This trip to the Ultar meadows, above Karimabad at Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan, offers spectacular views of the peaks of the Karakorum mountain range.

Building in Karimabad

Building in Karimabad

People of Karimabad, Hunza Valley, will tell you that you enter in Shangrila. It is hard to disagree. Above, rocky heights of some of the highest mountains of the world, Karakorum, stretching west of the Himalayas, climb to the sky among the clouds. All around are groves of apricot, almond and cherry trees, delineating numerous terraces, old watered by irrigation canals that defies gravity, carved directly into the rock. Below, the river Hunza makes its way to the bottom of the valley. A steep climb from the village takes you through a narrow gorge, glaciers and waterfalls, and will take you in a middle of flowering meadows, crossed by rivers and dotted with clumps of trees. These are the summer pastures of Hunza, and after another hour of walking, get to summer camp of the pastors. There, after you pull breath, because you are at an altitude of 2999 m, try to keep the memory of spectacular places where Alexander the Great once marched, leading his armies. Sun rays are reflected by the mica particles on the Ultar glacier. To the north, Ultar Star, whose peak (7388 m) was conquered twice, Bubulumating is flanked by a stone table in the form of rocket, so smooth that snow does not settle over it. The Rakaposhi mountain range dominates, and it is covered with snow, why his name means Bright Wall.

Hunza Peak (centre) with Bublimotin (Ladyfinger Peak) on its left, the southwest ridge of Ultar Sar (resp. Bojohagur Duanasir) on the very right.

Hunza Peak (centre) with Bublimotin (Ladyfinger Peak) on its left, the southwest ridge of Ultar Sar (resp. Bojohagur Duanasir) on the very right.

The best time to travel is between June and September to admire the orchards in bloom. Travel time is one day. There are also longer trips. Means of transport to Karimabad goes from the Jamat Khana bazaar, from Gilgit, the capital of Northern Areas of Pakistan. You travel on Karakorum Highway, where the traffic is often interrupted due to landslides. Take a guide, even if the trip is for one day and you can do it alone, the weather changes quickly and paths can be swallowed stones or sudden snowstorm.

Beautiful View of Karakoram Highway

Beautiful View of Karakorum Highway

Attractions

The Baltit Fort, with intricate reliefs of Tibetan style, guarding the road to the Ultar meadows. Some parts of the fort, built for a Tibetan princess with a Hunza leader, they have 700 years old. Another fort, Altit, rises farther eastward along the valley. A hatch opens in a dungeon, where a hunza man, murdered his brothers to grab the throne. In the late summer and autumn, almost any flat surface is covered with apricot at sun dried. In Hunza over 20 varieties are grown and the apricot soup (bateringe daudo) is a local specialty. Hunzakut population is renowned for its longevity, the majority are Muslims, followers of the Aga Khan. Women wear a covering on the head and are not obliged to cover their face, their embroideries are wonderful. The Hunzakut homes have the same shape at the base. Most have a floor or two and have windows facing to west. Families live in winter at downstairs and in summer on the upstairs.

The Hunza people eat dried apricots, apricot seed oil, roasted apricot kernels as their main dietary foods.

The Hunza people eat dried apricots, apricot seed oil, roasted apricot kernels as their main dietary foods.

Hunza Ultar Meadows

Hunza Ultar Meadows

Baltit Fort

Baltit Fort