Trekking to Asia’s Highest Lake. One of the most gruelling hikes of my life!

I absolutely loved Passu. A travel writer I follow claimed it was his favourite place on earth and I can totally see why. It is drop dead gorgeous and you will likely have it to your self. The Passu Cones are surrounded by the most spectacular glaciers. It genuinely is like nothing I’ve seen before. An added bonus it is covered in apricot trees and home to one of the best apricot cakes. I hope I have convinced you. I would have stayed longer only I was desperate to find some human company. The mountains are beautiful yet lonely places.

IMG_4711-2
Standard road side views
IMG_4659
The famous Passu Cones
IMG_4705
The free view from my tent!

So after the success of finally making mates (no easy task in Northern Pakistan). Cherry put me in contact with a random bunch of students who were due to start trekking the following day in the quaint little village of Hopper. I wondered how the hell I was going to get there on time. I needed have worried… The Karakoram Highway isn’t exactly known for its transport so instead I chanced my arm and hitch hiked. In Argentina I once waited 6 hours for a ride, in Pakistan you wait a maximum of 6 minutes. A Lovely couple who were on honey moon picked me up and pleaded I join them for dinner. It’s not exactly what you would imagine as an ideal honey moon date but this is typical of what you will see in Pakistan ridiculously kind and open people. I was on a mission to get to Hopper before dark so I politely declined and they disappointingly left me off at a junction.

IMG_4422
You haven’t been to Pakistan if you haven’t hitch hiked the Karaokoram Highway

My luck continued when two army officials picked me up. One was normal the other was not. You can’t have it all I suppose. He sped through dirt tracks (which were scarily bordering a cliff) whilst staring me out of it. We eventually arrived I was naturally shook and the two officials also pleaded with me to also join them for dinner. I was given very typical vague Pakistani instructions to ‘ find a lad called Sherbaz he will be waiting for you’. Excellent.

IMG_4575
This is Hopper

When I arrived I was instantly whisked away by a group of very confused Pakistani Man. They were all expecting me I’m not exactly your typical clientele. I eventually managed to communicate I wanted to do a 4 day trek to see Rush Lake and that I wanted to join the group of students. The famous Sherbaz, who would be my guide eventually appeared. I was dealing with his confused brother neither of which had any English. I was naturally a little concerned about spending the next 4 days alone with this chap. It’s not like there are tourists floating about. My conversation with Sherbaz extended to have you any brothers? Yes one, and you? Yes 7. Despite the awkward English he was a gent and I felt safe and instantly liked him. Rush lake is the highest in Asia at 4,694 m. My plan was to trek up to Rush Peak (5,098 m). It can take up to 5 days to complete with some lunatics doing it in 1-2.

IMG_4472
You have to hike over this glacier to get to the start of the trek

That evening Sherbaz and his family stuffed with my chapati, lentils and some other delicious concoctions. I was stuffed but knew I would need it. I pitched my tent and got prepped for the days ahead.

I was really disappointed as the students doing the trek supposedly were in bad shape and Sherbaz insisted we do our own thing confirming they would slow us down. Anyway I was happy to leave at 6 am dreading the thoughts of trekking and carrying all my camping equipment in the blistering heat. Sherbaz offered to carry my camping gear and food but since arriving in Pakistan I have become determined to show how women are capable confident travelers. I did not want to conform to how they saw me. It definitely gets to you when you are greeted by utter shock and disbelief that you are woman traveling alone and worse still you carry all your own gear!!

IMG_4900
Miles and Miles of Glaciers

We arrived at the campsite at 11 am so I figured it was way too early to camp so opted to keep going. In fairness we were bombing it and I was fairly nackered (mainly caused by the weight of the bag). We were probably going so fast because as we had absolutely nothing to say to each other. At this stage my back was near breaking point. Sherbaz was literally sprinting ahead of me . He was a skinny melink with energy to burn. Eventually he kindly offered to carry my pot, pasta and gas canister so I couldn’t have been more grateful but inside I felt disappointed. Pride aside I had no choice if I was going to make it to second camp.

IMG_4888

The thoughts of broken Urdu/English chitchat for the rest of the day motivated me to keep walking. I’m also a sucker for a painful challenge. The first camp was stunning a lush green valley surrounded by streams. It was here were we actually met other people and they had English!! Kaychief and Zourha were also trekking to Rush Lake but they had lost their porters. They had absolutely no food or water (and it was hot!!). After supplying them with some bickies and dates we decided to trek together. Kaychief runs a travel company so had already completed the trek to Rush Lake 2 times. He warned us all of what was ahead, a grueling 6 hour uphill climb in hot altitude. This was pure and utter torture and felt like it never ended.

