Upon arrival in Islamabad, one of our representatives will pick you up from the airport and transfer to hotel. We then fly to Skardu capital of Baltistan region, or if the weather is inclement we travel by road through the Indus gorge. Skardu is the parting point from civilization, where we will be accommodated in a Hotel. Jeeps take us to the road end at Askole, the last village in the valley. Askole is the beginning of the trek and each night we camp out as we travel up the valley with our Balti porters providing entertainment and color to the otherwise stark and barren countryside. Our cooks provide wholesome and high-quality food during the trek. The guide and porters will coordinate all the movements of equipment and people up and down the mountain and are there to assist and facilitate you. At the end of the trip the group retraces its steps to Islamabad.
In your daypack, you will need to carry extra warm clothing (depending on the altitude, location, and weather), a rain jacket, water bottle, film and camera gear, valuables and personal items such as sunscreen, lip-Eze etc. Porters carry all group gear and your trek pack. A daypack of approx. 45litres is ideal for this trek.
Skardu is a weather-dependent airport. Since the valley is completely surrounded by high mountains, planes can only land here in good visibility and this means flights to and from Skardu are never guaranteed. The planes do fly more often than not, but cancellations can and do occur and in these circumstances, we will travel by road. If we did not do this groups would risk being stranded in Islamabad and you should beware of companies that say they will only fly to Skardu as this may mean you have no possibility of trekking.
Participants should be aware trekking, mountaineering and travelling in a developing country are activities that involve a risk of personal injury or death. As a condition of booking, you must accept these risks and be responsible for your own actions and involvement.
Adventure travel requires an open and flexible attitude. You may Experience extreme conditions, unpredictable weather and last minute changes to the itinerary beyond our control. Lack of acclimatization to high altitudes could also be a risk factor. Our itineraries allow optimum time for acclimatizing although it is possible that some individuals might be slow acclimatizers.
The majority of our trips visit remote areas where you are away from normal emergency services and medical facilities. In case of a serious injury requiring hospitalization, it has to be accepted by you, evacuation could take up to several days and may impede your ensuing recovery. Helicopters are the most usual means of evacuation, however they are not always available or they may be hindered by poor weather and flying conditions.
While in Islamabad accommodation is on Bed and breakfast basis and our guide will guide you to different restaurants nearby for lunch and dinner, while at the camps you will get breakfast with porridge and cereal, toast or chapattis/parathas, omelettes and a range of hot drinks. Normally a hot lunch is prepared by the trek, In the afternoon you will be given tea and biscuits and a three-course meal will follow with soup, a main meal, and dessert. We bring along fresh vegetables and meat for the main meals. We can cater for those with special dietary requirements, so long as we are informed of these at the time of booking.
All our cooks and support staff are thoroughly trained in kitchen and table hygiene & observe strict hygienic code. You may give your personal water bottles to our kitchen staff every night & they’ll fill them up with boiling water, which will not only warm you up in your sleeping bags for a sound sleep but also provide you with safe boiled drinking water for the following day’s walk.
It is usual to tip the members of your trek crew, including your local guide, if you are happy with the services provided. We estimate that $100 – $150 (in local currency equivalent) will cover this aspect of your trip expenditure.
Towards the end of the trek, the trip leader will help the group to determine an appropriate level of tipping for each crew member, and this is most usually done as a group ‘thank-you’ with a ceremony on the final day of trekking.
In Karakoram weather will have a wide range of temperatures depending on the altitude and the time of day. In the mountains between 1,000m and 3,500m, the nights will be cool normally around 5°C. During the day temperatures can be very hot even as high as 40°C in the lower elevations. Bring lots of water, sunhat and sunscreen! At higher altitudes temperatures range from about 20°C to -10°C. The mornings are generally clear with clouds building up during the afternoon and often disappearing at night to reveal beautiful starry nights. Rawalpindi will be hot and humid at this time of year; temperatures typically range from 30°C to 46°C with high humidity, whereas the temperatures in Skardu at 2,340m will be cooler.
