Kia suhana daish hamara! Crowned by the British Backpacker’s Society as ‘one of the friendliest countries’, our beautiful homeland is blessed with more than hospitable people and good food. Us fortunate lot have fascinating natural wonders like towering snow-capped peaks, heathery mountains and cold streams bubbling out of them; fast, glistening rivers and deep and majestic lakes .
From glaciers to desserts, mountains to gorgeous beaches, Pakistan is truly a country blessed with good looks :p and one has to appreciate their country’s beauty by making sure to travel through it.
So, brace yourselves; the places you’re about to see in our list of top travel destinations will spark your wanderlust and impel you to pack your bags and hit the road.
- Khunjerab Pass (Pak-China Border)
This is the highest pass in the world and its scenic views are nothing short of breathtaking. Giant mountains and an entire landscape decked in white, this place looks straight out of a fairytale. The road is in very good condition throughout the year, but it is only open to public from 1st may to 15th October. After that the pass closes due to extreme weather. You don’t have to worry about hotels and accommodation, the Gilgit region is full of hospitable inns and great food. The shorter more well kept road through Mansehra-Naran-Babusar-Chillas (N15) highway is the better option for travelling.
2. Baltit Fort and Hon Pass in Ultar Meadows, Hunza valley
This fort used to be the prime seat of the Hunza kingdom. It was built in around 8th Century CE, and is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List. The fort overlooks the town of Karimabad, and has sights that have been known to melt everyone’s hearts. Sitting atop a rocky paradise, the fort has a demanding respect and imposing presence in the mountains.
There are many local trek companies that aid the tourists in properly touring and enjoying the area. Hunzaguidespakistan.com offers a trek from the Baltit Fort to the Ultar Mountains and then the Hon Pass. Eric Shipton, one of Britain’s most famous mountaineers, described the view from the pass as ‘the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur’. This destination is for the brave of heart and for the mountaineers. Hon pass is the type of gorgeous, breathtaking place where you can reenact the ‘Bunny and Naina screaming on the mountain scene’ from Yeh Jeewani Hai Deewani.
Here is the link if you want to book a trek to this gorgeous place.
3. Fairy Meadows—Base of Nanga Parbat
The name suggests the magical appeal of these meadows. Known locally as Joot, these green meadows were nicknamed as Fairy Tale Meadows by German travelers, and rightly so! It is a national park and is one of the base camps for the Nanga Parbet trek. Dotted with buttercups and white flowers, you won’t believe you are still on Earth when you set your sights on this place. With the Killer Mountain standing tall in the background flaunting its icy grandeur, and sunsets that will make you appreciate every minute of the sight, the long journey is worth the abundance of natural beauty you’ll find here.
The grass fields are accessible by 12hour long jeep ride from the Raikhot Bridge on the Karakoram Highway to the village of Tato. From Tato, it takes about a four-five hour long trek on foot to reach Fairy Meadows. The season to visit this heavenly place starts in April and ends in early September. Shangrila Resorts is constructing an eco-friendly hotel there, but there are many camping grounds, lodges and cabins available. Here is a link for reservations
4. Gulmit, Gojal in Gilgit
Gulmit is a tranquil, historic, and picturesque town that serves as the head-quarters of Gojal Valley in Gilgit. The town is accessible by road and is surrounded by the most breathtaking, imposing, rocky mountains, lush forests, and apricot and cherry farms. The locals are very warm and there are many hotels, and lodges for accommodation. Do visit their museum and the Old Summer Palace of the Mir of Hunza while you’re there. The wind-whipped, rugged peaks of Passu are very close to this beautiful town and if you’re in the mood then you can trek to the Balturu and Passu Glaciers as well.
Gulmit is our very own Switzerland type village, complete with its unique traditions, colorful summer weddings, deep blue lakes and a blue sky that in interrupted by the tall mountains. There are plenty of hotels and inns for accommodation.
