Cycling on the old silk route - karakoram highway to kyrgyzstan


Beyond the Himalayas lies the greatest concentration of mountain ranges in the world. Riding the Karakoram Highway to Kyrgyzstan with Nanga Parbat adventure is a unique opportunity to experience astounding natural beauty and ancient cultures whilst enjoying some of the best cycling in the world.

Nanga Parbat Adventure cycle tour of Pakistan is an opportunity to experience astounding natural beauty and ancient cultures along the Karakoram Highway, while enjoying some of the best riding in the world.
The Karakoram is the backbone of vast colliding mountain ranges incorporating some of the world’s highest peaks and longest non-Polar glaciers. These peaks reach 7,000-8,000m and include K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth.

for the first 10 days we will be using the Karakoram cycling itinerary and it will be further extended as mentioned in the itinerary


Tour Itinerary: 
Arrive at Islamabad airport. Complementary airport to hotel transfers are included for all flight times. At 6pm you will meet the group and our representative at the hotel for a briefing. Islamabad Altitude: 540 metres (1,770 ft) Accommodation: Hotel

We will try to take the early morning flight to Gilgit (not included in trip cost); this is one of the most dramatic flight routes in the world. A small Fokker Friendship plane flies around Nanga Parbat at 8,125m; the sharp triangle of K-2, the second highest mountain in the world, is clearly visible on the horizon. The pilot sometimes invites passengers into the cockpit to see some of Pakistan’s 82 peaks over 7,000m, which stretch, range after range, as far as the eye can see.
This route is ‘weather dependent’ with about one third of flights cancelled, some at the last moment. If the flight is cancelled we will travel by coach to Gilgit.
On arrival in Gilgit we will be transferred to our hotel.
Gilgit Altitude: 1,500m  Overnight at Hotel.

We spend the day relaxing in Gilgit. You have the option of visiting the incredible seventh century Kargah Buddha, a three meter high statute carved half way up a cliff-face. A 10-minute walk from here is the Shuko Gah, a small village where a Buddhist birch bark text (now called the Gilgit manuscripts) was found in 1931. The manuscripts are now divided among museums in London, Rome, Delhi and Karachi. Gilgit Altitude: 1,500m (4921ft Cycle Distance: 18km (11 miles Total Climb: 225m (738ftTotal Descent: 225m. Overnight at Hotel

Today we set off on the bikes and cycle into the beautiful and remote Bagrote Valley which spans a distance of 25km and is 43km from Gilgit. Located at the heart of the Karakorum Mountains, it is surrounded by four Mountain Peaks: Rakapushi to the West, Dirn to the North, Popurash to the East and Dubani to the South East. The Bagrote River flows through the steep valley and merges with the Gilgit. The lower region of the valley has been likened to a lunar landscape and is in strong contrast to the upper valley. We cycle up the narrow road to the summer pastures passing beautiful terraced fields and meadows. The crops and orchards are irrigated by water channels from the Barchi and Hinarchi glaciers and mountain snow. Ice from the glacier is transported to Gilgit as the town has no ice factory. Chirah is the final village along the track, with a view of Hinarche Glacier and a series of ridges culminating in the Diran Peak (7270m). Nagyr is on the other side. Tonight we will be camping. Chirah Altitude: 2,445m (8,022ft) Cycling Distance: 43km Ascent : 1,377m Descent: 372m Overnight at Camping (B,L,D)

This morning we visit the local school and women’s sewing center, a vocational training project; both are supported by redspokes LVCF charity. We have the opportunity to meet families from the community. There is time to walk around and enjoy the view of the prominent Dobani peak and the Hinarche Glacier. We cycle back to Gilgit, mainly downhill; a gentle trip compared with yesterday’s ascent up the valley. Back in Gilgit you will have time to look around, visit a tea shop or pick up some of the handicrafts for sale in the town. Gilgit Altitude: 1,500m  Cycle Distance: 43km
Ascent : 372m Descent: 1,377m Overnight at hotel.

