Karimabad is heaven on earth, this Hunza Valley capital stood at 2,435 meters above sea level and is one of the best places to relax after all the hiking you have done in Fairy Meadows and Rakaposhi. With its relaxed atmosphere, amazing cafes and beautiful places to explore, all surrounded by beautiful countryside, you’re sure to have a great time in Karimabad.
Baltit served as the capital of the Hunza Valley for more than 750 years, until the middle of the 20th century. After Pakistan became an independent country in 1947, Mir controlled Hunza province voluntarily joined Pakistan.
Earlier, the capital was moved from the area around Balit down to the lower part of the hills where new buildings were built to become the new capital Karimabad. The new town developed into a tourist destination, following the development of the Karakoram Highway, with a number of shopping complexes dealing in handicrafts, hotels, restaurants and travel agencies.
Things to do in Karimabad
To reach the fort, you will have to climb a steep road through a local village for 15 minutes before reaching the fort from where you can have an unobstructed view of Karimabad and the valley beyond. On a clear day, you can see Rakaposhi and Diran peaks from the fort.
The local villages around the fort are also worth exploring, so be sure to take some time to walk around the village.
2. Visit Altit Fort and Village
At the bottom of the valley there is another fort, although without much maintenance, which is also worth a visit. You can simply follow the Sultan Abad road across the river and down the Ahmedabad road before reaching the Altit fort. There’s not much to see inside as renovations are still underway, but the exterior is pretty interesting in its own right.
3. Excursion to Ultar base camp
If you can’t get enough of hiking in Pakistan, there is a day hike you can do here in Karimabad. The trail starts near Baltit Fort and takes you all the way to Ultar Base Camp, where you can see the glacier and peaks of Ultar up close. The hike takes you along an irrigation canal as the trail climbs steeply up a narrow gorge.
It should take you about 4-5 hours to reach the ridge where you will be rewarded with views of the massive Ultar Glacier and the beautiful jagged peaks of Ultar. There is a hut at the base camp where tea and food are served during the summer months. You can also camp here if you have camping equipment or return in one day to Karimabad.
4. Visit Ganish Village
Ganish village is the first settlement in the Hunza valley dating back thousands of years. The people came from different areas and as the settlement grew, they expanded out and into different areas around the Hunza Valley. There are several old mosques, one of which is 400 years old, and a Shikari watchtower that you can explore. If you’re a history buff like me, visiting Ganish Village is a breeze.
5. Take a break at Cafe De Hunza
Last but not least, take a break at Cafe de Hunza for a nice cup of joe with their famous walnut cakes. They serve western style coffee and cakes, so if you are into really good coffee, especially if you have been traveling in Pakistan for a while, come to Cafe de Hunza and indulge in their selection of coffee and cakes.
Best Time to visit Karimabad, Hunza Valley
Internet is unreliable in Hunza Valley even if you have a local sim card. You get unreliable EDGE internet speed that often doesn’t work. There are also frequent power outages in this area, so even if your accommodation has WIFI, it may not always work. If you haven’t bought a local sim card from Islamabad or Lahore at this time, you are pretty much out of luck as there is no service center to register your sim card.
How to reach Karimabad
Once you reach Gilgit, you can take a van directly to Karimabad from the bus stand on the outskirts of the city. This should take about 3-4 hours depending on how long they drive and recruit more people.
How to reach Karimabad, Hunza Valley
Karimabad is easily accessible on foot. The town is a bit hilly but most attractions are within walking distance so no need to take a taxi.