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Old 8th June 2016, 22:22   #1
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Default Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Writeup by Dr Nadem Naeem ( nn )


2016 has been a busy year for IJC! First the snow cross, than Cholistan Rally, than trip to Potohar region. In between we had several offroading sessions at Rawat including our memorable Tug of War episode!

Summer camps have been a regular feature for IJC since 2009. In some years we have even had two. I have part of almost all the summer camps so far, and to say each one is better than the last is not an exaggeration. A summer camp is not just about destination (which obviously matters a lots as well). Its about friends / mates going out n about to spend some quality time enjoying, relaxing, chilling, testing one's rigs, testing ur self!

Summer camp planning this year started as usual a month or two before our trip! Various destinations were discussed, than changed and than changed back again! Month of May is too early for Babuser top to be open, but with Ramazan approaching, it had to be end of May. So we knew with the destinations in mind, it will have to be KKH travel this time. The news of still not repaired road section between Dasu and Chilas did worry some.

SK joined me in NPP on this year?s summer camp. I had got the full set of Kamani?s back on NPP so that it could be loaded with all IJC stuff. SK was worried about the stiff ride, but keeping 22-23psi cold tyre pressure mellowed the stiffness of NPP quite a lot and having plenty load at back helped (Generator, lights, marquee n stands, stoves gas cylinders, food stuff etc, along with my and SK luggage). Although Suhaib would still have preferred 20psi all round.

On D day, we had planned leaving for Hunza (our first destination) around midnight, so as to avoid all traffic near Haripur, Abbotabad, and Mansehra etc. Most people were prompt on time, remaining few turned up soon enough after frantic phone calls! Eventually after Dua?e Safar, we left around 1am. Convoy was large, but we made steady progress. Ali, and Peshawar team friends joined us in Abbotabad and we kept moving. First stop was for breakfast at a small road side restaurant! The usual Parathas Anday and chai was ordered for human refuelling. Some got their rigs refuelled as well. We started off again, this time the road had pot holes bigger than wheel base of most of our rigs, and most were wide enough to cover the entire width of double road. Anyway, our progress was still steady, but there were other people travelling trying to save their rides! Although I fail to imagine how anyone could save torturing ones ride unless at crawling speed!

Having 12 rides in convoy travelling on such treacherous route meant we were not moving as fast as we would have liked! Than the first breakdown happened, Tundra?s rear right tyre had had enough and had ripped sidewall!. The tyre was changed and we started our journey again. Suddenly SK and I saw some tempting sand dunes next to the river on our left side, we called in on radio and got off-road to hit the dunes. The sand was lovely, although being a bit damp and with us only one there we couldn?t try any adventurous run, otherwise we may have needed to call backup for help and no one would have taken that kindly, given it was mid day, almost 40 degree on KKH and we were still long way away from our final destination.

After short drive on sand dune, and photo shoot by SK and just chilling near the river, we heard on our radio that main group had reached Chilas Shangrila and ordered food. So we set off as well and reached there just in time for a hearty lunch. Eventually the group left Chilas, there were still 30 odd km distance to be covered on broken down road before Raikot bridge arrived, after which the carpeted KKH started and everyone floored it!

Driving on full stomach with no sleep all of previous night meant people were getting groggy and so some of us decided to stop at Nanga parbat view point for a break and some strong hot tea the sun had partially gone behind the mountains by then and temps had improved dramatically. The chit chat went on a for a bit too long. The first group had gone non-stop towards Hunza, so we were quite a way behind. When we eventually did move, Shabab found a puncture guy who could repair his damaged tyre. So we let the group move on and I stayed behind waiting for Shabab. The tyre repair took long, with vulcanizing n heat treatment n all. It was well past Maghreb before we left and than we encountered a land slide being cleared up in dark. Anyway Tundra n NPP cruised briskly on KKH once the road was finally open. Still it was well past 9pm before we reached our Karimabad hotel! Rest of the Guys had checked in into their rooms, food was already ordered. So after some chit chat people began retiring to their rooms and by 1am almost everyone had gone in to sleep!
Next morning I was up from the sunlight peaking in through the window, as I looked up, I saw the lady finger peak between clouds! What a great start to the day. As I stepped out of the room, the weather was refreshingly cool. Hot breakfast was indeed very welcome. After topping up on breakfast, people got their rigs fuelled, and also topped up their in vehicle snacks etc from shops nearby.

