After the intense trekking experience of Rush Lake I just wanted more of Northern Pakistan. I was running off adrenaline and after a gorgeous chilled few days motorbiking around Hunza I was ready for another challenge (not a difficult thing to find when alone in Pakistan)! Hunza is just an idyllic place , it features the most beautiful people, food and jaw dropping scenery. It is a campers dream and like the rest of the country untouched by mass tourism. It’s covered in apricot and cherry trees and it’s oozing with interesting culture ranging from unique music, food and dress. It’s also home to one of the best walnut cakes I’ve ever tasted. The only issue with Hunza ? it’s quite literally a pain in the arse to get there.
With no direct transport links I ended up hitch hiking (on four separate occasions), motor biking , spending two nights in a police station and tracking down a rare bus. Eventually a kind family took me in . You could of course take a tour but that would be too straight forward….
I opted to tackle Rakaposhi basecamp alone (not that I had much of a choice). This is one of Pakistan’s more touristy routes so I figured I would meet people en route. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Rakaposhi peak is the 27th highest mountain on Earth but considered one of the most beautiful ones. The 7,800-meter-high peak, is the highest mountain most iconic from the Karakoram mountain range.It was about an hour on motor bike to reach the basecamp. Carrying about 20kg worth of goods on my back it was a little bit treacherous driving on the notoriously dangerous highway. We had a few near misses but luckily arrived in one piece. I was welcomed with the constant flood of stares and bewildered faces confused by the sight of a girl with a backpack trekking alone. I just smiled back which usually adds to their confusion. It is possible to trek to Rakaposhi in one day but I was advised to camp on the mountain to catch the sunset and sunrise. Following a leisurely breakie of far too many apricots I started the trek way too late in the day and I was v worried I wouldn’t make it before dark. There are some short cut options you can take but this led me into very dodgy territory so I opted to take the longer route.
I was also told it was impossible to get lost and there was no need for a guide. Generally this type of advise should never apply to me. Obviously this was not the case I got badly lost early on in the trek and that familiar feeling of panic started to brew. On the bright side I had constant access to fuel with gorgeous apricot trees dispersed along the route.During the steep uphill climb I saw absolutely nobody along the stunning route. I eventually managed to find my way miraculously reached the famous Rakaposhi glacier just before darkness was closing in. I was completely blown away by its beauty and equally terrified when a random man suddenly jumped out of a bush and gave me the fright of my life. Dildar was just about to leave the mountain seeing as no tourists arrived that day which is apparently unusual just my luck to be once again alone. At least I had Dildar I suppose. He was a mountain guide and his livelihood is to stay at Rakaposhi Basecamp and rent out tents and feed tourists. He had an impish sense of humour and I immediately liked him.
To see the best possible sunset Dildar advised me to further trek up to the top of the a nearby mountain. At this stage I was absolutely beefed from lugging my tent, sleeping bag and all the grub but I persevered and witnessed the most glorious array of pink and orange colours covering the Rakaposhi mountain range. It is difficult to describe this place.
Dildar seemed delighted with the company and I was also glad not to be camping alone here. My introduction consisted of him telling me about the local vicious dogs that have frequented the area of late. The previous week they had killed a cow and prior to that they had broken into a tourist’s tent and bitten their arms. For that reason Dildar pleaded with me to sleep in his tent. It was hard to know was he just chancing his arm or if he genuinely was concerned for my safety.
Anyway I liked him and even let me give me a massage purely because I couldn’t feel my legs and was so exhausted. He offered to make me dinner on the house because I think he was equally grateful for the company. After bowls of dahl and gallons of chai I resorted to my tent (which I pitched close to Dildar in case of any emergency and strength in numbers and all that jazz). Just before bed Dildar produced a gun telling me not to worry that we were covered. I’m not sure if the gun freaked me out more or not…. I just had to roll with the punches. During our conversations we realised we a had a mutual friend. Founder of Ireland’s Bingo Locco’ William Meara’ went to college with me and is good pals with Dildar. William is massive fan of trekking in Northern Pakistan. A ridiculously small world even in these neck of the woods. This connection settled my nerves ‘slightly’.
Sure as anything as I was freezing my ass off in my tent I heard some viscous growls v close by. I knew it was the dog and I got the fright of my life when I heard there was two of them. I then heard Dildar scream, at this stage I inconveniently needed to pee but figured it wasn’t the time or place. I held it in and figured there were bigger fish to fry. I heard a wild shriek and then the growls slowly vanished. Whatever Dildar did it worked but sleep would be impossible for the rest of the night. It’s moments like this and I do wonder would I be better off on a sun holiday in the south of Spain ? The answer is always no!
I was up at 5am for sunrise! Dildar prepared a gorgeous spread of eggs, chipati and homemade butter. He told me he threw a rock at the dogs last night which seemed to do the trick.
I absolutely loved the Rakaposhi trek it was really challenging without being too grueling (it’s a lot easier than Rush Lake). I thought it was going to be full of tourists but I couldn’t’ have been luckier as I began my descent, there was a massive group of 60 people trekking up to spend 3 days up there. En route down I was fairly whacked so after some random men offered me chai I took a nap. It was bliss up until the point random men started to wake me up asking me where I was from and what I thought about Pakistan. All very pleasant but so far I’ve realised the people I’ve met have no concept of personal space or privacy.
I was up at 5am for sunrise!Dildar prepared a gorgeous spread of eggs, chipati and homemade butter. He told me he threw a rock at the dogs last night which seemed to do the trick. I absolutely loved the Rakaposhi trek it was really challenging without being too gruelling (it’s easier than Rush Lake). I thought it was going to be full of tourists but I couldn’t’ have been luckier as I began my descent, there was a massive group of 60 people trekking up to spend 3 days up there. En route down I was fairly whacked so after some random men offered me chai I took a nap. It was bliss up until the point random men started to wake me up asking me where I was from and what I thought about Pakistan. All very pleasant but so far I’ve realised the people I’ve met have no concept of personal space or privacy.