Best Hiking in Pakistan: Top Trails for 2023

There are many great hiking destinations in the world, but few hit in all the right places like Pakistan does.

Hiking in Pakistan is one of the top reasons to visit the country (and the main reason I started running trips here myself). There is a bit of everything here: some of the world’s tallest mountains, glacier traverses, crazy viewpoints, alpine lakes, cultural hikes, and multi-day crazy bucket list expeditions. The country just screams world-class hiking destination just about everywhere you look.

Unlike in other places though, hiking in Pakistan is still very much an off-the-beaten-path affair. This means that oftentimes when you set off on a hike there are very few other people around and a whole lot of nature to take in in relative peace. Pakistan is not Nepal in terms of tourism infrastructure which leads to some pretty epic opportunities. This is true whether you are looking for a chill day hike around Islamabad or something larger in the vast Karakoram range.

So what are the best Pakistan hiking opportunities out there? Read on the find out.


Every year I lead unique trips to Pakistan including the K2 Base Camp Trek and to the Hunza Valley?

Best Multi-day Treks in Pakistan

Below is a list of a few multi-day expedition-style treks in Pakistan that should be on your radar in 2023.

Snow Lake Trek

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Time needed: 10-14 days
  • Estimated distance: 120 km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: Yes

Despite the simplicity of the name, the Snow Lake Trek is much, much more than a simple jaunt to a frozen lake.

In 2022, I lead a group trip to Snow Lake to the first time and it was the craziest and most wild trek in Pakistan I have ever done. The route follows the immense Biafo and Hispar glaciers and is roughly 120 km long.

Out of 27 other teams that attempted the full Snow Lake Trek, we were the first successful group to cross Hispar La – if that tells you anything about the difficulty of the terrain in question.

The whole area that makes up the Biafo and Hispar glacier systems are super remote – making logistics a constant challenge and one that must be accounted for before setting off.

If you are looking for an epic challenge, the Snow Lake Trek ranks as one of my favorite hikes in Pakistan.

I might be organizing another Snow Lake Trek in 2023 – get in touch if you might be keen to join me!

K2 Base Camp Trek + Gondogoro La

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Time needed: 12-14 days
  • Estimated distance: 160+ km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: Yes

The most iconic multi-day trek in Pakistan is without a doubt the K2 Base Camp Trek.

In comparison to Everest Base Camp, the trek to the base of the world’s second-highest mountain is only visited by less than 1000 people annually. The main trekking route follows the Baltoro Glacier to a confluence with the Godwin-Austen Glacier at a place known as Concordia; AKA the “throne room of the mountain gods”.

For more fit trekkers, tacking on the Gondogoro La (5600 meters) mountain pass is a fantastic way to end the trek. The views from atop Gondogoro La are mind-blowing and doing the K2 Base Camp Trek this way means you do not have to return back down the Baltoro Glacier the same way you came.

If you have done the whole Everest Base Camp thing and want to experience some of the best mountain views in the world, then the K2 Base Camp Trek is the logical next step.

Karamber Lake

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time needed: 3-4 days
  • Estimated distance: 60+ km
  • Region: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa / Hindu Kush (KPK)
  • Permit Required: Yes

One of the most unique multi-day treks I have done in Pakistan is the Karamber Lake Trek (also spelled “Karomber”). The entire trekking portion of the trek took us roughly 4 days to complete and I would not suggest trying to do it any faster than that so that you have time to relax at the actual lake once you arrive there.

The road to get to Karamber was a journey unto itself; the 2-day journey by road took us at least 36 hours of non-stop driving from Islamabad – just to start the trek!
From the starting point, Karamber Lake is roughly 30 kilometers and 1 vertical km of elevation gain. For the first half of the trek, there is little to no water, so be sure to plan accordingly.

I have heard recently that several foreigners have tried and failed to get past the army checkpost which one must cross in order to reach the upper Broghil Valley to start the trek. They simply were not letting any foreigners pass.

When I went here in 2020 – I did not have an issue, which might have been because I was doing the trek with a group of Pakistani friends.

Double-check what the current situation is for foreigner access before you attempt to go to this area.

Patundas Meadow / Passu Glacier

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time needed: 2-3 days
  • Estimated distance: 20+ km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

One of the best hikes in Pakistan is without a doubt the trip to Patundas Meadows. For a long time, very few people from outside of Hunza even knew about Patundas. This is changing, however on any given day, there is a good chance you will still be the only one there.

The fact that Patundas can be done in only 3 days round-trip also makes it a desirable option for people short on time.

Though only a 30-minute drive from the Karakoram Highway, Patundas should NOT be attempted without a local guide. There is a dangerous glacier crossing to contend with and people have died trying to cross it alone.

