Day 7: Last Day in Hunza
Our last day in Hunza was a fairly subdued one. We started off the morning by taking a walk along one of the water channels that funnel the glacial melt water from high up Ultar Glacier down countless channels, ditches and cascades to the lush green fields, meadows and orchards that cover every inch of fertile land in the valleys. It’s these channels which make Hunza what it is today. At first glance the water appears quite murky and unclear, but the brown color comes from fine silt and mica deep beneath the glacier which gives the water a silky, ethereal quality.
Our walk took us to another girls school to visit, this time a government degree college for girls between the ages of around 16 to 20 years old. While it was great to see what progress is being made in this front, visiting two schools hit my limit (and there was another third originally planned for tomorrow!) – there are only so many times I can stand awkwardly at the front of a classroom and address groups of bemused schoolgirls.
From there we went down to Altit, one of the original settlements in the valley. It dates from the time a group of Huns (think: Attila the Hun) came over the Khyber Pass and turned left into the mountains, eventually settling on this valley to set up shop. The highlight is the old Altit Fort, like its big brother up the hill painstakingly restored over the past decade or so. This one dates back over a millennia and is strategically positioned on the edge of a 300m high cliff above the river. The Tibetan influence is clear in the structure and design of the building, as well some of the Buddhist carvings in the pillars and door frames.
We had lunch at a lovely restaurant in the royal gardens adjacent to the fort under the orchard trees, itself an initiative to provide local women with the opportunity to operate their own business. Easily one of the best meals I’ve had here.
After Altit we drove half an hour uphill to the village of Duikar, the highest village in the Hunza. Our accommodation for the night was the Eagles Nest Hotel perched high above the valley with outstanding views to the west towards Rakaposhi. We were told this is THE place to come to for sunrises and sunsets, but unfortunately some unsettled weather blew in so we weren’t treated to any postcard-perfect views. Here’s hoping for better weather in the morning!