Fitness Level: Strenuous: The K2 Base Camp Trek is a challenge even for experienced hikers. As a group, we spend 12 days trekking deep into one of the world's wildest mountain ranges. Unlike in Nepal, there are no villages beyond Askole or Hushe. This an expedition style trek, meaning we carry all of our gear with us. We employ many local porters and mules to help us carry the supplies that will make the trek to K2 a comfortable and rewarding experience.
At altitude, every person's body is different, but having a comfortable fitness level will only benefit you in the mountains. Ideally, our guests will have already spent some time at or above 4,000 meters. EBT will ensure that our group has proper time to acclimatize en route to higher elevations. Our trekking days will certainly not be "death marches" and all trekking days are of reasonable distance and intensity.
Who should apply?
The perfect candidate:
We want adventurers…
This is an adventure… things may not always go exactly as the itinerary states and if they don't, we will be there to solve problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. You will get out of this trip what you put into it; a positive attitude, willingness to get to know the locals, and enthusiasm are all important.
Please note the K2 Base Camp Trek can involve the following: somewhat long travel days, trekking on uneven, glacial terrain, being in the sun in potentially hot temperatures, early morning wake-ups, cold nights at altitude , and other similarly challenging scenarios. Hiking with your personal gear (should be no more than 5-10 kilos) is to be expected - porters are available for the rest of your kit.
Epic Backpacker Tours staff are there to lead you into the mountains and provide you with an amazing experience through our unique contacts – we are not there to be your servants. We are there to guide you to K2 and back in a mode of utmost professionalism, laugh with you, trek with you, and overall have an awesome time bonding as a group.
Why do I need to book a Tour? Can I do the K2 Base Camp Trek on my own?
Because the Central Karakoram National Park crosses some restricted military zones (within the park are natural boundaries with China and India), you must have a guide and obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC), which only tour companies can issue for this region.
Epic Backpacker Tours sorts out all of your permits well in advance of the trip. We check in with park police when we enter Central Karakoram National Park.
Trekkers without an organized guide will not be allowed into the park to attempt the trek.
What is the food like on the trek?
Food in Pakistan is pretty repetitive – there’s a lot of daal, chicken, and rice. We will try to mix this up where possible (especially in the cities) by taking you to some great restaurants.
Food whilst camping will be the best possible quality, but please have realistic expectations of what our camp cooks can deliver. There won't be any lasagne and red wine (unless you bring the wine), but the food will be healthy and tasty.
Breakfast: Typically includes an omelette/fried eggs, fried Pakistani bread (paratha) chai/coffee. Sometimes we have a delicious hot porridge as well.
Lunch: Will include a mix of local bread, tinned fish, biscuits, crackers, cheese, and chai. There will almost always be a soup course (lunch and dinner).
Dinner: is always the main event of the day and will be a mix of vegetables, rice, noodle dishes, daal, meat (mutton or chicken), and other tasty dishes served up by our experienced cook.
Note: In general, the food in Pakistan is SPICY (especially in Punjab). Again, we always try to accommodate dietary needs, but keep in mind that options can be limited at times if you can’t do spicy food. There will ALWAYS be some decent vegetarian and non-spicy items, but you also need to have realistic expectations regarding Pakistani cuisine, which can be meat-heavy, and SPICY. Please let us know early on if you have any diet restrictions/preferences. If you are vegetarian/vegan, you might want to consider bringing some of your own food (for snacks/breakfast stuff), as it can be very difficult to cater to individuals in a big group, though we always do our best.
Will there be sweet, sweet WiFi on our trip?
Once we leave Islamabad, WiFi is basically non-existent. Whilst there may be small amounts of phone coverage on the trip, you should view this adventure as a chance to unplug. In the mountains, there is zero phone siginal so there is no point in buying a SIM card as it will only work in a few places. There is wifi in the hotels in Skardu, but it hardly works and there are often power outages.
If you have experienced difficulties whilst trekking at altitude in the past, this trip may not be for you.
What kind of guides will we have?
EBT co-founder, Chris Lininger leads the K2 Base Camp Trek along with a team of local Balti guides, cooks, and porters.
Check out our meet the team page here.
What is the accommodation like in Pakistan?
Prices are based on the sharing of rooms/tents and single (same sex) members of the group will typically be put together. We will be using nice guesthouses/hotels that offer very comfortable, but simple, facilities. Sometimes rooms might be without air-conditioning (although the rooms in Islamabad we will definitely have AC). In Skardu the rooms have fans.
Once we arrive in Askole to start the trek, our accommodation will be in tents until we return back to Skardu. The tents are high quality, waterproof, and comfortable.