Shortly after leaving Gilgit we rejoin the KKH. The road climbs slowly passing a few small villages, before we start to witness the huge spiral of Rakaposhi looming in the distance. The road goes so close to its base that it is hidden most of the way. It is only when we arrive at our small family guesthouse at Minapin that we really witness the true beauty of Rakaposhi. Our accommodation for the night is situated in a beautiful tranquil orchard. Minapin Altitude: 2,030m Cycle Distance: 82km Ascent : 1,353m Descent: 772m  Overnight at Hotel or local traditional Guest House

The Karakoram highway (KKH) is at its most spectacular between Ghulmit and Gulmit. The road rides high on the eastern side of the river, twisting and turning around the barren foot of the Hispar Range, which boasts six peaks over 7,000 metres. On the opposite bank, villages cling implausibly to the side of the 7,388m Ultar Mountain. Above, the jagged teeth along the ridge hide the highest snow-covered peaks from view. A short but spectacular day to Karimabad, the capital of Hunza. Karimabad Altitude: 2,400m  Cycle Distance: 35km Ascent : 703m Descent: 341m Overnight at Hotel.

A rest day, but with so much to see in this enchanting village, it is unlikely that you will get much rest. Highlights are a visit to the 13th Century Baltit Fort or a visit to see the Sacred Rocks of Hunza. For the really adventuress amongst you a trek up to Hon will give you incredible views across  the River the whole of the Nagar valley. Karimabad Altitude: 2,400m Overnight at Hotel.

As we leave Karimabad the road drops down to the village of Ganesh before we begin a fairly hard 15 km climb. Remember that if at any time you have had enough, just wait around for the back-up vehicle. Due to the floods of 2010, a section of the KKH between the village of Gulmet, and Gulkin is now impassable and we will take a ferry here to continue along the route. This afternoon we cycle on a further 16 km to Passu. The road climbs with intermittent glimpses of glaciers, precipices and gleaming white peaks, before the 10 km descent to Passu, which brings us directly in front of the incredible Passu Glacier where we will stop for the night. Passu Altitude: 2,480m Cycle Distance: 41km Ascent : 910m  Descent: 762m  Overnight at Hotel

We can make a late start this morning. When we depart our beautiful surroundings we have a picturesque 39 km cycle ride to the quiet and unremarkable border village of Sust. We can pick up any supplies we need here, before we cross over the border.Cycling Distance: 38km  Ascent : 601m Descent: 265m  Sust Altitude : 3,668m Overnight at Guest House.

From Sust we will cycle up and then back down part of the remote and tranquil Chaporsun Valley. here you will experience the renowned Wakhi hospitality and culture as we journey through small villages. Our route follows the Gilgit river for most of the day. Cycling Distance: 60km Overnight at Hotel.

We transfer today into China. There are a number of border formalities we will need to pass through during the day. We set off by vehicle driving up to the Khunjerab Pass, taking a brief break at the top to marvel that it was possible to build a road in such an inhospitable environment, before crossing the border and entering a different world, both culturally and geologically. A 1400 year old stone fortress gives the town its name: stone (tash) fortifications (kurgan). Tashkurgan is home to an ethnic Tajik community and marks the halfway point between Europe and China and the town museum. There is also the opportunity to change money and do laundry. Tashkurgan Altitude: 3,085m Overnight At hotel.

Another fantastic day as we cycle to Kala Kule. This is a long and challenging ride with some amazing views in probably the most spectacular part of western China. For the first 40 km there is a gentle incline as the road winds its way through the Tagharma basin, where you get the first views of the stunning north side of the Muztagh Ata Massif (Father of Ice Mountains at 7,546m). The wind can be strong up here but usually it’s a tail wind. The road gets steeper for the last 32km to the top of the 4,200 m pass. Then it’s an exhilarating 30km blast downhill, providing the wind is blowing in the right direction!!! We finish the day with a 20km flat ride to the lake. If we can arrange it we will stay in a Kyrgyz yurt otherwise we will transfer to Kashgar. Cycling Distance: 97km Ascent : 1,114m Descent: 567m Kara Kul Altitude: 3,668mOvernight at Hotel

Kashgar was an important hub on the Old Silk Road; a vibrant Islamic center positioned at the foot of the Pamir Mountains and commanding access to the high glacial passes of the Silk Road routes into Central Asia, India and Persia. On Sundays, Kashgar hosts the most famous market in Central Asia, so we will have chance to enjoy a lively, busy scene that defies its geographical remoteness with crowds flocking in to trade knives, hats, carpets, pots and pans, fresh fruit and vegetables, clothes and boots and every kind of domestic and agricultural appliance – often handmade. Colorful and exotic headgear is one of the features of the market. A short distance away is the Ulagh Bazaar, where traders sell their livestock, including horses, camels, cattle and sheep. Be sure to try the street food in the ‘old’ town which bursts into life in the evening.
Kashgar Altitude: 1,282m Overnight at Hotel.

