Wednesday, May 1, 2013
K2 BASE CAMP GONDOGORO-LA TREK
Believed to be one of the greatest treks of the world, K2 Gondogoro-La Trek with impressive mountain scenery of spectacular Karakoram giants like K2, Broad Peak and Gasherbrums is a lifetime experience. The actual trip starts in Islamabad; the political capital of Pakistan that rests itself in the laps of lush green Margalla Hills. Before we reach Skardu we drive on Karakoram Highway, carved in rocks by Chinese and Pakistani engineers is a thrilling adventure. With marvelous sights of Nanga Parbat we drive along the Indus River. En-route we make short photo and rest breaks we also stop at Shatial and Chilas to visit ancient rock carvings.
The K2 bound trekking adventure starts from Askole, porters packing our supplies when we gear up to board on to our wilderness experience. Following the trail along the Braldu River into Baltoro Glacier, longest glacier second to Antarctica and trekking along world famed granites and spires we make our way into the “Thorn Room of Mountain Gods”. The mesmerizing views of K2 and other peaks from Concordia are unforgettable.
Adding more flavor to our adventure, instead of returning back on Baltoro Glacier, we cross Ghandogoro-La into Khispang. The views from top of Ghangoro-La 5650m high are simply cannot be put into words. From here one can even see the Hidden Peak known as G-I and the gorgeous Laila Peak. Starting at Ali Camp as early as 12AM we reach Ghandogoro-La’s top before sunrise. After a short break at the summit to capture your memories in pictures, we descend to Khisapng, camping site after a 14 hours long trek. Our staff, with an attitude of always there to help you, with a smile on their face, with a friendly approach and greatest of all, the experience in the wilderness that they have gained through years of serving our clients make this trip even more fascinating.
Day 01 Islamabad
Welcome to modern Capital of Pakistan, the Islamabad; In sharp contrast to the ancient and historical cities and towns of Pakistan, the Federal Capital Islamabad is a new city modeled on the pattern of many new and modern western capitals. Located on the Pothowar Plateau and lying at the foot-hills of the picturesque Margalla range, Islamabad is a picture of scenic serenity. Constructed in 1959 as the site of the new capital, Islamabad attracted planners and architects from all corners of the globe. After some sleep and lunch, we will travel to Rawalpindi, the twin city of Islamabad to start our sightseeing trip of twin cities. From Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi to modern and well planned Islamabad, we will visit Museums, Mosques and other important sights of twin cities.
Day 02 Islamabad – Chilas
Early in the morning breakfast we start our journey towards Chilas, the home of Nanga Parbat which also known as the Killer Mountain. About 12-13 hours drive takes us along the Indus River with panoramic views of lash green mountain scenery up to Besham en-route we stop at Manserah to visit the Ashoka’s Inscriptions engraved on the boulders along Karakoram Highway. We meet Indus River at Thakot half an hour before the Besham, from here the rocky Mountains start and the road is built in the carved rocks, that’s why today the Karakoram Highway is known is “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The Karakoram Highway is not only a miraculous engineered road in the huge rocks but also reflects the signs of great friendship between Pakistan and China. If we make it on time we will also have the opportunity to visit the rock carvings at Shatial. The legends say these have been carved by the pilgrims, travelers and traders on their way to and out of China.
Day 03 Chilas-Skardu (2286m)
We board on to our bus after relatively early breakfast, to start our journey to Skardu. The Indus River on our either side, sometimes we cross left and sometimes it comes to our right. Driving on Karakoram Highway is an adventure in itself which is lifetime’s unforgettable experience. Another fantastic drama unfolds when Nanga Parbat starts to play “hide and seek”, before we have a clear view at Thalaichi. At “Unique Place in the World” we have an opportunity to see three world’s highest ranges Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindu Kush. Driving further north at Juglot we turn right to begin our trip to Skardu. On arrival in Skardu, we transfer to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 04 Free Day in Skardu (2286m)
Skardu is the starting point for most trekking and climbing expeditions. The inhabitants are called Balti who are a mixture of Tibetan and Caucasian stock and speak Balti, an ancient form of Tibetan. Due to the similarity of its culture, life and architecture with Tibet, Baltistan is also known as the "Tibet-e-Khurd" (Little Tibet). It borders on the Chinese province of Xinjiang and Indian-occupied Kashmir. Apart from its incomparable cluster of mountain peaks and glaciers Baltistan´s five valleys, - Shigar, Skardu, Khaplu, Rondu and Kharmang are noted for their luscious peaches, apricots, apples and pears.
Today’s wake call will be given rather late, after tiring yet adventurous rip of yesterday, we will have some extra hours of sleep before we embark on impressive experience. We will begin our today’s tour with a visit to Sadpara Lake, carved Buddha. Afterwards, we will visit Kharpocho Fort, situated on a hill overlooking the town. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, who ruled over Baltistan till the end of the 16th century. Time permitting; we will venture to upper and lower Kachura Lakes.
