Hunza: A thousand-mile journey

Well I was not doing much in life, and out of boredom, I decided to go to Hunza. I had heard so many things about that place that I almost started thinking that it was too good to be true.This proved wrong afterwards, because all the good things that you may hear about Hunza, their people, their lives, their women empowerment, their high literacy rate etc all of these are nothing but facts. The views are awesome, but the people of that place make the experience even more worth it.

There are two ways to reach Hunza from Islamabad: either you take the flight and reach Gilgit and then drive for one and a half hour,or drive yourself there for almost two days including nights. I took the second option, and well I reached there safe and sound, and came back the same way, of course.

Talal and I left from Islamabad around 1 am and drove all night and reached Basham early morning around 8am and had our breakfast there. When we went to Fairy Meadows this was our stop for lunch. So, we had some memories to cherish with the place. Talal took me to the same place where we went, when we were at Basham last time.  Just a quick stop and we went off.

The next stop was Chilas, the place was again familiar because we spent a night there when we were there last time. But this time we just stopped for lunch and in no time, we were back on track.

Chilas is just a small town but very crowded in the noon. The weather was hot in the morning but it was quite cold at night. Moving on the drive from Chilas to Gilgit was not so bad because after the Raikot Bridge the Karakoram Highway was renovated. So, the ride was as smooth as silk.

We reached HunzaKarimabad around 7pm. We checked into a hotel, unpacked and changed our clothes and went out for a walk. The night was cold and we could not see much because it was dark and most of the places, including the famous Café De Hunza, was closed at the time.

The next morning was amazing when I went to my balcony which was opening in the Hunza Valley – the gigantic Karakoram Range was borderline intimidating. Rakaposhi and Lady Finger were standing right there at arm’s length. The plan was to go to China Border that day and see Attabad Lake on our way.

The Kunjerab Pass was frozen like a snow land. We could not spend more than half an hour there because it was so cold out there. We took some pictures, came back, spent some time at Attabad Lake, and called it a day.

The next day we went to Baltit Fort in the morning and then Eagle’s Nest in the evening and that was it.

The third day started smooth.We wanted to go to Hopper Glacier but had to take the U turn because of the compromised road condition. But Altit Fort was worth it and the day paid for itself.

We stayed at Hilltop Hotel KarimabadHunza and ate all our breakfasts at Café De Hunza (must try their Cheez Omelet!), had one dinner at Eagle’s Nest, and it was not up to our expectations.We tried street food from the main bazar of Karimabad, tried freshly squeezed apricot juice, which tasted like heaven.

While interacting with people I found out that the women of Hunza own businesses, drive fearlessly and play cricket with boys for their school’s tournaments. They do not discriminate. I saw girls in the music school at Altit Fort and they were playing instruments and some of them were learning to make some of the local musical instruments.

You will not find litter on the streets because the people have put up so many trash bins that even if you litter, some local person will pick it up in front of you, and next time you’ll have to think twice before doing something like that. So, in many ways the place was far better than any other city or town of Pakistan.

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