IMG_4943
The views en route up the vertical climb

IMG_4932

wp-1594320706409.jpg
Totally worth the pain

At this stage we all ran out of water and were getting quite desperate. I was struggling massively with the weight of my bag. Since arriving in Pakistan I felt an overwhelming amount of discrimination against woman. There is a general belief that woman are not able to walk alone, camp alone or basically do anything alone. Carrying my bag became in a way symbolic.

IMG_4948
Zouhra, me and lovely Sherbaz

This is the second hardest trek I have every completed (The hardest still to this day was getting stranded on the top of Cerro Castillo in Patagonia). Our new found friend’s porters were still missing in action so the remaining snacks were shared among us all. We were all starving, thirsty and wrecked. All in all fairly grim until you look at that view…..

IMG_4965
The not looking into the camera pose is my new favourite thing! especially when you’ve been hitch hiking and trekking in Pakistan

After about 10 hours of intense trekking we found water. It was a delirious kind of happy. Very concerning, their porters still hadn’t arrived. They were left stranded on the side of a mountain with absolutely no food or tents. I reassured everyone I had enough food to feed an army with 2 kg of pasta and rice so we were sorted.

20190721_144813
The final push until we reach camp
20190719113858_IMG_4979
DEAD

My guide Sherbaz was in an equally tricky situation. He also had no tent!! (don’t ask) and wondered if he sleep could sleep with me. Naturally I wasn’t too keen on the idea. So there was 4 of us and my one crappy tent. We all just prayed the porters would eventually turn up. It was almost 8 pm at this stage and getting dark.

IMG_5005
Just pretend all is okay and your not starving or freezing and you actually do have a hot meal waiting for you

Anyway I decided to get cracking on dinner. This was nothing short of a tragedy. My gas did not work. I bought my stove in Argentina and the Pakistan gas was not compatible. Obviously a lesson to us all but mainly me, check this before you end up wild camping on a mountain. So this meant we had no food unless we wanted to eat some raw rice!!

IMG_5019
The last of the rays and the couple who had their own private chef!

An alternative dinner was a miserable handful of peanuts, dates and biscuits. It really was the pits. There was another guide on the mountain looking after a couple but he said he could not share his gas as he didn’t have enough (which is totally understandable). I felt like such an idiot and lugged all the weight for absolutely no reason. Sherbaz sensed the urgency of our situation so went off to look for the Porters as light was closing in and it was getting cold. The plan the next am was to try and reach Rush Lake. We were way ahead of schedule and all figured the quicker we could get off the mountain the better due to the lack of food and shelter.

After what felt like a life time Sherbaz came back with the two exhausted Porters. They were delayed because the bags weighed over 30 kg. Anyway all ended well and we eventually got into our tents (Sherbaz bunked with the porters so happy days).

IMG_4996
If ever there was a place to camp this is it!

Alarms were set for 3 am so that we could trek up to see sunrise. I needed have bothered as sleep was impossible. It was baltic and my thin sleeping back is definitely not equipped for these harsh conditions.

IMG_5054
Magical
wp-1594320734397.jpg
The most elegant of sunrises
wp-1594325650142.jpg
Morning views at Rush Lake
wp-1594325650173.jpg
Morning Views Rush Lake
wp-1594325541079.jpg
The most insane reflections

Sherbaz decided to give sunrise a miss (I wouldn’t blame the chap). Having trekked for 10 hours the day before we were all fairly beefed but myself, Zohra and Kaychief slowly plodded along until we arrived at the baltic but beautiful Rush Lake. We were way ahead of schedule and had to wait it out in the freezing cold. The sun started to slowly rise and it was a sight for sore eyes. We forgot about hunger, sleep deprivation and the cold and took in the amazing sunrise. Afterwards we trekked up to Rush Peak where we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of K2 (the world’s 2nd tallest mountain, apparently it’s quite rare to see it due to poor visibility). Our misfortune certainly paid off in the end.

wp-1594329781805.jpg
This is why I came to Pakistan. Me at the top of Rush Peak

wp-1594319919706.jpg

IMG_5110
On top of Rush Peak

Sherbaz and the porters met us at the lake later that morning where we were treated to breakfast. We had a feast of chicken karahi, and homemade chapati at 4,000 m high. The best thing I ate in Pakistan to date. Everything was fried in an excessive amount of oil and was just perfect.

