To the end of the world: Chapursan Valley travel guide

Chapursan, Chipurson, Choporson, Chuparsin. Regardless of how you want to spell it (no one seems to be able to decide) here’s a quick travel guide to Chapursan Valley ,one of Pakistan’s most remote valleys.

Want to travel to one of the most remote valleys in Pakistan? This Chapursan Valley travel guide has everything you need to know, including how to get to Chapursan by public or private transportation, where to stay in Chapursan Valley, things to do in Chapursan Valley, and more.

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I’m no flat earther, but if there’s any place that feels like the end of the world, it’s Chapursan (also called Chiporsun).

Far removed from the rest of Pakistan, the valley runs along the mountainous border of Afghanistan’s (peaceful) Wakhan Corridor. Lonely peaks dusted with snow loom over the dry valley where mud-and-stone houses outnumber trees. Many of its Wakhi-speaking residents rely on flocks of sheeps, goats, and yaks for sustenance and income.

Accessible only by a jolting jeep track, some effort is required to reach the valley… but if you’re reading this article, you probably know that makes it all the more appealing! In the name of helping out a fellow traveler, here’s what you need to know to travel to Chapursan Valley.

A Chapursan Valley travel guide

Local women watching a polo match in Ispanj village, Chapursan Valley, Pakistan

Local women watching a polo match from above in Ispanj village in April

Best time to visit Chapursan Valley

Chapursan Valley sits more than 3,000 meters above sea level. In case you aren’t a metric person, that means it’s rather high and can be frosty AF. Brace yourself.

June to August is the best time to visit regarding temperature and greenery scenery. During summers the valley warms up in the sun, the meadows fill with grass, and wildflowers bloom around July-August. Sports matches such as polo and buzkashi go on during this time.

May or September are still manageable (though who really knows with climate change going on?) and autumn promises clearer skies.

You can still reach the valley in April/May and October/November, but prepare to be cold. It snowed while I was in the valley in April, and the pipes were frozen in my guesthouse despite outside temperatures rising above freezing during the day.

Animal house in Chapursan Valley

A typical stone house for animals in Zudkhun village, Chapursan

What to pack for Chapursan Valley

  • Warm clothes. It’s gonna get chilly in the nights.
  • Trekking boots. Even the main roads are rocky and dusty at best.
  • A Steripen or other water purifier. Many people only drink weak chai instead of water, so you might have to source your own. Most shops don’t sell mineral water – Get your Steripen here!
  • Especially if you’re going trekking, stock up on snacks in Sost. Shop options are sparse in Chapursan.
  • Sun block. Mountain sun is harsh at that altitude!
Woman wandering around in Chapursan Valley

Traveler wandering about in Chapursan

Getting permission for Chapursan – do foreigners need an NOC?

In May 2019, I confirmed with the Commissioner’s office that foreigners do not need NOCs to visit Chapursan Valley. Woop woop! You just need to register yourself at a checkpoint on the way in.

However, foreigners do still need permission to visit Baba Gundi shrine and anything beyond that point in the valley, as there’s an army checkpoint right before the shrine and it lies close to the Afghanistan border. The Sufi shrine is well past any of the villages, but there are some treks that you can do beyond it.

If you’re interested in visiting those areas, you’ll need to get an NOC from the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Gilgit. Alam Jan Dario of Pamir Serai guesthouse can guide you; you can reach him at 0346 5226623 or 0355 5105186.

Hot pink public jeep to Chapursan Valley in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan

Barbie would approve of this jeep to Chapursan

How to reach Chapursan

Public transportation

Unless you’re armed with your own car or motorbike, the only way to reach Chapursan by public transport is to take a jeep from Sost.

Public jeeps leave Sost bazar for Chapursan twice a day, around 10:00 and 14:30. You can arrange tickets in the chai shop of the the teal-colored Baba Gundi Hotel off of the main road. The road to the hotel will be on your left when entering Sost from further south, and you need to walk around back to find the opening to the courtyard of sorts.

Tickets are 280 Rs per person one way, and are sold on a first come, first serve basis. Seating is based on gender and age: men generally sit in the far back, while ladies occupy the middle. The elderly take the front seats by the driver if necessary.

Old woman looking out the window in the jeep to Chapursan Valley

After passing through one checkpoint (foreigners must get out to register their visit), two or three hours’ bumping along an unpaved jeep track through a river canyon brings you to Chapursan. You can get off at any village along the way, Zudkhun is the last village and end point for the ride.

Private transportation

If you want to arrange private transport to Chapursan, expect to pay around 5,000 PKR per day for a jeep. You can find car hire services in Sost bazar, or your hotel or guesthouse can arrange a driver for you.

View from Pamir Serai guesthouse in Chapursan Valley

Mountain views from the sun room of Pamir Serai guesthouse

Where to stay in Chapursan Valley

A scattering of guesthouses throughout the valley offer accommodation to travelers. Do realize that you’re in a remote area; accommodations are basic at best. Electricity is not available for parts of the day. When I was there in April, there was no running water as pipes were still frozen, and we ate basic meals of potatoes, bread, and rice as it was not yet harvest season.

I stayed at Pamir Serai in Zudkhun, the most well-known digs in the valley. Its few rooms are basic, and sleeping conditions are basically thin mattresses on the floor with a plethora of blankets. Nevertheless, it’s cozy and comfortable enough for travelers not looking for luxury. Run by the amicable Alam Jan Dario and his family, most people from Chapursan will be able to point you in the direction of “Alam Jan’s house”. Otherwise, you can reach Alam Jan at 0346 5226623 or 0355 5105186.