Juma khan, Nadeem Bhai and Mani went to get some fresh chicken for the BBQ dinner planned that night! The chicken was washed n marinated, and put in cooking pots and than placed in NPP daala. Eventually after full pack up n check out from hotel we left. Shortly after leaving Karimabad we came across the gorgeous Attabad lake, quite a few of us went down to the lake. I was thoroughly enjoying the exhaust rumble/ drone in the Attabad tunnels from the floored throttle!

Many people had warned us that the road to Shimshaal is narrow for Tundra, specially the bridges etc. But none of them knew the Untamed Tundra combination. With a little bit of guidance on foot, the tundra made it fine everywhere! It did have its share of tyre issues though. First we had a puncture, luckily we had the puncture repair kit with us and that was managed successfully. Than came the side wall burst of other rear tundra tyre. Maybe we were pushing too hard trying to catch up the others because of our previous delays! The main worry in our mind was that Tundra had no more spare tyres, and with its 5 nut axle hub, not of the other 11 rigs could lend it a tyre, coz all others had 6 nuts wheels! It was not only Tundra, which had tyre issues. Imtiaz?s TLC 80 and Bilal?s Prado 90 also had tyre sidewall damage!

The road to Shimshaal is an amazing work by the locals n all. It is so beautifully carved on mountain side. It is so narrow at places that one dare not look from the side window. We were lucky we didn?t encounter any traffic coming from other way. People coming from behind wanting to overtake were very few and could obviously wait till we had enough space to cross. I shudder to think who would have dared reverse that long if traffic did indeed come up from opposite side!

So we drove slowly n cautiously. And slow it was?????.took us over 7 hours to make it to the Shimshaal village, which is some 53km from KKH main road!. So we reached well after dark again! But we made it!. Most of the camps were already set up. Bonfire had been started, people were even setting up the BBQ. SK set-off making his special soup. The Hot soup was truly yummy and welcome indeed in the chilly open night. The sky was as clear as it could be. All photographers had left camp going into darkness to search for ideal photography spot. The stars the constellations n all left us in amazement!

Being one of the most senior by age, I do get privileges for my whitening beard, like camp being setup for me, chairs being offered, hot soup brought to me, BBQ chicken and food served in plate etc. It was an amazing night, the chit chat went on n on! SK presented live music on the sound system he had brought along. Nadeem bhai made hot dooth patti with elaichi, which was amazing with the Cake Rusk we brought along. It was almost like a hot desert post the BBQ dinner! I retired to camp around 1am, don?t know when SK or others did!

Next morning the crisp bright sunlight woke us all early around 6am. I could hear SK walking around outside already, Chai ban rahee hai, nn aa jaen! Cake rusk kahan chhupa kar rakhain hain!! We had bread butter jam n cheese etc for breakfast, but ?Tehzeeb? kay cake rusk were in hot demand. The hot tea / breakfast in the beautiful surrounding was an amazing experience.

After pack-up everyone started leaving one by one. This time Asad was the sweeper bringing up the tail end vehicles! Our progress was brisk, we were back on road in around 2:30hrs. While Shabab was cautious, but still quicker than first day and made it to the road in around 5 hours!

