|Zone and Permit
|open, no permit
|One of the shortest and easiest treks leading to a 7000m Karakoram peak base camp with sweeping views from Rakaposhi to Diran.
The Minapin Glacier sweeps down from the 16km- long fluted snowy ridge that connects Rakaposhi and Diran. Minapin village in Upper Nagyr sits along the Minapin River’s true right (east) bank above the confluence of the Minapin and Hunza rivers. The excellent short trek from Minapin village to Rakaposhi Base Camp, known locally as Tagaphari, is an ideal introduction to Karakoram trekking. Easily accessible from the KKH, the trek follows a good trail, offers sweeping vistas of Rakaposhi and Diran and is the standard route to the base camps of both peaks. Trekkers in top physical condition visit Tagaphari on a day hike from Minapin village, but most trekkers find that dividing the 1250m ascent into two days lets them enjoy the trek’s many pleasures.
The Deutscher Alpenverein (DAV) 1:50,000 topographic map Minapin (Rakaposhi Range) covers the trek.
Guides and Porters
Minapin has a porters’ union, which the village headman oversees. Porters, who transport loads on donkeys, ask for a flat per stage, including payment for food rations. Porters ask for the clothing and equipment allowance only when crossing the Minapin Glacier.
It’s four stages total round trip from Minapin: (1) Hapakun; (2) Tagaphari; and (3-4) two stages to return via the same route.
Minapin is a very hospitable, yet traditional and conservative, village. Villagers ask that visitors dress in shalwar kameez and act respectfully. Women should be escorted in the village and on trek. The Burushaski name Minapin derives from compacted (pin) mud (resembling mina, the dry meal of pressed nuts, such as walnut, or apricots after their oil is extracted) that the glacier once deposited in the village.
Places to Stay and Eat
Minapin’s ground zero is (Diran Guest house). The gracious hosts, well- prepared food and peaceful grassy compound with orchard- shaded gardens distinguish this as one of the Northern Areas’ most tranquil places to stay. The dorm, and singles/doubles, all with hot running water. The camping fee. If you need a place to really rest and hang out for a few days between treks, this is it. It also rents tents, sleeping bags and Kitchen equipment, and sells limited tinned food, but it’s advisable to bring all trek food and supplies from Gilgit or Karimabad.
Getting There and Away
Public vans to Pisan and Minapin depart Gilgit’s Khazana (Bank) Rd near Golden Peak Inn, usually between 1 and 2pm. They’re unmarked and can be hard to find. The three- hour ride, plus per backpack or duffel bag. The 4km- long road to Minapin leaves the KKH at Pisan, just east of Ghulmet. From Pisan, it takes 45 minutes to walk to Minapin. The same public vans depart Pisan and Minapin daily for Gilgit at 6.15am.
When the Minapin vans are full, try Pisan and Miachar vans. The Pisan vans depart Gilgit before the Minapin vans, usually between noon and 1pm. The Miachar vans depart Gilgit about an hour after the Minapin vans. Gilgit- bound Miachar vans pass the Diran Guest House about 7am, but are usually already full.
No direct transport links Minapin with Karimabad, so just get to the KKH and jump on any passing vehicle. Karimabad- Minapin special hires.
GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK
See Getting There and Away, above.
Day 1 : Minapin to Hapakun
3- 4 hours, 5.8km, 792m ascent
From Diran Guest House (2012m), follow the road two minutes east. Then turn south (right) onto a dirt lane and follow it five minutes to the canal along the village’s south end. Turn west (right) and follow the path along the canal 15 minutes towards the Minapin River. Walnut trees shade the path and provide a home for nesting orioles (maiun). The trail turns south into the canyon and crosses a footbridge (2103m) over the rushing torrent to the river’s true left bank after 10 minutes.
The trail rises 183m on switchbacks for 30 minutes, then eases off and enters an open, aromatic juniper forest. Continue along the broad, shaded trail, rising gradually in one to 1½ hours to the huts at Bang-i-das, along a clear stream that tumbles over a cascade at the head of this pleasant side valley. The trail follows the stream 30 minutes to the base of the waterfall, where it forks. The right fork, which crosses the stream over a footbridge, leads to Gutumerung (see Alternative Day 3,). Follow the smaller left fork and climb 90m in 15 minutes to the grassy, tiered meadow of Hapakun (2804m) bordered by stands of mature fir trees. The Burushaski name Hapakun is given to a place (Kun) within a day’s walk of a main village, which is defined as ‘close enough to carry a child’ (hapa).