IMG_5198

IMG_5090
Breakfast Views

With renewed energy we started the descend. Sherbaz suggested we spend our second night with his Uncle who is a Shepard. It sounded cool at the time a minor detail he failed to mention was it involved traversing a tricky glacier.

IMG_5241
Sherbaz leading the way on the treacherous glacier
IMG_5240
I couldn’t stop taking photos it was ridiculously beautiful
wp-1594325650163.jpg
Please ignore my attire. The yellow t-shirt was gifted to me by a Pakistani man when I told him I had no clean clothes

This was an eventful journey. The glacier crossing was nothing short of lethal I fell on multiple occasions and was not able to balance myself with the heavy backpack. We lost Kaychief and Zohra but my guide didn’t seem concerned in the slightest and urged me to keep going as light was closing in. I thought we would never make it. I was weak and couldn’t’ stop falling. It’s the type of glacier you could imagine lots of dead bodies buried underneath. We had a further grueling up hill slog to reach the Shepard’s hut. I was treated to some goats yogurt. I was so excited to try this but in reality it was not edible truly awful stuff but unable to turn it down I forced it into me and was sick moments later. Just as it was dark Zohra and Kaychief rocked up looking quite understandably disheveled.

wp-1594326517879.jpg
Sleeping with Shepard’s their stunning huts are hitting above the most incredible glacier

I was able to cook my pasta in the fire and after dinner chilled for a while appreciating the stary sky. It was incredible. I was invited to slaughter a sheep by a creepy man. It is a local delicacy. He then wanted to go explore the mountains with me at night. I politely declined. I was slightly freaked out he would visit me in my tent but luckily I had my new mates near by.

We all slept like babies and the next am we peeled our bodies out of the tents and after some chai and chapati. Our torn apart bodies made the final descend back to the gorgeous village of Hopper.

20190723_111631
The final push back to Hopper

What an experience!

Camping with Passu’s famous apricot man.

I hitched hiked to Passu and it was a piece of cáca. I didn’t even have to put my hand out when a kind chubby man offered me a lift. He was en route home for a wedding (which I also got a nod to). Mid way we stopped off for some chai and bonded over our love of apricots. My mind was blown when I saw him pour salt into his tea (apparently this is a v popular custom in Northern Pakistan). He then proceeded by adding instant coffee into his salted tea. I did the same minus the salt adding. It was naturally minging but I was literally dying for a coffee that it more than did the job.

IMG_4422
The KKH and also sometimes known as killer road

The chap was a hotel manager so conveniently had some contacts and sorted me out with a safe camping spot in a nice hotel with a jackpot view of the Passu cones.

IMG_4659
I took this photo from the window of the car
IMG_4651
My first glimpses of the Passu Cones

So Passu is a tiny village known for its striking scenery of these cones shaped rocks which reach over 6000 m high and are just spectacular. It is probably the most photographed road in Pakistan.

20190716121332_IMG_4663-2
Views from the road

I set up camp amongst a load of Pakistani families (terrible idea). They all thought I was a freak and people over here just cannot comprehend a woman travelling alone. When they see the tent they further freak out. I was serenaded with screaming children for the night but all was compensated for the ridiculously good and free view.

IMG_4672
View from my tent

I was feeling  pretty bad in Passu and was not sure was it caused by altitude, loneliness or just general exhaustion (in hindsight it was likely a combo). I was also trying to recover from dirty water incident. What travelers sometimes underestimate is the energy it takes to plan a solo trip and sometimes it is exhausting waking up every day with absolutely no idea how to get anywhere. The added bonus in Pakistan you have no idea of what obstacles await you. The next am I made my way to Passu’s most famous café called Glacier Breeze which probably has the best view in the world. My travel book author proclaims that Passu is his favourite places in the world. I can totally see why.

IMG_4705
The view from the cafe… There are no words to describe this place
IMG_4696
The Passu Cathedral range  has to be seen in real life to appreciate its magnitude

The café is famous for its view but mostly known for its moist apricot cake which is an attraction in itself. I dumped my backpack and took front row seat. I was drenched in sweat from the walk but couldn’t believe my luck when I saw a foreign couple!!! I  am not going to lie Pakistan has delivered on so many levels but it has not been easy and one of the hardest things has been the loneliness. Day to day you will rarely meet a female and foreign travelers have become a thing of the past. At least when things are shit and you are with someone you can just laugh it out, but alone it it just misery. I was desperate to find people to trek with or chat with. Anyone looking to open a hostel? Go to Pakistan they need one!!

