Join a small group of explorers and travel deep into the wilderness of one of the world's most undiscovered and misunderstood countries. Meet the locals, trek through the mountains, and sip chai under starry skies.
The Epic Backpacker Tour team is one big happy family of outdoor adventure professionals with the shared commitment to offering up the highest level of unique adventure and cultural experiences. We believe in forging unique connections and strong relationships across the globe whilst providing great jobs for great people.
Arrive into Islamabad airport where you will be met by the EBT team (if you are arriving within 24 hours of the start of the tour); we’ll ferry you to HQ where you can chill out and freshen up. We recommend arriving into Islamabad one day early so that you can settle in and be ready to go on the morning of day one. Note: accommodation pre-tour is not included. After our group has assembled, we will have our first group meeting/introductions over tea/coffee and then we will hit the road. We will save visiting the highlights of the neighboring city of Lahore until the end of the tour. After the briefing, it's time to hit the road and head to the mountains! Traveling by comfortable 24 seater minibus, the Kahn Express, with our fearless driver Mr. Khan – our good friend and driver for the whole adventure, we leave Islamabad behind and embark on our journey! The plan is to drive roughly 8-12 hours to the mountain bazar town of Naran located in the lush Kaghan Valley. Here we will rest up for the night at a comfortable hotel before hitting the road again in the morning.
The real attractions of Pakistan are in the north and to get there we need to travel along the world’s highest paved road, The Karakoram Highway. Traveling along the Karakoram Highway is an unforgettable experience; you will see peaks and valleys, rivers and glaciers. Twenty-one of the world’s one hundred highest peaks are visible from the KKH and the journey is a great introduction to the mountains as civilization slips away behind us… The goal is to reach Karimabad by late afternoon/early evening. That way we have the whole next day to relax in this stunning mountain village. *(Drive from Naran to Karimabad – approx. 10 hours – with plenty of stops along the way.
Karimabad is the gateway to the mountains and a great place to unwind for a day. Wander the cobblestone streets, bargain for rubies and handicrafts, feast on Hunza cuisine, sip espresso in Café Hunza, get to grips with the dark history of Baltit Fort, take a peek at the Silk Road from Altit Fort, and watch the sun set over the river below…
After a morning of exploring Karimabad, we’ll drive for thirty minutes up a steep switchback road to reach Mountain Story— an awesome guesthouse located above Aliabad, just south of Karimabad. This place is awesome (and they may even make homemade cider and beer)... We will then have a very early morning start (in the dark) and drive to catch the sunrise above Eagles Nest. Well worth it!
Following our adventures in Karimabad, we will head to the small village of Ghulkin, a truly special place where time stands still and mountains march away into the distance on all sides. En route we will take in the scenes at Attabad Lake and make a stop at the legendary Hussaini suspension bridge, before arriving in Ghulkin. This is one of the best places in Pakistan to trek, explore glaciers, snack on apricots, camp out under the stars and chat with the locals. We will be staying with our good friends Rehman (one of our adventure guides) and Sitara; both of whom speak excellent English (Sitara is the local teacher) and can give an insight into life in the mountains. Accommodation in Ghulkin will be in one huge guest room and we will all be sharing a space. Conditions in the village are very clean (yes, there’s a western toilet!) but are also basic; electricity is sporadic and there is no phone signal. If you need constant access to Facebook this trip probably isn’t for you.
Today we will be trekking into the mountains not too far from Ghulkin village. We begin the trek at the end of a jeep track at Borith Lake. After about 2-3 hours of steady, but steep hiking we will come to the truly stunning Passu Glacier crossing point. We take an easy pace as we hike across the ice as there are a few challenging sections, one of which we will use a fixed rope to safely cross. Here we will traverse the glacier for about 1/12-2 hours before arriving at our campsite for the night (3500 meters). From here, our group can enjoy stunning views of Shispar peak and Passu peak. The stars at the camp are unreal if the weather is clear! Keep an eye out for eagles and ibex in the mountains above you and soak in some of the freshest air you’ve ever tasted. Notes: Group gear, tents, and food will be portered. If you would like additional gear portered for you, porter services are available at a reasonable cost. Small crampons or microspikes are recommended (but not mandatory) when crossing the Passu Glacier.
