I had been thinking of going to Gilgit-Baltistan in my own car for a long time. But the news about road conditions was not that encouraging. Especially the KKH was known to be a treacherous route. So I decided to go by Babusar Top. The time period was first week of June.
I followed the news on Facebook (The Karakoram Club) and TV channels to ascertain if Babusar Top was open and whether it could be done in a car. I could not wait indefinitely as I wanted to travel in Ramazan when the tourist traffic was at the lowest and hotels were also easily available.
So after waiting for a few days I decided that I would go by KKH and come back by Babusar Top. This way I could see both the routes and could come back by the easier route. So I headed out for Gilgit on June 03 2018 via KKH (news from Naran was that Babusar would open in a couple of days).
Following are my day to day activities.
Day 01 (June 03 2018)
Left Islamabad at about 11 am and took M1 Motorway and then new Hazara Expressway to Abbotabad. After travelling for about 280 km reached Besham PTDC at 6:00 pm. The road condition was quite good and the motel was also in decent shape. We got a room with beautiful view of the river Indus.
Day 02 (June 04 2018)
After resting overnight we left Besham at 8:00 am. But after driving for a few km the car started giving an error message. We could not determine what the problem was so we took the car to a local mechanic. The mechanic advised us to continue for a few km and see if the fault indication goes away or not. As luck would have it the fault indication went away just as it had automatically appeared. We continued our journey to Gilgit via Dasu, Chillas, Raikot and Jaglot. The road north of Dasu (a 65 km patch) was in quite poor state and fully tested my driving skills. We arrived in Gilgit at about 6:00 pm and checked into PTDC motel.
Day 03 (June 05 2018)
The journey on the third day was quite easy as we just had to go to Hunza, about a two hour journey from Gilgit. After checking into PTDC Hunza we went for a visit to Baltit Fort which is quite a majestic structure. We also also did some souvenir shopping from Kareemabad Bazaar. We took it easy and relaxed in our motel in the evening.
Day 04 (June 06 2018)
There was a bit more activity on the 5th day as we visited Altit Fort, Eagles Nest, Ginesh Village and Attabad Lake. My favorite was Attabad Lake which looks quite pristine from the newly constructed road along its length. There is a road that goes down to the lake and from here you can rent a boat for about 25 mins at a price tag of Rs.2000 (note this would be much higher in the season).
Day 05 (June 07 2018)
After two days of going easy the third day brought about a flurry of activity as we drove all the way to Khunjerab Top stopping on the way in Passu and Sost and checking out the local motels. We decided to stay in Serai Passu which was quite a decent motel with majestic views of the Passu Cones. We spent the evening at Glacier Breeze restaurant having their famous Apricot Cake and enjoying the luxury of WiFi Internet.
Day 06 (June 08 2018)
So after five days of travel in the northerly direction it was time to head back south. But there was a small problem with the car battery and the car would not start. After getting the car dhaka start (push start) we decided to get a new battery from Hunza. This solved the problem and we headed to Naran via Babusar Pass. As expected the pass was open but not in great condition as there were a lot of glaciers on the way and water streams had to be crossed. We arrived in PTDC Naran at 6:00 pm tired but relieved.
Day 07 (June 09 2018)
After considering the option of staying an extra day in Naran we decided to head back to Islamabad as there were a few things to be taken care of on our return to the Capital.