This couple were inspiring. They were travelling as a family with their 2 and 3 year old boys in a converted van. They were on the road over a year and Pakistan has been one of their favourite countries to date. Not an easy gig but seriously inspiring stuff. I quickly coped out of my feel sorry for myself mood took in the marvelous views and ate 2 slices of badly needed cake. I was even treated to a decent cup of coffee. Just what the doctor ordered.

Two Pakistani lads rocked up and hilariously knew my name (I hadn’t  a breeze who they were if you will pardon the pun). They said they recognised my shirt!! Who hasn’t? I wear it every day. They remembered me from Hopper Glacier. I briefly met as they were en route back from a 4 day trek to Rush Lake. I offered to carry their bags up the last hill as I totally related and felt sorry for them (having been in that situation way too many times). They said that would be unheard off for a girl to offer like that and that’s how they remembered me!

6ad7fbe5-c2f8-4d6a-81de-2c83259b9544
Motorbiking through Passu with this legend Shaheryar

We all bonded over more apricot cake, hunza water and apricot juice.  I eventually realised hotel man had abandoned me  (he promised to collect me from the cafe and drive me to a campsite). It was just as well he stood me up he felt like a funny fish from the get go.  I asked apricot man could I pitch my tent in the café grounds. He didn’t hesitate and I even organised to go trekking with him the following am to the surrounding glaciers. Myself, Cherry and Zohaib my new MATES piled onto Cherry’s Honda and made our way to Husseini’s famous suspension bridge.

WhatsApp Image 2019-07-19 at 6.16.15 PM
Husseini up close and personal
IMG_4724-2
Husseini’s bridge

The Husseini Bridge is known as one of the most dangerous in the world. Mainly because of the massive gaps between the planks , +/- missing planks and the vicious winds causing it to rock. The raging river beneath really settles the nerves. Local authorities have now banned tourists from crossing the bridge. Everyone was being turned away. It also didn’t help that I was a woman. Luck was on my side when Cherry sweet talked the guard into letting me cross. It was an Oscar worthy performance as he stated I came all the way from Ireland just to cross the bridge. After lengthy discussions I was issued a visa for the bridge which meant I had to to myself. I think he thought I was a VIP and part of the embassy. Obviously said nada. An incredible scary but thrilling experience.

IMG_4719
The locals crossing over into the next village

We rewarded ourselves with fresh apricot juice afterwards (famous in the areas) and Cherry dropped me back home (aka apricot café) where I was camping for the night. An amazing experience and I got a short taste on how amazing it is travelling the KKH on motorbike.

f3e02ed4-16c6-4696-a173-cdc8c165e096-2
At long last MATES! Pakistani legends;  Shaheryar  and Zohaib

That evening I was camping solo in one of my most randomist locations to date. It was stunning but to be quit honest it was sad. It was just this small tent in the midst of these sky scrapper rocks. A few random men put up my tent for me and treated me to my third slice of apricot cake. The famed apricot cake is being baked all night long so the smell wafts through the area.

IMG_2267-2.jpg
Apricot Man told me never has to buy aprictots they are all picked locally. He picks enough in summer, drys them in the sun and uses them for winter. Hunza is an apricot lovers dream. The place is covered in them

I went inside to avail of the rare wifi signal in North Hunza. Feeling slightly homesick, overwhelmed and quite honestly lonely I started balling  my eyes out. I think nothing screams more loneliness than one pitched tent in the wilderness. Travelling to places un touched by tourism is authentic, exciting but quite honestly can be difficult and really lonely. This type of scenery is so incredible that it is nice to share. Apricot man was a little confused and did the perfect thing by giving me a blankie and an awkward tap on the shoulder. An interesting fact about the apricot making business is that the people of Hunza are so sound that no other restaurant or café attempt to make the same cake. It is there thing and people respect that. I think this is the nicest gesture ever. There is another cafe that is famous for walnut cake and you won’t find it anywhere else except Cafe de Hunza. This is something you don’t see in Europe.

