A quick guide on visiting Shimshal Valley in Pakistan. This guide to Shimshal Valley includes info on getting there by public transport, where to stay in Shimshal Valley, and what to do in Shimshal Valley.
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Shimshal Valley is a remote valley about three hours east of Passu in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan.
The valley is the gateway to the Shimshal Pass, a relatively popular trek with avid trekkers and mountaineers. If you’re just a casual mountain lover, don’t let that deter you. Even if you don’t want to do the Shimshal Pass trek, Shimshal Valley is a peaceful retreat, and a great place to linger for a few days. Read on to learn how to get from Hunza to Shimshal Valley.
How to get from Hunza to Shimshal Valley
Shimshal Valley can only be reached via a beautiful—if perilous—Jeep ride from the Hunza Valley.
Because of its remote setting, only one or two Jeeps make the journey each day. Jeeps start in Aliabad, the main transport hub of the Hunza Valley, but can be boarded from any place along the way up to Passu.
There is no set timing for Jeeps, and supply depends on demand. It’s highly recommended to reserve a seat a day or two in advance. Most guesthouses in the Hunza Valley can help you arrange a seat on the next Jeep. The three to four-hour Jeep ride costs 500 Rs per person, assuming there are 10 people in a Jeep. If there are fewer people, the price goes up, but you can bargain a little on the price.
The drive into the valley is gorgeous, as you follow the narrow valley on a precipitous road eventually leading to the sprawled hamlet of Shimshal.
Technically foreigners need a permit to visit Shimshal, but at the time of writing the police checkpoint let foreign travelers through as long as they promised to only visit Shimshal and its direct surroundings.
If you wish to go on a multi-day trek—for instance to the Shimshal Pass—you require a permit that can only be arranged through a tour agency. There are several agencies that can arrange this, one of them being Pamir Tours.
Where to stay in Shimshal Valley
Shimshal Valley has several guesthouses. All are basic and charge around 1,000 – 2,000 Rs per person per night. Food will cost another 200 – 300 Rs per meal.
If the cost seems steep, remember Shimshal is a remote valley. Amenities are basic, and food simple, and both are hard to make accessible in the valley.
If you want to book a place ahead of time, ask your guest house in Hunza. They will probably know someone in Shimshal who can help you.
Things to do to in Shimshal Valley
There are several multi-day treks that can be done in Shimshal. However, these require prior arrangement and, in most cases, prior permission. Contact a tour agency if you wish to do a multi-day trek in the Shimshal Valley.
There are also several day hikes in Shimshal valley. Further down the valley are several glaciers. The first glacier, Yazghil Glacier, is about three hours’ walking from Shimshal. Trekking to the glacier requires no guide and can be done by inexperienced trekkers. (Crossing the glacier is another matter.)
The walk is beautiful, and the view of the multiple peaks in the distance once reaching the glacier is a rewarding experience. To visit the other glaciers, you must cross Yazghil, something I only recommend doing with a local guide, or if you’re a trekker with ice climbing experience.
Mountaineer or not, Shimshal offers a great off the beaten track experience. There are no cars, few motorbikes, and the only background noises come from cattle and the nearby Shimshal river. It’s a great place to unwind with a book and a cup of local green tea—maybe I’ll see you there.