If you are yearning for a place where you can escape the chaotic world and self-ruminate, then a place like the Hunza Valley is definitely what you would be looking for. Dubbed as the ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’, Hunza Valley is a surreal mountainous region nestled in the far extreme north of Pakistan more precisely in Gilgit-Baltistan region. It is sandwiched between Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan and Xinjiang region of China.
Though many of us have heard about the magical blossoms of Japan, if you come to Hunza Valley during the spring and autumn seasons, then be ready to feast your eyes with the kaleidoscopic view of this untouched paradise, where you’ll get to see the magnificent apricot, apple, peach, and almond blossoms. More impressive are the staggering views of K2, Himalayas, Hindu-Kush, and Karakoram mountains. But also there are turquoise rivers, lakes, and frayed bridges reflecting the rustic and unblemished side of Hunza.
This authentic image is also portrayed through the warm hospitality of the locals. The Hunza people are particularly beautiful, literate, and very friendly. Far from what you would normally read in the mainstream media, this side of Pakistan is pretty safe and untouched.
Whether you are looking for a place to cut-off and digital detox, or simply wish to enjoy the outdoor adventures and experience the local culture, then consider visiting Hunza Valley.
Below check out some top attractions to visit in Hunza Valley:
Places of interest – Hunza Valley, Pakistan
The sheer architectural beauty of the majestic Baltit Fort contrasts perfectly with its parched landscape. Nestled at a high elevation close to Karimabad town, the 700-year-old royal fort has a Ladakhi-Tibetan architectural style and bears similar structure as the Potala Palace in Lhasa. This majestic fort has been passed through different royal families, from the Hunza-Nagar rulers to the Mir of Hunza. Not until 1945 Baltit Fort was abandoned and slowly turned into a ruin, but thanks to the tremendous effort of the Aga Khan Trust which helped in restoring this ancient masterpiece. The fort has been under the World Heritage Tentative list since 2004. If you wish to get deep into its history then take a 45-minute guided tour to learn about its historical evolution and tradition.
Ticket: 2 USD
The towering Altit Fort harks back to 1100 years where its first rulers were titled as Mir. Though the fort was originally built to protect the village from any intrusive invasion, it was equally served as the seating power of the Mir of Hunza. It is believed that craftsmen from Baltistan were brought to build the fort. In 2011 the historical fort received the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Today the fort has a particular rustic outlook that blends harmoniously with its surrounding environment. What makes it more enticing is the rushing water of the Hunza river at its foot and the majestic mountains in the backdrop. This is definitely a place where usually part of you wants to stay put.
Ticket: 2 USD
Though Hunza is not short in spectacular topography and nature attractions, there are few places like Borith Lake which has not only attracted nature lovers but also wildlife due to its undisturbed nature. The lake is a blissful sanctuary of peace where both animals and men can make the most out of its surrounding. The dramatic mountain backdrop and the beautiful lake are picturesque images that won’t ever get off your mind. The lake is located in the Borith hamlet just about 2km from the north of Ghulkin village. It can be accessed either from a vehicle or from a 2- 3-hour trekking route. If you happen to be an avid birdwatcher then visit this place between March and June, where you’ll get the chance to witness gorgeous ducks from southern Pakistan migrating here
What was considered a natural disaster back in 2010 today has turned into a boon for the Hunza region. The Attabad lake has been formed due to a deadly landslide pushing locals to move and settle elsewhere. Today the lake has become one of the key features of Hunza Valley. Its distinct turquoise color contrasting perfectly with the dark mountainous surrounding makes it very alluring to the eyes. The place has become a very popular attraction and there is an array of water activities such as boating, jet-skiing, and fishing happening over here. It can take up to 50 minutes to enjoy a leisurely boat-it’s one of the best ways to bask in the breath-taking view. Visitors will likely find several decadent guesthouses and campsites to bed down.
Boat ride: 12 USD (50 Minutes)
One of the fascinating archaeological sites in Hunza Valley is the Haldeikish dating back to the 1st Millennium AD. It is located next to Karakoram Highway and can be visited if you’re on the way to Ganish village or Attabad Lake. The site abounds with gigantic rock formations reaching up to 300 feet high. The rocks depict several intriguing petroglyphs dating from prehistoric times to the Buddist era. The ancient petroglyphs consist of many forms of Ibexes and several inscriptions including Tibetan, Bactrian, Sogdian, Brahmi, and many others. Some of the parts of the attraction were used as Buddhist shelter caves.
Where to eat – Hunza Valley, Pakistan
Kha Basi Cafe
If you’re touring the Altit Fort then swing by the Kha Basi Cafe for a cup of coffee or tea while feasting your eyes on the magnificent view of lush valleys and the royal garden. Once used as a summerhouse of the royal family in Hunza, the charming cafe is located close to the Altit Fort. It is currently run by a group of women who put all their passion into bringing the best of the local Hunza cuisine to visitors. Try the chap churro which is a flatbread filled with delicious meat or the brustz shapik which is again a flatbread but filled with local cheese and seasoned with apricot oil and herbs.
Cafe de Hunza
Overlooking the gorgeous Rakaposhi peak, the Cafe de Hunza is a place for coffee and pastries lovers. Its interior is very cozy and rustic-chic, plus the aroma in the air will make you want to taste its signature pastry walnut cake which has a caramel walnut filling. You can easily find Espresso, Nespresso, and tea (herbal green tea, and Kashmiri tea) as well. For your convenience find the on-site souvenir and bookshop where you can choose several books and maps.
Website: Cafe de Hunza
Glacier Breeze Restaurant
At Glacier Breeze Restaurant you can combine a yummy apricot cake with tea and the phantasmic view of the Passu Glacier and Cathedral Ridge. This place is warm, cozy, and has an interesting menu for weary visitors who have to climb many steps till they reach the restaurant. But it’s worth the effort, especially if you’re after tasting their famous apricot cake.
Website: Glacier Breeze Restaurant
How to get to Hunza Valley?
Whichever options you are going to choose, going to Hunza Valley is already an adventure in itself. Basically there are two options to reach Hunza Valley:
- From Islamabad (capital of Pakistan) take a flight to Gilgit airport and make a 2-3 hour drive to Hunza Valley
- From Islamabad take a 24-hour bus tour to get to Hunza Valley (on the way enjoy the beautiful view of places such as Karakoram, Skardu, and Kaghan valley)