There are two “official” campsites on this trek, one at the bottom of the climb (just above the Passu glacier in a sort of shepherds hut area) to reach the meadow (around 3500 m) and one atop the actual Patundas top (around 4200 m). Most people opt to camp down at the first camp as there is no reliable water source on Patundas. Plus the top section is super exposed; I got caught in a crazy rain and wind storm up there with some friends and we got hammered with fierce rain all night.

Barah Broq Trek

  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Time needed: 5 days
  • Estimated distance: 30+ km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

Probably the most underrated trek in Pakistan, the Barah Broq Trek is an achievable multi-day hike that gets you up above 5000 meters and also offers insane views of K2, Broad Peak, and the Gasherbrum range (if the weather is clear).

The trek starts from Barah Village – which is a small rural settlement 4-5 hours’ drive from Skardu on the Baltistan side.

I have done this trek in 4 nights / 5 days, making camp as I go at different altitudes – with the highest campsite being around 4800 meters (I recommend camping lower in case of strong winds). The trek culminates with a scramble to the top of Moses Peak (5300). It is from here that you can observe amazing 360 views of neighboring 7000 and 8000-meter peaks.

Very few people per year do this amazing hike – which means that the area is still incredibly clean and well-preserved.

If getting a 5000-meter peak notch in your belt and seeing K2 are high on your to-do list, then Barah Broq is certainly one of the best hikes in Pakistan by far.

Shimshal Pass / Pamir Mountains (Gilgit Baltistan)

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Time needed: 10-14 days
  • Estimated distance: 100+ km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: Yes

Another Pakistan hike in the extreme difficulty category is the route up and over Shimshal Pass.

Like Snow Lake, going out into the Shimshal Pamir area is to truly step out into one of the wildest and harshest landscapes one can visit outside of the polar regions.

The cool thing about doing the Shimshal Pass Trek is that there are many different route variations. You can actually start the Snow Lake Trek in Askole and finish in Shimshal via various passes if you wanted to do it that way. There are multiple different pass options to consider – with Lupke La probably being the sexiest target pass.

Unless you are very experienced and are carrying all of your own gear, I can’t see how you could do this trek without a guide.

Hiking in Pakistan: Epic Day Hikes

Not all of the hikes in Pakistan have to be long, multi-day affairs. There are some fantastic day hike opportunities here as well. From Punjab to KPK to Gilgit Baltistan, there is something for everyone on this list.

Nanga Parbat Base Camp Trek (Fairy Meadows side)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time needed: 6-8 hours
  • Estimated distance: 18 km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No (police escort sometimes required for foreingers)

Nanga Parbat is one of the most accessible 8000-meter peaks in the world, since you can walk to it in only a few hours from a major highway (KKH).

After the 90-minute harrowing jeep ride from Nanga Parbat, after a few hours, you reach Fairy Meadows, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Pakistan.

From Fairy Meadows, the hike to Nanga Parbat Base Camp takes roughly 3-4 hours depending on your fitness. I have brought my tent with me once and actually camped at the base camp (snow fell, it was awesome), but most people just do the journey as an out-and-back hike – which takes roughly 8 hours with breaks.

During the busy months, it is possible to buy chai and snacks along the way. The sort of halfway point to Nanga BC from Fairy Meadows is Baial Camp – where you can stop and have a homecooked meal from my friend Hussein at his guest house there. If you want to have a shorter hike to Nanga Parbat, you can opt to sleep at Baial Camp as there are a few guesthouses that have nice rooms.

It is also possible to visit Nanga Parbat Base Camp from both the Fairy Meadows side or the Rupal side – which is where all climbing expeditions start their climb from.

Bridge to Bridge Hike (Hunza)

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Estimated distance: 7 km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

Almost everyone looking at traveling to Pakistan has seen the iconic images of the Hussaini suspension bridge. You know, that rickety wooden bridge hanging above the Hunza river?

Well, you can turn the ordinary touristy visit to this bridge into a proper adventure by starting your hike from another, lesser-known bridge called the Passu Suspension Bridge.

After crossing the Passu Bridge, the hike takes you across a rocky plateau of sorts where directly behind you, insane views of the Passu Cones dominate the landscape. After passing through a small farming settlement, the trail spits you out on a rocky track above the Hunza River, finishing at the Hussaini suspension bridge. You don’t really need a guide for this one, but the route is difficult to find on your own, so if you have the chance to go with a local, all the better.

Kandol Lake in Kalam Valley (Swat)

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time needed: 8 hours
  • Estimated distance: 25 km (from the village)
  • Region: KPK/Kalam Valley
  • Permit Required: No

I found myself in Kalam Valley (at the far end of Swat Valley in KPK) towards the end of winter and decided to go for a long hike up to Kandol Lake. All the local people were telling me “not possible sir”, mostly because the jeep track leading up to the lake was covered in snow.

