Key information: Hunza Area
- An outstandingly beautiful valley set deep in the Karakorum, some of the highest and most spectacular mountains on earth. An ancient principality with a romantic but bloody history.
- Beautiful walks around Hunza proper, high above the torrential Hunza river, along irrigation channels and lanes, through apricot orchards, cultivated terraces and timeless hamlets.
- Superb walks from the main valley up to glaciers and high viewpoints and in the mountains of the surrounding area. And also off the Karakorum Highway to the north and south.
- This area is sadly currently too dangerous to visit (Talibanned). Lets hope!
- Walkopedia rating92
- Natural interest16
- Human interest14
- Negative points2
- Total rating92
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: 2,438m upwards
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The Hunza valley is justly famous for its beauty, isolation and romance although its history as a wild mountain principality has often been bloody.
The Hunza is the only valley to cut through the vast Karakoram massif, starting near the Khunjerab pass to China and winding through the range before joining the Indus.
The valley is surrounded by magnificent peaks, the most famous being the stunning Rakaposhi, at 7,788m, and valleys and glaciers.
Although high (around 8,500ft), Hunza proper has a benign microclimate; with a vast network of ancient irrigation channels, it supports cereal crops as well as its famous apricot orchards. You can walk along channels and lanes, through orchards, steeply terraced fields and timeless hamlets. You may hear the Muezzin's call from a rickety little mosque.
There are many outstanding walks to be made in the mountains above Hunza, to glaciers and high ridges from which you will be surrounded by the glistening peaks of the high Karakoram. One of the best is the steep walk (one to three days) up to Ultar Meadow, with a view of Ultar Peak (7,388m) looming behind its steep, narrow, dirty glacier, and beyond to a view point on a high ridge at Hon.
There are wonderful walks both up and down river from Hunza. The Lonely Planet has a lot of fabulous suggestions. We plan to develop a lot more information about these walks (all recommendations welcome!), but in the meantime see Hussaini to Zarabad.
See the warnings elsewhere about the dangers of this area.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Pakistan – Lonely Planet - includes a good section on trekking and information on day walks.
Northern Pakistan – Footprint Guides.
Pakistan Insight Guide – Insight Guides.
See the Wikipedia entry on Hunza for some possible background reading.
The Great game – Peter Hopkirk: The Hunza area was at the heart of the shadowy struggle between the Russian and British Empires. Not to be missed.
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk.An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
Best times to visit – June to October
Fine for most of the time, but severe mountain weather is always possible.
Bus or 4-wheel drive from Gilgit or Kashgar in China, in each case along the magnificent Karakoram Highway. You can fly to Gilgit from Islamabad, or drive there through the unforgettable Indus Gorge.
There are a wide number of hiking routes, providing several days’ superb walking, to suit all tastes and capacities. See Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Altitude: Likely to affect you a bit: expect to puff and perhaps a mild headache.
- Mountain weather: rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
- This is remote country: food and other supplies will not be readily available as soon as you leave the main valley and help may be hard to get if things go wrong.
- Health risks: this is a relatively undeveloped country, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill. Come prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.
- Pakistan is not stable, and law and order is problematic.The Hunza area is currently too dangerous to visit (Talibanned). Prepare carefully and take all appropriate precautions. Check on the position regularly, including on the ground on arrival. A guide is highly recommended.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
It is very possible to make walks in the Hunza area independently, although guides (and support for longer expeditions) are recommended.
A knowledgeable guide can make a huge difference to your enjoyment (and safety) and is recommended. The same goes for day walks up into the mountains. Guides and support for longer walks are strongly recommended.
Have a look at
There are a number of places to stay in Hunza (Karimabad), of varying quality.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are a few websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
- www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunza_Valley. As usual, a good starting place.
Other things to do in the area
You need to see the Altit and Baltit forts.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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