Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Karakorum mountains, the settlement of Ghulkin is an ideal destination for adventure and nature lovers. Because of its picturesque landscape and peaceful atmosphere, the natives call it Jannat Ghulkin. 

This place is blessed with numinous lofty peaks, glaciers, a lake, gushing glacier fed streams, fruit orchids and green fields.  Ghulkin is located in Upper Hunza at a distance of 145 km from the Gilgit which is the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan region. A 3 km side road after Gulmit town link Ghulkin with Karakoram Highway.

At the elevation of 2,600 meter Ghulkin has around 249 households and a population of 1400 people. The village is inhabited by Wakhi community and traditional Wakhi culture still forms part of the people’s everyday life due to which it can be considered as the cultural center of Gojal. Gojal is the local name of the area of Upper Hunza Valley.

Local community of Ghulkin with the support of IUCN Pakistan and Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan is working to promote community based ecotourism in the area. The main focus of this initiative is on the promotion of environment friendly, responsible and sustainable tourism which encourages nature conservation and support the wellbeing of local people. Additionally, it motivates visitors to follow best practices of environment friendly tourism and maintain respect and concern for local culture and traditions

History and Culture

In his acclaimed travelogue, the famous Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsien, who travelled along the old Sild Route during the 5th Century, makes a reference to the settlement of nearby Gulmit. This dates the area at least 1500 year old, an impressive age for the settlement in the region so isolated and inaccessible. The arrival of the British in the late 19th Century and the completion of the Karakoram Highway in 1978, slowly made the region more accessible and gave way for modern outside influences, but traces of past history can still be found in this area.

The Gojalis are good-looking race with well-cut features. They are Wakhi (Tajik) descendant of nomadic herdsmen from eastern Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Chin’s Tarim Basin. There Persian influenced language is unrelated to Brushaski which is language of people in main Hunza Valley. 

Majority of the Wakhi people belong to the Ismaili Sect of Islam. Only small minority belong to Shia Sect of Islam. The influence of Prince Karim Agha Khan on the institutional and economic development of this region is very strong. After the opening of Karakoram Highway in 1978, AKDN started operations in this area and launched a number of community development projects ranging from education, health care, irrigation, livestock, modernization of agriculture, development of road network and social management. 
Agriculture and livestock is the main source of income for most of the local population. Every family owns some land and livestock. Cash crops such as potatoes, vegetables and dry fruits are sold to down country. Products like wheat, rice tea and sugar is imported form the down country.

The staple diet of the people of Gojal is fruits, cereals, vegetables and dairy products. This simple diet, together with a pollution free environment, simple lifestyle no discontentment and good traditions is the secret of good health of Wakhi people. 
The literacy rate is Gojal is very high. Almost 100% children go to school. This high level of education is the results of Agha Khan Education Services which started work in this area in late 70s. Now there are also number of government and private schools and colleges available in this area. 

Folk music is also an important part of Wakhi culture. In order to promote local folk music, the Gulmit Educational and Social Welfare Society have established a music school under the name of “Bulbulik”.   Bulbulik is the first folk music school in the area and have even given opportunities to female students as well to come and learn alongside their male counterparts. Bubulik is named after nightingales which are frequently mentioned in Persian and Urdu poetry. The school takes its name from Wakhi folk culture known as Bulbulik. Shepherds of lowland areas sing while they travel to the highlands to send messages back home. Its roots can be traced back to 1985, when a small school was set up by Muzafaruddin Shah to create awareness about protecting one’s own melodies. 

Flora and Fauna 

This area has a variety of flora and fauna which makes this region an attractive destination for ecotourism. Major fauna includes Snow Leopard, Himalayan Ibex, Tibetan Wolf, Red Fox, Stone Marten, Snow Cock, Chukar, Snow pigeon, Booted Eagle and Common kestrel. Major flora consists of Spruce, Juniper spp., Salix spp., Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn), Artimesia martima and many other medicinal herbs.

As a whole there is reasonably good opportunities for nature based tourism as the side valleys which are accessible by trekking routes are potentially good places for wildlife watching and to admire the natural landscape of this area. Services of local trained nature watching tour guides are available through tourist facilitation center.