It’s sweltering hot in most major cities of Pakistan and literally everyone is trying to escape the blazing heat. While it may be a good idea to catch a plane and jet-set internationally, lets not forget that Pakistan has many amazing sites you can visit too.
You may have noticed foreign travellers are starting to take more interest in our beloved country, promoting its stark natural beauty and dazzling scenery. Local Instagrammers have been telling us this for, well, ages.
It’s time to appreciate their work in promoting their homeland. From the bewildering beauty of Hunza to the mystical Kalash Valley, all the way to the staggering heights visible from the ethereal fairy meadows, Pakistan boasts some of the world’s most glorious landscapes, rich in history and culture. Here are some local spots you should witness for yourself.
Imagine a place where the mountains are mighty, the view is serene and the fruits are abundant – that’s Hunza Valley for you. Most agree it is one of the most beautiful sites on Earth and is a must-do on anyone’s bucket list.
Although the place has always been popular amongst tourists, the exquisite waters of Attabad Lake have added a new feature to the landscape that is a magnet for Instagrammers and photographers.
Yet, the striking thing about Hunza is not just its pristine environment – it’s the locals, who are some of the most cheerful people you’ll ever meet. And if you’re a real thrill seeker, the Hussaini hanging bridge in Gojal is a must!
Top tip: Witnessing the sunrise in Eagles Nest, the view from Baltit Fort, a cup of coffee at Cafe de Hunza, boating at Attabad Lake, shopping at Karimabad Bazaar, munching at Glacier Breeze restaurant and the Passu Cones, Rakaposhi viewpoint are all musts.
If you go to Chitral, then Kalash is an obvious hotspot. The valleys are home to the famous Kalash people, who are said to be descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great. Cut off from the world, it is a unique cultural experience you won’t find anywhere else. The three main valleys are Bumburet, which is the most developed in terms of facilities and popularity. There’s also Rumboor and Birir, which are more visited by foreign tourists.
The three festivals are the best times to go to Kalash. There will be plenty of bewildering treats for your eyes; think dance, colourful rituals and clothes on display. Chilam Joshi is in May, Uchau in Autumn (September) and Choimus lasts for two weeks around the winter solstice.
How to get there: Jeeps going from Chitral to the three different valleys generally leave around 1.00pm. Charges are around Rs300 per person. Once you get to Ayun, shared cars to the valleys are around Rs100 and a private hire car is anywhere from Rs1,000-1,200 per person. Your destination will take up to two hours from there.
Surrounded by the magnanimous Karakorum and Himalaya mountain ranges, Skardu is the centre of trekking, trailing and climbing journeys. It’s literally the personification of beauty, calmness and wilderness. If you are venturing there, Upper Kachura Lake is other-worldly.
Must-sees: Deosai National Park, Basho Valley, Katpana Cold Desert of Skardu, Shangrila Resort, Manthal Buddha rock carvings, Satpara Lake…the list goes on and on.
Just the name alone gets us wondering if there are actual fairies living here. Judging by its ethereal beauty, they may as well be. Being in Fairy Meadows is like being in a real-life fairytale. The name actually is part of a legend that the mystical creatures have their heaven on the lush green plateau and was coined by Austrian climber Hermann Buhl.
To reach Fairy Meadows, one needs to take the bus or private car on the Karakorum Highway to Chilas and continue about 50 kilometres to Raikot bridge. There are jeeps available to take you to the Tato village from where you hike for around two hours.
Highlight: Nanga Parbat is the ninth highest mountain in the world. It seems to scrape the furthest levels of the skies, an impenetrable bastion of snow, ice and rock. It’s like a fortress from a fantasy film, except that it’s real.
Looking for a quick dose of nature without having to travel too much? Just go to Murree. It only takes around 40 minutes to get there from Islamabad and is the ideal day-trip if you’re already in the capital.
Where to go: At 12,605 hectares, The Margalla Hills are the part of the Himalayan foothills north of Islamabad. You can even get a birds-eye view of the stunning Faisal Mosque from here.