Haramosh Valley & Kutwal Lake Trek Guide

30th June 2019

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Haramosh Valley & Kutwal Lake Trek Guide
Haramosh Valley, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan

The magnificent Haramosh Valley offers some of the most picturesque views in the Gilgit Baltistan region of Pakistan. Hikers pass through diverse terrains with ever-changing views in a relatively short hike. The popular destination for this hike is the Kutwal Lake, but there is more to be seen beyond it.

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Hike Overview

Note: Preserving nature for future generations is the responsibility of every tourist / hiker. Please DO NOT LITTER, DO NOT DRAW GRAFFITI, DO NOT CUT TREES.

Trip Overview & Itinerary

Day Time Journey Duration
Day 0 / Day 1 10:00pm to 03:00pm (+1)
Islamabad to Sassi (via Babusar)
17 hours
10:00pm to 08:00pm (+1)
Islamabad to Sassi (via KKH)
22 hours
Day 2 08:00am to 09:15am
Sassi to Dasu
75 mins
10:00am to 04:00pm
Dasu to Kutwal Village
6 hours
Day 3 07:00am to 09:00am
Kutwal Village to Kutwal Lake
2 hours
09:30am to 12:00pm
Kutwal Lake to Base Camp
2.5 hours
12:30pm to 04:00pm
Base Camp to Kutwal Village
3.5 hours
Day 4 07:00am to 11:00pm
Kutwal Village to Dasu
4 hours
11:30pm to 12:30pm
Dasu to Sassi
75 mins
02:00pm to 07:00pm
Sassi to Chilas
5 hours
Day 5 08:00am to 08:00pm
Chilas to Islamabad (via Babusar)
12 hours
06:00am to 11:00pm
Chilas to Islamabad (via KKH)
17 hours

How to Reach Haramosh Valley?

By Car

The Haramosh Valley is accessed through the town of Sassi which is located on the Gilgit-Skardu road. Haramosh Valley's distance from Islamabad is 492 km on the Babusar route and 583 km on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) route.

Set-off from Islamabad on the Peshawer Motorway (M-1). Turn onto Hazara Motorway (M-15) from the Hazara Interchange and head towards Mansehra. From Mansehra, there are possibly two options depending upon the situation at Babusar pass.

In the hike season (June to September) the Babusar pass, which is high altitude mountain pass connecting the Kaghan Valley with Gilgit-Baltistan, is open for traffic. For the rest of the year, the pass is buried in snow as high as 12 ft and is henceforth closed for traffic.

When the Babusar pass is open it offers a shorter route to Gilgit-Baltistan and is undoubtedly the preferred choice. In this case you should turn towards Naran from Mansehra. The pass is located 186 km from Mansehra and takes about 6 hours to reach. The entire route is surrounded by green mountians and the temperature is cool. The pass itself offers beauitful views of the valleys beneath. On the other side of the pass the road will join the Karakoram Highway (KKH) near the town of Chilas.

If, however, the Babusar pass is closed then your only other option is to turn towards Besham from Mansehra and join the Karakoram Highway (KKH). This route has a very poor road condition and its considerably longer, about 5 hours more, but it is open throughout the year. The weather on the KKH is hot and the surrounding mountains are barren.

The section of KKH from Chilas to Raikot is a 90 min stretch of rough surface running parallel to the lndus river on the left. At the Raikot bridge you will move to the left of the lndus river and from there onwards the road conditon drastically improves. Suddenly you can drive at speeds of upto 100 km/h with ease.

A little while later you will come to a point from where the enormous Nanga Parbat (8,166 m) is visible to your right.

Further up the road you will reach Skardu morr from where you must turn right towards Skardu. You will once again cross to the other side of the river and drive for a further 2 hours to Sassi on a rough road.

Sassi is the first town on this road. Here you will check into your hotel for the night.

By Public Transport

Faizabad and Pir Wadhai Morr are the main bus stations in Islamabad / Rawalpindi. From here you should get a bus for Skardu which passes by Sassi. You then disembark at Sassi after about 20 -22 hours on the road.

