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Karakoram Adventure - Kashgar to Kashmir



  • 07 Sep
  • -
  • 27 Sep 2024
  • |
  • 21 days


per person

Availability: 12 places

    This totally unique itinerary takes us on a wonderful journey along the southern branch of the Old Silk Road. Starting in Kashgar where we will witness the famous Yakshambe Bazaar – otherwise known as the Sunday Market – we will continue through the stunning mountains of northern Pakistan to the tranquil foothills of the Indian Himalayas.

    On a journey that traders, warriors, poets and pilgrims have been taking for millennia we will drive the famous Karakoram Highway – the eighth wonder of the world – through Hunza and the beautiful Fairy Meadows, then on to Lahore. From here we will cross the border to the Sikh’s holy city of Amritsar, visit the Golden Temple and then head to mythical lands of Kashmir to relax in the mellow forest-clad mountains and on the region’s tranquil lakes.

    All in all, this is an amazing adventure:  a journey through a part of the world that will stay with you long after you have finished your travels...

    Day 1

    DAY 1: Tour starts in Kashgar (China)

    The tour will start in Kashgar. Depending on your arrival time there may be an opportunity for an orientation walk around the city before dinner at a local restaurant.

    Day 2

    DAY 2: In Kashgar

    We will spend the day exploring this wonderful town and the famous Yakshambe Bazaar, or the Sunday Market as it’s otherwise known. In the morning we will first visit the town’s famous mosque before going to the animal market. Here we will spend the morning watching the locals trade everything from woodwork and iron wear to sheep, donkeys, cattle, horses and camels, before having lunch at a traditional Uyghur restaurant. In the afternoon we move to the more modern covered bazaar, believed to be the biggest in Central Asia.

    Day 3

    DAY 3: In Kashgar

    After a late breakfast we will visit some of Kashgar’s interesting sites, starting at the green-tiled Abak Hoja tomb and the small Silk Road museum. After lunch we head into the old town, a world that is changing fast but still holds hidden corners of the old Silk Road. We will end the day’s tour by having tea on the second floor balcony of one of the old chaikhanas (tea-houses) and watching the street market below us.

    Day 4

    DAY 4: Kashgar – Tashkurgan (3090m approx)

    Like countless traders before us, today we will commence our journey on the southern branch of the Old Silk Road, passing Karakul Lake and the formidable 7000m-high peak Muztagh Ata – the Ice Father - en route to Tashkurgan. This interesting frontier town is famed for its old fortress which we will take time to look around.

    Day 5

    DAY 5: Tashkurgan – Gulmit (Pakistan) (4600m approx)

    Crossing the land border into Pakistan we first check through passport control in Tashkurgan before driving 210kms over the spectacular Khunjerab Pass to Sust in Pakistan to complete the formalities. After clearing immigration we head for Gulmit. En route we take a photo stop at the Batura Glacier to view the Shisper Peak standing at 7600m.

    Day 6

    DAY 6: Gulmit – Hunza

    This morning we have a look around the town of Gulmit, the old summer capital of Hunza situated at approx. 2500m. The fertile plateau here boasts an abundance of crops such as maize, wheat and potatoes, along with apricots, peaches, apples and walnuts. We will take a wander around and visit some of the local houses before continuing our journey down the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to Hunza. At the northern end of Lake Attabad we take a short boat ride on the lake before heading through the newly built tunnel and then continuing to Hunza and the principal town of Karimabad. Here we spend our 1st night overlooking the wonderful views of the Hunza Valley.

    Day 7

    DAY 7: In Hunza

    Today we will be able to take a spectacular walk down into town – or go by bus – where we will be able to visit Altit Fort and go for walk along the water channels around town to absorb the local atmosphere and have a glimpse of the lifestyles of the local people. In the afternoon we can take a look around the bazaar.

    Day 8

    DAY 8: In Hunza

    Realising the last few days have been quite full-on, we have decided to indulge you, and give one more full day at this heavenly spot. Besides relaxing, there are numerous local walks to enjoy in and around the town and potentially a visit to Baltit Fort for those interested.

    Day 9

    DAY 9: Hunza - Gilgit

    After breakfast we will continue south down the Hunza Valley to Gilgit. Here we will have the chance to visit the famous Gandharan Buddha and the Christian cemetery before having a look around the bazaar. If a game of Polo is on, this is a great place to watch. From here we will transfer to our wonderful hotel, situated a little way out of town.

    Day 10

    DAY 10: Giligit - Fairy Meadows (3300m approx)

    After an early breakfast we will head down the KKH to Raikot Bridge, where we transfer to jeeps and turn off up into the hills for a very dramatic jeep ride which boasts some spectacular scenery. In the lee of the staggering Nanga Parbat – or Naked Mountain (the 8,100 peak and massif that marks the end of the Himalayas) we will stay at the Fairy Meadows. There are lovely (but basic) log cabins here, all of which have commanding views of the great mountain, but there is no road…so to get there we must walk about 2-3 hours. (horses are availble if needed - payable locally). This is truly a stunning natural location with mountains and glaciers in view. On arrival we will check into the huts, relax and enjoy this wonderful location.

