The Hunza Valley is considered heaven on earth due to its breathtaking scenery, an abundance of fruits and fresh air. Also, it is the home to one of the healthiest people of this planet. Considering all that positivity related to Hunza Valley, I decided to reflect more light upon it through some facts so you will feel and visualize the environment of the valley imaginatively.
- Hunza Valley is located in the northern part of Pakistan and borders with China and Afganistan.
More specifically, the Hunza valley locates in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Geographically, it is a mountainous region, which is regularly praised for its beautiful scenery. When you look at the images from Hunza, you will know that those praises are not made in vain.
- The dwellers of the Hunza Valley live over 90 years without suffering from any chronic diseases.
The Hunza people are the dwellers of the valley. For the rest of the world, they are known for their outstanding health. Some scholars believe that they stay healthy thanks to the clean environment, organic diet, and physical activities. They are blessed to be far away from loud and overly-polluted cities and be closer to nature
- Most parts of the Hunza Valley dominated with Brusho people.
Brusho is just another name for the Hunza people. Since most of the residents consist of Burusho people, the main language of the valley is Burushaski. It is the native language of the Brusho people.
Interestingly, no one knows the origin of the Burushaski language. However, some stories claim that fair-skinned and blue-eyed Brusho people came from the army of Alexander the Great. According to legends, the Greek army decided to stay in this region on the way back from China.
- People of the Hunza Valley eat lower calories than Americans do.
According to the reports, Hunza people eat somewhere between 1600 and 1800 calories a day. Whereas, Americans consume more than 3000 calories a day.
Additionally, most American foods usually use refined carbs and sugar. The diet of the Hunza people consists of low-calorie complex carbohydrates derived from organic sources.
- Fresh, raw, and dried fruits, herbs, and vegetables make up the big portion of the Hunza diet.
Hunza people consume about 0.80 – 1.1 ounces (22.7-30 grams) of protein per day. And most of it comes from plant-based sources. This means they eat less animal-based proteins, refined sugar and carbohydrates, and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
According to scholars, that simple diet makes the Hunza people more energetic and protects them from major chronic diseases.
- Hunza Valley feels unearthly because Hunza communities live in the separation from the modern world.
This means most of the households do not possess electronics. They do not have fancy things such as TV and the Internet.
If you travel the valley, you will see that people are occupied with physical labor to supply themselves with life essentials such as food, water, firewood, and others.
- In 2019, Forbes magazine selected Hunza Valley as one of the 10 coolest places to visit.
There is a good reason for this choice. Although Hunza Valley is hard to get too, the road to the Valley is fun. One the way driving to the Valley, people will go through breathtaking scenery and watch the spectacles of true nature and simple lifestyle.
Most tour agencies suggest that the human mind and spirit will be filled with relaxation during the road trip to Hunza Valley. There will be you and nature. Nothing else will distract you from experiencing a great trip.
- The Hunza valley is considered the best place for a digital detox.
City people who are filled with a digital smog by sitting on a computer all day long can come here to detach themselves from the digital realm. Being away from your computer and detaching yourself from time-consuming social media sites, and being closer to nature makes you feel lighter and energized.
You fill your lungs with fresh air, and your eyes will say you thank you for letting them see one of the beautiful sceneries in its true natural lighting, not behind the screen of your devices as most of us usually do.
- Hunza Valley has three regions: Upper Hunza, Central Hunza, and Lower Hunza.
Upper Hunza is a sub-region where three linguistic groups live. 34% of the population speak Burashaski, 65% Wakhi, and only 1% speak Domki language in Upper Hunza. Upper Hunza is also known for its several populous villages. Namely, Ayean Abad, Gulmit, and Sost. Gulmit is the capital of Upper Hunza, while Sost serves as a commercial heart line because of its conveniently located dry port.
Central Hunza is the administrative center of the Hunza region. Historically, the ruling family of the Hunza lived in this region. And it is considered to be the most populous sub-region. About 97% of the population in Central Hunza is Burushaski speakers. The rest of the 3% speak in Domki language. Central Hunza includes numerous beautiful villages which start with Murtaza Abad and ends with Attabad.
