Biking Pakistan's Karakoram Highway

DestinationsPakistan
Tour MeetsIslamabad
Tour EndsIslamabad/Rawalpindi
Fly in toIslamabad International Airport (ISB)
Fly out ofIslamabad International Airport (ISB)
Group Size2-16 riders
Minimum Age18 (on scheduled departures)
560kmTotal cycling distance
56kmAvg distance / day
mAvg climbing / day

Trip Profile

We will cycle 560 km over 10 days of riding. This is a tough trip due to the altitude and the terrain. We spend three nights at 2,600 m in Khaplu acclimatizing and slowly increase our activity level during those days to prepare for the passes ahead.

We’ll stay in hotels wherever possible and, for four nights, we’ll be camping due to the remoteness of the terrain. Two of these overnights will be at 4,200 m, so it can get cold at night. It is the combination of conditions: altitude, weather, topography, and overall environment that makes this a challenging tour and a test of sustained riding. Remember, all our tours are vehicle supported allowing cyclists the option to get into the van as needed.

Suitability: This trip is designed for the experienced cyclist. The lack of oxygen at the high altitudes we’ll be cycling, as well as the climbs we’ll be doing, means that this is a tough trip that you'll enjoy much more if you have a good level of stamina and fitness. The distances and gradient each day are not extreme but getting into the best shape possible for the trip will ensure you get the most from your holiday.

Biking Conditions: The road surfaces are a mix of paved and dirt roads, but in high altitude conditions of extreme weather, there will be patches where the road has disintegrated and will be potholed or even gravel.

Travel: It is not dangerous to travel in Gilgit-Balistan province. Our route avoids troubled regions altogether. Please remember that the news media tends to emphasize the few trouble spots because these make more sensational news. Our itinerary has been kept flexible to handle things like land slides or bad weather that can delay flights. As this is an adventurous holiday, you will need to be prepared to be flexible when necessary, and we will do our best to adhere to the original itinerary should there be unexpected events.

What's Included

  • SpiceRoads jersey
  • Water bottle
  • Domestic flights
  • Support vehicle
  • Guide(s)
  • Meals (as indicated)
  • Airport pick up
  • Airport drop off
  • Accommodation
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Entrance fees

What's Excluded

  • International flights
  • Visa fees
  • Alcohol
  • Tips

Nuts & Bolts

Bikes

Because some people can't imagine going on a trip without their own beloved bicycle, we do not provide them as part of this tour. However, you are able to hire bikes locally for the price listed in the tour pricing section. The bikes are well-known makes of mountain bikes with lightweight alloy frames, 24- to 27-speed gearing, v-brakes, and Shimano components and front suspension. If you bring your own bike, please make sure it is a mountain bike, preferably with front suspension, and that it is in good mechanical order.

Bike Repairs

Basic spares and tools are carried by the guide and on the support vehicle, though we cannot guarantee having spares for every conceivable problem. Carrying a basic tool kit, a spare tube and a pump while riding is recommended.

Safety

Wearing a helmet is required on all our biking adventures and is non negotiable. If you do not wear a helmet you will not be allowed to cycle. Your tour leader is trained in first aid and emergency rescue, but to a large degree you must be responsible for your own safety while riding. It is therefore compulsory that you take out travel insurance that will cover you for a mountain biking tour.

Guides

You will be led by a local English-speaking guide and if the group is 9 people or more we will add another guide to the tour. All our guides are well informed in the history, culture and religions of the area where you are biking and are skilled at passing that knowledge on to you. Your guide is also medically trained and an experienced cyclist, able to handle most minor repairs en route.

The Nitty Gritty

Passports and Visas

Please make sure that your passport is still valid for at least six months at the end of the tour and that you have at least one blank visa page available.

Visitors from 24 countries can now enjoy a multiple-entry 30-day visa on arrival in Pakistan. This applies to nationals of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, China, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Iceland, Korea, Portugal, Singapore, Thailand, and Luxemburg.

For all other nationalities a visa is required when you travel to Pakistan and fees vary depending on nationality. Please contact your local Pakistani embassy or consulate for full requirements.

Health

The only compulsory vaccination is for yellow fever and proof of vaccination will only be required if you’ve visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within six days prior to entering Pakistan. However, we strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, tetanus and polio. Please speak to your doctor/physician for the most recent information.

Weather

Temperatures and climate vary according to the altitude. The summer days are warm with brilliant blue skies (max. 25°C/77°F to min. 10°C/50°F), but the weather in mountainous areas can be very unpredictable. Come prepared for cold evenings and though the Karakorum range is quite dry, there is still the possibility of rain. It may be very warm in the valleys. Early morning starts and descents at altitude will be more comfortable with proper gear on.

Altitude

Travelers to the Karakorum range may suffer breathlessness and headaches before becoming acclimatized. It is important to take things lightly at first and to drink plenty of water. When climbing high passes, you may experience headaches, mild nausea or lack of appetite until your body adjusts to the elevation. These symptoms generally disappear after a few days.