By Air

Nearest airport to Haramosh Valley is the Gilgit airport which only operates domestic flights. Gilgit to Haramosh Valley's distance is about 66 km which is convenient. Upon landing at Gilgit airport, take a taxi or a ride-hailing app such as Careem or Uber to the local bus station. From there, get a bus for Skardu which passes by Sassi. Disembark at Sassi after about 4-5 hours on the road.

Jeep Track to Haramosh Valley

Jeep Track to Dasu, Haramosh Valley
Jeep Ride to Dasu, Haramosh Valley

From Sassi you will board a jeep and head to the trail head. Although jeep rides in the Pakistani mountains are rarely enjoyable, this one is an exception.

The Haramosh Valley jeep track will initially start off as a treacherous path, but it will soon turn into a pleasant ride through beautiful mountain villages. These villages have abundant blueberry and apricot trees and if you are in an open-top jeep, you will be able to pick fresh blueberries and apricots straight from the trees without even stopping.

The jeep journey takes about 75 mins after which you reach the trail head at Dasu.

Hike to Kutwal Village

After disembarking from the jeeps, you will carry on forward on the same path. The wide jeep track gradually becomes narrow into a pedestrain trail. On your right there is a small water stream flowing to the villages below.

Verly early on the trail you will come across a waterfall on the right. Soon after there is a section which is prone to rock sliding. This short section of approximately 50 m must be crossed vigilantly.

Trek to Haramosh Valley
Start of Trail

The trail first leads to Iskere village where locals can be seen going about there daily chores. You will also come across many fruit bearing trees here.

You may have to cross a couple of snow / ice patches along the trail. These must be crossed with great care, because a slip here can be very costly.

Snow Patch on the Trek to Kutwal Lake
Snow / Ice Patches on the Trail

Keep following the trail across the regularly changing sceneries. At one point, you even have to cross over across a water stream using a wooden plank that serves as a bridge. Crossing the raging water using this plank is an experience in of itself.

Camping

After hiking for about 5 to 6 hours, the trail becomes flat and you reach a series of beautiful open meadows. After about another hour or so, you reach the campsite which is located next to the very small Kutwal village. This is where you will camp for the night. You must bring all camping gear with yourself as there are no facilities available at the campsite. Ice cold water is available from a small water stream running along one side of the campsite.

The campsite offers great views of several surrounding snowcapped peaks such as the Haramosh Peak, Bilchar Dobani and Laila Peak.

Haramosh Valley weather, as with any other high altitude destination, can change rapidly at night. The temperature can drop quite a fair bit hence it is recommended to use a good quality sleeping bag with a temperature range of at most O°C.

Available Facilities at Campsite

Facilities Availability
Tents
Water
Food
Toilet
Phone Signals
Kutwal Campsite
Campsite

Hike to Kutwal Lake

The following morning you will continue the trek towards Kutwal Lake which is located a further 2 hours away.

The hike from the campsite to the lake is the climax of the entire trip. The surroundings views change after about every 20 mins. The most jawdropping section is one where you trek through a vast open green meadow bordered by the dark grey of the incredibly close mountains.

A little while later you are surrounded by short trees which constantly emanate little particles floating off into the air, creating an almost magical environment.

Beauty of Haramosh Valley
Tree patch

After passing the trees you gain some elevation. Here, if you turn around and look the way you came, you will see the meadows and the tree patch and the magnificent Bilchar Dobani (6,143 m) in the backdrop. The enormity of the mountain makes this scene indescribably mesmerising.

Bilchar Dobani (6,133m) seen from Haramosh Valley
Bilchar Dobani (6,133m)

The final approach to the lake consists of a gradual climb. The lake comes into view down below a steep slope. The lake does not have any inflow or outflow, and hence seems to be the result of precipitation alone. Kutwal Lake's height is 3,310 m.

Kutwal Lake
Kutwal Lake

For anyone wondering about how to reach Kutwal Lake, you basically have to trek through scenes so amazing that the lake itself might not seem as appealing in the end. You can hike further beyond the lake towards the base of the mountains where there is an enormous glacier.

Haramosh Glacier
Glacier near Base Camp

Equipment

Having the right equipment and gear is essential for an enjoyable hiking experience. Check out the list of recommended hiking gear.

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