doable without guide but I would highly recommend to hire a guide in order to avoid any kind of inconvenience.
If you want to do the trek from Bhiran Gali to Nathigali via Dagri Bangla or vice versa then guide is must otherwise you might get into serious trouble.
When to go?
Dagri Bangla trek can be easily done from May to November. Expect some glaciers on your way to Dagri Bangla from Bhiran Gali side in May or snowfall in November.
Food and accommodation
The building of Dagri Bangla is badly damaged due to 2005 earthquake so you must arrange your own camping equipment. Similarly you should carry food with you because the trek is a complete wilderness and you will hardly see locals let alone shops etc. Water availability as another issue at Dagri Bangla. There is a clean water spring in the forest at 20-25 minutes distance from Dagri Bangla. So you need to keep either couple of 1.5 litre bottles or water canes with you.
Which ones are your favorite treks in Pakistan and why (share your thoughts through the comments section below)?
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Traveling is living!