If you'd like to have your own tent for the duration of the trek we can arrange it at cost. The single supplement cost is $350; as we will need to pay for it to be portered for nearly two weeks.
If you would like your own hotel room in Skardu and Islamabad, the extra cost is $200.
Do the guides carry satellite phones?
Yes. Our guides are equipped with industry standard satellite phones for use during emergencies and for communication with our supply team. The guides also carry two way satellite messengers with GPS technology so that in case of emergency, we can give response teams are exact location.
At times, the satellite phone is available for guests to use at the cost of $2/minute.
Does EBT sort out my Pakistani Visa?
No, that is your responsibility. You will need to arrange your visa yourself before you arriving in the country. EBT provides you will all the supporting documentation you need to apply for a Pakistani tourist visa including a Letter of Invitation.
Recently, it has become quite easy to apply for your Pakistani visa using the new Evisa scheme. The whole process can take several weeks, but EBT has never had one of our guests be denied a visa.
Where do I need to apply for my visa?
If you choose to not apply for your visa online using the Evisa scheme, then physical visas can only be arranged in the country your passport is from so if, for example, you have a British passport you must sort your visa in the UK. If you are traveling long-term out of your home country, we recommend posting your passport back to your home country and getting a friend, family member, or visa service to help you submit your visa application.
You can also usually get a visa in another country if you have a residency visa there. You will need a letter of invitation for your visa application and we will provide this, as well as tips on how to make the visa application as stress-free as possible, once your spot is confirmed.
Please note your LOIs, which you need for your visa applications, are included in the cost of this tour and will be sent out to you approximately three to four months before the start of the tour.
What sort of equipment do I need to come on this trip?
We will provide a full kit-list a little closer to the start date of the trip. You will not need to spend a fortune on expensive gear but apart from standard long distance trekking kit (warm 0 degree F sleeping bag, rain gear, down jacket, sturdy hiking boots, water filter bottle, backpack, sun protection, etc), you will need to bring your own climbing harness, crampons (or micro spikes), and helmet. Helmets can be purchased in Skardu, but we always recommend sorting out your gear before you arrive into the country.
Do I need technical mountaineering skills or experience to come on this trip?
No you do not. Crossing the pass at Gondogoro La is the most serious aspect of this trek in terms of difficulty. Rock fall, ice, and poor route conditions are all assessed by our team prior to ascending/descending the pass.
You will be clipped into to a fixed rope from the top of the Gondogoro La for safety/security reasons. Crampons are very rarely needed for this section, but we believe it is always best to have them just in case.
Is insurance included in the tour?
No it is not. To travel on this tour, you must buy travel insurance. We will provide recommendations closer to the start of the trip. If you don’t buy travel insurance, you will not be allowed to come on the trek.
WIll the trip run exactly as the itinerary is planned?
EBT staff does everything in their power to ensure things run smoothly. When it comes to flights, weather, road construction, etc, these factors are out of our control
However, it is important to remember that adventure travel is all about the journey, and so even the unexpected situations we may face should be treated as part of the overall experience. If we encounter issues we will get them sorted to the best of our ability.
We have factored in buffer days in case of delay so that we still have enough time to do the whole planned itinerary, even if we are unable to fly to Skardu due to poor weather conditions.
Where will I need to fly into to start the tour?
You need to arrive into Islamabad, Pakistan and be at the hotel/meeting spot by the morning of day 1. Ideally you will arrive a day early to rest and gear up for the start of our adventure. You will be picked up from the airport by a member of our team providing you arrive within 24 hours of midday on day 1. If you arrive outside of those days, you’ll need to sort your own transfer – advice will be provided.
Is pre-tour accommodation provided?
Your accommodation is NOT included for the days leading up to the start of the tour or the days after the tour has ended. Day 1 is the first day accommodation is included. If you need an affordable place to stay before or after the tour starts/ends, we can provide recommendations. It is possible to find a very nice hotel room in Islamabad for $40-50/night (less if you share the room with a fellow tour guest).
Do I need to sign a release waiver?
All tour participants will be required to sign an industry-standard waiver releasing Epic Backpacker Tours from any liability related to any aspect of this Skardu Region Pakistan adventure Tour.
Can anyone come on this trip?
Once you have secured your spot, we will arrange a call so that we can have a short trip debriefing and interview. The interview is a chance for your tour leader to get to know you better before the start of the tour. If we don’t think you’re quite right, we will refund 100% of your money.
There is no upper age limit, though we ask that our guests be a minimum of 21 years old.
Potential guests looking to join us on this trek need to have prior experience trekking in the mountains, to have decent fitness as mentioned above, and a positive attitude to join an awesome group of people from around the world.