An early start as we transfer across the dramatic Torugart Pass (3,752m) into Kyrgyzstan. A short distance along the road after the visa formalities, we will see the frozen lake Chatyr Kul before reaching Tash – Rabat. This small cluster of yurts is part of a well-developed network of Community Based Tourism (CBT) initiatives which have helped the local economy and gives travellers a great insight into a traditional way of life, unchanged over the centuries. We will be staying tonight in communal yurts. Tash Rabat Altitude: 2,850m. Overnight at Hotel.

Before we leave Tash Rabat we will have a chance to visit the 15th century stone caravanserai. It’s believed to be originally a Nestorian or Buddhist monastery dating back to the tenth century. Setting off on the bikes the lush green pastures and snow-capped mountains of the Tian Shan range are a pleasant change from the red desert on the Chinese side of the border. Our cycling today is over 1000m of descent to reach our destination At Bashy. Cycling Distance: 73km Ascent : 183m Descent: 1,236m Al Bashy Altitude: 2,085m Hotel or Guest house.

A long day’s cycling. We begin with a relatively easy 27km climb up the Kyzyl Bel Pass (The Red Pass) at 2,625m. Kyrgyzstan is probably the most beautiful of all the Central Asian countries. This is very much in evidence today as we cycle past small farming communities and nomadic shepherds. The road winds between red hills and eroded landscapes, the occasional vehicle will pass by during the 16 km descent towards the town of Naryn our stop for the night. The surface progressively deteriorates to a rutted, bumpy; gravely track making this a thriller ride. Cycling Distance: 46.5km Ascent: 710m Descent: 705m Sleeping Altitude: 2,075m Accommodation:  Overnight at Hotel

This is another challenging day as we cycle over the Dolon Pass which at 3,035m is the highest pass we encounter in Kyrgyzstan. The riding begins with an inevitable long climb. Over the peak we will enjoy a long downhill ride through a wide fertile valley that takes us to Kochkor, our stop for the night.
Distance: 119km Ascent: 1,240m Descent: 1,469m. Overnight at Local Guest house or Hotel

Our last day’s cycle on the KKH to Kyrgyzstan tour takes us to Issyk Kul, the world’s second largest alpine lake. Surrounded by the snowcapped Tian Shan Mountains the turquoise waters of the lake never freeze over. A fantastic location to finish a wonderful ride. After lunch we will transfer to Bishkek, pack up our bikes and then spend time exploring this laid-back picturesque city.
Distance: 62km Ascent : 163m  Descent: 356m Bishkek Altitude: 724m Overnight at Hotel.

redspokes KKH – Kyrgyzstan tour ends today. We will arrange your transfer to the airport for your flight home. Bishkek Altitude: 724m

Note : The above itinerary is intended as a working guide. Although every effort will be made to adhere to it, changes may be made because of weather conditions, transport failure or other unforeseen events.



We can make a customize itinerary if you’re looking for a shorter/longer tour or simply want the enjoyment of travelling on your own or with friends, Please let us to create a customized itinerary for you? We can organize private tours for groups of 2 or more people.
We have years of experience working in adventure cycling and providing our clients with customized itineraries





You will at all times have the security of a back-up vehicle; either a jeep or a bus. The vehicle will carry your luggage (we transport your main baggage by support vehicle from each overnight stop to the next) and yourself if you want. The backup van will be with us throughout the day stopping around every 12 miles (20 km).Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems so all you normally need to carry is a daypack, for your camera etc. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be equipped for all repairs, so if you are bringing your own bike on the tour you must ensure that it is in good working order. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel.

Most meals are included in your trip price apart from on non-cycling days and some other exclusions. Please check the itinerary for full details. If you have a special dietary request, please advise us at the time of booking. Most diets can be catered for, but it is always important to advise us in advance.