Well, that is what legs are for. It is true most people in the summer opt to take a jeep close to the top of this hill where the lake is, but there is no need to do that. Just hike!

The track to get there was through a beautiful forest and the lake itself was totally frozen over (this was in March), making for some really cool photos.

From Kalam, this is a proper all-day adventure, but one you can easily do on your own if you are fit. In the summer, expect the lake to be crowded with people – in the off-season months though, you should have it to yourself.

Marsur Rock (Skardu)

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Estimated distance: 5 km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

If you find yourself in Skardu and need to get your legs moving before you start your big adventure to K2 Base Camp, the best hike in Skardu is the journey to Marsur Rock. Often compared to the Trolltunga Rock in Norway, Marsur Rock is the perfect day hike adventure away from the dusty bazaar area in Skardu.

From the Skardu center bazaar, the drive to get to the starting point is about 45 minutes. From the road, there is a distinct dirt path heading up to the rock, roughly 800 meters above.

This hike is pretty short in distance but it is STEEP. Expect the round trip journey to be about 4 hours.

Pack plenty of water and be sure to pack plenty of suncream as well as there is literally no shade whatsoever on this trek.

Margalla Hills (Islamabad)

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time needed: 1-4 hours / variable
  • Estimated distance: 5-10 km
  • Region: Punjab
  • Permit Required: No

Whether you live in Islamabad or are just visiting, the Margalla Hills are a popular spot to find local hiking trails just outside the city center.

I have done 3 out of the 8 routes (the trails are all marked by numbers)n and have enjoyed the hike each time. Trail number five has been my favorite and allows me to get a good workout in when I am visiting the city.

Kind of by definition, the Margalla Hills trails are…hilly. So expect to gain some altitude over the course of your hike.

Baskochi Meadows /Attabad Lake View Point (Hunza)

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time needed: 3-4 hours
  • Estimated distance: 5 km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

I hate to say it but Attabad Lake has become an ugly tourist trap, at least right on the shorefront. But wait… you can escape the crowds and all of the hastily built tourist restaurants for the best views of the entire lake.

There is a newly built trail just off the Karakoram Highway that gets you straight away from the crowds and up into the mountains. The trek is steep (pretty much the same story in all of Pakistan), but the views are truly worth the effort. Total hike time will be about 3-4 hours round trip.

Attabad Lake, Gilgit Baltistan

Yazghil Glacier (Shimshal)

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time needed: 8 hours
  • Estimated distance: 20 km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

If you have made it all the way to Shimshal – congratulations. Shimshal is a hotbed for local Hunza culture as well as several outstanding treks.

One of the best reward-to-effort ratio hikes around Shimshal is the Yazghil Glacier hike. You won’t necessarily hike on the glacier (unless you want to), but the day trip to check out the views is worth it, especially given the fact that is close to the village.

Go with a local guide as this trek is quite long and if you get lost en route, you might have a hard time finding your way back.

Rakaposhi Base Camp (Gilgit Baltistan)

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time needed: 10 hours or 2 days broken up
  • Estimated distance: 13 km
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

Another one of the best hikes in Pakistan is Rakaposhi Base Camp. The trek starts from a village called Minapin in Gilgit Baltistan, not far from the popular Hunza region.

Rakaposhi is the 27th highest mountain in the world, reaching a max altitude of 7788 meters. This is another one of those Pakistan hikes that makes you scratch your head at just how close access to some of these big peaks are to a major highway.

Most people do NOT do the Rakaposhi Base Camp trek in one go, but if you are fit and up for a challenging day, it is entirely possible.

If you want to make a night of it, bring your camping gear and wake up to an epic sunrise at the base camp. Sounds like a good time to me.

credit: Samantha Shea

Naltar Lakes (Lower Hunza)

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time needed: 3-8 hours (depends on how far you go)
  • Estimated distance: 15 km max
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: No

A less visited, but equally impressive part of Gilgit Baltistan is the area around Naltar. To get here, there is a turn-off on the left side of the Karakoram Highway (if you are headed north) from which you can find daily jeeps to the upper reaches of Naltar.

If you have a motorbike, be warned that the road is pretty rough in some places and there are a few stream crossings to contend with.

Once you do reach Naltar however, there are some great hiking options. With iconic pine forests, babbling rivers, and superb mountain views, Naltar feels worlds away from the populous Gilgit City only a few hours away. The good part is you can kind of choose how far you want to go. There are a total of three lakes to visit, though I do recommend hitting all three in a day if you are fit.