You should obtain professional advice from a travel clinic or your local GP from your home country about which vaccinations to have before you arrive in Pakistan. A dental check-up is a good idea as there will be no dental facilities while on the trek.
The below notes on altitude sickness is to point out what it is and to note the symptoms. Problems with altitude sickness can usually be avoided if care is taken to prepare properly. Ensure good physical fitness, chose a trip suitable to your level, staged ascents to allow time for acclimatization, drink plenty of liquid and avoid alcohol, be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and do not ignore symptoms of altitude sickness if they occur. Normal physiologic changes occur in every person who goes to altitude: hyperventilation (breathing faster, deeper, or both), shortness of breath during exertion, changed breathing pattern at night, awakening frequently at night and increased urination.
By slowly gaining height we reap the benefits of a gradual gain in fitness and acclimatization. We offer advice based on our experience and with the sensible approach we take on all of our treks, anyone who is well prepared, fit and healthy should have few problems, as we are very careful to allow time to acclimatize to the altitude. Even with these precautions, it is still possible for altitude sickness to occur. It is difficult to predict who is likely to suffer from altitude sickness. Sex is not a determinant, nor is age. Your physical condition is important to good altitude adjustment, but sometimes people who are fit ascend too rapidly for their systems to adjust.
Please also note that individuals vary widely in both their physical response to high altitude and the ability to acclimatize and since physical fitness does not confer any protection or facilitate acclimatization, it is impossible to predict how you will adapt to the altitude. The greatest protection is avoiding rapid ascents and allowing time for acclimatization. Your body can adapt to altitude if given time. We feel this itinerary specifically provides that option, but you must individually pace yourself to go slowly and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Do not push too hard regardless of how physically fit you may be or feel.
Early symptoms of high altitude sickness include a headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, vomiting, dry cough, irregular breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of ankles and eyelids. It is not uncommon to experience some of these symptoms when you first arrive at high altitude and then to have them decrease in severity within a few days. It is important that you inform your Trip Leader immediately of any symptoms or discomfort, however minor so that they can help you monitor the situation. Please be aware that remaining at high altitude in spite of alarm signals from your body may result in serious illness or even death.
Medical conditions that are aggravated or complicated by high altitude include heart diseases, lung diseases, pregnancy, anemia, and sickle cell disease. It is imperative that anyone with any of these conditions consult their physician in detail before attempting this trekking expedition.
It is very important to have your own personal medical kit and it is wise to bring all the essentials with you from the home country. As time is limited and it will save you having to go searching for medical supplies in an unfamiliar city. Most medicines are available from chemists in main cities. The following suggestions are based on our experience of travelling, trekking and on the most common medical problems encountered. It is important to check with your doctor in case of allergies to any medications.
We suggest that you bring the following:
Plasters: Elastoplasts or adhesive tape.
Antiseptic cream: Germalene, Savlon etc
Crepe or Elasticated Bandage: For knee and ankle support, if you strain in these joints.
Blister dressings: Moleskin, compead, spenco dressings etc. Stop at the first sign of a blister forming and use a plaster or moleskin.
Cold and Flu Medication: Beechams powders, Lemsip, nasal decongestant, and throat lozenges. On treks that stay above 3000 meters for any length of time or on treks with dry conditions, it is quite common due to breathing dry, cold air through the mouth to get a sore throat or a cough (it may become productive due to irritation not necessarily infection).
Treatment For Diarrhoea: Oral rehydration salts, which contain a variety of salts (electrolytes) and sugar. The combination of electrolytes and sugar stimulates water and electrolyte absorption from the gut. It, therefore, prevents or reverses dehydration and replaces lost salts in conditions such as diarrhea and vomiting. Preparations such as Imodium or Lomotil are anti-motility drugs, which do not treat diarrhea but slows the gut. They should only be used when the condition is causing dehydration, much distress or is impossible to deal with on transport. The aim in using them is to take just enough to control the complaint (see section on diarrhea).
