Karakoram Motorbike Tour | Motorbike Paradise


Warren

Driving northern Pakistan

Probably the most superb journey I’ve performed on the planet surroundings clever has been my Himalayan tour of Northern India. That area borders with Pakistan and China. I got here throughout a journey report on ADV Boards about driving northern Pakistan and it appeared much more unimaginable.

I made enquiries for a motorbike rental in Islamabad and had route and chosen lodges nonetheless unrest in Pakistan elevated with the arrest of former Prime Minister. I paused and took a step again to rethink my plans.

I choose to journey independently. I just like the sense of feat that brings and driving my very own tempo, my very own stops not what a gaggle does. However I must journey north from Islamabad via a purple zone for Australians the place consular assist might not be accessible if I obtained into hassle and the place my journey insurance coverage is probably going void. I’m not as younger as I as soon as was and really I’m nonetheless recovering from most cancers. I made a decision to hitch a tour.

I discovered a Aussie firm that does bike excursions in Pakistan, Karakoram Bikers. Paying in my very own foreign money as an alternative of Euros or US {dollars} made this extra inexpensive than most bike excursions (that are loopy costly). Moreover I secured a spot earlier than their costs elevated.

After my Georgia bike journey I flew to Abu Dhabi with Air Arabia. Tbilisi airport was a surprisingly good expertise, new and working at possibly 25% of it’s capability. I overnighted at an airport resort then flew to Islamabad on Pakistan Worldwide Airways (PIA) – which was attention-grabbing…

There was no PIA flight exhibiting on the screens, no PIA counter. I ultimately discovered the flight is leaving from the cargo terminal and I would want to get a taxi there.

The place Sam Chui checks in and the place I want I used to be ha-ha

Chaos at examine in and at boarding a really previous airplane, however the flight was wonderful when it will definitely departed.

Arriving Islamabad I used to be completely happy to be met by somebody from the tour and transferred to a resort trouble free as there was no foreign money exchanges or ATM.

I’ve a relaxation day and hang around on the mall folks watching. I’m struck by how pleasant the individuals are right here. I’m invited to hitch and eat with others and am requested about my journey and naturally about Australia’s probabilities within the cricket world cup. My bank card doesn’t work within the ATM’s right here however is okay at POS terminals. My Debit card works to provide me some money, mainly the tour is all inclusive so I mustn’t want a lot money.

I meet a number of of the opposite riders tonight and had a unbelievable dinner out.

Subsequent day I fly to Skardu. I managed to get a window seat. It is without doubt one of the most scenic flights on the planet. Please benefit from the footage from the superb Sam Chui channel of this flight.

On the best way to Skardu the captain gave a superb commentary of the mountain peaks and surroundings we have been flying via. I’m not a fan of air journey however this was a really pleasant flight.

I flew the alternative plane to Sam – outbound on the airbus and return on the Turboprop. The touchdown was spectacular.

Stepping out from the airplane you are feeling like you’re in one other world, as Sam says “it’s unreal right here”. My images don’t specific the dimensions of the panorama.

Small shakedown journey then first full group dinner. 5 different guys, all very nicely travelled. Consuming whisky somebody smuggled right here haha.

Right here we’re with our information on our approach to Shigar. The climate is combined however the surroundings is superb.

We go to an previous fort and had a wonderful buffet lunch there then made our approach to our lodging which was bit disappointing.

Subsequent day climate is low clouds, chilly single digit temps and passing showers. We go to a waterfall however the rain units in as we arrive.

Happily after lunch we journey away from the rain after which within the afternoon into blue skies as we make our means east to Khaplu.

The bikes supplied are Suzuki GS 150cc fashions. I like small capability bikes higher than large ADV bikes nonetheless the Suzuki’s are usually not the most effective on tough roads. Restricted suspension journey and skinny seat left me in some discomfort by days finish. The reverse sample shift additionally took some getting used to.

