Concordia & K2
This truly was a trip of a lifetime. Having travelled to Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro (with Exodus) we thought we had a pretty good idea of what to expect on this trip. We were so wrong! This was so much tougher and in many different ways. Firstly, whilst there's an itinerary, it quickly became apparent that there's a lot that's outside the control of Exodus and the on-the-ground operator. We were held up in Islamabad for longer than expected (due to leave on Saturday, left on Wednesday). Our flight to Skardu was cancelled as a result of bad weather and with just one flight a day, it wasn't possible to get re-booked until Wednesday. Once in Skardu, although visa and permits have been granted, there's still a step to complete on the ground and it can't be started until you arrive in Skardu. Here you're at the very of the Authorities and 'it takes as long as it takes'. We weren't granted permission to enter the national park until around 9pm on the day we arrived in Skardu. Sara, our tour guide, kept us informed at every step and went over and beyond, using the local operator and 'connections' to try to get us back on track. She discussed the options with us and as a group, we decided on a plan to try to keep the overall tour intact. This meant combining 2 days of itinerary into 1, twice! The terrain is hard and unpredictable, this is where Sara and the local team were invaluable in their knowledge and expertise. We really were in their hands, finding safe passage and negotiating an ever-changing landscape. This made it feel really natural and exciting. It was one of the most breathtaking places on earth, with a real sense of pure and raw beauty. We worked hard to get to Concordia and even harder to get K2 base camp. The team were unbelievably amazing, we simply could not have completed this trek without their encouragement, support, humour and importantly expertise. This isn't a well trodden path and you need to know the environment. It was obvious from day 1, Sara had an incredible relationship with the local team, she knew the country and local environment well. She had a wonderful nature and approach to the people, the country and the environment, all of which she shared so generously, with true enthusiasm and passion. She's such a modest person, someone that would shy away from the attention or thanks, instead passing it on to others. However, she was at the centre of everyday, every step and for that we are very grateful. An incredible trip and one we'd highly recommend.