I recently cycled 315 km from Islamabad, Pakistan to my University campus in Lahore, Pakistan in an attempt to raise awareness about environmental issues and to encourage the student body to take up cycling as a first step towards reducing congestion and pollution in the city. Thankfully, the effort made a huge difference and I’ve been dreaming about my next plan ever since.
The plan would require you to ignore the negative publicity that Pakistan has been receiving in the media lately and to consider visiting my country so you can experience its stunning beauty and the warmness and hospitality of its people.
The plan is to cycle over 800km from the Pakistan-China border at Khunjerab at around 4700 meters to Islamabad in 6 days (We can make it longer if we want). We’ll be cycling on the legendary Karakoram highway and will be surrounded by numerous 6000m and 7000m peaks. During the cycle trip we’ll also pass through Hunza which can only be described as “Heaven on earth”. Some of the peaks which we can expect to see from the KKH are as follows:
Rakaposhi ( 7788m)
Nanga Parbat (8125m)
Batura Peak (7795m)
Passu Peak (7476m)
Ultar Peak (7388m)
Lady Finger (6000m)
The trip will be divided into 6 stages which will be approximately as follows:
Khunjerab to Passu : 120km We’ll pass through the pristine and rugged Khunjerab National Park, home to Snow leopards, Himalayan Ibex, Markhor, Blue Sheep and Marco Polo Sheep.
Passu to Gilgit: 130km We’ll pass through the legendary Hunza valley. Famous for its 7000 meter peaks, apples, cherries and apricots.
Gilgit to Chilas: 140km We’ll hit the Indus River near Jaglot and travel along it to Chilas. We can expect breath-taking views of Nanga Parbat from the KKH.
Chilas to Besham: 160km We’ll travel along the Indus, alternatively, we could take another route which goes to Naran via the Babusar Pass.
Besham to Abbotabad: 140km We can expect some decent uphill sections on this stage of the trip.
Abbotabad to Islamabad: 130km We can either go on the direct, plain route or enjoy some beautiful tarmac and some serious uphill and downhill sections if we go via the alpine hill stations of Nathia Gali and Murree.
The cycling for the vast majority of the trip will be downhill and should make for one memorable experience. Let me point out that I’ve travelled extensively on the KKH on 6 different occasions and security has never been an issue. We will be accompanied by a support car which will also be responsible for taking the cycles from Islamabad to Khunjerab (2-day drive). The support car will be responsible for taking care of photography, any medical emergencies and carrying supplies. The meeting point will be Islamabad and we’ll finish in Islamabad as well. The tentative date is some time in early July, although this is flexible. We’ll stay in comfortable hotels in Chilas, Karimabad, Passu, Gilgit, Chilas, Besham and Abbotabad respectively.
Space is pretty limited and anybody who is interested in requested to contact me as soon as possible so I can start making arrangements. Feel free to go through some photos that I’ve taken during my travels along the Karakoram Highway by accessing my Facebook profile. My name is Azhar Zaheer and I’m part of the Lahore University of Management Sciences network on Facebook. As far as costs are concerned, they depend on the number of people but they definitely will not exceed $100 per day, including food. You will have to bring your own cycle and cycling equipment as Pakistan doesn’t have much to offer in terms of high-quality cycles and equipment. You do not need a mountain bike, a decent and sturdy road-bike should be sufficient for our purposes.