Chasing the Unknown: A Solo Trip to Gilgit Baltistan

Have you ever felt like it has been so long since you have explored new terrain, met new people, and made new friends?

I had similar thoughts running through my mind back in 2019. I had been working in IT for two years straight, so one day I was googling places in Pakistan to travel to.
I came across Gilgit Baltistan.

A place I just knew existed. Seen some videos of cars and jeeps ๐Ÿ›ป being loaded onto the boat to cross the Attabad lake.
It looked beautiful but thatโ€™s it.

Attabad Boat loading

                                                Attabad Boat Loading

This time I wanted to explore properly rather than heading out unprepared like I always did in the past.
I felt like going solo and ditching the whole convincing-friends-to-come-along situation.

Traveling all the way from Karachi to Gilgit, all by myself – it might sound daunting to some, but for me, the thrill of adventure overpowered any doubts or fears I had.

Karachi to Gilgit

A rejuvenating experience, to finally feel alive again.

I started reading about the ways I could reach Gilgit. By bus, train, or air. I weighed up the pros and cons and even made a list of all the available options, their travel times, and their costs.

I knew I had limited time, so I had to be smart with my money. I went full-on budget mode and planned everything down to the tiniest detail.
From the places I wanted to visit, the local transportation cost, to the cheapest yet most comfortable options for accommodation – had to sort it all out.

It was like putting together a puzzle, but with each piece carefully chosen to fit my budget-friendly travel plan. โ€œThe sweet spotโ€ I call it ๐Ÿ˜‰

I decided why not train, as I had young teenage memories of traveling to Murree with my family. I listed out the bus services that would take me from Islamabad to Gilgit.
In choosing service, people’s reviews helped a lot. That time I chose NATCO ๐ŸšŒ Alas itโ€™s not the same service anymore.

Now I had the budget ready on per day basis. All that was left was to take leaves from my office.
I worked at Daraz in those days. I was lucky to have my leave extended to 28 days.

I packed lightly with just a laptop bag and a rug sack, including a first aid kit.
Not wanting to stay the night in Islamabad I decided to wander the city on foot till 6PM waiting for my bus to Gilgit .

The bus stopped at Chillas for breakfast, the sweltering heat made me feel like I was in Nawabshah. I sought shelter in a beautiful garden surrounded by lovely flowers, thanks to the kind restaurant owner.

I remembered my friend Shariq’s suggestion to contact Mr. Hemayat Amin from Danyore for directions.
While others finished their meal, I dozed off, only to be awakened by the frantic bus conductor searching for me.
Embarrassed, I realized relaxing was not something I could control.

The scenery changed dramatically as we left Chillas behind, and I was left speechless.
I asked the conductor to swap seats with me so that I could take in the sheer size and magnificence of the mountains before me. I couldn’t help but feel small and fragile in comparison.

Lost in my thoughts, I was jolted back to reality when the bus suddenly stopped, and the driver’s friendly voice broke through my reverie as he yelled,
“Bhai sahab ab utar k tou zara nazaray dekhlo” (Brother, get off the bus and take a look around).

Disembarking in Gilgit, having no idea in which direction to go. I called Hemayat for guidance.
When he learned I was alone, he suggested I hop on a “Suzuki” (local transport) and ask for directions from the passengers.
My first goal was to locate a place to rest and drop off my bags.

Following his advice, I hopped onto the first Suzuki I saw. I asked for hotel recommendations from the fellow locals in Suzuki.
The friendly local took me nice hotel and introduced me to the owner as his “special guest.” I even got a discount on the room, from 1500 PKR to just 800 PKR.

The kindness and warmth of the locals astounded me, and I felt right at home.
Excited to explore, I set out to uncover all the hidden treasures Gilgit had to offer.

I Shared my pin location with Hemayat and my list of desired destinations, hoping he could point me in the right direction.
He asked for a few hours so I freshened up and rested a little. I received a surprise visit from my newfound friend on his Honda 125 bike ๐Ÿ๏ธ

To ensure I had a good time during my stay in Gilgit-Baltistan, he took off from his work to show me around.
He even arranged for my belongings to be kept safely at the hotel while we were out exploring.

Now I was mobile and didn’t have to worry about my luggage – I could easily pack and unpack my backpack for 3-4 days, knowing that my belongings were secure.
The hotel staff didn’t charge me a single rupee for their help, and my things remained untouched throughout my entire 28-day stay.

We both left Gilgit city, on the way out we stopped for a bike check-up at Aliโ€™s shop in Danyore.
My eyes were fixed on the snow-covered peaks, which were far away but I felt as if they were within my reach.
Our bike was checked and ready to ride, approved by Ali.

