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Hunza Valley Travel Guide

The Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan is one of the most beautiful parts of the world you can visit.

I’ve personally been to over 90 countries including all of Central Asia and the Hunza Valley stands out to me because of the friendliness of the Hunza Valley people and the natural mountain beauty.

After spending several weeks living there visiting the main places this is my guide to the Hunza Valley to get the best out of the region.

It’s not only a must-visit place in Pakistan but the world.

The Hunza Shangri-la.


The Hunza Valley

Hunza Valley travel
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The Hunza Valley basically is made up of 3 areas; the southern part, central Hunza, and the northern part.

The valley ‘starts’ in the south around Minapin where you can hike to Rakaposhi Base Camp, the central part comprises Karimabad area, and the valley ends at Passu in the north.

Note: Gilgit has nothing to do with the Hunza Valley, Karimabad area is the central part and main area to base yourself.


Karimabad Area

Karimabad is the main town of the Hunza Valley and historically the main seat of power with the 800-year-old Baltit Fort looking down across the valley.

It’s where most tourists will stay at least at some point during their trip.

The town is looked over by Ultar Mountain and the impressive Baltit Fort.

Baltit Fort.

karimabad
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Trekking towards Ultar.

ultar trek
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Ultar Peak and Ladyfinger.

ultar peak and ladyfinger karimabad
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The Eagles Nest viewpoint will give you one of the best views of the Hunza Valley.

Sunset across the Hunza Valley from Eagles Nest.

karimabad Pakistan
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View from the hill above Eagles Nest.

Hunza Valley travel guide
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Autumn in the Hunza Valley.

Hunza Valley in Autumn
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The Hunza Valley people are very friendly and welcoming.

Hunza Valley shepherd
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For staying in Karimabad on a budget I would recommend the Old Hunza Inn. If you want to spend and get something nice then the Serena Hotel is a popular option.

Find places to stay in Karimabad here.

For the famous walnut cake in Hunza try Cafe-de-Hunza and the 300-year-old traditional house at the top of the hill below Baltit Fort.

It takes around 2 hours to drive from Gilgit to Karimabad.

Heading north from Karimabad after around 20 minutes drive you reach Attabad Lake. This is an artificial lake caused by a massive landslide in the area.

During the peak tourist months, it gets crowded down by the lake and is not as crazy impressive as I believed it would be. Having seen it again in November when there were no tourists around it was more peaceful to watch.

But the lake is on the way up the valley to Passu and is worth stopping for at least 5 minutes to get some pics, and if it’s not so busy hang out a little longer.

Part of Attabad Lake.

Attabad Lake Hunza Valley
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Just past Ghulkin village area you get to the Hussaini hanging bridge, reputed as one of the worlds most dangerous bridges.

Nowadays, even though used sometimes by locals, it’s mostly a tourist attraction and can get busy during the main tourist season and you may have to wait your turn to go on it as it’s popular for photographs.

Hussaini hanging bridge.

Hussaini hanging bridge Hunza
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Passu Area

Once you get closer to Passu things start to get more wild.

In the distance, the massive Passu Cones mountain appears as you drive up.

The villages of Gulmit and Ghulkin are on the way to Passu and Ghulkin especially makes a nice place to stop for the night as it’s very peaceful and up the side of the mountain.

Stay at Ghulk Inn if you do stay there.

Otherwise, Passu itself has numerous places to stay, with the Passu Cones Hotel offering a good budget option and great views of Passu Cones when you wake up in the morning.

Passu is the end of the Hunza Valley.

Passu Cones.

passu cones Pakistan
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One of the main reasons for going to Passu, apart from to see the Passu Cones and continue up the Karakoram Highway is to hike next to the Passu Glacier.

If you have your own transport it’s a 15-minute drive up to a small parking area and then a 20-minute walk to the first main viewing area of the glacier.

It’s best to continue on though up the steep slope in front of you and then another one after that and you will get better views and can get close to the glacier and even walk on it (be careful though).

If you don’t have your own transport then you can walk up which would take around an hour or pay 2000 rupees return for a hired car which you can find from the turnoff on the main road.

If staying in Ghulkin you can also hike to Passu glacier from there which takes around 2-3 hours and is a scenic walk.

Passu Glacier hike.

Passu Glacier
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Passu Glacier.

Passu Glacier
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View down part of the Hunza Valley from Ghulkin.

Ghulkin Hunza Valley
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Traditional music being played in Ghulk Inn guesthouse.

traditional music Hunza Valley
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Rakaposhi Area

As your driving up from the south the first part of the Hunza Valley you will reach is the opposite side of the valley to the village of Minapin.

Minapin is the jumping-off point for a long day hike or overnight camp at Rakaposhi Base Camp, one of the best short treks in Pakistan (detailed info for the hike in that link).

Rakaposhi Glacier.

Rakaposhi Pakistan
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Rakaposhi Base Camp hike.

Rakaposhi
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You can do the hike in one day and even start from Karimabad if you leave early morning, say at 6ish, as Karimabad is only a 30-minute drive from Minapin.

The best option though is to camp overnight at the campsite up by Rakaposhi and wake up to epic views.


Hunza Valley Food

Making chap shuro

chap shoru karimabad. Hunza Valley
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The food in the Hunza Valley is awesome!

Here are some regional delights you must try:

Chap shuro – Known as the Hunza pizza which is basically a meat pie and is delicious. The best one we had was in Minapin.

Dowdo soup – The speciality soup of Hunza and great on a cold day.

Gyal(ing) – Wheat pancake breakfast food awesome with some local honey and jam.

Hoilo Gorma – A pasta style dish with spinach. 

Harissa – Yak meat (mostly) boiled with barley.

Mantus – Meat dumplings.

The Hunza Valley is famed for its fruits and herbs as well. The apples, apricots, mulberries, walnuts, local herbal teas, etc should all be tried.

Apricot juice.

apricot juice
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The Hunza Valley is famed for its walnut cake so be sure to have one. Cafe-de Hunza in Karimabad and the 300-year-old traditional house near the fort are the best.

Walnut cake.

walnut cake hunza
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The dried fruits are also cheaper to buy in the Hunza Valley than in the cities so stock up before leaving.

Chap shuro.

chop sharu Karimabad
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Hunza Valley

The Hunza Valley is a must-visit destination in Pakistan and one of my favourite places in the world. The environment and people make it a ‘heaven on earth’ place to be.

I recommend using SafetyWing Travel Insurance for your trip, just in case, it’s best to be prepared.

More reading:

Rakaposhi Base Camp Trek

Passu Glacier Hiking

Baltit Fort in Karimabad Visual Guide

Pics From The Hunza Valley

For a good overall guide to Pakistan get the Insight Guides Pakistan.

Hunza Valley guide
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