Shina speakers dominate the most parts of Lower Hunza and it borders with Nagar Valley on South and East. The region is known for its delicious fruits and celebrations of occasions such as Novroz, Ginani, and Salgirahs. People of Lower Hunza grow wheat, maize, peas, and vegetables. The region is specifically known for its quality grapes and mulberry. Plums, apricots, and cherries are also famous in this area.
- The Capital City of Hunza Valley is Karimabad.
Karimabad locates far from the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. The sources suggest that it will take about 24 hours to get from Islamabad to Karimabad by driving. However, there are once-a-day flights from Islamabad to the nearest airport located in Gilgit city. To get from Gilgit to Karimabad takes about 3 hours.
- There are two ancient forts in Hunza Valley, Altit Fort and Baltit Forts.
Historically, Altit was the home for hereditary rulers of Hunza State who were known as Mir. Three centuries later, occupants of Altit Fort moved to a newly structured Baltit Fort. In 2011, Altit Fort got an award from UNESCO for its historical significance. The fort was built to protect the residents from outer threats.
For example, Altit has a tower called Shikari. The Hunza army used to monitor surrounding areas and alarm the residents in the case of a threat. According to some legends, authorities of Hunza state used the tower to throw off the prisoners sentenced to death. Also, during all these years, Altit Fort could withstand several enemy attacks. Even more surprisingly, it withstood several major earthquakes. This means Altit Fort was built to last and it will be around for centuries to come.
Hunza Valley also hosts 700-year-old Baltit Fort, which also stood the test of time. It remained hidden among the region’s mountains. Early engineers built it on a high cliff facing it towards the valley. The Baltit Fort locates in the capital of Hunza Valley Karimabad. Similar to Altit Fort, it was a home and commanding center for the rulers of Hunza. Since the fort is located on the high grounds, defenders of Hunza could watch the surrounding areas against enemy threats.
Baltit Fort has three floors and occupants used each floor for different purposes during different times of the season. For instance, they used the first floor of the Fort as storage. During the winter, the occupants stayed on the second floor. When the summer hit, they moved to the third floor.
- Hunza Valley gets Glacier Flooding
This is a natural phenomenon that locals learned to deal with. And it is one of the natural disasters that threaten locals more. Glacier flooding is common in the Hunza Valley during the melt season. As its name suggests, glacier flooding occurs when the ice melts outputting a huge volume of water than lakes and dams can handle. As a result, glacier water bursts out sweeping debris and rocks on the way causing damages to local properties, agricultural fields, and roads.
- Hunza Valley is home to unknown species of butterflies.
Butterfly lovers can pack their bags and head on to the Hunza Valley to see one of the rarest kinds of butterflies. Scholars set up an expedition and studied the butterflies for several years. They found several unknown types of butterflies and most of them are endemic to this region.
- The second highest peak of the world K2 is located at the Hunza Valley.
Some of us already know that the highest peak of the world is Mount Everest. Its height reaches over 29,029 ft. (8,848 meters). Everest belongs to the Himalayan Mountain Range. The second highest peak of the world is K2 (28,251 ft. or 8,611 meters). It is located in the Karakoram mountain range, which is situated near the Himalayan Mountain Range.
Interestingly, American climber George Bell called the K2 Savage Mountain. Because he reportedly said, “it is a savage mountain that tries to kill you”. Bell’s description is not too far from reality because the K2 is one of the deadliest mountains for climbers. Based on the NASA estimations, the K2 has a fatality rate of 29%.
- Apart from the breathtaking scenery, the Hunza Valley also has magnificent rubies.
Rubies are one of the rarest gemstones in the world. The vibrant colors of rubies make it demandable and valuable in almost all societies. Therefore, jeweler all around the world use them to create luxuries wearable items.
After the discovery of rubies in Hunza Valley, locals started running their own mining operations independently. Usually, locals sell their findings in the local markets or sell to local agents who in turn, take them to Gilgit and Peshawar markets.
