We travelled the 83 kilometres that separated Sost from Karimabad in a few hours and we found a town entrenched in a mountain and its winding and cobbled alleys full of small shops filled with life.
Karimabad is a very popular destination among locals and it is not surprising after getting a first glimpse. Getting accommodation was the most difficult part, the places that had been recommended to us at a good price were full. After negotiating with several establishments we found a room in the “Royal Guesthouse” for 1500 rupees for both, it is possible to sleep in the tents they have in the garden for around 1000 but honestly, it was not worth it and as usual, the electricity it was scarce and appreciated.
The small town of Karimabad is the capital of the Hunza valley, one of the places most visited by local tourists, its old name is Baltit, a name that still retains the fort that crowns the city, built in the 17th century.
Through the streets of Karimabad we could see for the first time the first reality of Hunza, very different from the one we had seen so far during the trip, the women much more present in its streets, many open food shops (some do not carry out Ramadan) and in general a warmer and more festive atmosphere.
The majority of Hunza’s inhabitants are Ismailis, a branch of Islam that takes its name from the acceptance of Imam Ismail and although in the past it was one of the most accepted branches of Shiism, today is quite different. Shiism developed in two major variants, among them the Ismailis who profess complex doctrines influenced by Neoplatonism and beliefs of other religions.
We would only be passing through Karimabad, enough to visit the hill that forms the base of Baltit fort, the entry to the fort is again 800 rupees per foreigner, but we arrived to town a few minutes after its closure at 5 pm. Even so, it is recommended to take the short walk to the base, the views are out of this world.
The next morning we got some supplies of samosas and pakoras with the idea of reaching another star attraction among the locals: Duikar, “the eagle’s nest”, a point from which it is possible to see the mountain range in its maximum splendour with more than 7 peaks in the horizon, all over 7000 meters high, including what would be our next destination, the Rakaposhi (7788 meters).
* The other ones are Lady Finger, Diran Peak (7273m), Ultar I (7388m), Ultar II (7310m), Ultar Glacier Golden Peak / Spantik (7027m).
We settled in and admired infinity for at least 2 hours accompanied by a couple of fruit juices and a few bags of chips… Travelling in Ramadan was not complicated, the only difficult thing was finding consistent food before the sun came up. But honestly, everyone we crossed usually would ask us with a worried face if we had eaten and drunk something during the day.
From Duikar there is about 40 minutes descent to the KKH (Karakoram Highway) and from there another 40 more to the entrance to of one of the mountains that we had just admired with such enthusiasm, the Rakaposhi. We headed to Minapin with the intention of going up to the Rakaposhi base camp in the following days and found accommodation at the Osho hotel for 1000 Rupees. We were able to share the Iftar with the entire troupe of the residence in a restaurant rarely crowded by Gilgit locals who travel the 60 km distance just to enjoy Osho’s cuisine at nightfall.
We are not going to lie, it is the best we have tried in the country, Osho and his assistants cook in stone pots from hundreds of years ago, giving their stews a special flavour. Thanks to him we were able to taste Dauro and Alu Sharo (a delicious meat pie) and it would become our menu for several days, always accompanied by the cooks and workers celebrating iftar.
With a full belly we prepared the backpack with the necessary things to go up to the Rakaposhi base camp the next day.