Day 05 Skardu – Askole (3050m)
We start our six hours long adventurous Willy’s jeep ride to Askoli today with local crew and supplies along the Shigar and Braldo Valleys to the road ahead to Askoli. Villages in along the way have been changed little in over hundred years, farms with fields of barely wheat and vegetable surrounded by stonewalls and stands of Poplar, Willows and apricot trees. The apricot is a very important crop in the Gilgit-Baltistan having a multitude of uses to the Balti and Hunzukuts people. Smiling and welcome villagers greet us as we pass through villages on the rugged dirt and stone road that leads to Baltoro. At various points the road may have collapsed due to erosion and we will transfer the gear across on foot to a vehicle on the other side. We have our lunch and short photo breaks en-route, the views on the way a spectacular.
Day 06 Trek to Jhula (3200m)
After considerable organization of equipment, supplies and porters load for the journey ahead; our caravan leaves walking beside turbulent waters of the Braldo River along Askole village. The trail leads out through fields of wheat and millet and willow, poplars trees that have been carefully irrigated. Bakhor Das, the valley opens out to reveal the Biafo Glacier flowing for more than fifty kilometers from the Hisper Pass to Braldo. We have our first taste of moraine walking as we cross the snout and descend to our campsite near the river for the lunch break. As we are done with our lunch, we continue towards Khula for our overnight camping, the route can travel in one of two directions today as we approach a major river feeding the Braldo from the North; the Domardo River. Depending on the level of water, either we cross the river making it shorter to Jhula or we walk further upstream to cross the wooden bridge. The Braldo River is fed by melting waters of Panama and Chotoi Glaciers. As we walk on a desert like trail therefore the sun here is too hot and direct so plenty of sun protection cream and an umbrella is highly recommended.
Day 08 Trek to Bardumal (3305m)
A rather shorter trek is planned for today, as we have to cross the river so it is better to make today’s walk short enabling ourselves for a next day early morning crossing of the river. On sunny days the sun hits glaciers resulting into feeding with more water from the melting glaciers. The trail is gentle but quite hot if the sky is clear and bright. Rest of the afternoon can be spent relaxing and enjoying the wilderness at its best.
Day 09 Trek to Paiju (3380m)
Though today’s trek will be again short as well but we will need to start quite early to avoid the flooded path from the up leveled water from melting glacier. Our campsite is Paiju, under the shadow of Paiju Peak, a lush green campsite 6611m at an altitude of 3500 meters high. En-route will have a glimpse of Musherbrum, a challenging seven thousand Karakoram giant. After we reach Paiju, we will have the amazing views of snowy peaks and Baltoro Glacier. As we will reach our campsite pretty early so we have enough time to wash and prepare for the days ahead on glaciers and moraine.
Day 10 Trek to Khuburste (3760m)
We will have a seven hours long trek to Khuburste with our first walk on the majestic Baltoro Glacier after an hour and half trek from our previous campsite, paiju, the glacier trail that leads to the “Throne Room of Mountain Gods as the Concordia has been described”. It is also the source of Braldo River that feeds villages ahead and further down-country. From here you will need to pull out your trekking poles which will be of a good use as we will have several ups and downs on glacier and moraine throughout the trail, even though the way is good from the traffic. Before we reach Khuburche for overnight camping we will have a lunch break at Liligo, the old campsite with many alpine meadow flowers and greenery. After our lunch, we will cross the snout of Liligo Glacier and back to Baltoro Glacier. On the way, you may see ibex wader above the trekking trail. Across the Baltoro Glacier, there is Dunge Glacier that opens its arms for world famed Trango Towers, the Nameless Tower and Shipton Spire and so many other granites. After several hours of challenging but rewarding trek we reach to our campsite for overnight stay.
Day 11 Trek to Urdukus (4130m)
Today’s walk will be again short but challenging too. As we trek our every single step gains height on the undulate trail until we reach Urdukus campsite. The views of Cathedrals across the Baltoro Glaciers are amazingly beautiful and the campsite where we will set our camp for overnight has been shelved by Duke of Abbruzzi’s men attaching a historical significance.
Day 12 Trek to Goro (4236m)
Trekking right in the center of the Baltoro Glacier, the views of Karakoram’s giants along the glacier is rewarding. About six to seven hours trek sometimes on naked glacier and sometimes on moraine is a tough walk. Along the way before emerging on the glacier you will see graves of porters and if any holy man accompanies the trekking caravan, the porters might sit alongside graves for short prayers. The Yermanandu Glacier which comes forward from the Musherbrum Glacier providing the spectacular views of Muztagh Tower 7270m, Musherbrum 7800m, Gasherbrum IV 7925m, the 17th highest peak on earth and 6th in Pakistan. The campsite is actually on glacier, providing no much comfort yet pleasing experience.