General Painkillers: Aspirin, paracetamol and/or ibuprofen etc
Insect repellent and after bite cream:
Small Pair of Scissors
Any Special Medicines: Those you take regularly or will require on your trip.
Optional – Treatment for Giardia: A common infection caused by a protozoan in the upper bowel. It develops one to three weeks after exposure and can result in a sudden acute illness or a more long-lasting condition. The symptoms are usually explosive and gassy diarrhea along with burping and wind that tastes and smells like rotten eggs. There may be abdominal pain after eating. Treatment is a course of Metronidazole; this is a prescription drug. Under the advice given by your GP, you may consider carrying a course of wide spectrum antibiotic in your personal medical kit.
Optional – A Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic: These are prescription drugs and should be used in consultation with a GP. A broad-spectrum antibiotic e.g. Ciprofloxacin may be useful if traveling to remote areas or for long periods. A broad-spectrum antibiotic can be used to treat bacterial infectious diarrhea, dysentery, respiratory, skin and urinary infections. However, antibiotics used without proper medical advise can cause or predispose other medical complications and bacterial resistance e.g. Clostridium or MRSA. Under the advice given by your GP, you may consider carrying a course of broad-spectrum antibiotic in your personal medical kit.
Optional – Use of Acetazolamide (Diamox): For those trekking above 3000 meters, Diamox has been described as an aid to acclimatization and the prevention of altitude sickness
Rucksack or Day Sack: This is what you carry containing any items you will need during the day, e.g. camera, water bottle, jumper, waterproofs, personal first aid kit (or part of it), toilet paper & lighter etc. A rucksack of around 35 to 40 litres capacity should be large enough, lined with one large plastic bag to
ensure contents remain dry. Padded hip belts are recommended for trekkers.
Sleeping Bag & Liner: A good quality 4-season down or synthetic bag and cotton, thermal or silk liner. Suggested manufacturers RAB, Mountain Equipment, North Face, Ajungilak, Vango.
Scarf/Bandana: Silk, cotton or nylon for keeping the sun off the back of your neck or dust out of your mouth.
Water Bottle: 1x 1 Litre (Platypus, Sigg or Nalgene bottles are recommended). Sigg bottles also makes great hot water bottle!
Water Purification: Biox Aqua Tablets are the safest and most effective form of emergency water disinfection in outdoor environments. Biox Aqua Tablets are more effective than either chlorine or iodine tablets (working against both cryptosporidium and giardia), and leaves no bad tastes or colours behind. Biox Aqua does not react with contaminants in the water to form hazardous byproducts. Each application will take between 10-30 mins to take effect, dependant on the condition of the water source. Puritabs are not advised as they have no effect on the amoebas and will not protect you from hepatitis.
Sun Screen: High protection factor 20-30 or higher
Lip Screen: High protection factor 20-30 or higher
Toilet Items: Soap, travel towel, flannel (or J-cloth), toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, comb, sanitary protection, toilet paper is provided but bring a roll for personal use and at airports!
Sewing Kit: Needle, cotton and a few safety pins for emergency repairs.
Small Knife: Swiss army style – has many uses (do not carry this in hand luggage when taking international or internal flights it will be confiscated).
Small Padlocks: Essential for locking your kit bag and bags left at the hotel.
Passport & Spare Passport Photographs: (3-4 plus any required for permits)
A Copy of Your Insurance Certificate: This is very important and useful.
Money Belt: To carry valuables (passport, money, air ticket) this should be worn at all times when travelling.
High Energy Trek Snacks: Sweets, chocolate bars, dried fruit, glucose sweets, Kendal mint cake. These can make all the difference in unfamiliar surroundings.
Personal Medical Kit: (see list above).
