Gilgit-Baltistan is located close to the Pakistan-Chinese border and offers a unique travel experience because of its amazing landscapes, culture and lifestyle. Pakistan’s highest glaciers Baltoro and Biafo are located in these regions.
Visiting this region you will be awestruck by the number of activities you can indulge in. There is plenty to see in the region and therefore allocate yourself a couple of days when planning a trip to Gilgit Baltistan. The remoteness of some areas would pose a challenge as you will be required to organize local transport. The walking trails and treks are steep and would require the hiring of donkeys or horses to carry your camping gear.
Gilgit is a starting point for mountain expeditions in the Karakoram Mountain Ranges. Most overseas mountaineering expeditions stop in this city to organize hikes to the K2 base camp and other high peaks in the area. Pakistan is home to the 14 highest peaks in the world.
Gilgit’s strategic position on the Silk road connects it with major cities of the country as well as China. Gilgit is rich in mineral resources and has massive potential for hydroelectric power generation. Its significance has increased substantially due to the construction of the Karakoram Highway and CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor)
NATCO buses pass through Gilgit on the way across the Chinese border.
WEATHER OF GILGIT
Gilgit’s weather is predominantly cold for approximately eight months. The summer is brief and hot with the temperature reaching 40c in the sun. It is advised to carry sunscreen and hats in the middle of summer as sunburns are quite common. The weather is dry with little rain
CULTURE AND LIFESTYLE OF GILGIT
Gilgit offers a unique cultural experience with families living mostly in a joint family setup often controlled by the main male earning hand. People of Gilgit have distinct clothing styles influenced by weather, traditions and history of the region.
The men wear woollen caps that are decorated with plumes and flowers. The caps have distinct styles and different names in various regions. This region is rich in musical tradition and a number of music festivals are held throughout the year offering a rich insight into the wonderful musical tradition of this remote area. Check the local calendar of events before planning your trip to Gilgit.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO GILGIT FROM ISLAMABAD
If you’re a foreigner travelling from outside Pakistan, your first step towards Gilgit Baltistan is to simply get a plane to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. From here, you can choose to either travel to GB by road or by air.
The flight from Islamabad to Gilgit takes about an hour. Pakistan International Airlines offers daily flights to and from these cities, and also offers flights to Skardu. The Gilgit flight is considered to be one of the world’s most scenic flights as it is accompanied by soaring peaks engulfed by a sky of clouds.
The road trip to Gilgit from Islamabad takes almost a day. The distance in between is approximately 512 km but the journey is thoroughly entertaining. The Karakoram Highway connects Islamabad to both Gilgit and Skardu. This route is famous for its breathtaking views of exquisite landscapes.
PLACES TO VISIT IN GILGIT
Gilgit Baltistan has a lot to offer to its visitors. The districts of Gilgit, Hunza, Ghizer, Astore and Skardu are especially famous for tourism. All these districts offer magnificent experiences of nature.
Shangrila Resort, also known as “Heaven on Earth”, is surrounded by some of the world’s highest peaks. It is situated in Skardu and encircles the beautiful heart-shaped Kachura Lake.
The majestic 700 years old Baltit Fort is situated in Hunza Valley. The fort displays local antiques, a historical canon and a magnificent.
View of the 23,054 feet high Golden Peak and of the Ultar Peak as well.
Hunza is also home to Altit Fort. It is built on the edge of a cliff that drops straight down to the Hunza River at a height of 1000 feet.
Situated along the Hunza river, the small village of Passu is a major tourist attraction in GB. It is home to the 24,534 feet high Passu Sar mountain, Passu cones and the Passu Glacier.
Duiker village of Hunza’s Duikar valley offers the best sunrise and sunset views in Pakistan. It also provides a spectacular view of the whole Hunza Nagar District.
ACTIVITIES IN GILGIT-BALTISTAN
In addition to scenic beauty, GB is also a great place for mountaineering, biking, rafting and other exciting activities.
Gilgit Baltistan is a trekker’s dream destination. You can go trekking along a beautiful lake, across a snowy mountain or through a lush green patch. Lucky trekkers can even be rewarded by a view of GB’s wildlife like markhors or leopards etc.
GB has no lack of lakes or rivers, making it the best place for fishing. The region is especially known for brown and rainbow trout fishing. Ghizer and Naltar are particularly famous for trout fishing.
Camping in a beautiful place like GB is always an unforgettable experience. The mesmerising views of sunsets and sunrises, snow-covered mountains, galaxies, lakes, lush green patches and blossoming flowers make GB a camper’s favourite.
Paragliding in GB is also a great way to witness the mountains, glaciers and other breathtaking landscapes. Duikar valley and Hushey valley are two major paragliding stations.
Gilgit Baltistan offers a uniquely adventurous Hunting experience. It is home to a wide variety of animals like blue sheep, snow leopards and several others. GB is known as a “living museum” due to its abundance of animals. Trophy hunting for Ibex is organized every year in this region.
The most popular activity in GB is mountain climbing. GB is even known as a climber’s paradise and attracts mountaineers from all around the world. It is also great for allied activities like rappelling. GB also boasts of 5 of the world’s 14 eight-thousanders.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Gilgit Baltistan boasts a variety of different fruits and flowers. It is home to thick forests of oak and, pine trees. Beautiful flowers like roses, lilies and pansies are found in abundance. Apricots, apples, mulberries, peaches, grapes, walnuts and plums are available from June to October while almonds are available from October to March.
BENEFITS OF TAKING GUIDED TOURS
Gilgit Baltistan obviously has no lack of attractive tourist destinations. In fact, there is so much to do and so many places to see there that it is impossible to experience everything on your tour.
An easy way to ensure that you don’t miss out on the key experiences is to let a tour company plan your tour for you. This will save you from researching everything to make plans.
Moreover, your tour guide will educate you about GB all along your way and will also get you the cheapest deals in town. Most of the tourists in GB are accompanied by travel guides for these reasons. Almost every hotel offers guided tours to travellers.
PLACES FOR STAYING IN GILGIT
Gilgit Baltistan offers a variety of motels and hotels to accommodate its visitors. Luxurious places can cost you a lot. It is better to spend on experiences rather than on luxuries. Some of the most costly and luxurious hotels are Serena Gilgit Hotel and Skardu Shangrila Resort.
Useful facts about Gilgit
From Lahore: 844 km
From Islamabadbad: 510 km
From Abbottabad: 378 km
From Kaghan: 256 km
The Highest Glacial System in the world: Baltoro and Biafo Glaciers
3rd Largest production of Apricots in the World
The Highest paved road, KARAKORAM Highway connects Pakistan with China
6 different language spoken in this region
Altitude : 1500m above sea level
- Gilgit Baltistan