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Essays and Travelogs

Trekking along the Wakhan Corridor

Just came back from a trek along the Wakhan Corridor. It was a fairly simple trek compared to LAS summer trek standards, however the management of the trek was tricky due multiple reasons. Below is a not-so-brief description of the trek:

Getting there:
Getting to the starting point (Kishmanja) was a long journey. We started on a bus from Islamabad to Chitral (14 hours ride) and then hired a jeep to Mastuj (4 hours ride) where we spent the night. Mastuj is a small village north of Chitral. From here it took us another 10 hours on the jeep to get to Kishmanja.

The Trek:
The trek can be summed up as a village/summer settlement hopping. There are villages/summer settlements (of varying sizes) all along the route. (http://dashtnavard.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/trekmap.jpg)

We took the 1st three days of the trek to get to the Karomber Lake (4320 m), the highlight of the trek. We also took a rest day here. There was still ice on the most of the lake and the snow around the lake had recently melted. A group from Lahore who had reached the lake in mid-June could not cross it as the lake was surrounded by snow. Luckily, by the time we got there (end-June), the snow had recently melted and the place was mostly muddy.
The trek up to the Karomber Lake is a walk along the Broghil valley in the Hindukush. The valley is different from the Karakorams, with low lying flat mountains surrounded by greenery and wild growth of flowers. The valley also has its share of wildlife.

The Karomber Lake is at the border of KPK and GB. On crossing the lake, the landscape changes considerably and so do the people. The weather got bad the day we left the lake and we ended up trekking in a snow blizzard. Luckily the next camp site (Swinj) was around 4 hours away so we were able to manage to get there safely. After spending a rest day, trying to wait out the bad weather, we continued to trek in rain and snowfall. It took us 3 days from Swinj to Borth (the exit point). In between we crossed 2 glaciers, spending around 3 hours on Chattiboi Glacier and about 30 minutes on moraine rubble of Chillinj Glacier (Lonely Planet does not name this glacier, locals called it Chillinj Glacier).

Overall we covered around 110 Km in seven trekking days (avg 15Km per day) and two rest days at Karomber and Swinj. We started from an altitude of 3300m, went upto 4320m and came down to 2728m.

Getting out:
On reaching Borth, we were able to get a jeep the same day and head out to Gakuch (2.5 hours ride). On our way to Gakuch, we were thoroughly checked at a para-military check post at Imit. Those guys did a thorough check of all our bags, barrels, jeep, everything. The Nanga Parbat incident had put everyone on their toes. We also had to register at different police check posts, both on the trek and off the trek. From Gakuch, most of the group left for Pindi via NATCO and the remaining left for Karimabad (another 6 hours ride).

The porterage on this trek was very different from what we have seen in GB. The first half of the trek (up to the Karomber Lake) had a different mechanism and the second half had a different one. The whole route is accessible by donkeys and horses, so all the porterage was being done by these two animals. Also, a set of porters would be available from one village to another. On reaching the other village, we would have to hire a new set of porters. We had 4 different sets of porters throughout the trek. We also had the option of hiring horses for the group.

The Group:
The group had a good mix of age groups, with different batches being represented. We were a total of 9, with Mazdak from BSc 2007, me 2008, Affan 2010, Sabrina 2011, Razi and Rohail 2014 and Sikander 2016. Other than that we had two non-luminite friends with us.

I am sharing the link to the album uploaded by Sabrina. The settings for the album have been set for public viewing. (please let me know if any problem in viewing the album)

The following account proved critical in planning the trek http://dashtnavard.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/along-the-wakhan-corridor/