20190718094149_IMG_4881
Accommodation Pakistani style

The next day after a complementary coffee myself and Tenveer set off early to explore the nearby glaciers. This was stunning we were lucky enough to meet a Shepard en route who was on the verge of a mental breakdown as he hadn’t had human contact in days (I feel you mate).

IMG_4808
Shepard loosing his marbles in the mountains; also having a v similar hair day to myself
IMG_4820
This Shepard successfully made signal out of clothes hanger. Impressive stuff
IMG_4797
He invited me to stay with him on the mountain for a full week!!!! Tempting but no
20190718070431_IMG_4823
Chai compliments of the Shepard; it is never too far away

We encountered some difficulties when part of the trek was missing caused by a massive  landslide. After a dangerous scramble over a cliff edge we both made it and continued on the gorgeous trek where we were trekking around two different glaciers.

IMG_4735
The start of the trek
IMG_4853
Tenveer is an amazing mountaineer and literally sprinted up the entire mountain
IMG_4769
Me and the Passu cones
IMG_4856
Passu Galcier
IMG_4839
Batura Glacier is the seventh longest non-polar glacier in the world at 56 kilometres
IMG_4862
I loved this mountain
IMG_4860
Passu Glacier

That evening I decided I wanted to try my luck at going back to Hopper and to attempt the strenuous trek to Rush Lake. I successfully hitch hiked with some army officers. Cherry  convinced me it was worth it and one of the most beautiful treks in Pakistan. He found out there was a group of students from Lahore attempting the trek and that I could tag alone ( he was determined to find me some mates).

Hitchhiking on the KKH is a dream as it is one road and everyone is so friendly the longest I waited was 5 minutes verus 6 hours in Argentina!  There was pure and utter confusion when I rocked up to Hopper. I was told to go find a man called Sherbaz. A few random  men frantically grabbed my bags and escorted me into a hotel. I ended up getting my own guide because he said the group from Lahore were so slow and hated exercise so I would be better off alone.

After setting up camp for the night I was fed an array of foods; Korean noodle soup with potatoes, fresh cherries, some local pastry covered in apricot oil filed with a sweet wheat filling (this was kind of minging but obviously licked the plate). The food kept on coming and I had dahl and chapati to finish off.  I rolled into my tent. I was told for Rush Lake you need a guide as you have to cross multiple glaciers which are filled with crevasses so its no easy gig. I insisted on carrying most of my food and camping equipment (most people hire a cook for the trek but I obviously wanted to make life more difficult).

7 am was kick off the following morning and I was in for a rough but beautiful ride……

IMG_4680
Leaving Passu behind me via the KKH

 

Hitchhiking my way through Northern Pakistan. Hunza & Hopper Valley

The Police in Naran kindly hitchhiked on my behalf desperate to help me and within in 2 minutes we hit the jackpot when a family stopped. Their driver initially didn’t want to take me afraid of issues that accompanied a foreigner at boarder controls. The kind family persisted on taking a very dirty Ró in and insisted on helping me. I felt like crying I was so happy.

IMG_4264.jpg
My adopted family
20190712063524_IMG_4201
Babusar Pass is the of the highest mountain crossing (by car) in the world at 4,173 m

The parents of my new family were both doctors and their family were all visiting Hunza for the first time. They wisely hired a private driver to take the stress out of Northern Pakistan. They all spoke excellent English (having worked in London for years). We immediately hit it off. Despite all of the Pakistani complications I have experienced  the incredible hospitality of the people. It will always prevail. The family insisted I was their guest and I was not be allowed to pay for anything. During the windy 10 hour drive we made regular pit stops to appreciate the stunning scenery. It really is unparall to anywhere else in the world I have seen.

20190714_102659.jpg
Some of the pit stops en route to Hunza
IMG-20190806-WA0049.jpg
Me and Natasha on the balcony at Eagles Nest 

Mid way through the journey I was violently unwell and the police station byriani was repeating on me. I successfully managed to hold myself together until we pulled into eagles nest one of the most exclusive hotels in the Hunza Valley. Tourists come here just to see the amazing view point. When we arrived it was late and he had just been informed there had been an avalanche which was causing gael force winds. It was literally impossible to camp. The family didn’t even hesitate and smuggled me into their family room where they had without a doubt the best view of Hunza’s iconic mountain lady finger.