Accommodation

In cities and towns we will stay in comfortable accommodation, with the highlight being the Hilltop Hotel in Karimabad with views to Rakaposhi Peak. We camp for four nights and sleeping bags, ground pads and tents are provided. A mess tent, toilet tent and shower tents are also provided. All accommodation described in the itinerary are included in the tour cost.

Dress

With respect to the local culture males and females should wear baggy clothes. Females especially should avoid tight fitting pants and shorts, or tight-fitting shirts. We suggest wearing loose garments that de-emphasize curves.

Food

Meals are included in the itinerary where B = breakfast, L = lunch, and D = dinner. While camping meals will be prepared by the cooking team on the support staff and feature Pakistani and Western-style cuisine. Any special dietary requirements can also be catered for as well. Please let us know at the time of booking.

Drink

Keeping you completely hydrated is a job we take very seriously. Cold water and energy-restoring drinks are included in the tour price while riding. Soft drinks and other beverages during meals are not included. Beer and alcohol are available in Pakistan for foreigners but may be difficult to obtain in small villages.

Solo Travelers

SpiceRoads does not require you to pay a surcharge for travelling alone. We will arrange for you to share accommodation with another traveller of the same gender and if we can not match you up we will provide a single room at no extra charge. If you prefer not to share a single supplement is payable to guarantee your own room. The cost of the single supplement is listed above.

Extra Expenses

We recommend that you tuck away a few extra dollars a day for incidentals. Included entrance fees are those for the listed sites and national parks that are part of the itinerary. Any other site fees are not included.

Money

The currency is the rupee (Rs) and there are ATMs in Islamabad/Rawalpindi that take international cards. However, you should definitely not rely on ATMs as your sole source of cash and we suggest you change money in Islamabad and carry cash or travellers cheques as backup in case the power goes down, the ATM is out of order, or you lose or break your plastic. There’s little difference between official and black-market exchange rates. US dollars are the most widely accepted currency, followed by UK pounds and euros. You usually have to present your passport whenever you change money.

General booking info

Booking

If this is the tour for you here's what you need to do to confirm your place: Read our Booking Conditions

From the tour page click the 'Book Now' link. All departures for this tour will appear, just select the date you'd like to travel. There is a minimum number of participants (usually 2) required to enable the trip to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to Depart'. Once a trip is guaranteed to depart you are free to book your flights and make other travel arrangements. If you are unsure about the trip status, please email us or call our office. For the next steps you'll need to know the names of the people traveling and have either a Visa or a MasterCard. If you wish you can also provide extra details such as passport numbers, height, or you can add that later by logging into Manage My Trip (we'll set up an account for you automatically if you don't already have one). However, if you wish to get a children's discount, please do fill out the date of birth of the riders. If you are having any problems, please send us an email, or give us a call (+66 2 381 7490) and one of our travel specialists will assist you with your booking.

Deposit

For Long Tours (7 days or more) to guarantee your place we require a 30% or 500 USD deposit, whichever is the greater. For Short Tours (6 days or less) we require full payment to guarantee your place. We also require that you take out travel insurance when you book your holiday. Besides covering you during your holiday it will also enable you to claim for any money that you have paid to us, including your deposit, should you have to cancel your trip.

Balance

Full payment must be paid 45 days before the departure date with fees for any bicycle rental(s), single supplement(s) and extra hotel nights. Our confirmation will include personal details you provided us (including your flight information), visa application advice, a packing suggestion list and a detailed tour itinerary. It will also include a checklist to ensure you get everything ready for your holiday.

Cancellation Policy

On the rare occasions when we, SpiceRoads, must cancel a trip, all payments received to date will be 100% refunded, which constitutes full settlement. There will be absolutely no deductions. If you, the client, must cancel your reservation, your cancellation fee will be determined according to when you cancel. For full details, please read our cancellation policy.

Loyalty Riders Club

For those who have been on several long tours with us we reward customer loyalty by offering repeat customers a special discount off the tour price (excludes single supplement and bike rental). If this is your fourth scheduled tour or more you will receive a 5% discount. If this is your eighth scheduled tour or more we will extend a 10% discount. The discount will be reflected in your online booking, but please contact us if any questions. Loyalty discounts can not be used in conjunction with any other offer. Note: Only tours of 7 days or more will be applicable for loyalty discount.

International Flights

International flights, to and from the start and finish points are not included in the tour price. Once your tour is Guaranteed to Depart you can book your flight. Please contact us for advice before arranging flights for the best arrival and departure times. We would only cancel a trip for an extreme circumstance, but in that case, where we cancel your trip, we cannot be liable for losses incurred relating to any flight booking you have made. Please claim any losses from your travel insurance that you acquired when you booked your holiday.

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