Call us: +44(0)1453 844400Email us: info@mountainkingdoms.com

Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • A Mountain Kingdoms appointed western trek leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK (flight inclusive option)
  • UK Departure Tax
  • A single group airport transfer on arrival and departure to coincide with the timings of the group flights
  • Road travel by private vehicle
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Domestic flights Islamabad/Skardu and Gilgit/Islamabad (or road transfers in case of problems with the flight)
  • Good standard hotel accommodation in Islamabad, bed and breakfast basis
  • Best available hotels in outlying towns on full board
  • All camping facilities
  • Camp staff to carry out all camp work
  • All meals on trek
  • Costs of all porterage and their insurance
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • Opportunity to join one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag

Snow Lake Wilderness Trek

Walking & Trekking

Pakistan | Walking & Trekking

New for 2019
Snow Lake Wilderness Trek
Strenuous

Suitable for fit individuals who have regular experience of mountain walking.

Find out more...

Grade: Strenuous ? Strenuous
Duration:  23 days from the UK  
On trek: 15 days

Flight inclusive from £4,460,
Land only from £3,395

Book now or call 01453 844400

An epic high-altitude trek through one of the world's last truly remote areas.

Highlights

  • Explore a truly remote and stunning area on one of the most beautiful treks in the world
  • Make the exhilarating crossing of the Hispar La
  • Enjoy contrasting scenes of stark mountains, icy white glaciers, and beautiful flower-filled meadows
  • Visit the beautiful Hunza valley, the inspiration for Shangri La in James Hilton’s book Lost Horizon

Reviews          

The generally warm, dry conditions and the long days of sunshine are powerful client recruiting factors, along with perhaps the world's most dramatic ice-snow-rock mountain scenery ... this is the true 'Roof of the World' as Tibet or Nepal have nothing this extensive and this high. Northern Pakistan is a world apart culturally, religiously and security
wise from the Afghan/Pakistan border areas. A great trek!

View All

Only a handful of people undertake the traverse of this vast sea of ice each year, making it a must for true adventurers. The combined lengths of the Biafo and Hispar glaciers measure 72 miles.

We travel sometimes on the glaciers themselves but mainly in ablation valleys. Gradual progress upward allows plenty of time for acclimatisation before crossing the Hispar La, 5,151m/16,899ft. This is a tough trek for the mountain enthusiast as, once we leave Askole, we are a self contained expedition and will not see human habitation for two weeks. The route offers a continuous array of famous granite mountains and panoramas of the monolithic central peaks of the Karakoram. The most spectacular sight though, is ‘Snow Lake’, described by early explorers in the following words, “…one felt not only the overwhelming beauty, but also the intangibility of a scene that seemed in no way of this world.”


At a glance

Grade: Strenuous
Strenuous

Duration:  23 days from the UK  
On trek: 15 days

Max. Altitude: 5,151m/16,899ft, Hispar La, Day 11

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 5 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Islamabad

Accommodation types: Hotels, Camping

Meal arrangements: 21 Breakfasts, 19 Lunches, 19 Dinners.

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-2
Fly to Islamabad and on to Skardu.
3-5
Drive to roadhead at Askole.
6-17
Start with trek to Namla and then on trek ending at Hispar village.
18-19
Drive to Karimabad and explore in Karimabad. Drive to Duiker.
20
Drive to Gilgit.
21
Fly to Islamabad.
22
At leisure in Islamabad.
23
Fly to London.
Leader: Tony Welsh
Tony Welsh

Tony was our Operations Manager for a few years in the 1990s, and thus has an in-depth knowledge of the business. Since leaving he has continued to lead treks for us regularly, and maintains close contact with us despite now living in Asia, where he continues to find new routes in countries as diversified as New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and the Philippines. Tony is a very active runner and tri-athlete and an excellent organiser and thus a popular leader. As well as travelling independently through Asia, Tony has led numerous treks for us in Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, Ladakh, Zanskar and Nepal.


  1. Day 1 - Fly London To Islamabad

    Today you will depart on an overnight flight to Islamabad.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Islamabad. Fly to skardu, 2,499m/8,202ft, or drive from Islamabad to Chillas.

    You will arrive into Islamabad early in the morning and after clearing immigration formalities you will be met by our agents and taken to a café in the airport for breakfast. You will then have around an hour to relax before you need to check in for your spectacular flight to Skardu. The flights to Skardu are weather dependent and if the flight doesn't operate today, you will drive to Skardu instead. As the drive takes two days the itinerary will be pushed back a day, with the extra day being made up later on in the trek.

