After having spent one week in the sweltering heat of Islamabad I am now off to K2 base camp – a trip I am leading for a British tour operator. I am really excited to finally see the Baltoro Glacier and discover another part of Pakistan – away from the suffering and plight I saw during my time with the United Nations.
I am leading eight international trekkers and I will be meeting them on Sunday in Rawalpindi, which is Islamabad’s twin town and I guess the old part of the city. This is the first time I am setting foot to ‘Pindi’ as we were not allowed to do so while working for the UN.
The plan is to fly to Skardu on Monday morning, however, if flights do not operate due to bad weather (which happens frequently), we will take a jeep and drive up on the Karakorum Highway, which is a 24-hour journey. So I am hoping that the weather gods will be kind to us and let us take the spectacular 45-minute flight, which goes directly over Nanga Parbat – the ninth highest mountain in the world.
We will then drive to Askole from where we will start trekking towards K2 base camp. I have been warned that the first two days of the trip can be incredibly hot, so I guess that this must be the toughest part of the trip – even though the altitude is still only around 3,000m. We should get to base camp around 30 June and then head back to Skardu from where we fly back to Islamabad.
I have had a great week in Islamabad and despite the stifling heat, which makes any outdoor activity like running or biking pretty tough, I enjoyed being here very much. My friends Ale and Manuel organised a birthday bash for me and it was very touching to see how many people turned up and share this day with me.
It feels a little bit weird not knowing when and if I will be back as every time I left I knew I was returning to Islamabad, however, this time it is different. Even though many people are moving on and are leaving Islamabad too, I shall really miss this place and first and foremost its fantastic people. Whether they were journalists, from the UN or non-governmental organisations, embassy staff or Pakistani colleagues – the people here have really made this place very enriching for me and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to that.
I will be back from my trek on 7th July and will spend another day in Islamabad before I fly to Delhi and then to Leh to climb Lungser Kangri, a 6,666m peak in Lhadak.
I will be in touch again once I find an internet connection during my travels!