Our Trip to Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
To be honest, I've never written a travel blog before so I'm not sure how to go about it but here goes. My husband and I took a weeks trip to GB, Pakistan from 9th-16th July. Since, we were travelling together for the first time we weren't looking for adventure, tourism. We were just looking to getaway, relax and spend some quality time together. I'm going to use this space to answer the most commonly asked questions about our trip.
We took a bus from Islamabad, that took us straight to Gilgit. It's called 'NATCO' which is short for The Northern Areas Transport Corporation. It took us about 16 hours to get there with a about 3-4 stops in the middle. The bus leaves at 10 p.m which is good since you're able to spend most of your time sleeping and the travel time doesn't feel too long - at least it didn't to us. We were expecting it to feel like forever but it didn't. The views are nice but monotonous and the way itself isn't too bad or scary. You won't find very hygienic and well maintained bathrooms on the way so keep your own tissues and soaps for the way. Also, if you're going with a lot of people its best to get your own transport like a bus/van/coaster so that you don't have to worry about the transport there. Renting cars there is really expensive. We fortunately got a car to take us from Gilgit to Skardu - which btw is a pretty scary road - since it was already going there but in 5000 PKR but the usual cost only starts around 15000 PKR. And when we wanted to come back no one quoted less than 20,000 PKR which is why we took public transport back from Skardu which cost us only 650 PKR each :D lol (BTW - the local drivers drive like psychos. like. mad. its scary.) For our way back, we went by air since we really didn't want to travel another 16 hours after an exhausting trip. Going was fine but we expected ourselves to be exhausted by the end and didn't think we could have done our way back by bus. :|
Since our trip was pretty much arranged and managed by the army, we went wherever they took us. Like I said we weren't up for a lot of adventure. Places that we visited were as follows:
- Pine Hut, Gilgit was our base camp. That's where we always came back to. It was an army guest house.
- NLI mess, in Bunji Gilgit which is beautiful! They have a little museum set up there and a lot of history to share and show. It was fascinating and informative both.
- Shangrila Lake, Skardu We stayed just beside it in their army guest house called 'Kachura' guest house. The views from there are beyond stunning! Shangrila rest house/hotel itself is right opposite to it and civilians can totally stay here!
- Sukh naala/valley, Skardu which has touristy stops with food and views.
- Upper Kachura Lake, Skardu which was THE prettiest and most well-maintained tourist spot (at least when we went!) It was beautiful, and scenic and breathtaking. We took a motor boat ride there which was TOTALLY worth it.
- Karimabad, Hunza is where we stayed at in Hunza with a very hospitable local woman and her sweetest maid. They had a little cottage with cherry trees and vegetable gardens, overlooking lovely mountain views from our bedroom window. We found them over instagram through a girl that got in touch with us. They cooked their traditional soup dawdoo and desi paratha for us, and EVEN gave us their local precious stones as wedding gifts! (AWW :')!)
- Attabad Lake, Hunza Huge lake. Blue and breathtaking. It came about as the result of an enormous flood, and landslide that blocked away. Several people died and a village drowned. Now it's a sightseeing tourist stop. I couldn't help but feel odd getting pictures there - like should I even?
- Altit Fort, Hunza is found in Karimabad and is about 1100 years old. Everything about it was preserved and they had guides taking rounds in groups to show and tell. The view from its top was majestic!
- Kha Basi Cafe It's right next to Altit Fort. Its an entirely woman run cafe that is waitresses, order takers, and chefs. Even the furniture in this cafe was entirely made by women. These women were really friendly, educated and obviously empowered. I'm yet to see women working commonly as waitresses even in big cities!
The weather in Skardu was way better than in Gilgit or Hunza. Gilgit was hot, like summery. Not pleasant, not breezy. Skardu was pleasant, coldish, and breezy. Hunza was in between but it wasn't proper cold anywhere. I've heard June is a better time to go if you want to enjoy the weather and may be September?
The amount of questions about the cameras we used is crazy lol. We had the following cameras with us.
- Canon 5D Mark III with lens 50mm 1:1.8 (I dont recommend this lens though because it doesn't really capture views!) We used this camera for most pictures including night time pictures with a flash gun.
- YI 4K action camera - THIS IS THE ONE MUZAMIL WAS USING FOR HIS STORIES GUYS! THIS!
- FujiFilm Instax mini 8 for our polaroids
- Our phones lol - iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 (Mine's 7 :p)
We also had two tripods. One for the DSLR because obviously we needed a way to get pictures together and a small tiny one for the action cam. We edited our pictures on Snapseed which is an app. :)
The trip didn't cost as much as it would have if we were entirely depending on ourselves but since most of our bookings were in army guest houses, it didn't cost us that much (which is one of the reasons we chose this place.)
The entire trip cost us 60,000 PKR
- 16000 PKR AIR TICKET
- 1300 PKR SKARDU TO GILGIT (Public transport - K2 tours)
- 5000 PKR GILGIT TO SKARDU (Rented a jeep which would normally take more or less 15000 but since we took a ride with a driver who was already going there for himself, we got lucky!)
- 4400 PKR ISLAMABAD TO GILGIT (NATCO)
- 8000 PKR GILGIT TO HUNZA RETURN (We rented a corolla there)
- 25000 PKR FOODING LODGING (Different army guest houses (besides Hunza which was a free stay) and other road side food stops)
Safe to say when it comes to money matters, we were really lucky a bunch of times and we were expecting the total cost to be much more. If you're a couple planning a trip then it can start around 80,000 PKR and go up to 120,000- 130,000 PKR depending on where you're staying and your transport.
AVERAGE RATES FOR GROUP TOURS IS 35000 PKR PER HEAD FOR SIMILAR ITINERARY.
That's about it keeping all your questions about the trip in mind. I know there were other questions concerning my wardrobe and details on my personal experience, I'll share them in other blog posts soon. Hope this helped! :D