    Skardu town is located at the confluence of the Indus river (which rises in Tibet near Mount Kailash) and the Shigar River and is surrounded by grey-brown coloured mountains which obscure views of the 8,000 metre peaks of the nearby Karakoram range. Skardu will seem pleasantly cool after the heat of Islamabad. It is a fascinating village with a long street of shops, a medieval fort and a polo ground. In the bazaar you could buy one of the local costumes, a Salwar Kameez, which are very cool for trekking. You could also visit the 8th century seven storied Khorpocho Fort.

    Note: If the flight to Skardu is cancelled today you will drive the rugged Karakorum Highway up to Chillas. The drive would be around 12 hours and takes you from the lush green foothills and up through steep-sided gorges where the occasional landslide may delay matters! In Chillas you will stay at the Panorama Hotel or the Shangri La Hotel - both decent tourist class hotels.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Concordia Motel or Similar, Skardu
  3. Day 3 - Drive to roadhead at Tongul or Askole, 3,000m/9,843ft - 6-7 hours. Alternatively drive from Chillas to Skardu.

    Today you will make the exciting drive to the trek start point. Firstly you drive through the wheat fields and apricot trees of the Shigar valley. The jeep road has now been extended as far as Askole, forging its way through the spectacular steep sided Braldu Gorge. The road crosses the Braldu River three times and passes through several villages en route. This road is prone to landslides and it is possible you may have to start walking earlier than Askole. Tonight you will camp either in a grove of trees in Tongul or continue to Askole, the last village on this trek. Askole is an absolutely beautiful place with green terraced fields in a wide valley flanked by minor snow peaks. Tomorrow you will start your trek into the heart of the greatest accumulation of ice outside the polar regions.

    Note: If you have had to drive from Islamabad then today you will continue the road journey to Skardu, some 8-9 hours of driving taking you through magnificent gorges with some excellent views of Nanga Parbat 26,657ft/8,125m. The further up you go the more the river is a raging muddy torrent. Eventually you emerge on to a wide river plain with small villages looking like oases and continue to Skardu. You will make up the time you have lost later in the itinerary.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  4. Day 4 - Trek to Namla, 11,699ft/3,566m - 6-7 hours.

    Today you start your trek. You walk through Askole and leaving behind human habitation you turn west onto the Biafo Glacier at a point about 10km east of Askole. You will take lunch before a short ascent is made over a shoulder to gain the left moraine and descend, first on to the moraine covered glacier, and then back on to the left bank to a grassy camping site known as Namla. You will have good views of the pyramidal Baakhor Das Peak. Your porters may sing and dance in the evening - a favourite pastime of Balti porters.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  5. Day 5 - Trek to Mango, 11,939ft/3,639m - 5 hours.

    Today you have a relatively short and moderate day on the glacier. Initially you have to climb through a jumble of ice and rubble to reach the flat, dry ice in the centre of the glacier where the going is easier and views of ever more spectacular granite peaks draw closer. Ahead are the three peaks of Latok I, II and III, all around 7,000m. You camp overnight on the left bank of the Biafo, on an excellent grassy site.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  6. Day 6 - Trek to Baintha, 4,000m/13,124ft - 6-7 hours.

    This is a lovely easy day's walking. Firstly you pass a small lake then head out across the lateral crevasses to the smooth white centre of the Biafo Glacier. Ahead is your first view of the Hispar La. The serrated mountain walls on either side rise to 6,000m/19,686ft. You cross two medial moraines and climb the lateral moraine to find a green ablation valley which you follow up to Baintha, a grassy area with willows and a clear stream. You are now near the junction of the Biafo-Baintha Glaciers and great pointed granite peaks march off into the distance. Baintha is also known as Conway's Camp.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  7. Day 7 - Rest day and acclimatisation day in Baintha.

    This is an opportunity for your hard-working porters to rest and prepare food for the future trek days and for you to wash clothes and relax. You may also explore up a side valley for fantastic views of the Ogre 23,901ft/7,285m and the Latok Peaks group. Tonight there will doubtless be opportunities to join your porters in some singing and dancing.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  8. Day 8 - Trek to Karpogoro, 14,852ft/4,410m - 6-7hrs.