    Day 11

    DAY 11: In Fairy Meadows (3300m approx)

    Spending the day in Fairy Meadows there is plenty of time for a trek through the forested foothills of the massif to Bayel camp and back. This will not be too strenuous, as we will run along the contours rather than straight up, but it will be spectacular. Anyone wanting a more relaxed time can simply stay at the meadows. We may take a packed lunch with us or have lunch at one of the local camps, and then have dinner back at Fairy Meadows.

    Day 12

    DAY 12: Fairy Meadows - Naran (4173m approx)

    After breakfast we will walk back down to the road-head and from here re-join the KKH, swap the jeeps for our regular transport and crack on through to Chilas. Here we plan to take a new and more interesting route, over the Babusa Pass and into the Kaghan Valley and on to the town of Naran. Once here we will have a chance to go for a walk among the hills, hopefully meeting some of the Kutchi nomads that come this way, grazing their flocks, at this time of year.

    Day 13

    DAY 13: Naran - Islamabad

    This morning we’ll leave Naran and embark on our long day’s drive to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. We will pass through the infamous Abbottabad, home to Osama Bin Laden in his final years.

    Day 14

    DAY 14: Islamabad - Lahore

    Today we continue our journey south. We will include a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Rohtas Fort. The main fortifications consist of the massive walls, which extend for more than 4 km; they are lined with bastions and pierced by monumental gateways. Qila Rohtas, is an exceptional example of early Muslim military architecture. If time allows we will visit the famous Ajeeb Ghar, or ‘wonder house’, as the locals refer to the Lahore Museum located in the centre of the city. This evening we will sample the delights of the local cuisine.

    Day 15

    DAY 15: In Lahore

    Today we take in the cultural and artistic sites of Lahore providing an evocative mixture of Moghul monuments and faded legacies to the Raj era along with a rambling old city. We head out west to the Tomb of Jahangir, a 17th-century mausoleum built for the Mughal Emperor dating from 1637, and located along the banks of the Ravi River. We then head back to the heart of the city to visit the magnificent fort and Badshahi Mosque before taking a wander through the old town. This evening we will spend our last night dining out in Food street, with its great food and stunning views of the fort and mosque around sunset.

    Day 16

    DAY 16: Lahore - Amritsar (India)

    Bidding a fond farewell to Pakistan, we will drive east to the Shalimar Gardens, a Mughal garden complex dating from the period when the Mughal Empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith. We then continue to cross the border at Wagah and enter India. Here we will witness the closing of the gate ceremony, a colourful and unique affair, followed by a short drive on to Amritsar where we stay for the next two nights.

    Day 17

    DAY 17: In Amritsar

    We have a full day to enjoy the city of Amritsar founded in 1577 by the 4th Sikh Guru, Ram Das, and home to Sikhism’s holiest shrine – the Golden Temple. It is bound by 12 medieval gates and provides a warren of narrow streets hosting a myriad of bazaars to explore in the old city. We will also visit the Jallianwalla Barg - scene of the British massacre in 1919. After dinner we can take another look around the temple, which is at its most evocative when lit up at night.

    Day 18

    DAY 18: Amritsar - Srinagar

    This morning, depending on flight schedules, we will fly from Amritsar or drive to Jammu to catch our flight on to Srinagar. On arrival we check into our houseboat and relax and enjoy our wonderful surroundings.

    Day 19

    DAY 19: In Srinagar

    Of course, staying for three nights there will be plenty of time to enjoy this unique place. There is the floating vegetable market, the beautiful Moghul Gardens, created by Empire Akbar, and the old city with its narrow streets and ancient mosques to explore. We may also take a stroll up to the imposing 18th-century Hari Parbat Fort which is visible from virtually anywhere in Srinagar and built by Akbar in the 1590's. Until recently this was closed off to the public but provides stunning views of the surrounding area. There is also the opportunity for some shopping, though in truth that doesn’t require much effort as the hawkers of flowers, jewellery, pashminas etc come to the houseboats. Or for the really energetic there is even a round of golf to consider on one of India’s best courses. Each day we will eat on the houseboat, sampling the delicious cuisine.

    Day 20

    DAY 20: In Srinagar

    Sitting at the heart of the Vale of Kashmir lies this extraordinary town, famed for centuries for its clean, clear air, its idyllic setting and, of course, its lakes. Framed by high-forested hills that rise up in the distance to the snow-capped Himalayas, it is simply one of the most picturesque places you’re ever likely to visit. To drift across Dal or Nagin Lake on the elegant shikaras is relaxation at its most exotic and peaceful. Today we will simply relax.

    Day 21

    DAY 21: Srinagar - Delhi

    Today we will have a leisurely morning and then take an afternoon flight to Delhi where the tour ends.