Rakaposhi is a mountain in the Karakoram Range that stretches up to 7788m. Tucked away alongside the edge of the Minapin glacier is Rakaposhi Base camp. From this point mountaineers will make their bids for the summit. However, for the rest of us mere mortals, Rakaposhi Base Camp is the final destination for an amazing hike from the village of Minapin. In this post I will describe three ways that you can hike to Rakaposhi Base Camp.
This hike might not be as popular as nearby fairy meadows but I guarantee that when you reach the final viewpoint you will let off an audible wow. One thing that makes this hike so rewarding is that you don’t get to see Rakaposhi peak until the very end. You don’t really get any glimpse of the final scene until you top out. Once you do it will smack you across the face and leave you as breathless as the 3400m of altitude.
- 13km one way
- Starting elevation in Minapin 2000m
- Base camp elevation 3400m
- Elevation gain 1400m
In order to reach Rakaposhi Base Camp you will have to gain a serious amount of elevation. How fast you choose to do this will depend on your fitness levels and how well you cope at altitude. It will also be determined by time, money and equipment.
The trail is well trodden and mostly well marked, but taking a guide is “compulsory”. This obviously adds to the cost of the hike. However, there is no entry point or rangers along the way so in reality you could go solo if you choose to. I passed several people who were hiking by themselves during my trip.
There is also the option to hike fully supported. If desired porters and cooks are available to support your hike to Rakaposhi base camp, leaving you time to concentrate on breathing and enjoying the views. As I was on part of a guided tour of Pakistan, this was how we hiked to Rakaposhi base camp.
Whichever option you choose, the hike will begin from Minapin village in the Nagar region, just off the Karakoram Highway. Reaching the trailhead involves a little navigation through the streets of the village. It’s best to check directions with the hotel or locals along the way. The trail begins as a dirt road which follows the the river as it gradually ascends.
After 1.8km you will reach a bridge to cross the river and it is here that the first major ascent begins. Following the dirt road, the next 2 km are spent climbing a series of medium-steep switchbacks. The road dwindles into a footpath as it levels off and you enter a beautiful pine forest.
As the forest clears you will see a few buildings belonging to local farmers who have a collection of ducks, cows and goats. Looking up the valley, you can enjoy views of the mountain range, pine forest and a waterfall to the right. Enjoy this easy section as the trail once again becomes steep when you see a sign for Hapakun base camp.
Follow this sign to branch steeply off to the right before it switches back once again to open up onto a flat field, where you will see the white Hapakun base camp tent. There is a stream here where you can top up your water bottles if required. Pushing on from this camp the trail once again becomes steep and will mostly continue this way to the top. Light relief from the climb comes as the trail rounds the valley but then one final big switchback climbs up and along the ridge until the final elevation is reached.
Upon reaching the top of the ridge you will finally see the epic Minapin Glacier, fed by Diran and Rakaposhi peaks. If you can tear yourself away from the view, continue along the trail as it undulates its way onto a field, at the end of which is Rakaposhi Base Camp.
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This option is for the super fit or those tight on time. It is possible to hike to Rakaposhi Base Camp in one day. One very big day. A round trip from the village of Minapin is 26km which isn’t so bad in itself. What makes this such a big day is the elevation gain. From Minapin to base camp there is 1400m of elevation gain which makes for a lung busting, leg burning day out.
It will take around 4-6 hours to reach the top (depending on fitness levels). Allow 1 hour to appreciate the views at the top and eat some food, then it’s around 3-4 hours to get back down.
In summer months the days are longer so will have lots of time to complete this hike. However, in October sunset is around 6pm so I would suggest leaving the summit by 2pm at the latest. Otherwise you will end up hiking in the cold and dark.
- Pros: Cheap, no camping equipment required, only one day needed.
- Cons: Physically demanding.
If you have time on your side, possibly the best option is to spend the first day hiking to Hapakun base camp. This will only take around 3 hours so you can enjoy a leisurely start. The next day you can finish the hike to Rakaposhi and if the path is clear of snow and energy levels are high, continue on to hike to Diran Base Camp before returning to Hapakun. On the third day hike back down to Minapin.
- Pros: Can reach Rakaposhi and Diran Base Camps, only need to carry camping equipment to halfway point, gradual ascent.
- Cons: 3 days required.
The final option is to take one day to hike to Rakaposhi Basecamp. After this there are two options. If desired you can hike to Diran Basecamp and spend another night at Rakaposhi or after enjoying sunrise over the glacier, hike back down to Minapin the following day.
During my visit we hiked to Rakaposhi Basecamp the first day however the route to Diran Basecamp was covered in snow. So on the second day we hiked the small hill to the side of Rakaposhi Basecamp to enjoy elevated views of Minapin Glacier, as well as views of the other face of Rakaposhi. After this, we hiked back down to Minapin village.
- Pros: Enjoy sunset and sunrise over Minapin Glacier, can reach Rakaposhi and Diran base camps.
- Cons: Need to carry camping equipment to the top, 2 or 3 days required.
Before undertaking your hike to Rakaposhi Base Camp you will need to stay somewhere in Minapin village. We stayed at Osho Tang Guesthouse and I can highly recommend it. They have a beautiful garden to enjoy views of the nearby peaks and serve tasty local dishes. Try the mutton curry in a stone pot. Yum!
May to October is the best time to hike anywhere in the Karakoram range. Beyond October things will start to get extremely cold and snowy.
This will very much depend on which option you are taking. For options two and three you will obviously need complete camping gear. For option one you will want to hike minimal and keep your pack light. For any option I would recommend the following:
Sturdy walking boots: The trail is well established and mostly a dirt path, however it is rocky in parts.
Warm layers: Once you ascend onto the ridge you will be met by a bitterly cold wind coming off the glacier.
Water bottle with a filter: This will allow you to safely refill at Hapakun base camp. I use a Water To Go bottle which you can buy here.
GPS or map: I use the maps.me app for offline maps.
All distances and elevations used in this post were recorded on my phone using the map.me app.
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