    You start the day with 45 minutes of easy walking up the ablation valley past several small lakes surrounded by flowers and willow bushes followed by 30 minutes of crossing crevasses out to the easy white ice. Please do not get too close to the Biantha Lukpar glacier, as the ice is churned up where the two glaciers meet. The next few hours are an easy stroll up smooth ice, stepping over frequent small crevasses. If the glacier is snow covered, you must rope up with your fellow trekkers and walk in single file all the way across the pass. The Biafo is hemmed in by gleaming glaciers on the south and jagged granite on the north. Napina is green campsite in the northern ablation valley, with fresh water but no bushes. If you don't wish to detour into Napina, you can camp out on the ice in the middle of Biafo at about 4400m and porters will collect water from glacier melt. Walk up the ice highway, until apposite the first of the three rock camps named for the colour of the rock above them.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  9. Day 9 - Trek to Snow Lake Hispar La Base Camp, 4,470m/14,665ft - 6-7 hours.

    The way is marked by poles on snow-covered ice (rope essential, gaiters recommended), zigzagging to cross the crevasses but keeping slightly right of centre. Snowy peaks adrip with glaciers wall you in on the south, as do granite towers on the north. At the intersection with the Sim Gang Glacier and Snow Lake (Lukpe Lawo), the route to the Hispar Pass leads off to the west. The ice here is about 1.5 km thick and flowing at about 300m a year. You will camp at about 4,780m/15,682ft in a flat bowl of ice several kilometres wide and surrounded by jagged black and white mountains. (From here there are treks which lead north across Snow Lake and the Khurdopin pass, 5,790/18,996ft to the Shimshal valley).

    The Name Snow Lake was given in 1892 by W Martin Conway, the first foreign visitor. In 1899, the husband and wife team of William Hunter Workman and Fanny Bullock Workman came and speculated that Snow Lake might be an ice-cap like those in the polar region, from which glaciers flowed out in all directions, and they estimated its size at 300 square miles (777 square kilometres).

    The night sky here is unforgettable as is sunrise or sunset! Watch out for Yeti footprints - Tilman saw some here in 1939.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  10. Day 10 - Rest and exploration around Hispar La.

    You will have a free day to explore and really take in this beautiful area. If you have camped below the pass you will have time to climb to the pass for fabulous all round views and also to perhaps climb a little further for even more far-reaching vistas.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  11. Day 11 - Descend from the Hispar La. Trek to Khani Basa, 15,252ft/4,649m - 4-5 hours.

    You will make an early rise to be able to drop from the snow-covered Hispar La (5,151m/16,899ft) before the snow becomes too soft. It takes just two hours to struggle up to the flat pass. Nowhere is the ascent particularly steep, but the altitude will have a telling effect. Naturally, as you gain height you will obtain an incredible panorama of the region - on one side the entire Snow Lake area and its surrounding peaks, the Biafo Glacier, its tributaries while on the other side you will start to see the countless peaks of the Hispar side towards Hunza.

    Care will need to be taken as there are large crevasses in this area. Trekking under the shadow of the Tah Rutum and Balchish groups of mountains, you descend to just before the junction with the Khani Basa Glacier where there is a small green campsite. The scenery on this side of the pass is in complete contrast to the Biafo side. The peaks are much closer, black and white and rock and ice, as opposed to the golden granite of the early days of the trek. In a way they are even more impressive. There are good views of the white wall of the Balchish range from camp.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  12. Day 12 - Trek to Yutmaru, 15,003ft/4,573m - 6-7 hours.

    Another wonderful day. Perhaps the clouds will be sticking like cotton wool to the peaks and hanging in layers down the valley. The peaks are so close on the other side that a shout will echo back to you. It takes about 1½ hours to cross the Khani Basa glacier, a heaving mass of rubble, where it is relatively easy going with a fine view north to the smooth white dome of Kanjut Sar at 7,760m/25,460ft. The trail then follows along the lateral moraine above the glacier with magnificent views across to the hanging glaciers and frequent avalanches on the southern ice wall. Every time there is a glacier crossing your porters will probably have a loud prayer session! Your overnight campsite is a pleasant grassy spot with willow trees and flowers not far from the Yutmaru Glacier.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  13. Day 13 - Trek to opposite Makrong Glacier - 6-7 hours.

