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This is a complete guide to hiking Rakaposhi Base Camp, Pakistan. I provide information on 3 different ways to hike Rakaposhi and beyond to Diran Base Camp. I explain when to visit and where to stay, and provide a detailed trail description.
Rakaposhi peak is a mountain in the Karakoram Range that stretches up to 7788m. Rakaposhi Base Camp at 3500m is located at the base of Rakaposhi peak, alongside Minapin glacier. Trekkers can hike to base camp from the village of Minapin in Nagar Valley.
From this point mountaineers can 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. Read on to find out why I believe this is a must-do hike for any visit to Pakistan!
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. I’ll be honest and say that I knew very little about this hike before I did it in October 2019 and boy was I blown away!
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.
- 1 Rakaposhi Base Camp: Trek stats
- 2 Trail Description
- 3 How to hike Rakaposhi Base Camp
- 4 How to get to Minapin
- 5 Where to stay in Minapin
- 6 Rakaposhi weather – When to go
- 7 What to bring
- 8 Onward from Pakistan
Rakaposhi Base Camp: Trek stats
- 13km one way
- Starting height in Minapin village 2000m
- Rakaposhi Base camp height 3400m
- Elevation gain 1400m
Prefer to watch, rather than read? No worries, take a look at the video of our hike to Rakaposhi below!
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 Rakaposhi 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 nor any rangers along the way, so in reality you could go solo if you choose. I passed several people who were hiking independently during my trip.
There is also the option to hike fully supported. If desired porters and cooks are available to support your hike, 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 Rakaposhi trek 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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How to hike Rakaposhi Base Camp
Option one – up and down in 1 day
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 you 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.
Option two – camp at Hapakun Base Camp
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.
Option three – camp at Rakaposhi Base camp
The final option is to take one day to hike to Rakaposhi Base camp and spend the night. After this there are two options. If desired you can hike to Diran Base camp 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 trekked to Rakaposhi Base camp the first day, however the route to Diran Base camp was covered in snow. So on the second day we hiked the small hill to the side of Rakaposhi Base camp 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.
How to get to Minapin
From Gilgit, there is a public minbus to Minapin. This minibus leaves daily at 3pm and takes around 2 hours.
Where to stay in Minapin
Before undertaking your hike to 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.
The owners of this guesthouse are super friendly and can help you arrange a guide for the trek. They also make some mean local dishes.
Try the mutton curry in a stone pot. Yum!
Rakaposhi weather – When to go
May to October is the best time to hike anywhere in the Karakoram range. These are the Summer months in Northern Pakistan. Beyond October things will start to get extremely cold and snowy.
I did this hike in October and the trail was mostly empty. The path was clear of snow but the night camping at base camp was sub-zero cold.
What to bring
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 all options 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
- 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.
Onward from Pakistan
- If you are travelling overland through Pakistan you are likely to exit either into China or into India. If you are entering India through the Wagah Border as I did, you must visit the Wagah Border Ceremony!
- If it’s your first visit to India take a look at my India Survival Guide, to make sure you stay safe, healthy and sane during your visit!
- I combined my trekking trip in Pakistan with some hiking in Nepal. In this post I provide a complete packing list for independently hiking the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary.
- On the Annapurna Circuit I did two side hikes which were undoubtably two of the best days of the whole trek. Read more about trekking to Ice Lake in Manang and Dhaulagiri Icefall Viewpoint in these posts.
Do you have any questions about trekking to Rakaposhi Base Camp or travelling in Pakistan? If so please contact me or leave a comment below!
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