NOTE: For day 1 & 2, and the general planning and tips, read Part 1 of the Northern Areas of Pakistan series.
From Hunza our next stop in Gilgit-Baltistan trip was Gilgit. It is about 2 hours ride and the road is very good.
But right in the beginning, we first visited the first and the oldest settlement on the ancient Silk Road. It is Ganish Village in Hunza valley and is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
We then continued to Gilgit where we decided to do an overnight stay to not make the trip very hectic and tiring. My mother was traveling with us as well and I wanted it to be comfortable for her. The ultimate next destination was Astore and that is further 4 hours from Gilgit as the road is through the mountains, unpaved, bumpy, curvy and steep.
In Gilgit we stayed overnight in Serena Hotel and it was absolutely gorgeous. Their garden is covered with the mountain views. Gilgit is the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is 1500 meters high and has a population of 217K. But as a tourist, it is more an overnight base than a city where you want to spend too much time from your overall days in the north. If you have time, you can enjoy food at one of the river side restaurants in Gilgit. There is a whole street with just river side restaurants and terraces (close to Chinar Bagh). Other than that, I did not find Gilgit city itself offering much as tourist spots.
We spent most of our evening in the hotel chilling in their beautiful garden.
From Gilgit, we wanted to eventually drive to Skardu. There are 2 ways to go to Skardu via Gilgit:
- Taking the straight route via the mountains to Skardu
- From Gilgit to Skardu via Astore valley and Deosai
After a lot of research and asking around, we picked option 2. Reasons:
- When we were there in July 2019, the road from Gilgit to Skardu was under construction. It takes 10 to 11 hours, but sometimes you would need to stop for hours due to road works and land sliding. And there are not many options to stay overnight in between. Google maps might tell you differently, but you need to rely on locals’ knowledge.
- Route 2 also was 11 to 12 hours, but we could split it and stay overnight in Astore or Rama valley. The road is not good, but at least there are not many blockers (at least at that time) due to construction works. And we had some beautiful valleys on the way.
- Another reason to pick route 2 was that we wanted to visit Deosai Plains from Skardu anyways, and this way, we passed though Deosai Plains on our way to Skardu.
TIP: Always check with your driver and tour company of the latest route situation. Once the Gilgit/Skardu road is done, that would be less in time I believe.
BEWARE!!! From here on starts the real adventure of unpaved mountain roads 🙂 – only 4WD cars would survive and your private car is not recommended.
So eventually after 4 hours from Gilgit, we arrived in Astore Valley where we stopped for lunch. And then drove 1 more hour up the mountains from Astore to Rama Valley where we were staying overnight at PTDC Hotel Rama.
After checking in to the hotel (PTDC), we drove to the starting point of the Rama Lake hike (which is the Rama camp site). From camp site, we did a short 45 minutes hike (one way) to the Rama Lake (3507m) which was absolutely gorgeous. The hike though is not recommended if you are not fully fit. It is not a steep hike, but the path is unpaved, icy and sometimes you have to cross sliding snow to get there. But if you are fit and have good shoes, no problem.
TIP: Camping is very popular in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. In Rama Valley campsite, you can bring your camp or rent the built camps at the site. Do come prepared for mosquitoes in the evening as there will be some during summertime. Also, Rama gets very cold at night even in summertime. So, bring warm jacket and hat. Also, if you want to add one more night, you can do Fairy Meadows over night on way to Rama. The hike is 4 hours one way and you camp overnight at Fairy Meadows with view of Nanga Parbat mountain.
- Ganish Village Hunza
- Drive to Gilgit
- Gilgit riverside restaurant street
- Overnight stay in Gilgit
- Gilgit to Astore drive
- Lunch in Astore
- Rama Valley
- Rama Lake
- Overnight in PTDC Rama Hotel
This post is part of a series:
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