    Firstly you cross the Yutmaru glacier, which takes about 2 hours, threading your way through mounds of moraine. Views to the north of Pumeri Chhish, 24,583ft/7,493m, and her satellites. Then it is up a steep slope to gain easier walking through increasingly green valleys with flowers and fine views. You may well see herds of yaks. There are many pleasant campsites from which to choose depending on conditions and group progress.

    You will camp at a place called Red Star Camp which is marked appropriately by a red star on sheet 2 of the 1:200,000 map of the Karakoram.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  14. Day 14 - Trek to Shiqam Baris, 3,660m/12,008ft - 7-8 hours.

    After an hour or so you descend to the side glacier, which again will take an hour or two to cross. There is a horribly steep bank on the other side. Having gained the parallel valleys again the walking is great. There are views of Khunyang Chhish, 25,764ft/7,853m, from the side glacier. In some years groups have in fact camped almost opposite the Makrong Glacier. There are several options for your overnight camp here including Shiqam Baris.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  15. Day 15 - Rest day.

    Today you will have the opportunity to rest, explore and do some domestic chores. Or this day may be used as a contingency day in case of earlier delays.

    Depending on group progress and local conditions these days and your respective night stops may be slightly rejigged.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  16. Day 16 - Trek to Falolingkish, 11,001ft/3,353m.

    Today you make your last glacier crossing, the Kunyang Glacier. It takes about an hour. There is another steep bank to negotiate on the far side which can be partly avoided by moving to the right. Everything is changing now - lots of juniper trees, different plants and herbs, and donkeys grazing. There will probably be a big song and dance session tonight as it is the last real night in the wild.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  17. Day 17 - Trek to Hispar Village, 7,552ft/2,302m - 6-7 hours.

    Before too long you will hit the newly-made jeep trail that descends to Hispar village. There you cross a suspension bridge above the boiling river of liquid mud. The inhabitants of Hispar are a colourful and friendly tribe who are followers of Prince Karim, the Aga Khan. You have now left the Hispar Glacier behind and the relief of seeing blossoming fruit orchards and multi-terraced fields will be quite a shock to the system as will be seeing houses and villagers!

    Your overnight camp will probably be an hour or so beyond the village and lower down by a spring next to the road.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  18. Day 18 - Drive to Karimabad, 2,440m/8,005ft - 48km, 2 hours.

    Today you will drive to Karimabad, the capital of the Hunza region. Depending on the state of the road to Hispar you may still have 2½-3 hours' walk to reach Hunza where the vehicles will meet you. The last 30 minutes are the sting in the tail! You can stop off to explore some of the many small hamlets of the Nagar Valley on your way to Karimabad. The drive to Karimabad takes about 2 hours.

    The small kingdom of Hunza remained isolated mainly because it is contained within unbelievably steep gorges. A legend exists, common to many parts of the western Himalaya, that the Hunzakuts (as the people of Hunza are known), are the descendants of the five lost soldiers of the army of Alexander the Great. The people are cheerful, friendly and are fair-skinned with blue or green eyes. The kingdom remained isolated until the British took over in 1891 and it became part of Pakistan and the same family has ruled Hunza's 35,000 inhabitants since the 11th century. The people of Hunza were at one time a very war-like people and well known for plundering caravans, slave-trading and attacking their neighbours. It was the arrival of the Karakoram Highway which really linked them to the rest of the world. The people of Hunza are renowned for their longevity supposedly resulting from their mostly vegetarian diet of cereals and fruits, especially the apricots for which the region is famous. Almost the entire population belongs to the Ismaili Shia sect, headed by the Aga Khan. The women wear bright clothes, long skirts with baggy trousers and little embroidered pillbox hats over which they drape their shawls.

    From the Hunza valley there are panoramic views of Rakaposhi 7,788m/25,551ft, Diran Peak 7,266m/23,838ft, Spantik Peak 7,027m/23,054ft, Ultar 7,388m/24,238ft and Lady Finger 6,000m/19,685ft.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hunza Embassy Hotel or Serena Hotel or Similar, Karimabad
  19. Day 19 - Visit Altit and Baltit forts. Afternoon drive to Duiker.

    Hunza is outstandingly beautiful and there is plenty to see before you leave Karimabad, such as the 400-year-old forts of Altit and Baltit. The latter fort is said to have been made by a princess who married the reigning Mir and brought with her from Baltistan the masons, carpenters and craftsmen who built the fort as part of her dowry. It is a curious rambling old palace with 53 rooms on 3 storeys. There is a museum here which is worth seeing. The Altit fort is even more impressive and is probably 100 years older. The bazaars are worth a look round and don't forget to try the local apricots. There are also lovely walks above the town.