Our resort tonight is once more ‘shite’ to cite one of many Dutch riders. No scorching water after a chilly day has some riders in a foul temper. I’m comfortable with washing out of a bucket however I hope this isn’t going to be the norm for this tour. We paid sufficient cash to be supplied good lodges.

It is vitally chilly at night time with no heating so I discover myself hiding below the blankets watching some previous films on my laptop computer and going to sleep early which I assume isn’t a foul factor as a number of power is required driving these roads on the GS 150’s.

We visited one other previous fort the following morning. If I used to be driving solo I’d not trouble with these form of locations so it’s an attention-grabbing change of tempo for me.

Later at the moment some very tough roads as we journey to a distant valley. Surroundings is excellent. To the best past that mountain is India.

Just a few roadworks, our information Ali (above) rides excessive – so I observe go well with.

Right here on this lovely valley we’re near borders with China to the left and India to the best.

One of many issues that has delighted me as a lot because the surroundings is the reactions of the youngsters right here seeing us vacationers. Driving although this valley passing faculties on lunch break the youngsters go loopy seeing us and all run out into the road and attempt to excessive 5. I’ve not skilled something near this since driving Flores Indonesia. (We’re instantly recognized as foreigners by our helmets which locals don’t put on).

It’s an overused expression – however the surroundings right here actually stops you in your tracks. After all it’s a lot grander once more in actual life than this picture.

Higher than mountains are solely mountains…

Pakistan has unimaginable mountains. My view tonight beneath.

Two of the blokes say the hell with the present resort and moved to one thing higher for the 2nd night time in Khaplu. I’m upgraded to the suite which is the cabin within the foreground above. My tub is once more a bucket however the view is price it.

Subsequent day we journey west again in the direction of Skardu.

Thanks Skardu, you will have exceeded my expectations by a large margin.

Simply previous Skardu is a resort known as Shangrila. It’s moderately good and I used to be hopeful we have been staying at one of many lodges there purchase alas we journey excessive into the hills up a street that resembles a stone river mattress. It’s no enjoyable on these bikes and I’m barely disillusioned we’re in staying in distant lodging missing heating.

Good surroundings on the journey out subsequent morning.

Right this moment we journey to Gilgit and I used to be not anticipating the street to be a lot having learn beforehand it was in poor situation nonetheless I used to be delighted to seek out myself driving on new hotmix via this lengthy deep gorge with heaps of curves.

Skardu to Gilgit is a spectacular street.

Slowly the canyon partitions scale back just a little, nonetheless a lot greater than the picture suggests.

Solely as you arrive Gilgit do the mountains half just a little. Tonight’s resort is respectable and has a number of scorching water – hurrah.

From Gilgit we meet with 4 riders on one other tour by similar firm and can journey collectively for a number of days.

The subsequent day is a brief journey to Karimbad. We cease on the viewpoint for the 7788m Rakaposhi mountain however at the moment it’s shrouded in clouds.

Tonight’s resort is kind of good and I let the steamy scorching water circulate! haha.

The next day is evident and that is the excellent view I’m supplied on my stroll to breakfast. I believe that’s Rakaposhi within the distance. Images don’t come near expressing the dimensions of those mountains which soar far greater than any I’ve seen earlier than.

Right this moment we do a brief however scenic journey to the Hoper valley glacier.

Pakistan has over 7000 glaciers. Greater than wherever else exterior the polar areas.

I’m feeling just a little bit off so don’t hike right down to the ice however as an alternative take a relaxation on the day beds supplied by the restaurant we are going to eat at.

Practically got here off on the best way down, half bald street tyres, sand, stray goats and an oncoming automobile on one lane street can try this. However I stayed calm and carried on.

Each nook reveals and new grand vista.

Nothing I’ve seen in my travels comes near the mountain surroundings in Pakistan. Even with todays combined climate it’s off the dimensions.

View from Eagles Nest lookout.

The subsequent day we transfer just a little additional north to Passu for our try and journey to the China border within the coming days.

The climate is sadly fairly cloudy and chilly.