Compression Bags, Stuff Sacs, Pillow Cases or Small Plastic Bags: To separate the gear in your kit bag and kept dry.
Cigarette Lighter/Matches: For burning toilet paper and rubbish.
Wet Wipes: One pack very useful for wiping hands, face and other parts of body.
Antibacterial Hand Cleansing Gel: Small bottle.
This is a suggested kit list of some items needed when trekking. It is best to pack several thinner layers rather than one thick layer. There is a weight limit on trek (13-20kg depending on the package). It is best not to pack more items than what you actually need on any holiday.
Lightweight Thermal Underwear: Tops (2), bottoms or long johns (1). Made from polypropylene, Coolmax, Capilene etc, as cotton does not provide adequate warmth.
T-Shirts or Polo Shirts: (3) Capilene, DryFlo or Coolmax are preferred for their quick drying/high wicking ability.
Long Sleeved Shirt or Blouse: (1-2)
Trekking Trousers (2) e.g. polycotton trousers or zip off trousers.
Lightweight Wool or Fleece Jumper: (1)
Fleece or Pile Jacket: (1)
Duvet Jacket: Medium weight down or synthetic, it needs to fit overall insulation layers.
Waterproof Jacket: Good storm proof mountain jacket with attached hood.
Waterproof Trousers: Good storm proof trousers with side zips to the knee.
Travel Clothes: Lightweight cotton, preferably only for travelling in, e.g. separate to trekking gear.
Mitts & Gloves
Synthetic Gloves: 1 pair lightweight fleece/wool/pile.
Mitts: To fit over gloves
Boots: It is most important that you have well-fitting, comfortable boots, lightweight boots (Gore-Tex or leather). Boots are to be preferred rather than training shoes for the actual trekking, giving your ankles and feet much better support on the rough and stony ground and providing better grip. Boots protect the feet from bruising or damage caused by protruding stones or boulders. Boots should be sturdy enough to take flexible crampons.
Training Shoes/Sandals: For travelling in and around the cities, hotels and at camp. Also for wearing when crossing streams to protect feet.
Socks: 2-3 pairs of thin liner socks (polypropylene or Coolmax) to be worn next to the skin.
Harness: You need it while crossing Gondogoro La
Gaiters: Useful if we encounter snow.
Crampons: You only need it for Gondogoro Crossing. It is important to have the correct crampons for your boots.
Sun Hat: Baseball cap or wide-brimmed sun hat.
Wool or Fleece Hat
Head Torch: e.g. Petzl Tikka, Zipka or Black Diamond Moonlight and spare batteries.
Sunglasses: Essential to get a pair, which cuts out 100% UV rays. It is a good idea to also have a spare pair of good sunglasses. Glacier glasse
Keep the weight and bulk down to a minimum.
Baggage allowance on most international flights is around 23kg. Most people tend to bring more clothes than they actually need.
You only need one change of clothes for time spent in towns/cities.
On treks, your kit bag weight should be kept to below 15kg.
For all trips but especially trekking it is important to dress in layers. When it is hot you will only be wearing light trousers and a T-shirt, when it gets colder you can add to this until you are wearing most of your clothes!
Fragile and valuable items should be carried in your hand baggage.
Most people take their daysack or rucksack on the plane as hand luggage but many airlines only allow one item of hand baggage, which should not be more than the airlines specified size.
Camera gear should be carried as hand luggage in a padded or protective bag, discreet bags are ideal as they do not advertise the expensive contents and attract unwanted attention.
On internal flights, there is an allowed baggage allowance of 15kg per person. When flying internally we suggest trekkers wear all your heavy clothes and boots to keep your baggage to a minimum.
Any excess baggage charges will have to be borne by you.
Pack all batteries, knives, sharp object and lighters into your main luggage to avoid confiscation by security personnel.
Take a small sealable clear plastic bag if you wish to take liquid items such as toothpaste onboard the aircraft.
Do not leave bags unattended at airports.