Today, we start off on the second leg of our trek after breakfast. The distance is only a few kilometers, but it is straight up the side of a mountain and gains about 700 meters of elevation, so we will take our time and enjoy the views as we go. Total trekking time today is roughly three hours. Once on the top, our group will savor in the 360-degree views of the Passu Cones, Batura Glacier, Shispar Peak, and Passu Peak. Formerly only a shepherd's settlement, only about 100 people come up here a year, so we will have the place to ourselves. Our campsite (4200 meters) is truly a magical place and offers up one of the best views in Pakistan. *Note: at certain times of the year, there is no water at Patundas Pass, which means that we will keep our first low camp setup and just visit Patundas Pass as part of an epic day hike.
Today, we return to Ghulkin via the same route in which we came across the Passu glacier. The going is much easier on the way down, so the trek will likely take the group 5-7 hours. Upon arrival in Ghulkin, we shall feast like the kings of old after our trek and sleep one more night at our homestay with Rehman. We spend the afternoon relaxing in the Ghulkin, getting cleaned up, and soaking in the vibes of life in a small Pakistani village.
Today, we are off on an epic adventure… Traveling by minibus, we will head up towards Khunjerab Pass / National Park. The scenery from the road is truly incredible and we will make frequent stops for photos and chai. We will make our way up towards the Pakistan-China border crossing, the highest in the world. Set in a craggy bowl of mountains and surrounded by glaciers, this is a truly breathtaking landscape steeped in history. We will spend the night in a comfortable but basic hotel in Passu where you will have access to decent showers (and maybe even WiFi).
Leaving Passu early, we will travel to Raikot Bridge where we will transfer into 4x4 jeeps and traverse the legendary Fairy Meadows jeep track - think sheer drops and impossible hair-pin bends… In the distance, if the weather is clear, you will catch your first glimpse of Nanga Parbat; the most beautiful mountain in Pakistan, and the ninth highest mountain in the world. This is the stuff adventure is made of! You may have to hike part of the jeep track as the road is sometimes washed away. Arriving at the end of the jeep track we will then hike for two to three hours (porters and horses available for an additional fee). Arriving into The Fairy Meadows, we will spend the next couple of nights in comfortable log cabins with wood burners to keep us warm. *(Drive from Passu to Raikot Bridge – 5 - 6 hours - then 1.5 hour jeep journey and 2 - 3 hour trek)
The Fairy Meadows is the perfect place to chill out and unwind; watch the clouds dance past Nanga Parbat, the glacier snaking through the valley below, and explore the cool woods surrounding our log cabins. There are several optional treks available here but the real highlight is the hike to Nanga Parbat Basecamp (6-8 hours return). If you’re not feeling it, you can chill out at the lodge. Fairy Meadows is one of the best places in the world to relax and watch the mountains. At night at the Fairy Meadows, we will have am epic bonfire beneath the stars! *Notes: the optional hike to Nanga Parbat basecamp requires a moderate level of fitness and take around 6 - 8 hours round trip (with plenty of time to chill out at base camp, eat lunch, etc). In the springtime there may be too much snow present on the trail for the group to attempt Nanga Parbat Base Camp.
Leaving The Fairy Meadows behind, we will travel back to Raikot Bridge at first light where we will join our minibus and Mr. Kahn and begin the long journey back to Islamabad. *Note: 3 / 4 hours to reach Raikot Bridge, 12-16 hours to reach Islamabad with meal / bathroom stops on the way. We sleep in Islamabad to break up the super long drive. Islamabad is just a sleep/shower stop at a hotel before moving on back to Lahore in the morning. Notes: During the spring time, it may not be possible for the group to make it to Islamabad from Raicot Bridge due to the alternate route we must take. We have several backup hotel options in case we are unable to reach Islamabad.
Today we have something special in store for you that we will reveal at some point on tour. Hint: your belly and heart will be full. We will aim to be back in Lahore sometime in the mid-afternoon. Arriving into Lahore, we will head straight to our hotel to freshen up / chill for a few hours. The plan for the evening is to eat dinner at a fantastic restaurant overlooking the Badshahi Mosque.
Our final day of the tour will be action-packed. In the morning, We’ll check out Badshahi Mosque (which we will have already seen but not visited); a marvel of red sandstone and polished marble and the Lahore Fort. We will then have a few hours of chill time at the hotel following the mosque, before heading to the Wagah Border for the border ceremony towards the end of the afternoon. After one final feast together (and plenty of laughs and hugs), the tour officially ends (sadly).
We arrange for transfers to the airport for those who are flying out over the next 24 hours. Check out of the hotel is around 11 am on Day 15. You can choose to stay on at the same hotel if you are not flying home right away, though any additional nights at the hotel are not covered by EBT.
Please contact us for information on single room lodging.
Join a likeminded community of curious and active explorers