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Shimshal Trek in Pakistan's Pamir

Altitude: 5000m 16,400 ft Max / Season: June-Sep / 22 Days
Shimshal PeaksPortersYak

Pakistan Itinerary

rest day
Jaffar Wasshk
 Chapchingiol Valley
 Chapchingiol High Camp
 exploration day
 Kuksel Springs
 Karakoram Highway

If you are interested in seeing the mighty Karakorams from the north, then you must visit Shimshal. This last remnant of true Hunza culture exists near Pakistan's Pamir east of the town of Passu in upper Hunza valley.

Our walk begins at Dut and we reach the remote village of Shimshal in about three days of trekking. At each step we are amazed how a path has been carved in this deep and narrow ravine on the way to Shimshal. The reason why Shimshal was located in such an out-of-the-way place is because this is where the Mir (ruler) of Hunza used to send his people who were found guilty of crimes and also those who he just did not like!

Shimshalis now are a proud and hardy folk. Their hospitality is legendary and the natural beauty that they inhabit makes us feel that perhaps the Mir sentenced them to heaven, not hell!

Our trek now veers northwards from Shimshal and we enter the lovely and remote Ghujerab valley. Here we cross the Boesam Pass and the Chapchingiol Pass to reach the trail head at Kuksel. This is where we meet the KKH and our jeeps which will transport us back to Hunza.

The trek from Shimshal to Kuksel takes us into a very remote area and gives us a chance to see some of the endangered wildlife in the Khunjerab National Park. If we are lucky we may be able to observe Markhor, Ibex, Marcopolo Sheep and even the elusive magnificent Snow Leopard. This is ideal high Pamir meadow country strewn with thousands of colorful flowers. This is a tough trek and ropes are provided for various river crossings and as aid at other steep places.

Detailed Itinerary - Shimshal Trek

Day 1, Rawalpindi/Islamabad

Hotel, trek briefing. We will have ample time for sightseeing and shopping in colorful old bazaars of Rawalpindi and new markets of Islamabad. We may also drive to the huge modern Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.

Day 2, Gilgit (1,500 m 4,900 ft)

Hotel, flight. One of the most thrilling mountain flights in the world. We will fly in a  Fokker Friendship turboprop plane which seats about 40 people. The plane flies at an altitude of about 4,500 m. in the Indus valley. It is surrounded by high peaks including Nanga Parbat (8,125 m.). In Gilgit we have time to shop and do some sightseeing.

Day 3, Gulmit (2,400 m 7,870 ft)

Hotel, drive. This is a 5 hour drive into northern Hunza valley. Gulmit is a small town on the KKH. Rakaposhi (7,788 m.) towers above the KKH on the way. Hunza valley is a Shangri-La!

Day 4, Dut (2,600 m 8,530 ft)

Camp, jeep. From Gulmit we drive to Pasu and here we cross the Hunza river to enter the Shimshal River gorge. This is a formidable place with steep walls on both sides. Route permitting, we will try and drive all the way to Dut. The trip from Gulmit takes about 3 to 4 hours of driving.  

Day 5, Ziarat (2,600 m 8,530 ft)

Camp, trek. This is a tough day’s walk through some scree slopes. We are lucky that bridges have been built to help us cross the Shimshal River couple of times. The walk takes about 6 to 7 hours.

Day 6, Malunguti (2,800 m 9,200 ft)

Camp, trek. In 3 to 4 hours of walking we will reach our camp site next to the Malunguti Glacier. We can go further but this is a good spot to rest a little after walking through the Shimshal gorge. We will be crossing mountain streams on the way.

Day 7, Shimshal (2,900 m 9,500 ft)

Camp, trek. We have to cross the difficult Malunguti Glacier before we can start seeing the beautiful terraced fields of Shimshal village. The walk takes about 3 to 4 hours and on our right we can see the towering Distaghil Sar.

Day 8, Shimshal (2,900 m 9,500 ft)

Camp, rest. Shimshal is the heart of Gojal region of Hunza. Old Hunza traditions have been preserved here in this remote and inaccessible village. This is a good place to rest and meet with the extremely hospitable locals.  

Day 9, Zardgarben (3,800 m 12,460 ft)

Camp, trek. In about 5 to 6 hours of trekking up hill and crossing mountain streams and scree slopes we will come to Zardgarben. This is a good place to acclimatize. 

Day 10, Jaffar Wasshk (4,300 m 14,100 ft)

Camp, trek. This takes about 4 to 5 hours. If we are lucky we will be able to see some Ibex on the way. This is a beautiful camp site with many flowers.

Day 11, Hindjerab (4,000 m 13,120 ft)

Camp, trek. Today we will cross the Boesam Pass (4,600 m.). The walk takes about 6 to 7 hours and goes through spectacular glacier country. We will be crossing some scree slopes and streams. The pass is non-technical.

Day 12, Wierben (3,600 m 11,800 ft)

Camp, trek. We will follow the beautiful Boesam valley down to Wierben. Here we are at the high meadows where, during the summer, villagers bring their yaks to graze. 

Day 13, Chapchingiol Valley (3,700 m 12,140 ft)

Camp, trek. After crossing the Ghujerab River on a ‘garari’ or with the help of ropes, we enter the arid Chapchingiol gorge. Here we have to cross and recross the river a few times. Ropes will be provided by our staff to help us through this part of the trek. This may take 2 to 3 hours.   

Day 14, Chapchingiol High Camp (4,000 m 13,120 ft)

Camp, trek. In another 2 hours or more we will come to our high camp before crossing the nearly 5,000 m. Chapchingiol Pass.

Day 15, Kuksel Valley (4,600 m 15,100 ft)

Camp, trek. This is a long tough day of about 8 hours. From Chapchingiol High Camp we ascend over scree slopes to the top of the Chapchingiol Pass which is always covered in snow and ice. The descent is difficult and ropes are fixed. The staff is always ready to help and assist in any way. On the north side of the pass we will find a suitable place to camp once off the glacier.

Day 16, Kuksel Springs (4,400 m 14,430 ft)

Camp, trek. In 3 hours or so we reach the shepherd huts of Kuksel along the KKH. We walk along the Kuksel River.

Day 17, Gulmit (2,400 m 7,870 ft)

Hotel, jeep. The drive takes about 3 to 4 hours and it is a wonderful feeling to be able to complete a tough and a very remote walk through the Shimshal region and the Khunjerab National Park which is the home of many endangered species. We hope to be talking about seeing the magnificent wildlife for a long time to come.

Day 18, Karimabad (2,440 m 8,000 ft)

Hotel, jeep. A very short drive on the KKH brings us to the capital of Hunza. We will have time for shopping and sightseeing in this magical place.

Day 19, Gilgit (1,500 m 4,920 ft.)

Hotel, drive. We return to Gilgit and have ample opportunity to visit the Central Asian bazaars of Gilgit.

Day 20, Besham

Hotel, drive. In about 8 hours of driving on the KKH we will arrive at Besham located above the Indus River and is the home to the local tribesmen.

Day 21, Rawalpindi/Islamabad

Hotel, drive and trek debriefing. In another 8 hours of driving on the KKH we arrive back into the twin cities.

Day 22,  Rawalpindi/Islamabad

Extra ‘cushion’ day!

Note: Day 22 will be used as a ‘cushion’ day in case of delays in travel due to weather, route change, health, acclimatization issues during the trek, etc.

This is a tentative itinerary.  For the enjoyment of your trip a ‘go with the flow’ attitude is necessary.  Many factors will influence your trip, such as weather conditions, health, route conditions, etc.  Please do not take this itinerary very seriously!

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