Pakistani Himalaya

Home to the second highest mountain in the world, K2, and stupendous scenery, we were lucky to travel there before political conditions made it very dangerous. We arrived in Rawalpindi and had a couple of days there before our flight to Skardu in Baltistan at 2,300 meters altitude. Baltistan had belonged to Tibet between the 9th and 16th centuries.

The flight was quite stupendous with fantastic views of the Himalaya, and sometimes we were flying lower than nearby peaks.

Sand dunes (at least they call them that although they are flat) near Skardu Valley

Satpara Lake

Skardu Fort overlooking the town was built at the end of the 16th century

Ride to Khapulu, considered the Garden of Eden by locals. It is located at the base of the Karakorum Mountain Range. We unfortunately were only able to take day hikes there, since hiring guides and porters was too expensive for our budget.

Traffic jam

Mandatory breakdown on the way

Hordes of kids gathered around our daughter, since they seldom saw foreign kids. What they and we didn’t know at the time was that she had chicken pox, which would break out a few days later. Good thing we were no longer in that town when it happened, because there were certainly a lot of local kids who also came down with it soon after.

We had a contract with the outfitter Jack Wolfskin to provide photos of our daughter with a Gore-Tex jacket and small backpack, which they gave us free. They later wrote that the photos were great, but I never saw them used in any of their catalogs.

Back to Skardu

Manatal Buddha Rock, approx. 3 kilometers from Skardu and probably from the 8th century.

Long bus ride to Gilgit: our daughter was not feeling well, so it was very good that we had bought a seat for her on the crowded bus. One aggressive man on the bus said he wanted her seat, but I showed her ticket and the other passengers all laughed and told him to back off.

The road to Gilgit from Skardu

We stayed in Gilgit for a few days to let our daughter recover. The guest house was (in)famous for its pink pudding, a holdover from colonial days. An Italian couple was staying there, but in a tent behind the guest house. They had a contract to take photos of the area, but their expensive camera was stolen from their tent along with all the exposed film they had taken (slides in those days). The local police came to the guest house and there was a big palaver, but they did not get anything back.

Our next stop was Tarishing for a trek to the base camp of Nanga Parbat. We hired a donkey for our daughter to ride along with a guide and one porter. It was two days up and two days down, but we also stayed at the base camp for a day. Our guide was a bit sleezy and tried to convince us that we were at the base camp when we reached a house where he knew people, but we insisted on continuing to the actual base camp.

Base camp at Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest mountain in the world at 8,126 meters. It is very difficult to climb and consequently has the nickname “Killer Mountain” due to the many climbers who have died there. There was a Japanese group of mountaineers attempting to ascend Nanga Parbat when we were there. They carved the name of one of their members into the mountain rock, a climber who had fallen and died while they were there, and we could hear the sound of their chiseling rock for several hours


And of course, what goes up must come down: the hike back

Local school

The road back to Gilgit

The on north toward the Chinese border.

Karimabad: Baltit Fort in the Hunza Valley

Tower on the fort roof (Tibetan style?)

Altit Fort


Trek in northern Pakistan not far from the Chinese border. We had bad weather on the second day and spent a lot of time in our tent out of the rain. After waiting 24 hours, we gave up and hiked back to our starting point.

He had to carry my pack too in places where I had to carry my daughter.

Our guides and porters: really friendly guys!

Back to Gilgit with the usual problems with landslides on the road.

In Gilgit, we reserved a flight back to Rawalpindi, but after two days of waiting with flights canceled due to bad weather, we had no choice but to take a long ride in an overnight bus for fear of missing our flight home. At one spot on the road, we had to wait while we got an army escort through one area where there were frequent attacks by bandits.

Back in Rawalpindi, there was no lack of sights/people to see. Most people were friendly, some distrustful, and even some threw small stones at my wife and daughter.

Shortly after we arrived home, my wife and daughter both came down with hepatitis. Fortunately, small children recover quickly after one week, but my wife was in bed for several months. I felt very weak one day and feared that I had contracted it too, which would have made caring for us and our daughter quite difficult, but somehow was fine the next day. A subsequent blood test confirmed that

3 thoughts on “Pakistani Himalaya

  1. Great post! What an amazing trip. We were planning on going to Pakistan, to K2 base camp and Hunza Valley, but we couldn’t get a tourist visa. We applied when we were in Kathmandu and they would only approve visas if you apply from your home country. We even had our trekking permits etc approved. Now after seeing these great pictures we may have to start planning again!

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    1. Yes, just check the security situation in advance. It was quite a great trip, and there were a lot fewer foreign travelers there then in other parts of the Himalaya, which made it seem even more special (hope I am not being elitist here).

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      1. With the way things are right now I’m glad we went to Kashmir last year. I don’t think we’d go right now. I feel so bad for the lovely families in Srinagar ‘s Dal Lake. They depend on tourists.

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