As with many hikes on this list, it is possible to camp out at the lakes too if you are equipped. Otherwise affordable accommodation is easy enough to find around Naltar Village.

Best Pakistan Hiking: My Bucket List for 2023 (and beyond)

Though I have trekked thousands of kilometers all over Pakistan, there is an endless number of hiking options. I have a few trips I am dying to do for years and hopefully, with some luck, this is the year I make a few happen.

Chitta Katta Lake (Kashmir)

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time needed: 8-10 hours
  • Estimated distance: 19 km
  • Region: Azad Kashmir
  • Permit Required: Yes

The number one Pakistan hike on my list for years has got to be Chitta Katta Lake in Kashmir.

This high-altitude lake trek is only a two-day trek, but the main reason I have not gone yet is I am yet to obtain the NOC required to visit this restricted region.

Access to the lake is pretty much only possible from Shounter Valley in Kashmir, which is a restricted area being so close to the line of control (LOC) with Indian-occupied Kashmir.

In the summer, wildflowers explode across the landscape making the whole scene look like something you might think only exists in Switzerland or the Dolomites.

chitta kattha lake trek
Credit: Wikicommons

Deosai National Park Winter Traverse

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Time needed: 2 weeks minimum
  • Estimated distance: 150 km??
  • Region: Gilgit Baltistan
  • Permit Required: Yes

Famous for being the 2nd highest plateau in the world after the Tibetan Plateau, Deosai National Park boasts a wide variety of hiking opportunities.

In the summer, the plateau is covered by purple wildflowers, alpine lakes, and even the odd Himalayan brown bear or two. In the winter though, all is quiet on the Deosai front and the place turns into a barren, snow-covered high-altitude landscape.

I have been to Deosai many times but would like to cross the entire plateau in wintertime with a small team. I estimate the trip will take about 2 weeks all in. Something to work towards for sure!

snow lake trek
This is a photo from Snow Lake, but I imagine winter in Deosai to look something like this!

Best Hiking in Pakistan FAQ

Trekkers bound for K2 should be in good shape and capable of trekking over mixed terrain for long distances (maximum 8 hours). On average our trekking days are 5 hours per day. Though local porters and mules help carry the team supplies and your luggage, you will still need to be able to cover some distance at altitude.

Breakfast: Typically includes an omelet/fried eggs, fried Pakistani bread (paratha), pancakes, jam, nutella, honey, etc + green tea/French press coffee. 

Lunch: Every day, each member is issued a packed lunch. This keeps it easy while hiking as you can stop whenever you want to eat your lunch. A typical packed lunch includes a boiled egg + potato, a few chapatis (local flat bread), cheese, dried nuts/chocolate, and a few sweets. 

Dinner: The main event! We pride ourselves on hiring the same cooks every year because they know how to deliver our custom, top-notch food menu!

After our nightly soup course, dinner will be a mix of curry vegetables, rice, noodle dishes (like chow mein or pasta with red sauce, daal (lentils), meat (mutton or chicken), French fries, and, salad.

Dessert is something different every night, but for the first week of the trek, expect to have fresh mangoes and melon!

Note: Vegetarians/vegans/gluten/lactose-free can be accommodated as well if you let the company know in advance.

International hikers who wish to do the K2 Base Camp Trek trip MUST apply for a Pakistani Trekking and Mountaineering Visa. The trekking visa is different from the standard tourist visa, thus you will NOT be applying for a tourist visa. 

There is no way around this I am affraid. It is not possible as a foreigner to simpily turn up in Pakistan and start the K2 Trek without the proper visa and permits.

Despite what you hear on the mainstream news, Pakistan is one of the safest countries we have ever traveled to. Part of the ethos of Epic Backpacker Tours is to smash negative stereotypes associated with these countries by showing you a side of Pakistan that the media never does.

I (and my tour company) have an excellent safety record traveling in Pakistan and the treks on this list will take you to the most peaceful and safest parts of the country: the Northern Areas and the Hunza Valley.

Of course, there are inherent dangers that come with hiking in any mountains. Use common sense and never hike along; those two things will get you pretty far!

Wrap Up: Best Hikes in Pakistan for 2023

From the far reaches of Gilgit Baltistan to the edge of the Hindu Kush range in KPK – one thing is sure: the best hiking in Pakistan ranks right up there with some of the other great hiking destinations in the world – minus the mass tourism.

The deeper you dig in Pakistan, the more rewarding experiences come of it and this could not be more true when it comes to trekking in Pakistan.

I hope you found this Epic list of the best hikes in Pakistan useful and remember if you want to tackle one of the larger expedition-style treks like K2 Base Camp or Snow Lake – you can join me as I lead tours to these places every year. Check out Epic Backpacker Tours for current departure dates and more details.

Happy hiking guys!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *