Monday, March 11, 2013

Mary Loosemore's Travelogue: Hunza Valley and KKH



With this fifth episode of Mary Mary Loosemore's Hindu Kush adventure, we come to an end of a memorable journey along the Hindu Kush mountain range by Mary's group. However, there still remains a Khyber Tran Safari tour, which is away from Hindu Kush but is a lifetime adventure through one of the most rugged railway track of the world. I will cover it subsequently.

As for the Hindu Kush adventure, the adventure came to an end and started along the Karakoram Mountain Range. The group arrived in Gilgit, the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan on 11 October 2006 and then traveled up north the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to go and see the Hunza Valley and the famous Baltit Fort at Karimabad. They stayed there for a day and then left for Islamabad on 13th October by road on KKH, staying a night at Chilas.

I have been to Hunza Valley and traveled on KKH from Islamabad to Hunza and this part of Mary's travelogue is special importance and interest to me as I could recall the places as seen by Mary's group. Someday, I will search through my photo albums of my Gilgit-Hunza travel and share with my readers (those days did not have digital cameras).

However, before you may start going through Mary's photo travelogue of Hunza, let me very briefly introduce Hunza to you:

The legendary mountain kingdom of Hunza located north of Hunza River in the Gilgit-Baltisdtan province of Pakistan. Located at at an elevation of around 2,500 metres (8,200 ft), Hunza lies on the ancient trade route to Sin Kiang. Hunza is an earthly paradise whose inhabitants are renowned for their longevity, their simplicity and natural diet. Karimabad is the main town of Hunza which is like a huge hanging garden containing mud and stone houses, orchards, terraced fields, shops, work- shops, schools, restaurants and hotels etc.


Hunza Valley is surrounded by majestic mountains like the Ultar Sar, Rakaposhi, Bojahagur Duanasir II, Ghenta Peak, Hunza Peak, Passu Peak, Diran Peak and Bublimotin (Ladyfinger Peak), all 6,000 metres (19,685 ft) or higher.

A wide variety of crops are grown here; including potatoes, barley, wheat, and vegetables - along with apricots, apples, cherries, almonds, and other fruit/nut crops. We hiked the valley during the apricot tree bloom, a beautiful time of spring of planting and blossoms.

Hunza is located on the famous Karakoram Highway ahead of Gilgit. It takes about 18 hours from Islamabad to Hunza. One can also reach Gilgit by from Islamabad and then reach Hunza by road.

Now from here starts Mary Loosmore's Hunza Travelogue and then travelling back to Islamabad by road.

Free hanging suspension bridge over the Hunza river, just beyond Gilgit
 Free hanging suspension bridge over the Hunza river, just beyond Gilgit Looking over the Hunza river towards the Naltar (?) peaks - we're now on the Karakoram Highway
 Looking over the Hunza river towards the Naltar peaks - we're now on the Karakoram Highway Rakaposhi peak (7,788m) from the KKH
 Rakaposhi peak (7,788m) from the KKH Karimabad, our HQ in the Hunza, and Baltit fort
 Karimabad, our HQ in the Hunza, and Baltit fort Sundown from the terrace of the Eagle's Nest hotel overlooking Karimabad
 Sundown from the terrace of the Eagle's Nest hotel overlooking Karimabad
Map Eagle's Nest Hotel
  Green tea at the Eagle's Nest hotel roof terrace
 Green tea at the Eagle's Nest hotel roof terrace Thelma enjoys a cup of tea with a view
Thelma enjoys a cup of tea with a view
 Ladyfinger peak, 6000m
Ladyfinger peak, 6000m
  Our rooms at the Eagle's Nest Hotel, Duikar, Karimabad - with Ladyfinger Peak and Hunza Peak in the background
Our rooms at the Eagle's Nest Hotel, Duikar, Karimabad - with Ladyfinger Peak and Hunza Peak in the background
Sunset over the Spantik Range, from Duikar viewpoint (2900m)
Sunset over the Spantik Range, from Duikar viewpoint (2900m)
Sunrise over ? Rakaposhi ? and neighbour
 Sunrise over ? Rakaposhi ? and neighbour Panorama from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise
 Panorama from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise Ladyfinger Peak and neighbour, from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise
 Ladyfinger Peak and neighbour, from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise Rakaposhi Peak, from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise
 Rakaposhi Peak, from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise Another of the 7000m+ peaks, from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise
 Another of the 7000m+ peaks, from Duikar viewpoint, sunrise View of Karimabad, the Karakorams and the Hunza valley, from Duikar viewpoint
 View of Karimabad, the Karakorams and the Hunza valley, from Duikar viewpoint Shark's teeth peaks in the Karakoram, from Duikar viewpoint
 Shark's teeth peaks of the Passu Mountain in the Karakoram, from Duikar viewpoint Zafar and me with Rakaposhi in the background
 Zafar and me with Rakaposhi in the background Me, with Rakaposhi in the background
Me, with Rakaposhi in the background
  View down to our destination: Baltit Fort, Karimabad
 View down to our destination: Baltit Fort, Karimabad In the morning, we hiked down from the Eagle's Nest Hotel to Karimabad and Baltit Fort - quite steep in places but with the shops as our incentive we all made it..
  Baltit Fort (bottom right)

One of the water channels we crossed en route to Karimabad
 Baltit Fort (bottom right) One of the water channels we crossed en route to Karimabad - Note the cup left on the tree for thirsty passers by to use About half way down, a scenic shot of the Mountain Goats with Baltit Fort and Hunza valley in the background
 About half way down, a scenic shot of the Mountain Goats with Baltit Fort and Hunza valley in the background
Baltit Fort and the Hunza Valley
Spectacular view of Baltit Fort and Hunza Valley
 Wooden carvings on a house near Baltit Fort, Karimabad
 Wooden carvings on a house near Baltit Fort, Karimabad The house was built over the flagstone "road" running down from the fort to the Karimabad shops
 The house was built over the flagstone "road" running down from the fort to the Karimabad shops (Antique) guns for sale, Karimabad
(Antique) guns for sale, Karimabad
  Cafe de Hunza - heaven in a coffee and cake kinda way
 Cafe de Hunza - heaven in a coffee and cake kinda way A tight squeeze in Karimabad
A tight squeeze in Karimabad

  A smile and a wave from the lorry driver's mate
 A smile and a wave from the lorry driver's mate Thelma's brainwave: buying walnut cake from the Cafe de Hunza, to share at lunch
 Thelma's brainwave: buying walnut cake from the Cafe de Hunza, to share at lunch Autumn leaves, near Duikar, Karimabad
 Autumn leaves, near Duikar, Karimabad After lunch, Joan and I went on an easy walk with Zafar along water channels to the Hazrat Abbas shrine. The stroll got a bit strenuous in places, but we saw some lovely things.
Mountain goats, near Duikar, Karimabad
 Mountain goats, near Duikar, Karimabad Hazrat Abbas shrine v2, near Duikar, Karimabad
 Hazrat Abbas shrine, near Duikar, Karimabad .... where we bumped into Stanley and Rob who'd headed off on another hike entirely, but ended up in our part of the world. The Karakoram Highway, continuing northwards towards the Khunjerab Pass and China
 The Karakoram Highway, continuing northwards towards the Khunjerab Pass and China Yes, we were quite high up - 2900m above sea level
"Let's climb that one!", near Duikar, Karimabad
 "Let's climb that one!", near Duikar, Karimabad (I don't think so....) - This viewpoint was a good few 100m higher than Duikar viewpoint, and further east. Well worth the walk. Hunza river valley, from our viewpoint near Duikar, Karimabad
 Hunza river valley, from our viewpoint near Duikar, Karimabad Hilltop settlement, near Duikar, Karimabad
 Hilltop settlement, near Duikar, Karimabad Evening light on poplar trees near Duikar, Karimabad (2)
 Evening light on poplar trees near Duikar, Karimabad Evening sun on Rakaposhi peak in the Karakoram, from Duikar viewpoint, Karimabad
 Evening sun on Rakaposhi peak in the Karakoram, from Duikar viewpoint, Karimabad Me enjoying a beer amidst 7x7000m peaks, Duikar viewpoint, Karimabad
 Me enjoying a beer amidst 7x7000 m peaks, Duikar viewpoint, Karimabad Annie, looking towards Golden Peak, Duikar viewpoint, Karimabad
 Annie, looking towards Golden Peak, Duikar viewpoint, Karimabad Dinner at the Eagle's Nest hotel, Duikar, Karimabad
 Dinner at the Eagle's Nest hotel, Duikar, Karimabad Zafar, Ali, Amanda, me, Annie, Rob, Ann, Joan, Thelma, Trisha, Benedict
 Zafar in his Hunza hat
Zafar in Hunza hat
  Carved wooden doorway into a traditional Hunza house, Baltit Fort, Karimabad
 Carved wooden doorway into a traditional Hunza house, Baltit Fort, Karimabad Our guide told us that the doorway was made deliberately small so that you have to stoop and enter head-first. If you're attacking, that makes you somewhat vulnerable to sword-bearing defenders inside....
  Ornamental "spire' Baltit Fort, Karimabad 
Ornamental "spire' Baltit Fort, Karimabad
  The Mir's throne room, Baltit Fort, Karimabad (1) 
 The Mir's throne room, Baltit Fort, Karimabad The Mir's throne room, Baltit Fort, Karimabad (2)

View out over the Hunza Valley, Baltit Fort, Karimabad (1) 
 View out over the Hunza Valley, Baltit Fort, Karimabad Last view of the Hunza Valley, Karimabad 
Last view of the Hunza Valley, Karimabad The weather was too bad for the flight from Gilgit to Islamabad so after our tour of the fort we were on Plan B: driving from Karimabad to Islamabad along the Karakoram Highway. Day 1: Karimabad - Rakaposhi View Restaurant (lunch) - Gilgit (quick change from jeeps to minibus, and farewell to Rob) - Chilas.

And I think the bad weather was a good omen as the group got to travel along the mighty Indus River on KKH - a rare opportunity to reach a point where one can see three mountain ranges meeting each other. 

  Searching for garnets on the Karakoram Highway 
 Searching for garnets on the Karakoram Highway The viewpoint on the Karakoram Highway where the three mountain ranges meet 
 The viewpoint on the Karakoram Highway where the three mountain ranges meet "Junction point of three mightiest mountain ranges of the world", Karakoram Highway from Karimabad to Chilas 
 "Junction point of three mightiest mountain ranges of the world", Karakoram Highway from Karimabad  to Chilas.

The remaining journey to Islamabad is not covered. I wish spectacular shots of travelling along KKH along Indus were also included. But I think the group ahead of Chilas was too tired to look for their surroundings.

 Last night dinner and *drinks* at the Luna Caprese, Islamabad 
 14th October 2006: Last night dinner and *drinks* at the Luna Caprese, Islamabad

With this, the series of my posts on Hindu Kush adventure of Mary Mary Loosemore and her group comes to an end. I am thankful to Mary for allowing me to use her photos which she has shared on Flickr and making her journey as part of the Hindu Kush Adventure group be known to my readers at Jaho Jalal.

Hindu Kush Adventurers 2006
Hindu Kush Adventurers 2006

Top left to bottom right: Rob, Mary, Ann, Zafar, Ali, Stanley, Benedict
Patricia, Thelma, Joan, Annie, Amanda

So it is goodbye to Mary Loosemore's group as their journey along Hindu Kush mountain range which began on 2nd October came to an end on 15th October when they finally flew back to UK.

I have one last episode of Mary's 2006 visit to Pakistan and that is a journey on the once famous Khyber Steam Safari from Peshawar to Landi Kotal. This beautiful tourism attraction has become a victim of militancy in the area and it came to an end in 2007 - a year after Mary's travel on this train. I shall cover the Khyber Steam Safari portion in time.

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