Camping is free in the open meadow, with northern views of Hachindar and Maiun peaks above the Hunza River. Diran and Rakaposhi remain hidden from view. Ibex inhabit the steep cliffs to the east high above the Minapin Glacier. A small, sometimes silty stream flows near the herders’ huts at Hapakun, but a clear spring lies behind and five minutes below the huts. It costs camp on private land near the spring.
Day 2 : Hapakun to Tagaphari
2- 3 hours, 3km, 457m ascent
Crossing the canal between the two huts, the trail (the one perpendicular to the canal, not parallel to it) heads south, rising across rock- strewn open ground beyond Hapakun’s largest hut—for a minute or two- and then climbs immediately west up dusty switchbacks through fir forest for 15 minutes. The trail eases off and contours the rocky slope for 30 minutes to a verdant bowl where wildflowers and colourful songbirds thrive. Sweeping gently through the meadow, the trail enters scattered juniper stands and climbs switchbacks to the windy ridge top, where Diran, Rakaposhi and their interconnecting ice wall finally come into full view.
The trail thins and traverses a rocky cliff above the spectacularly broken Minapin Glacier 15 minutes to Tagaphari (3261m). Once a muddy (taga) lake (phari), as its Burushaski name indicates, it’s now a level pasture, where cows and oxen graze. A herders’ hut is next to the rocky hillside, with plenty of good grassy camp sites along the meandering stream. A small seasonal spring lies at the base of the rocky slope towards the head of this small valley. The lateral moraine above the valley is a fun place to watch avalanches crashing down from the ridge between Rakaposhi and Diran, and to catch the sunset on Diran. Rakaposhi itself is mostly hidden from view behind the obvious snow dome of Rakaposhi East (7010m).
Side Trip : Askoreshung
3 hours, 5.8km, 1319m ascent, 1319m descent
Askoreshung (askor means a ‘flower’; shung, a ‘narrow path’) is a view point (3780m) atop the second ridge west of Tagaphari from where the Batura, Shishpar and Ultar peaks above Hunza are visible. From Tagaphari, ascend steeply west to the first ridge (3650m), descend and cross the intervening Gutumerung stream, reaching the second ridge in two hours. Return to Tagaphari in one hour.
Side Trip : Diran Base Camp
7- 8 hours, 12km, 389m ascent, 389m descent
Diran Base Camp is locally known as Kacheli, a Burushaski word meaning ‘the best grazing grass’. Minapin and Miachar villagers share these birch- dotted pastures. The area, along the Minapin Glacier’s north- east margin, is similar to Tagaphari with good camp sites and a small spring nearby. Visiting Kacheli as a day hike from Tagaphari is a more strenuous, but less expensive, option than camping at Kacheli and paying porters for the two additional stages (one there, one back).
From Tagaphari, follow the crest of the lateral moraine south 20 to 30 minutes to the small cairn (3510m) marking the route onto the glacier. It takes three hours to cross the broad Minapin Glacier and reach Diran Base Camp (3650m). The unmarked route north- east across the glacier’s alternating bands of rock and ice near many seracs is difficult to follow and changeable, so take a local guide or porter who knows the way. Carry a rope for safety. Watch for marginal crevasses when exciting the glacier.
From Diran Base Camp, trekking south- east up the ablation valley towards the rocky bend (4040m) in the glacier brings you to the point where the route to camp l moves onto the glacier, close beneath Diran. Enjoy the view, but don’t continue onto the heavily crevassed glacier. Experienced climbers can attempt Pheker (5465m) from base Camp.
Side Trip : Kacheli Lake
3 hours, 8km, 300m ascent, 300m descent
It takes two hours to climb steeply to the small Kacheli Lake above Diran Base Camp, and half that to return.
Day 3 : Tagaphari to Minapin
3- 3½ hours, 8.8km, 1249m descent
Retrace your steps downvalley to Minapin via Hapakun.
Alternative Day 3 : Tagaphari to Minapin
4- 4½ hours, 8.4km, 389m ascent, 1638m descent
Ascend the ridge (3650m) immediately west of Tagaphari for sweeping views, and descend steeply to Gutumerung, a pasture (rung) in this deep (gutum) valley where sheep and goats graze. Follow the trail steeply downstream (north) until it passes the waterfall at the head of the Bang-i-das Valley and joins the trail between Hapakun and Minapin.