Old Silk Road from Islamabad to Kashgar From 9-21st Oct 2019

Introduction

I have been fascinated by the stories and myths of the Silk Road since I was young. I had always wanted to journey along this Ancient Silk Road. About 10 years ago, I journey along the Silk Road from the starting point in Xian, China. I have since travelled along the North and South of the Taklimakan Desert for more than 5 times ending up in Kashgar.

There are two mountain pass from Kashgar, the Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains leading from China to Central Asia via Kyrgyzstan. I have journeyed through this Pass all the way to Dushanbe in Tajikistan. This is the route that Marco Polo took in his travels to China. The other route is through Khunjerab Pass in the Karakorum Mountains via the Karakorum highway to Pakistan and then to India. The famous Tang Dynasty Monk went through this Pass to India to look for Buddhist scriptures. 

My next trip to the Old Silk Road is through this Khunjerab Pass. However, I am going to take the trip starting from Islamabad in Pakistan to Kashgar, China. The main reason is that ascend from Kashgar to the Khunjerab Pass is too fast. The Altitude at Kashgar is about 1,200m while the altitude at Khunjerab Pass is 4,880m. It only takes a few hours to travel from Kashgar to Khunjerab Pass. My people may suffer from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). If we travel from Islamabad to Kashgar, ascend is more gradual and we will get accustomed to the heights.

Safety

This was my first consideration when organising this trip. I have been assured by my Tour Agent in Pakistan that all the places that we are going along the Karakorum Highway from Islamabad to China are protected by the army to ensure the safety of their foreign visitors. The not so safe areas are towards Kabul border with Pakistan. Autumn is a peak season and the Government is allocating more attention to this area.

How do you get there?

Fly from Kuala Lumpur to Islamabad

Fly from Urumqi to Kuala Lumpur on return trip

Route Map from Islamabad to Kashgar

Sights along the way.

Hunza Valley

Hunza Valley is probably the most beautiful place in Pakistan especially in autumn, when there the beautiful colours of autumn is at its best.

Islamabad

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan with a population of about one million people. 95% of the population are Muslims.

Besham

This is the largest town and commercial centre of Shangla District in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The shops here open 24 hours due to its geographic location as the major town on the Silk Road between China and Pakistan.

Gilgit

The city is located in the broad valley near the confluence of the Gilgit and Hunza River. Gilgit is a major tourist destination in Northern Pakistan. It serves as a hub for mountaineering and expeditions to the Karakoram Range. It was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road and today it serves as a major hub along the Karakoram Highway with road connections to China, Skardu, Chitral, Peshawar, and Islamabad.

Karimabad

Karimabad is the capital of Hunza Valley. This is a major tourist destination. It is located on the West bank of the Hunza River. It is about 2,500m elevation. This town used to be a caravan stop for people who were travelling through the Hindu Kush Mountains to Vale of Kashmir. It is surrounded by snow Peak Mountains of Rakaposhi and glaciers like Ulter Nala.

Sust

Sust or Sost is the last major town on the Pakistan side before going through the Khunjerab Pass to China. Its elevation is about 2,800m.

Tashkugan

This is the first town after passing through the Khunjerab Pass. In the Ancient Silk Road Days, this is a major stop for caravans. This town is also situated near, Afghanistan and Tajikistan borders. The elevation here is around 3,000m.

Kashgar

Kashgar is a major Oasis Town on the Ancient Silk Road. It was the last major town on the china side of the Silk Road. From here one can either go to Central Asia through Torugart Pass on the Tian Shan Mountains or India through the Khunjerab Pass on the Karakorum Mountains.

Other Considerations

Autumn

Autumn is one of the best times to travel along the Hunza Valley. The autumn colours are a sight to behold. The Khunjerab Pass is only open from 1st April to 30th November. The Pass closes after 30th November due to its heavy snowfall.

Temperature

The temperature around this time of the year ranges from 25o C to -10o C. So be prepared with your warm clothing. Snow fall is expected at the highlands.

Transportation

For most of the journey from Islamabad to Tashkugan we will be using Toyota Coasters with 21 seats. We can accommodate about 10-11 photographers. On short trips to the mountains, we will use 4×4 jeeps. From Tashkugan to Kashgar, we will use tourist bus with about 30 to 35 seaters.

Accommodation

We will try to get the best accommodation in the small towns along the way. Most of the hotels will have attached toilets and hot water baths. We will not stay in tents.

AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)

If you have a history of having AMS after 3,000m elevation, it is good to get a prescription from your doctor for some altitude sickness pills.

