Passu Glacier in the north of the Hunza Valley in Pakistan is a great day hike to do.
You can do an overnight trek to a higher area or combine Passu Glacier with a multi-day (around 4-5 days) trek to other places in the region.
However, if you just want to get up on a really cool glacier (pun intended) for the day then the day hike is best, especially if you’re shorter on time.
You can easily go to Passu Glacier by yourself and hike along the side of it but if you plan to get on the glacier it’s best to take a guide for the day.
The guide will know the best way to get on the glacier and cross the more dangerous precipes that are on the side of the glacier.
To get up there to the start of the hike by the glacier you have 2 options.
- Walk up from the main Karakorum Highway road on the dirt road passing villages with fresh fruit gardens and the scenic Borith Lake. The walk will take 1-2 hours depending on fitness.
- If you have your own transport drive up, it takes around 15 minutes. If you don’t have your own car you will have to pay 1000 rupees for a one-way ride up (2000 for return). Jeeps wait at the turnoff waiting to take people.
One nice way to do it is to take a car up there and walk back to the main road after the hike (if you don’t have your own car that is).
At the start of the hike is a small outdoor scenic cafe where you can grab a hot chai before (or after) the hike.
Starting off after the little cafe you head uphill for 5 minutes before the trail evens out and you walk along the side of a cliff for 10 minutes until the first proper view of the glacier comes into sight.
The first view of Passu Glacier.
If you don’t have time then this will allow you to see the glacier from a distance, take your pics, then head back.
Otherwise, walk another 15 minutes and you will be able to walk down the side of an embankment (follow the pipeline down) and get right up close to the glacier.
You can walk on the glacier a bit but don’t go too far without a guide as it can get slippy and glaciers can be sharp as it is after all rough ice.
The best option (with time) is to not go down the embankment but to continue ahead up the steep slope ahead of you. It takes around 30-45 minutes to climb it but the views at the top are worth it as the glacier becomes much clearer.
The view after climbing the steep slope.
You walk on for several minutes along the side of the trail before another short steep climb brings you to the top area of the glacier and from where you can scramble down and walk across the precipes of the glacier itself.
Only go on the glacier if you have a guide as they are experienced and will find a good route across.
If you have time you can cross the whole glacier, otherwise, it’s fun to just get on part of it and explore around.
View down to Passu.
When we were there (mid-September) the local farmers and herders were taking their cattle down from the summer grazing pastures and back to the villages for winter.
They had to herd the cattle across the glacier which was quite a sight to see. If you are there around that time ask and try to find out when it may be happening.
Cattle being herded over the glacier.
That moment the peaceful glacier walk gets interrupted. But was worth it!
Following the herders back down.
How To Hike Passu Glacier
You can easily do this hike as a day trip or half-day trip if you’re very fast.
The best way to do it is to base yourself in the villages of Passu or Ghulkin from which you can organise a guide.
Another option is to stay in Karimabad which is the main tourist hub of the area and drive the 1 hour to Passu Glacier from there.
Whatever hotel or guesthouse you stay at should be able to get a guide for you. Expect to pay 1000 – 1500 rupees for the guide.
Simple family-run guesthouse in Passu called Passu Cones Hotel.
The great thing about staying in Passu is you get to wake up to the great view of the Passu Cones.
Owner of Passu Cones Hotel showing fresh fruit of the region.
Apples in the back garden.
Hike The Glacier!
When in the Hunza Valley hiking to (and on) the Passu Glacier is what I would regard as a must-do experience.
If you don’t have much time at least head up there for an hour to the viewpoint to check it out.
If you had to choose between Passu Glacier or the glaciers by Rakaposhi Base Camp further south in the Hunza Valley then I found the Rakaposhi ones more impressive and the hike more rewarding.
But both are stunning!
For more great hiking in the Hunza Valley check out the Rakaposhi Base Camp trek we did.
For more guides on Pakistan take a look at my Pakistan destinations page.
This is a video of drone footage across mountains and glaciers in the Hunza Valley that includes Passu. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more vids!
For any kind of adventure be sure to take travel insurance just in case. I use World Nomads Travel Insurance and highly recommend them for the adventurous traveller.