This lake was shaped by a earthquake and landslide. You used to must put bike on a ship to proceed however China has constructed a brand new street with many tunnels.

One of many iconic images I had seen of northern Pakistan was the Hussaini suspension bridge.

It’s a disgrace however at the moment the view of the Passu Cones is shrouded and the sunshine very poor for pictures.

One of many riders was eager to have a Yak burger and at the moment we stopped at a restaurant serving them. I wasn’t actually fussed with it however good to attempt new issues.

No energy, no scorching water, no web however an superior view at tonight’s resort. With repairs to the generator issues enhance. Native information decides we are going to try the border tomorrow morning.

Subsequent morning I’m not actually ready for such chilly temperatures. I selected this time of 12 months to attempt see the leaves altering color right here, snow on the peaks and hopefully clear skies however the climate averages I learn have been deceptive me to assume it might be low teenagers to excessive single digit temps at worse. It’s 0 levels and -6 with snow on the 4700m Khunjerab go.

I’ve two fleece tops on plus my thermal liner and rain liner fitted. My gloves I introduced with me are heat however not my thick winter pair which have been misplaced in transport from Japan together with so many different objects I’m but to switch.

We linger over scorching chai on the final city with companies and it warms just a little. Possibly. Moreover my palms I really feel okay.

There are a selection of checkpoints and permission is required to proceed the ultimate 40km to the border.

The climb is excellent. 4718 metres. You must simply be capable of make out the street zig zagging again down the valley within the above picture. The previous couple of km have been a bit bushy with snow on the street.

You possibly can stroll past the Pakistan border management into what might be no mans land in the direction of the China border.

That is as shut as you’re allowed. There may be razor wire so far as the attention can see and I counted ten safety cameras.

I felt fairly breathless after the stroll at this altitude and the glare off the snow was blinding but in addition I’m elated as visiting here’s a massive merchandise ticked off my record.

The Suzuki GS doesn’t have many horsepower to start and the altitude diminished that going up. The journey again down was twice as quick.

Lengthy however profitable day. Alas after I obtained again I rapidly discovered myself unwell with the signs of influenza.

Subsequent day was an area journey however I needed to skip it and spend the day in mattress. I solely surfaced briefly for warm soup and this view of the Passu cones.

Alas my situation was poor the next day so for the journey again to Gilgit I selected to journey within the help car and let the mechanic journey my bike.

The jaw dropping surroundings of the Karakoram freeway as we depart Passu.

Driving again to Gilgit I needed to shut my eyes and relaxation however how are you going to with all this!

I obtained extra drugs as soon as again in an even bigger city and rested for tomorrows flight to Islamabad.

Happily the climate is ideal. If not clear this airplane from Islamabad can’t land. Then we’d have been on a mini bus for 2 days to get again.

Again in Islamabad I am going instantly to a big pharmacy and get chilly and flu medicine I’m extra acquainted with and proceed to relaxation whereas the blokes are off sightseeing. Little bit of dangerous luck I’ve missed some issues however the timing would have been worse earlier within the journey. I usually carry a wide variety of medicine however had not seen my medi equipment was depleted previous to leaving on this tour. Rookie mistake.

A query I used to be requested on this tour was Pakistan Vs India Himalayan area – which is greatest?

Each are terrific. In India you journey very excessive altitudes over passes 5500m excessive and are driving on excessive plains 3000m so the mountains are usually not visibly as tall. In Pakistan you’re decrease, in valleys, and the mountains soar as much as 6000m round you. That’s the most important distinction.

I believe you need to journey each but when it’s important to select one then take a look at each of my journey studies and be at liberty to message me about something relating to both of those rides. Positively it’s essential to journey this a part of the world, it’s spectacular.

I’m posting this on my means residence. Web was not dependable in northern Pakistan to put up a mid journey report so it’s a bit picture heavy now. Most photographs might be clicked on to view greater decision in case you are on a PC which is able to specific the dimensions of the panorama higher than tiny photographs on a cellphone.