Kevin Swains
Travel Website
This is Kev's Travel Blog

Karimabd is arguably the centre piece of tourism in the northeren areas and I've been looing forward to reaching here.
It's normally bustling with backpackers and package tourists spending heaps in the overpriced handicraft shops that line the snaking road upto the Baltit fort.
But this time is different. It's like a ghost town in the main street. There's only a handful of backpackers and literally zero group tours or jeep safaris and it's been the same since 11-9.
View from the Eagles Nest viewpoint in Karimabad looking south down the KKH. Mt Rakoposhi visible to the right.

Karimabad is situated on the side of a hill with stupendous views overlooking Nagar and the KKH. The mountains of Diran and Rakaposhi dominate the skyline. The views are great on a clear day but when low cloud drowns the valley leaving only the very top of the peaks in view one has to crank ones neck skywards to view the peaks and the true size of these monster peaks hits home!
All around the field are lush and green fed by mica laden water carried along impossibly built water channels clinging to the veritcal mountain sides.
Karimabad used to have one of the highest longivities in the world but this has changed since the KKH was built.
The influx of the white man (and more so the Jappies:) have brought new germs and diseases. Fertilisers are also now used and fruit and veggiies are being imported from other areas of Pakistan.
The locals are now also drinking the mica water which runs past their doors instead of walking to and carrying back some of the worlds healthiest spring water that flows nearby.

Looking up towards Ultar Peaks from Karimabad centre.
Ultar Fort in the foreground. Ultar meadows is 4hrs up through the
valley behind the fort.

The steep 4hr walk/scramble to Ultar Meadows is a must do for most travellers. Very few package tourists seem to make it here though.
The first half of the trek is an ever changing route due to rockfall. The rocks are often monsterous in size and I wouldn't want to around this place in a land slide!
After several hours of emptying gravel from our footwear we (me and French Fabrice) reach the first campsite around halfway. As usual up until 4yrs ago there would have been a few tents and a chai walla here but of course, not anymore. So instead we sit around admiring the view, drinking the tasty spring water and eating dodgy out of date local chocky bars....

Ultar Meadows, an easy day hike from Karimabad. Lady Finger peak (6000) visible on the left.
On a good day Ultar 1(7266m), Ultar 2 (7388m) Hunza Peak (6500m) are also visible.

We arrive to find the views obscured by cloud but they are still impressive. We put our feet up and soak up patchy rays through the cloud and splash out a whopping Rp20 for a chai (normally Rp5) at the Lady Finger Restaurant which is situated at the meadow. The best feature of the restaurant is the stone dining table outside that has a beautiful green grass table cloth on top!
After too long laying around in the meadow we depart for the short climb to the glaciers lateral morain and there we sit watching the continuous avalanches on the upper lsopes while eating 2 munite noodles and drinking chai. It's a perfect location.

Viewpoint just above Eagles Nest 7km above Karimabad.
Golden Peak (7027m) behind.

A few days before arriving in Karimabad I heard a rumour that the stones on the morrain contain small rubies. Me and Frenchy had already smashes several tonnes of stones on the way up with no luck. Then eventually we struck gold....sort of and find a fist sized stone laced with tiny rubies (although I'm told they're not rubies) and we smash it up to share the loot and also hope to find a whopping nugget inside, but no such look. Either way we are happy even if it's worth point blob of a rupee and skuttle off down the mountain side back to Karimabad and a refreshing Rp5 cup of tea.
We keep our little gem discovery to ourselves to avoid mass scale illegal mining in the slopes of such a beautiful mountain....