20190713024645_IMG_4224
The view of Lady Finger from the balcony
IMG_4359
The spectacular Karakorom mountain range

The Hunza valley is just heaven.  It is surrounded by some of the tallest mountains on earth. It still feels authentic with locals living in little stone huts selling their craft. It is famous for its cherry orchids, apple trees, walnuts and dried apricots. The air is fresh, clean and everyone is drinking glacial water. A much needed break from the dust, pollution and noise of Lahore. This is why I became obsessed with Pakistan in the first place and it certainly delivered.

IMG_4228
When I was there the Hunza Valley was covered in the most divine fresh cherries
IMG_4382
The Hunza Valley

It is touristy (only with Pakistanis) but is totally worth it and I was excited to chill here for a couple of days. Lahore physically and mentally drained me.  I opted out of dinner that night nursing a v bad tummy. I instantly knew what was making me sick. While I was camping with the nomads one of the children filled up my water bottle for me. It was only afterwards when I had almost polished it off I realised there was gravel, muck and some other green substance in the water. I knew it tasted funky but ignored it. This brought me instantly back to Argentina where  I was violently sick for 6 weeks having stupidly contracted a virus from drinking water from a stream. Anyway, luck was on my side and I only was sick for 1 week.

The following morning  my self and my new adopted family headed off to Lake Attabad. Sadly in 2010 there was a horrific landslide which buried the entire village of Attabad killing 20 people and blocking the valley. This resulted in the lake having a stunning turquoise colour (prior to this it was grey). It is pretty horrific when you consider what is beneath the lake. It is a established tourist attraction in Pakistan where people can hire boats and jet skis. It also claims to be the bluest lake in the world not sure how they decide this accolade. I can confirm it is very blue and beautiful.

20190715_103714
Lake Attabad
IMG_4275
In they Pakistan they absolutely love colour one of the many boats on Lake Attabad
20190715_103741
Depending on the time of the day it changes colour

Next on the agenda of the day was a pit stop to see some of Hunza’s famous forts. After a delicious lunch of the usual Pakistani fare we headed back to the lake for a picnic of mangos.  Pakistani mangos are the best in the world. I has such connection with Natasha and some great conversations. She explained to me a little about Pakistan’s sad and cruel history and how they are still suffering based on the image created by the media. Their  family are from Peshawer which is one of the areas that was badly affected during the war. Natasha said during 2014 they would regularly hear bombs in their village. Their family had to change the entire windows of their house on 6 different occasions! They lived in fear. Behind their house, was a school where 132 children were murdered. This country has experienced unimaginable suffering and tragedy. Natasha explained now  that Peshawer is perfectly safe and that they are trying to re build their lives and their image but the media is destroying any possibility of this. Most people I have met have thanked me for coming to their country and pleading with me to spread the positive word and to come back.

IMG_4341
It’s all about the people
IMG_4337
And Pakistan has some of the best

Travelling is not always comfortable, fun or safe but there is always something amazing around the corner whether it be a nice meal, an encounter with a stranger, a laugh with someone new or a stunning view. Travelling is all about embracing the good, the bad and the ugly. The police incident in the mountains was definitely a low point but you just need to cop your self on and keep going towards that peak and Pakistan certainly has several hundreds (or thousands of them!).

IMG_4537
Beauty in every corner

 

My adopted family only had a short holiday so had to go home. I couldn’t afford the fancy hotel so instead went searching for a campsite. There are buckets of them in Hunza. I found a lovely one with panoramic views of the snow capped mountains. I wanted to go trekking around the valley so I inquired about routes and tried to figure out could I manage it alone. Before I knew it I was being accompanied by these two  Pakistani teenagers. This was a toughie  due to the altitude in Hunza. It was surprisingly roasting during my time in the North (I packed the woolies afraid of freezing my arse off).

20190714070206_IMG_4383
The start of the trek
IMG_4365
My new teenage lovers
IMG_4390
The valley is covered in these gorgeous flowers
IMG_4393-2
I have never been so happy to find a stream. I was so close to dehydration
20190716_111612.jpg
Ró and the boys
20190714075624_IMG_4407-3
My favourite mountain in Pakistan was Lady Finger

The hike was absolutely stunning and we had it all to ourselves. I thought I was going to die at one point as the boys were sprinting up the mountain. I ran out of water. They didn’t seem to think water was that important.  I pleaded with them that I needed to find a stream asap. They were way too chilled for my liking. After about an hour we found the most glorious stream and peace was restored. Without the boys there was no way I would have been able to do the trek. Afterwards we all watched the sunset together it was very romantic. One of the teenagers proclaimed he loved me.  I still to this day receive regular calls off him.  He invited me to stay with him in Pakistan!!! I politely declined the offer. He was so cute in the camp site he kept gifting me with sweets, biscuits and mangos. My parting gift was a hideous black beaded Chinese necklace. I gave him an equally shit present of a blanket I robbed from Oman Air!!