You’ll see a sign for the guesthouse on your righthand side when coming to Chapursan, and it’s right off the main road. He has several rooms with mattresses for travelers, plus a common sunroom. Expect to pay around 1000-1500 Rs per night, including breakfast and dinner with his family.

Dinner with a local family in Chapursan Valley at Pamir Serai guesthouse

Dinner with the fam

Alam Jan can also arrange camping equipment, treks, and horse and yak rentals for you. Price is negotiable, though I know horse rentals are about 5,000 PKR per day. Though bad knees have stopped him from trekking himself, there’s no more knowledgeable person about trekking in the valley. Alam Jan has guided the likes of Matthieu Paley, the renowned National Geographic photographer and a friend of his, as well as Lonely Planet authors.

Other guesthouse options in Reshit village, a few villages before Zudkhun, include Hilltop Guesthouse (Mr. Hayder – 0355 5638988) and Chipursan View Hotel and Restaurant (Janan and sons – 0355 5654273, 0355 5654272, 0355 5638665).

Local man dancing after a polo match in Ispanj village of Chapursan Valley

One of the local polo greats dancing after a match in Ispanj village

Things to do in Chapursan Valley

Items number one through one thousand on your agenda should be to enjoy the natural scenery and mountain life.

Not specific enough? Ugh, fine.

Polo and buzkashi (basically headless goat polo) are played in the villages in summers. Ask around to find out when and where the next match is.

Several small lakes can be found in a surreally hilly area about an hour’s walk from Zudkhun. Follow the road to Baba Gundi, keeping an eye out for a wooden bridge among the rocks to your right. Swimming is possible if the weather is warm enough.

Lakes in Chapursan Valley, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan

Shepherds head up to pastures starting in June, and stay up until the end of September. If you’re fit enough, you can trek up to the high altitude pastures to hang out with them and see what they’re up to. Know that the Zudkhun shepherds go to pastures beyond Baba Gundi, so foreigners will need NOCs for that.

Horses and yaks can be rented for treks. Horses can be rented with one guide per group, but yaks require handlers for each animal. Most guesthouses can arrange animals for you.

Nomadic Kyrgyz traders come down from Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor to do trade around Baba Gundi starting in June or July. Head in that direction to see them come in on their yaks.

Trekking opportunities are endless. There are treks of all lengths and difficulties, ranging from short overnight treks to 12-15 day mountain passes. For more information on trekking opportunities, ask Alam Jan Dario or inquire in the Karakoram Club Facebook group.

Mobile Networks in Chapursan 

Mobile networks? What mobile networks?

Just kidding. Sort of.

Don’t expect mobile data in Chapursan. Only SCOM has service in the valley, and even then signal is very spotty. You’ll have trouble making calls from a moving vehicle. Just disconnect and enjoy!

Jeep road through Chapursan Valley, Pakistan

The jeep track running through Chapursan Valley

Leaving Chapursan

There’s only one public jeep leaving Chapursan each day. It begins its journey from the last village, Zood Khun, between 5:30 and 6 in the morning. Feel free to call ahead to reserve a spot (Sultan is one of the drivers – 0355 5654142) or ask your guesthouse owner to contact the driver.

Make sure to be waiting outside early enough. My friend and I called ahead to reserve, but the jeep came earlier than the driver said it would, and left without us. Better to simply be out on the road and ready with your bags when the jeep arrives.

The jeep will drop you at Baba Gundi Hotel in Sost around 9 in the morning. If you want to carry on to Gilgit or somewhere else along the Karakoram Highway, there’s a coaster bus that leaves from the same spot 20 to 30 minutes after the jeep arrives. Join the rest of the passengers for chai and a simple anda paratha (paratha and egg) breakfast while you wait.

Want to travel to one of the most remote valleys in Pakistan? This Chapursan Valley travel guide has everything you need to know, including how to get to Chapursan by public or private transportation, where to stay in Chapursan Valley, things to do in Chapursan Valley, and more.

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Want more mountain escapes? Here’s a quick travel guide for Shimshal Valley.

Alex

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex Reynolds

3 thoughts on “To the end of the world: Chapursan Valley travel guide

    arbab kamal says:

    Sost offers delicious food hotel called Khunjirav Cafe.where you get delitious foods. and at near the sost at Gircha village you could be thrilled with Khirghaz nomadic house its like special tent.where you can stay with enjoying pristine beauty of tje village view

    junaid khatri says:

    Alex it is also end of pakistan 😂
    I have visit two time hussain abad gilgit but never visit this valley… You have a lot of guidance. This will make people easy to reach Chapursan.

    Female Traveler says:

    Alex,
    Your blogs have often carried recommendations of tour guides who have pretty nasty reputations and track records of everything from fraud and assault on tourists. A guide you have mentioned in this post is, literally, a notorious rapist. You can call back practically anyone in Gojal to confirm.

    A team of us (women) had him removed from CouchSurfing and WorkAway this summer (2019). We are working on other sites. Sadly, I literally designed a few of his sites for example the HelpX one.

    The mess is too large in this one (case)!!

    Please get at least 2 extra references about any local guide. Despite local notoriety these people stay strong on the back of strong outsider support. Kind regards.

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