Rest of the convoy had already made it to Sost PTDC. Where we had our lunch. The weather was simply amazing. We lazed around for a bit, while Imtiaz, Shabab and Bilal got their tyres repaired. Than the convoy was off to Khunjerab top on the beautiful new KKH. The thin air at altitude had all our engines gasping for air, still we were proceeding at a good click! I was the first one to the border, and soon enough the rest started arriving. Sun had just hidden behind cloud and everyone?s teeth were clattering, despite multiple layers n hats etc! We took our pics and just enjoyed the lovely lovely surrounding with snow covered peaks n all. We were very tempted to run our rigs in the snow around the road, but were told not too by the Jawans at the check post!

Eventually we started our journey back, a very gentle snow blizzard started with fine snow! It was completely freezing with open windows yet serene beyond words! We did venture briefly offroad with Zeb myself, Asad and few others joining in! But it was difficult to stay out of rigs for long in such cold weather! Also we wanted to make sure we made it back before dark.

On KKH before Sost there is a wild life place, where they have had a small snow leopard caged for last couple of years. She had fallen in freezing river and the wild life official had saved her, she was just a few months old at the time! Now she is a fully grown adult! Her cage isn?t huge, but we were amazed by the speed and the length of her jumps even while in captivity. One of our (unnamed) friends even got scent marked by the leopardess when he was too close to the fence trying to get a close-up pic! Obviously he was called Mr snow leopard for the rest of the trip!

Than it was back to PTDC Sost for evening tea, and than off to Passu Ambassador Hotel for our night stay. After previous night camping, everyone ran off for hot shower for clean-up before dinner. Than we sat outside gazing at stars, chit chatting, leg pulling and what not. Finally by midnight people started disappearing into their rooms!

Next morning plan was a bit of variety, some went into Hunza for sight seeing , Altit fort, Baltit fort etc, others just went up to Caf?-de-Hunza for their famous cakes n coffee, while some of us stayed in Passu Hotel and left late. We did stop at Hotel breeze view in Passu and enjoyed their amazing apricot cake with tea amid glorious mountain surroundings!

Eventually we all left Hunza valley one by one for our next destination Naltar. Mani and I were in the lead. At some point Mani's surf's 1KZ started to over heat a bit, to save time, we simply towed it up some steep inclines with NPP. It was tough track, but NPP made it up steady without issues. Once the engine temp of surf got back to normal, we simply let it be as the steeper parts were over! As usual NPP made it with ease on every track. We only engaged 4x4 few times, once while pulling Mani?s surf, while in the soft sand tracks by the river on KKH and also while tackling a glacier! Otherwise it was almost 2X4 thru out the trip!

The beautiful colours of the Naltar lakes are truly a sight to behold. We camped by the first lake. After setting up camps etc, we trekked upto next lake nearby. The third lake was a further 90min hike, for which we were too late as it was already past 5pm by the time everyone made it to camping site! Some people did trek / hike up surrounding mountains while the rest just lazed around the beautiful fresh bright green crystal clear lake with hot cup of tea! A very nice relaxing experience indeed. Eventually hot dinner was served, followed by more tea, more gupshup again well past mid night!

The final morning everyone was up bright n early, tea was on stove straight away, Boxes of cake rusk out! Breakfast was quickish affair, before everyone started packing up / wrapping up. Vehicles were loaded up and by 8:30 we had all left. Progress was steady. We stopped briefly on the way to buy some cherries for home and in 2 hours we were back on KKH. All were moving steadily, fuelling as needed. First main stop was Chilas for lunch! Everyone refreshed a bit for the dreaded Chilas Dasu broken down road section. Tea / prayers break at Dasu hotel. Than we set off again. Soon it was dark. Progress was steady, we moved non-stop till Mansehra, for our late night dinner. As usual arranging n eating of food of 40 people means each meal break takes nearly 90 minutes or so. We eventually departed from Mansehra after 1am. Than it was non-stop run to home. SK moved to Zeb's vehicle at ISB toll plaza for lift home. I was finally home just before 4am. Got messages from others once they reached home safely. ISB was still fairly warm at 4am, compared to from where we had been!