    In the afternoon you will drive to your hotel at Duiker.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Eagles Nest Hotel or Similar, Duiker
  20. Day 20 - Drive to Gilgit, 1,523m/5,000ft - 120km, 3 hours.

    It is a beautiful drive to Gilgit, though the way can be bedevilled by landslides. You will get great views of Rakaposhi. Gilgit is a thriving frontier town with a population of over 40,000. The small old town is quaint and has a cluster of interesting places to visit within a short radius. This includes a beautiful rock carving of Buddha, a 700-year-old monument to Taj Mughal and the longest suspension bridge in Asia, 600ft long. The favourite sport in Gilgit is polo, which the locals claim originated here. Also worth hunting for is the old colonial graveyard to see the grave of George Hayward who played an important part in the Great Game and early exploration of the area before being murdered by local tribesmen. Gilgit Bazaar is also famous for its handicrafts and you may find this a good place to do some shopping.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Serena Hotel or Similar, Gilgit
  21. Day 21 - Fly to Islamabad.

    You will transfer to the airport for the one hour flight to Islamabad with magnificent views of the Karakoram. This flight for instance takes you right past Nanga Parbat. On arrival in Islamabad you will be transferred back to your hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure.

    Note: If the flight from Gilgit is cancelled you will drive back to Islamabad from Gilgit which takes two days - there is a free day in the itinerary to allow for this possibility. If you do drive the overnight stop would be at Besham, where you would stay at the Besham Continental or the PTDC Motel.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hillview Hotel or Similar, Islamabad
  22. Day 22 - At leisure in Islamabad or optional excursion to Taxila. Evening transfer to airport for flight home.

    Today you will have the option to explore Islamabad at your own pace, or you can choose to take a guided tour of Taxila. This optional excursion needs to be paid for directly to our agent when in Islamabad. Please contact our office for prices.

    Most of the archaeological sites of Taxila (600 BC to 500 AD) are located around Taxila Museum. For over one thousand years Taxila was famous as a centre of learning the Gandhara art of sculpture, architecture and Buddhism. There are over 50 archaeological sites scattered in a radius of 30 km around Taxila. You can visit the archaeological sites of Jaulian, Mohra Moradu and Sirkap. There is also the option to visit Taxila Museum, housing the rich archaeological finds of Taxila. It is one of the best and well maintained site museums in Pakistan. If time permits you will also be able to visit Sirkap Sirkap, an archaeological site on the bank opposite the city of Taxila built by the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius and his son Stultus around 180 BC.

    After your visit to Taxila you will be transferred back to Islamabad in time for your international flight home.

    Note: If your flight from Gilgit is cancelled due to bad weather, this day can be used to complete the drive back to Islamabad.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  23. Day 23 - Arrive London.

    Today you will arrive back in the UK.


2019

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sat 3 Aug - Sun 25 Aug 2019 Available£3395 Book£4460 Book

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Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on 0044 (0)1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

 
Optional supplements
  • Single Tent
    From £80
  • Single Room - Hotels
    From £175
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £129
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • A Mountain Kingdoms appointed western trek leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK (flight inclusive option)
  • UK Departure Tax
  • A single group airport transfer on arrival and departure to coincide with the timings of the group flights
  • Road travel by private vehicle
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Domestic flights Islamabad/Skardu and Gilgit/Islamabad (or road transfers in case of problems with the flight)
  • Good standard hotel accommodation in Islamabad, bed and breakfast basis
  • Best available hotels in outlying towns on full board
  • All camping facilities
  • Camp staff to carry out all camp work
  • All meals on trek
  • Costs of all porterage and their insurance
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • Opportunity to join one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Lunch and evening meals in Islamabad
  • Tips


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 2 reviews)

Dramatic mountain scenery          

The generally warm, dry conditions and the long days of sunshine are powerful client recruiting factors, along with perhaps the world's most dramatic ice-snow-rock mountain scenery ... this is the true 'Roof of the World' as Tibet or Nepal have nothing this extensive and this high. Northern Pakistan is a world apart culturally, religiously and security-wise from the Afghan/Pakistan border areas. A great trek!

Fantastic          

Overall a fantastic trip, great staff, wonderful place.


Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email info@mountainkingdoms.com and we will be pleased to help.

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