“Travel Tip: His shop is near the Danyore bridge, ask anyone about his shop, He is definitely a reliable guy if you want to get your bike checked and fixed in a reasonable amount ๐Ÿ˜‰

As we set off on our journey, I was utterly amazed by the stunning beauty of nature. Every time I thought I had seen the most breathtaking view, something even more spectacular appeared before my eyes. The Karakoram mountains were a sight to behold, standing tall and proud like ancient giants.

Giants of Karakoram

Riding a bike gave me a clear and panoramic view of the scenery, and I fell in love with it instantly.

I eagerly anticipated catching a glimpse of Rakaposhi as we rode deeper into the Nagar valley. I had expected it to be difficult to see such a magnificent mountain up close, but as we passed the Chalt valley intersection, the 27th-highest mountain in the world loomed before me like a giant monster.

Rakaposhi is also known as Dumani in local language (“Mother of Mist” or “Mother of Clouds”).

The sight of Rakaposhi was awe-inspiring, and the snow-capped summit and the clouds surrounding it added to its grandeur.

As we journeyed on, I marveled at how the locals seemed unfazed by the majestic mountains surrounding them. They carried on about their daily lives amidst the grandeur, while I envied their familiarity with such natural beauty.

Hemayat took me to various cities such as Ghulmet in Nagar, Aliabad and Karimabad in Hunza, and Sust in Upper Gojal. As we entered the region of Gojal on our way to Sust and Khunjerab, I could not move my head away from the magnificent Passu cones. They were even more awe-inspiring in person than in pictures.

I asked Hemayat to stop near the Passu glacier so I could soak in the breathtaking surroundings. He graciously let me stay for over three hours.

It was perfect and nobody was in a hurry. The feeling that time is always running and the urgency of being somewhere or doing something was no more. Listening to some music on my speaker, I finally detached myself from the hustle and bustle of the busy life of Karachi. Time was again flowing in the normal way, not in 3x fast forward.

The Majestic Passu Cones

It was getting late and it was cold in the night, so I asked him to let us go since Sust was still 36 km away.

“Travel Tip: If you’re traveling on a bike, consider leaving your heavy bags at a safe location and travel light, by planning a rendezvous point where you can swap out your belongings as needed.”

The next day, we set off for Khunjerab. I read about the altitude being 4,693 meters above sea level, and I could experience nausea and extreme cold. But Hemayat, who was in his 40s, was only wearing a casual coat, a shirt, and jeans. This made me wonder if I could also handle the cold like the locals.

As we rode, we stopped at a few places to enjoy saltish tea and took in the changing landscape. Soon, we found ourselves cruising at an altitude of 4000 meters ๐Ÿ”๏ธ๐Ÿ—ป

It was already freezing and we ran out of petrol just before the gate. The cold wind from the icy summits hit us hard. I stepped in between the KKH to stop the first group of bikers I saw, we asked them for help and all of them contributed some of their petrol to us.

And so yes, we were saved from being frozen at 4000 meters and we were able to make it to Khunjerab Pass!

“Travel Tip: Go for a refuel whenever you see a petrol pump ๐Ÿ˜

The freezing temperatures and altitude made it difficult for most people to stay there for long periods of time. And I could feel my body screaming as well, to go back to a lower altitude but I refused to let the cold drive me away from this magical place so quickly. I let my heart and brain take over, and I savored every moment of the experience.

It was a reminder that sometimes we need to push ourselves beyond our limits to truly appreciate the beauty that life has to offer.

We stayed there for 2-3 hours, enjoying ourselves and messing around with the GB Scouts. Hemayat finally felt cold in his casual jacket and handed me the bike, which I had been waiting for since day one.

On our way back to Karimabad, I stopped at Passu again. There was something about this place that had captured my heart, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Hemayat arranged for me to have another bike since he had to rejoin his office. A generous stranger offered to show me the ropes and the best way to explore the area, despite not knowing anything about me. Not just him but everyone I met were super humble except for 2 of the guys in my entire stay of 28 days there. These were just 5 days from my stay at GB.

Traveling solo may seem daunting for someone who has never done it before, but the truth is amazing things can happen when we take action. Throughout my travels, I have been fortunate to meet many wonderful and humble people.

If I had waited for others to join me, I never would have had these experiences. Don’t be afraid to travel alone, as you will always be surrounded by locals and have the opportunity to see life from an entirely different perspective. So, take the plunge and let the cosmos guide you on your journey. โœจโœจ


  1. Woooh! amazing blog man
    Actually itโ€™s perfect guideline before leaving for solo trip ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Wow !!! I really like your blog, I can see youโ€™ve had great fun there.. I will keep on checking them from now on for new content.

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