Eternally grateful to Almighty for the un-ending blessings upon us! For bringing us back safely, for granting us these amazing opportunities to enjoy our such beautiful country. To all my dear friends, who joined and also those who couldn't join, this is one big beautiful happy family. I hope n pray for many more enriching travelling and otherwise experiences with you all!
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Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar-sk-naltar-lake.jpg  

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Last edited by Zappo : 9th June 2016 at 12:59. Reason: Edit Note- We are all for patriotism but we keep this board free of any kind of jingoism- patriotic, political or otherwise.
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Old 8th June 2016, 22:30   #2
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Default re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Enjoy the pictures of the event
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Old 8th June 2016, 22:51   #3
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Default re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Another set of picures
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Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar-dsc_4293.jpg  

Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar-dsc_4299.jpg  

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Old 9th June 2016, 12:25   #4
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Beautiful report, Aamir - thanks for sharing! How about some more pics of the 4x4s in action?

Wondering how come I don't see Mahindra Thars in your report? It's competent on the road and off it, has a comfy ride, now comes with an air-con and is much easier to live with (than the old Jeeps). The transportation cost to Pakistan would be reasonable too. Does anyone import Thars into the country?
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Old 9th June 2016, 13:19   #5
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Aamir, are these 4x4's locally assembled or imported as CBU? How much import duties do you pay?

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Wondering how come I don't see Mahindra Thars in your report? Does anyone import Thars into the country?
Is that a Mahindra in the 2nd pic? If it is, then its unlikely to have come from India directly (I think there is a ban on import of Indian automobiles & auto parts), but via UAE (which re-exports lots of Indian stuff).
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Old 9th June 2016, 16:42   #6
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Nice report there. Feels good to have a glimpse of 4x4 scene from our neighborhood.

I see a lot of old gen Toyotas and Nissan. Why nothing from current gen?
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Old 9th June 2016, 19:38   #7
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

More pictures to come

Stay tuned

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Beautiful report, Aamir - thanks for sharing! How about some more pics of the 4x4s in action?

Wondering how come I don't see Mahindra Thars in your report? It's competent on the road and off it, has a comfy ride, now comes with an air-con and is much easier to live with (than the old Jeeps). The transportation cost to Pakistan would be reasonable too. Does anyone import Thars into the country?
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Old 9th June 2016, 19:40   #8
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Check these pictures
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Old 9th June 2016, 20:25   #9
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Hope u like these pictures
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Old 9th June 2016, 21:40   #10
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Can't stop feeling jealous of you guys being able to have and enjoy all those Japanese SUVs and pickup trucks.

And the Tundra does look out of place in our Himalayan roads, if am right is that a grey import from Gulf?
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Old 9th June 2016, 21:56   #11
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Amazing. Inshallah! One day will make it to Hunza. A few of my European friends have been and it is definitely on the list. Thanks for sharing the camaraderie and the scenery and of course the vehicles.
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Old 10th June 2016, 15:09   #12
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Just saw a video from this drive. One landslide, one loose edge, one driver error, one breakdown...can't even imagine the concentration required.

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Old 14th June 2016, 18:27   #13
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Glad you enjoyed Sceneries . Vehicles & writeup

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Amazing. Inshallah! One day will make it to Hunza. A few of my European friends have been and it is definitely on the list. Thanks for sharing the camaraderie and the scenery and of course the vehicles.
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Old 14th June 2016, 20:56   #14
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

Amazing! The Karakoram highway remains a distant dream. Is it easy for tourists to get a chinese visa from the pakistan side? And if so can one just drive across the border?
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Old 15th June 2016, 20:47   #15
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Default Re: Islamabad Jeep Club Summer Camp: Shimshal, Khunjerab and Naltar

To be very honest . I have no idea about the rules

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Amazing! The Karakoram highway remains a distant dream. Is it easy for tourists to get a chinese visa from the pakistan side? And if so can one just drive across the border?
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