Hunza Valley is an exotic and beautiful Valley in Pakistan. Every year thousands of people head to Hunza Valley and spend quality time in the valley. If you are looking to escape busy life of big cities then Hunza Valley is the best candidate. Valley is very clean, people are friendly and well educated. Views are amazing and I bet you will have a very good time. If you are planning a tour to Hunza Valley then you will have so many questions in mind like how to reach Hunza? what route to take? Is it safe to travel on road? and What is the security situation? and so on. In this article, I will give a complete travel guide and try to answer almost all of your questions. So far I have not come across any article which gives you a complete overview of the road to the Hunza valley and what route to take and where to stay while traveling to Hunza Valley.
There are two routes that will take you to the Hunza Valley i.e. Naran Kaghan route & KKH (Karakorum Highway). Both of these routes have their own pros and cons. From Naran Kaghan and passing through Babusar Top will give you good road conditions and less travel time but its open for a limited time in a year. Meanwhile, KKH is open all round year and there are few patches that are very harsh and give a hard time to your vehicle.
There is an airport in Gilgit so you can also take a flight directly to the Gilgit. It only takes 45 minutes to fly to Gilgit and from there you can hire a car or jeep and do your tour. Its quick and easy to fly to Gilgit but you miss all that good time you spend with friends and family while traveling to Hunza Valley. You will pass through mighty mountains, lush and green valleys, and dry mountains. There is so much to see and experience if you go to Hunza Valley by road.
Routes to Hunza Valley From Islamabad
As you can see in above picture there are two routes available to reach Hunza Valley.
- Via Nara Kaghan & passing through Babusar Top
- Via Karakoram Highway
Islamabad To Hunza Valley Via Karakoram Highway
Islamabad to Hunza Valley via Karakoram highway is longer route as compared to via Naran Kaghan. Road quality is overall good but there are few patches which are very rugged and hard for your car suspension. This route takes from 19 to 22 hours of driving. Distance from Islamabad to Hunza Valley / Gilgit is around 650KM via KKH route.
Start your trip early morning from Islamabad like 3 to 4 AM sharp to avoid the traffic jam at Mansehra and Abbottabad. Star traveling to Haripur from Islamabad and then to Abbottabad and Mansehra. Road condition is very good but there is heavy traffic due to tourists going to Naran Kaghan. It will take around 3 hours to reach to Mansehra from Islamabad. Take a short break in Mansehra and have your breakfast.
From Mansehra, you should head to Battagram. The road is pretty busy and expects heavy traffic. It would take around 3 hours to reach Battagram from Mansehra. From Battagram continue traveling towards Besham and Dasu. From Dasu road is in pretty bad shape so it would take several hours to cross this 40 t0 50 KM of the patch. In the rainy season of April/March this road is very hard to pass so please do not forget to call Dasu police line and ask about the road condition. Their contact No. is 0998407021 and they are very helpful.
If you are not comfortable with the long drive then you are advised to either spend a night in Naran or Besham.
Continue your travel and you will be in Gilgit in no time. From Raikot newly built road starts and from there on your journey will become super easy.
Avoid staying in Chilas, In fact, try not to stay in Chilas for anything. People in Chilas are not very friendly to people coming from other areas of Pakistan. If you are foreigner then also try not to make any stay either short or long. Chilas has been in the headlines for the killing of foreigner mountaineers of Nanga Parbat. Incidents of killing specific sect of Islam has also happened especially Shia.
Though the security situation has been under controlled and no such incident has ever happened since. The government has also done so much to control these people. But anything can happen, so avoid it to be on the safe side.
Spend the night in Naran or Besham. And also try not to travel through Chilas at night and or early morning.
Road condition is overall good but there are few patches which are horrible to drive. From Dasu till Chillas road is in bad shape and only this patch will take a few hours to pass. The road will be in good shape after crossing Chillas.
Benefits of Traveling on KKH to Hunza Valley?
Karakoram highway is not in the best shape as compared to the Babusar top route. But this route is opened all around the year even in the rainy season. In the rainy season, there might be landing sliding resulting in road blockage. The highway department is pretty quick to clear everything.
Islamabad to Hunza Valley via Naran Kaghan / Babusar Top Route
This is the second route that leads you to the Hunza Valley. After taking breakfast from Mansehra head towards Balakot. The scenic road starts when you leave Mansehra and enter Balakot. Continue traveling to Naran and take short breaks if you want. Do not make a stop in Naran Bazar because there is nothing much to see and also it’s very crowded. Continue traveling towards the Babusar top.
It would take no more than 7 hours to reach Babusar Top from Islamabad. You should reach Babusar Top at 11 AM or so. Weather at the Babusar top is very cold because it’s 13700 feet high from the sea level. Breeze is chilling and there is plenty of food available. Spend 30 minutes at the Babusar Top and then start traveling towards Chilas. Do not stop at Chilas and continue traveling towards Gilgit. After Raikot Bridge newly built CPEC route starts and a world-class motorway will welcome you. It would take around 6-7 hours to reach Gilgit from the Babusar Top.
Safety Precautions While Going to Gilgit Via Babusar Top Route?
The Babusar Top is a shortcut with the better road but still, you need to keep the certain thing in mind. Always have a car checkup in Naran market. Clutch plate, Engine & Brakes should be in perfect condition.
Do not travel in the evening or early morning in the mountain region. Always have an extra gallon of fuel in the car.
Make sure you have an extra tire with you. Keep car air pump with you. It will come very handy if the tire is punctured or something. Tire repair shops are rare on these routes so always keep these points in mind.
Going to Hunza Valley from Islamabad by road is a lifetime experience. You will get a chance to see amazing and untouched beautiful valleys, Mountain ranges and lush green meadows. Though traveling through Air is cheap but by road, you will enjoy more.
Both of the routes are good and have their own pros and cons. Naran Kaghan route is opened from May and closed on the start of Nov. This is also the peak season to visit Hunza Valley. Meanwhile, if you are an adventurous traveler and do not like the crowded places then you will need to travel via KKH because in offseason Babusar Top will most probably be closed.
Note: Always confirm the road conditions from the relevant authorities, Calling local PTDC motel will give you the latest condition of road and traffic.
Below we have given you a list of PTDC motels and their contact Numbers. Before planning a tour kindly do call them and ask about the local road conditions. Don’t be lazy and ask because it might save you a lot of time. Getting stuck on the road due to land sliding is very hard especially with family. Good luck.
If you have any question do not hesitate to ask in the comments.
PTDC Motel List With Telephone Numbers
- PTDC Balakot ( Phone 0997500208 )
- PTDC Besham ( Phone 0996400301 )
- PTDC Gilgit ( Phone 05811 454262/452562 )
- PTDC Hunza Valley ( 05823457069 )
- PTDC Naran ( 0997430002 )
- PTDC Sost ( 05813440030 )