- You can spend a night in Hunza Valley
The valley attracts tourists from all over the world. Therefore, there are hotels available in the Hunza Valley, where tourists can spend a night watching the unearthly scenery of Hunza Valley under the magnificent skies. Two of the commonly referred hotels in the Hunza Valley are Eagle Nest Hotel Hunza and Hunza Serena Inn.
- If you are planning to travel in Hunza Valley expect lots of walking.
Hunza Valley is famous for trekking activities. Uneven ground with lots of ups and downs allows everyone to have the walking of a lifetime. Expect walking and climbing and eating a lot of local foods to gather enough energy to endure the exciting experience in Hunza Valley.
- Hunza people are very friendly for everyone
Some people have a negative perception about Pakistan, but the warm welcoming of the Hunza people destroys that perception and creates bright impressions instead. Most travel websites describe the Hunza Valley as a safe place to visit. Even Forbes magazine included the valley as one of the coolest places to visit.
- The most houses in Hunza Valley are made of stone.
Most households have a stone house in the valley. It is logical to assume that stone is the cheap source of construction materials considering the location. Since locals built the houses with durable stones, you will find houses that are over 400 years old in the valley.
- Hunza people eat soup quite often.
Preparing soup with local herbs and noodles is one of their traditional diets. Then again, it makes the sense why they consume hot soups quite often. The valley is cold and soup is hot. Therefore, hot soups usually warm up the whole body. Also, hot soup feels delicious and pleasant while eating in cold weather.
- Apricot-based foods are very common in Hunza Valley.
Local use natural oil made of apricot seeds. Additionally, they use apricot seeds as an ingredient in some of the Hunza foods. For instance, locals use crushed apricot seeds as a dressing for some of the cooked foods.
Why apricot seeds? Because apricots are one of the major fruits that are abundant in the Valley. Since there are lots of apricot trees, locals learned how to prepare delicious food out of them.
- Attabad Lake is one of the sightseeings in the Hunza Valley but it has a sad story.
The beautiful natural lake called Attabad attracts tourists from all over the world. It has beautiful turquoise water which blends in with breathtaking scenery of the region and creates an enjoyable environment for everyone. However, the Attabad lake came to existence through a natural disaster that had impacted the lives of 25,000 individuals negatively. Concisely, human sorrow was part of the creation of the lake.
More specifically, on January 4th, 2010, a massive landslide came down onto the Attabad village burring the most parts of the village, killing 20 people and destroying as many as 26 homes. The landslide caused a natural dam in the Hunza river. As a result of the newly formed natural dam, Attabad lake came to existence. Now, Attabad lake is the place for the tourists who like jet-skiing, fishing, and boating. However, one can enjoy its turquoise waters during the spring and early summer. During the winter, the Attabad lake freezes.
- The Hunza river passes through the Hunza Valley.
The river is important for the locals as a source of water and fish. This 155-mile (250 km) long river originates in the Khunjerab National Park and crosses the Gojal and Hunza Valleys. Down the path, it feeds into Attabad lake. It emerges again somewhere around Attabad village and continues its path until it converges with Gilgit River in Gilgit City. Historically, the ancient Silk Road, a trade route that connected Iran and China, ran along the Hunza River. One can still find the traces of this ancient route in some areas of the river.
- Some consider the Hunza Valley the living museum of wildlife.
People give this title because one can find some of the rarest animals on this planet. For example, Snow Leopard, Red Fox, Eurasian Lynx, Dhole, Himalayan Brown Bear, Himalayan Ibex, and Markhor goat are some among many wild animals that dwell in the Hunza Valley. Due to the rarity of some animals, local and foreign hunters pay lots of money for a trophy hunting permit.
- Some scholars considered the longevity of life in Hunza Valley is a myth.
We can’t actually prove whether it the life longevity of Hunza people are true or not. Although there is evidence that some people in the region live well-over 100 years. However, some scholars suggest that it is made-believe information. One scholar even estimated the average lifespan of the Hunza valley to be somewhere between 52-55, which is lower than the life expectancy of some western countries. To clarify all these misconceptions, the scientific world has to study the region so they can come up with accurate information.