Pakistan and China Visa.

Malaysians need to apply for both Pakistan and China Visa. The cost is about 30rm for Pakistan Visa and 82rm for China Visa. We will assist by providing the necessary documents required for the application of the Pakistan and China Tourist Visas.

Meeting Place

We will meet at Islamabad Airport.

Difficulty of the trip

Easy to Moderate. We do not have any trekking to the mountains and valleys. Most of the places that we will go are accessible by motorised vehicles.

Minimum number of participants

We need a minimum number of 10 participants for this trip

Itinerary

Day 1 – 9th Oct 2019 – Arrive at Islamabad (D)

  • Meet at airport
  • Transfer to hotel
  • Dinner
  • Free & Easy

Day 2 – 10th Oct 2019 – Islamabad (B,L,D)

  • Introduction to Islamabad
  • Lok Versa
  • Pakistan Monument
  • Faisal Mosque
  • Damn-e-Koh
  • Islamabad city  

Day 3 – 11th Oct 2019 (B,L,D) Besham

  • Drive from Islamabad to Besham
  • Taxila site and museum – ancient ruins was established in 1,000BC
  • Khanpur Lake
  • Check-in hotel at Besham
  • Free and easy

Day 4 – 12th Oct 2019 (B,L,D) Besham to Gilgit

  • Drive from Besham to Gilgit
  • Photo stops along the way
  • Rock Carvings at Shatial and Chilas – prehistoric cave drawings
  • Nanga Parbat view point – one of the nine mountains over 8,000m
  • Check-in hotel at Gilgit
  • Free and easy

Day 5 – 13th Oct 2019 (B,L,D) Gilgit to Karimabad

  • Drive from Gilgit to Karimabad
  • Photo stops along the way
  • Rakaposhi View Point
  • Check-in to hotel at Karimabad

Day 6 – 14th Oct 2019 Karimabad (B,L,D)

  • Whole day at Karimabad
  • Visit Baltit Fort – was built about 700 years ago in the Hunza Valley
  • Bazar
  • Altit Fort – was built about 1,100 years ago
  • Local village
  • Duikar – at 2,800m is the highest village in Hunza. We will stop here for sunset shoot
  • Evening – free and easy

Day 7 – 15th Oct 2019 Karimabad (B,L,D)

  • Morning excursion to Hoper Glacier – a very scenic point in the Hunza Valley. There a a few cluster villages here
  • Afternoon visit local villages
  • Back to hotel
  • Free and easy

Day 8 – 16th Oct 2019 Karimabad to Sust (B,L,D)

  • Drive from Karimabad to Sust
  • Photo stops along the way
  • Attabad Lake – The lake was created in 2010 due to a massive landslide
  • Gulmit – an administrative centre for Upper Hunza. It is a very historical town
  • Passu Glacier – beautiful snow-capped mountains
  • Check-in hotel at Sust.

Day 9 – 17th Oct 2019 (B, D) Sust to Tashkugan

  • Check-out hotel
  • Drive to Khunjerab Pass immigration check-point. Our Chinese guide will meet us at the China side of the immigration check point.
  • Transfer to hotel in Tashkugan
  • Dinner

Day 10 – 18th Oct 2019 (B,L) Tashkugan to Kashgar

  • Check-out hotel
  • Visit the Stone Ruins
  • Karakul Lake
  • Kashgar
  • Check-in hotel at Kashgar
  • Free and easy

Day 11 – 19th Oct 2019 Kashgar (B,L)

  • Visit the golden Poplar Trees at Zepu
  • Visit Yakent County if time permits.
  • Drive back to Kashgar
  • Free and Easy

Day 12 – 20th Oct 2019 Kashgar to Urumqi (B,L)

  • The Ancient Animal Trading Market
  • Visit Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China
  • Lunch with a local Uighur family
  • Transfer to airport for domestic flight to Urumqi
  • Check-in hotel at Urumqi

Day 13 – 21st Oct 2019 Urumqi to home (B)

  • Breakfast
  • Transfer to Urumqi airport
  • End of trip

If you are interested in this trip please contact for further information and registration : [email protected] 

Photo Gallery

Karimabad in autumn

Faisal Mosque, Islamabad

Pakistan Monument

Pakistani girl

Mountain scenery along the Karakorum Highway

Autumn at Hunza Valley

Attabad Lake

Baltit Fort

Fall colours of the Hunza Valley

Karakul Lake, China

Poplar Trees, Zepu

Animal Trading Market, Kashgar

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