We breakfasted on the porch of the hotel with the two poms, Jonathan and Tim, who had arrived on the morning flight from Rawalpindi, then set off to do some exploring in the nearby hills.

The air was cold and frosty, but healthy and full of the smells of winter – cold earth, smoke and animals – and we decided to cross to the foot of the hills on the south side of the valley and climb up to the water channel running around the bluffs about 200 ft above the valley floor. Linda and Magnus chose a diagonal route, which Magnus soon abandoned, leaving Linda, who stuck to her route, for an easy, safer option, while Tim Jonathan and I took a direct route straight up through the bluffs. 

The Northern Pakistan Crew, L-R: Magnus, Ferg, Tim, Jonothan, Linda (seated).

It was a good climb and we all arrived sweating and breathless at the top then set off east along the water channel, then south up a steep, narrow gorge leading up into the hills. We followed the steep, boulder-strewn stream for about half a mile into the hills then stopped intending to have a brew of tea, but I couldn’t get our little petrol stove to burn – probably due to the altitude – so we retreated from the biting wind blowing down from the snowy peaks above the river, which blocked out the sun and threw the gorge into an icy shadow.

At the mouth of a gorge, I climbed up one of the scree slopes to photograph the towering Haramosh Peak across on the northern side of the Gilgit Valley. 

Gilgit from the hills above the town.

Once we were clear the gorge, we walk down to the Gilgit Serena Lodge lodge – owned by the same hotel chain that operates the Mara Serena Lodge that we had stayed at in Kenya. At the Gilgit lodge, we ate delicious cheese and tomato toasties, with chips and coleslaw, and drink several cups of hot chocolate while we watched a hilarious video, Shrimps on the Barbie, an Aussie film starring Cheech Marin. Terence Cooper Emma Samms, and a selection of New Zealand and Australian faces including Garry McDonald. By the time it finished, it was cold and dark so we caught a Suzuki van back to the Hunza Inn.

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