IMG_4410-2
A view of the Karakoram Highway from the top of the mountain also known as the KKH
IMG_4422-2
The famous Karakorum Highway. It is a 1,300 km road that connects China to Pakistan and is the highest in the world. It is stunning and passes through glaciers, lakes and mountains. Naturally it is very dangerous

The campsite was a great spot for befriending randomers. One day I was just chilling and this young guy came over saying he heard I was a doctor and would I help me. I  tell people over here I am a food doctor it’s the easiest explanation. Anyway I really wasn’t in the mood for chats and wanted to be alone but politely told him I couldn’t help. Anyway he persevered and was itching for a convo. He invited me for dinner with his family so I agreed. I couldn’t have been more wrong it turns out he was an absolute legend with a very special family. Sometimes there are occasions when we want to keep to ourselves but you have to commend people who just strike up conversations with strangers. We don’t do it enough and it could be the start of some thing beautiful.

IMG_4609
My new crew

There group consisted of 22 year old Usman, his father, his cousin, his uncle and the uncles mate. I liked them a lot from the get go. They said that now I was their sister and they would do everything they could to help me because they were so grateful for me for coming to their country.  While bonding over chapati they ended up extending their stay and said they wanted to bring me to a place called Hopper glacier. Usman proclaimed it was the nicest place he had seen in his life. Quite the statement. The Dad had just bought a plot of land there and planned on building a hotel/camping site.  He wanted me to go to give my opinion. I happily obliged always delighted to get off the beaten track with some randomers. The quaint little village of Hopper immediately stole my heart. Simply stunning and not half as built up as Hunza. The site for the hotel is ridiculous, like out of this world and if done rights could make a spectacular hotel.

IMG_4491
On top of that hill is the new hotel site!
IMG_4468
Yes I approve
IMG_4477
Hoper Glacier
IMG_4502
This glacier was absolutely massive and had so many crevasses.
IMG_4453
Glacier for miles and miles
IMG_4472
My favourite place in Pakistan to date

In the afternoon we trekked to a new spot which according to Usman’s Dad has possibly the best view in all of Hunza and he was also considering investing in some land there. We befriended more Pakistani men and at one point there was just me surrounded by 30 men (the women once again were in hibernation). A shame for them as this place was heavenly. Lush, green, snow capped mountains and colourful flowers were everywhere. The crew got tired so a jeep came to take us up the rest of the way. It was a bumpy, hilarious and an extremely dangerous drive.

IMG_4575
I think this would make a fairy decent camp site
IMG_4556
I think of worse places to camp
IMG_4541
Laying a few rocks where there were holes in the road. Pakistani efficiency at its best
IMG_4457
We witnessed this crazy avalanche while having breakfast

En route home we stocked up on local cherries which Zubair, the dad kindly gifted me with. They dropped me off at my campsite that evening and gave yet again another present but this time it was for Dom! I was given a gorgeous cream shawl and was strictly told this was for my Father. Don’t know what Dom has done to win over the Pakistanis but you are in the good books. I was also gifted with a gorgeous grey shawl. Generosity and kindness beyond belief and this is something sadly the media does NOT portray.

IMG_4639
The media doesn’t portray this
IMG_4415-2
or this…
IMG_4560
or this 
IMG_4634
In fairness not too bad view from my tent

I spent a fab morning napping, listening to music and doing some writing. My new lover boy was regularly supplying me with mangos, biscuits and chai. He told me loved me and was planning to move to Ireland. Let’s just hope that will never happen otherwise Nils has some stiff competition.

IMG_4626
The moon being stubborn during the most glorious sunrise

Hotel owner was also a legend and insisted on driving me and big backpack down the mountain on his motorbike. It was a painful but beautiful ride. Half way down we took a pit stop in his family house for some tea and hunza bread. So nice and authentic seeing how the locals live. Their family home was covered in apricot and cherry trees. Next on the agenda was to try and make my way to Passu. This was ridiculously easy I briefly researched and tried to figure out how to get public transport but realised there was none…Hitch hiking the KKH was my only option!

IMG_4492
Standard views in Hunza