Apricot blossoms in Gulmit, courtesy of rabiasakhi/instagram
5. Leepa Valley, Azad Kashmir
Accessible from Muzaffarabad through road and jeeps that you can rent from Reshian, this exquisitely beautiful, lush green valley is one of the prime must-see locations of Azad Kashmir. Often dubbed as the stairway to heaven, this valley’s scenic beauty puts Europe to shame, believe me. Surrounded on three sides by lush, gigantic mountains with their peaks submerged in the clouds, and the green terraced rice fields are a sight to behold. You’ll never want to leave this place. Open from May to November, this valley offers the best of Azad Kashmir, which itself is known as paradise on Earth. A Tourist Rest House and the Forest Rest House are providing accommodation facilities to the tourists.
6. Ansoo Jheel in Kaghan Valley
If any place can make you actually believe in supernatural tales, it’s this lake. Famous for its shape resembling a teardrop, the lake is believed to be formed by the tears of a giant, Safed Deo, who lost the love of his life, a fairy named Badr-ul-Jamal to Prince Saif at Saif-ul-Malook Lake. The giant died of unhappiness in Deosai, with his tears accumulating into the Ansoo Lake. The lake is accessed by a seven hour long round trek from Saif-ul-Malook. You can either trek on foot or mules. After summiting the final hill, when you look down the peak, the lake is visible in all its eerie glory.
The best days to take the trek are from 15th July to 10th August. The blue water of the teardrop lake glistens in the white ice and lonely mountains surrounding it. It is said that one has to be lucky to view the lake, because sometimes even after hours of long treks, the lake will not be visible due to fog or rain. There is no place to camp or stay at Ansoo Lake, so if you plan to take the trek, start at 7 in the morning so you can be back in Naran by sunset.
7. Shounter Lake Azad Kashmir
Board a Jeep from Kel, Neelum Valley and head to this serene, sapphire lake cradled by lush mountains. The very sight of this lake can rid you of your troubles for some time and make you appreciate the beautiful county you live in. The scene looks straight out of a painting, or a calendar, too good to be true. I remember sitting there quietly for hours, because the beauty of the place speaks for itself, all you have to do is listen to it and enjoy. The wind-whipped peaks, the sight of the valley and the dark green grass make this piece of Kashmir resemble Northern Ireland, but it one-ups every other place in terms of beauty. Trust me!
8. Siri Paye, Kaghan Valley
A delicious name for a place with unrivalled serenity and beauty. Located 6 kms from Shogran in KaghanValley, this tranquil peace of heaven is the perfect choice when you wish to enjoy solitude and escape the humidity of the plains in July and August. The road leading to Siri Paye isn’t in the most well-kept condition, but the picturesque small village is worth the excursion of the a little-too-thrilling ride. The road is covered with thick forests, heather covered slopes. The Makra peak standing tall and magnificent in the meadows of Siri Paye compliments the dramatic scenery.
9. Ayun Village in the Kalash Valley ,Chitral
This valley surrounded by mountains, and dotted with tiny villages with the warmest and kindest people. Is located 12 kms south of the town of Chitral. Ayun Valley is studded with sky-piercing rocky giants, lush forests and the Bamburet River gushes through the valley providing many picturesque locations. In the summers, the locals’ crops provide for different shades of green visible as carpets of emerald as you trek to the glaciers and nearby peaks. Accommodation is easily available in lodges and inns
10. Kalam Valley in Swat
Located across the Swat River, this lovely valley lying in the abode of some of KPK’s most gigantic mountains is a wonder in its own right. Famous throughout the world for its waterfalls and abundant glacial lakes, Kalam Valley has long ruled the hearts of local and foreign tourists alike with its lush meadows, wild running horses, crystal lakes, gushing waterfalls and the blue, glistening Swat River. Dubbed by Queen Elizabeth II as the Switzerland of the East, the valley has its own exquisite rugged charm.
Some popular lakes to visit are Godar Dhand, which is reached after a nine-hour long trek between ardent slopes and falling boulders. Another equally beautiful lake is the Bashigram Lake, again accessible after a seven-hour long trek from the Kas village, cradled by mountains so high that no vegetation dares show its face on the wind-whipped slopes. Desaan Meadows are also a lovely sight, a balm for the soul in my opinion.
Happy vacation planning, and don’t forget to use our hashtag #stylishgravytravels to let us know of your adventures and the delicious food you enjoy during them.