Day 13 Trek to Concordia (4572m)
A five hours walk on the glacier takes us to the “The Throne Room of Mountain Gods”, the most impressive campsite anywhere in the world. As we walk on the glacier to reach Concordia, a magic spell surrounds embraces us. If luck is at our side with weather, we will have the most magnificent views of the mountain giants of Karakoram including the crown K2, which majestically stands just in front of you. The peaks tower over you and all appear to be tantalizingly close. Gasherbrum II, 26,361ft/8,035m, III & IV, Mitre Peak, Chogolisa 25,147ft/7,665m and Broad Peak 26,401ft/8,047m.
Day 14 Day Excursion to K2 BC
Today is optional, we have choice of either spend the day relaxing and mesmerizing ourselves with the scenic mountain beauty or a day excursion to K2 base camp to meet the mountaineers. The view of mountains that we can have from Concordia cannot be seen from the base camp. If a day hike to K2 base camp is chosen, its’ a 13-14 hours long day, even though because of the proximity of the terrain it may look as if the K2 base camp is downhill.
Day 15 Trek to Ali Camp (5000m)
As we leave for Ali Camp, our next campsite for overnight stay, depending on the weather conditions we may have some of most stunning views of K2. Today’s walk is rather tricky as we make our way on glacier and moraine with some crevasses on Vigne Glacier. If weather is good and members and porters agree we will take next step which is to reach Munir Camp which is higher at an altitude of 5938m. This will save us couple of hours for next day’s real adventure where will have a big day of crossing the world famed Gondogoro Pass 5600m high.
Day 16 Trek over Gondogoro Pass (5600m) To Khispang
Our big adventure awaits an adventure of lifetime, strenuous yet rewarding. The sense of achievement will outweigh the hard work, the efforts and tiredness that have been put during the long day to cross the pass. As we wake up to a very early breakfast and get prepared for the ascent of Gondogoro Pass, our porters will almost be gone ahead of us. We start the day around 12:30 AM to reach the top as early as possible to safely descend into Khispang, the trek down to Gondogoro Pass base camp is very tricky and prone to stone falling so we have to navigate downhill carefully because a single stone fall can be followed by hundreds and can be dangerous for the people descending ahead of you. A group of strong and technically skilled rescue team has fixed rope to get both the porters and the members across safely. The views from the top of the Gondogoro Pass are out of this world and you will go with memories of a lifetime. After taking some pictures, we start a quick yet careful descend of the pass.
Day 17 Trek to Siacho
The trek starts after breakfast, we reach to glacier and moraine after couple of minutes of easy walk. The eight hours long trek today is rewarding too as we can have awe-inspiring views of Musherbrum Peak and willow trees after paiju. We will have a short lunch break at Dalchampa, a nice green campsite with lots of wild alpine colorful flowers and yak passture for Siacho and Hushe villagers. Siacho would be our last camping day and it would be a celebration for porters and if we join their celebrations it would make them happy. After some dance and celebration we go to tents for overnight stay.
Day 18 Trek to Hushe, Drive to Skardu
Our last day of trekking, three hours easy trek leads to Hushe Valley where jeeps will be waiting for us. After a cup of tea we will board on to Willy’s jeeps to come Skardu. Today’s day may be long with three hours trek and seven hours jeep ride. Driving through villages seeing people waving and welcoming with cheerful smiles, it is a great experience too. On arrival in Skardu we will be transferred to hotel and after a hot shower and refreshing, we will be gathered in hotel for dinner and probably our local staff will join us and say goodbye.
Day 19 Fly To Islamabad Or Drive To Chilas
An hour long flight from Skardu to Islamabad is a spectacular flight, if weather is good and clear will have a chance to see Nanga Parbat and challenging eight thousand meter peak which has claimed lots of lives before it was conquered by Herman Buhl from Austria in a German-Austrian join expedition. On arrival in Islamabad transfer to hotel and rest of the day is free. You have can see the Islamabad city and move around do some shopping if you wish to.
In case of bad weather and flight cancellation, you will be driving on Karakoram Highway to Chilas for overnight stay.
Day 20 Free Day Or Drive To Islamabad
In case of yesterday’s flight operation, you can buy a day trip to Taxila, Taxila is the abode of many splendid Buddhist establishments. Taxila, the main center of Ghanddhara, is over 3,000 years old. It had attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 BC, with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. Taxila later came under the Mauryan dynasty and reached a remarkable matured level of development under the great Ashoka. During the year 2 BC, Buddhism was adopted as the state religion, which flourished and prevailed until the year 10 AD. During this time Taxila, Swat and Charsadda (old Pushkalavati) became three important centers for culture, trade and learning. Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh. It was from these centers that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Ghanddhara Art all over the world.
In case of yesterday’s flight cancellation, we continue our journey to Islamabad with a lunch break in Besham.
This will be end of the trip!
Day 21 End of HATP Services
After breakfast, our trip will conclude here. Those who are flying back to their homes will be taken to the airport and those who have been an extension of the trip shall be give a relaxed day before their next trip begins next day.
Duration of program 21 Days Islamabad to Islamabad
Hotel Accommodation 07 Nights
Camping/Trekking 13 days
Trek Grade Strenuous
Group Size 5-12 trekkers
Trek of Nature Led by Local Guide