It is mandatory that you are well-insured for the full duration of the tour. This must include personal injury, medical expenses, death, repatriation, helicopter or aircraft rescue, loss of luggage or equipment, cancellation or curtailments.
You should also ensure that there is no exclusion clauses limiting protection for the type of activities included in your tour. Any claims concerning matters for which you are insured must be directed to your insurers. We strongly recommend that you take out insurance at the time of booking your trip to ensure that you are covered in the event of cancellation.

We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room. Should you wish to have a room all to yourself there is a single supplement option on the majority of our tours.

we are unable to offer bike hire for this trip. We highly recommend to bringing your own bike for this tour we recommend a good tough mountain bike as the roads can be very rough. Front suspension will help with the washboard tracks and potholes, but it is not essential. Full-suspension is OK, but may be hard work on the tarmac stretches. If you have flat bars, fitting bar ends will give you a different hand position and help with the climbs. The trip can be done on traditional touring bikes, but it is important to ensure it has got strong enough wheels, sufficiently wide tyres (37mm is about the minimum) and low enough gearing. It’s worth investing in a pair of 36 spoke, hand-built wheels, using a good quality rim (e.g. Sun Rhyno, Mavic or RigidaLow geared such as a 22-tooth granny cog on the front crank driving an 11-32/34 block on the back should do the trick. Comfortable as there are some long days so it is essential your saddle and riding position are comfortable.
The route is a mixture of poorly maintained tarmac and very rough gravel tracks. The best tyre for the job is probably the Schwalbe Marathon XR. It’s very tough and hardwearing, and has a decent tread for the gravel without being too knobbly for tarmac.
We strongly recommend that you have your bike fully serviced before going on the tour. Ensure that wheel spokes are adjusted, greasing all bearings, check gear and brake cables, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamp and tyres. Put in a new inner tubes and check wheel rims aren’t worn.
We recommend that you take the following items with you.
*Multi tool
* Tyre levers
* Pump
* Spare inner tubes
* Spare spokes
* Check with your bike shop for disc/ brake pads
* A few links for your chain
* Spares for any unique things for your bikes i.e fluid or bleed kit.
Your bike must be carried as part of your luggage allowance. The weight of a bike in cardboard box is about 15-20kg, so please bear this in mind when packing for the trip and you may have to pay for excess luggage.

Pakistan has a continental type of climate characterized by extreme variations of temperature, both seasonally, daily and in differing regions. The high altitudes on the majority of this tour means the climate is cold, with snow-covered northern mountains.

In terms of clothing this is clearly up to you and we can only supply a rough guide as to what to take. This guide is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs.
* Cycle Helmet
* Sunglasses
* Water bottles or camelbak
* Base layer tops
* Fleece jacket/ pullover
* Waterproof cycling jacket (breathable fabric)
* Baggy padded cycling shorts
* Cycling shoes/ trekking shoes
* Lightweight socks & heavyweight socks
* Trekking Shorts
* Trousers
* T-shirts– lightweight
* Long-sleeved thermal shirt
* Fingerless cycling gloves
* Warm gloves
* Warm fleece hat
* Buff
* Towel
* Lipbalm/ sunscreen
* Thermal Long Johns
* Headlamp
* Sleeping bag
Our guides carry first aid supplies, however we recommend you bring your own first aid kit which should contain the following item;
* Paracetamol/ Ibuprofen (or whatever you prefer for headache)
* Lomotil or Diacalm
* Rehydration salts (Dioralite)
* Antiseptic cream
* Throat lozenges
* Plasters (band aids)
* Nasal spray
* Eye drops
* Ear plugs
* Anti bacterial hand wash
* Antiseptic wet wipes
* Insect Repellent
* Energy Bars (gels, power bars)
* Energy/recovery drinks
* Camera

Tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and although it is always at your discretion, you will be expected to tip to reward service. 60-70USD for the guide and team at the end of the tour is recommended.
It is customary for this to be collected up and given to your guide who will distribute it amongst the team. Unfortunately there is usually a hierarchy for the division between guides, helpers and drivers.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that 200 to 250 $ will be more than enough to cover the tour.

Challenging 7/10
Average Daily distance 50km
Average Daily Ascent 800 m
 Days 10

We have a wide mix of cyclists on our tours from couples, friends to solo travelers. Our prices are based on twin shared accommodation. If you sign up for one of our tours as a solo traveler we will twin share you with another person of the same gender in your group. If you prefer to have your own room this is an option on most of our tours for an extra charge.