NORTHERN AREAS

SKARDU VALLEY

Skardu, capital of Baltistan is perched 2438 meters above sea level in the backdrop of the great peaks of the Karakoram mountain range. Skardu is linked to the national capital, Islamabad by PIA which operates one flight daily. The air journey is full of thrills and would itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. After following the same air route which connects Gilgit to Islamabad/Rawalpindi, the plane turns right and flies over the gorge of the Indus river. Enormous rock faces rise on either side and at times it seams as if the wing tips of the plane would almost scrape against them. They never do. Baltistan is known as the "Tibet -e- Khurd" or little Tibet since its life style reflects that of the roof of the world and land of Lamas.

It borders on the Chinese province of Sinkiang and Indian occupied Kashmir. The tourist season is from April to October. The maximum temperature is 27oC and the minimum is 8oC. Apart from its incomparable cluster of mountain peaks and Glaciers Baltistan's five valleys Shigar, Skardu, Khaplu, Rondu and Kharmang are noted for their Luscious peaches, apricots, apples and pears. Shigar valley, 32 kms by jeep from Skardu is the gateway to the mountain peaks of the Karakoram. Skardu has a historic fort known as Kharpocho Fort. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan who ruled from Ladakh to Chitral till the end of the 16th century. The two lakes - Kachura lake 29 kms. and Sadpara lake 8 kms. from Skardu - are ideal for fishing.

The Buddhist Rock:
In Skardu, the only surviving rock with Buddhist carving is located on Sadpara road.

Lovely Lakes:
Upper Kachura Lake, Kachura Lake and Sadpara Lake are very famous for fishing and boating.

Shigar Valley:
It is the gateway to the great mountain peaks of the Karakorams, Gasherbrum peak & K-2.

Khaplu Valley:
The beautiful valley  of the Shyok river, 103 km. from Skardu. Many famous mountains such as Masherbrum, Saltoro, Sia Gangri, K-6, K-7 are located here.

HOW TO GET THERE.
By Air:   
PIA operates a daily Boeing flight from Islamabad Airport to Skardu. Return airfair is equivalent to $ 90 for foreigners.
By Road:    A gravel-top 241 kms road track connects Gilgit to Skardu. The journey takes 6 to 8 hours.

Where to Stay:
Besides other reasonably priced hotels, PTDC K-2 Motel offers comfortable accommodation at Skardu. There are also government rest houses at Skardu, Sadpara Lake, Shigar Valley, Khaplu and Kachura Lake.

What to Buy:
Baltistan is known for its "Pattu" - hand woven woolen cloth for jackets, coats etc. You can also pick up colorful intricately embroidered "chugas" (Baltistani Gowns) and wooden spoons at Skardu's bazaar. 

GILGIT VALLEY

At an elevation of 1,454 meters lies the Gilgit Valley. The quaint little town of Gilgit has spectacular science beauty. The peak tourist season is from May to October though the tourist season is round the year. The maximum temperature in May is 33oC and minimum 16oC and in September. Maximum 28oC and minimum 11oC.

Around Gilgit:
10 kms. from Gilgit town is a beautiful rock engraving of Buddha of 7th century A.D. at the mouth of the Kargah Nullah. A victory monument of Taj Mughal, built 700 years ago, is 30 kms. jeep drive from Gilgit town.
The bridge over the fast flowing Gilgit river is the largest suspension bridge in Asia(182 meters long and 2 meters wide) permitting enough room for one jeep at a time to cross.

Sher Qilla:
40 kms. from Gilgit - Trekking route links with Nathar valley. Trout fishing in Sher Qilla Nullah and a small lake.

Gahkuch:
Headquarter of Ghizar District - ideal place for trekking, good fishing sports and duck shooting in season. It is the gateway to Iskoman valley. Government rest house and private hotels are available. Archaeological sites in village and a near by village Hatoon.

Naltar Valley:
Three hours drive from Gilgit link road. Government rest-house, private hotels and a Ski slope, lush green Alpine forest with small lakes and glaciers, trout fishing in lake. Trekking routes link with Iskoman, chalt and Punial valley.

SPORTS:
The favorite sport in Gilgit is polo which local folks claim originated here. Its more rugged, free-style version than the sedate variety known in the plains. The polo tournament held from 1st November to 7th November is a festive occasion and draws a large number of visitors.

ANGLING:
The streams and lakes of Gilgit are full of trout. These are at Kargah Nullah (10 kms. from Gilgit), Singal (56 kms), Gakuch (73 kms) and Phander (117 kms from Gilgit). Permits for fishing are issued by the Assistant Director, Fisheries, Government of Pakistan, Gilgit.

TREKKING & HIKING:
Trekking and hiking in the rugged mountains and verdant valleys of Gilgit are allowed only in the "open zone" which extends upto 16 kms. short of the control line with Indian held Kashmir and upto 50 kms. short of the Afghan border.

MOUNTAINEERING:
Around Gilgit are towering mountain peaks, waiting to be scaled. Permits for mountaineering are issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad.

HUNZA VALLEY

The visitors to Hunza are overwhelmed by the rugged charm, the fragrant breeze singing through graceful poplar trees and the velvet-like green carpet of wheet fields, set against the background of snow-covered mountains.
Situated at an elevation of 2,438 meters, Hunza Valley's tourist season is from May to October. The temperature in May is maximum 27oC and minimum 14oC. The October temperatures are: maximum 10oC and minimum 0oC.

Most of the people of Hunza are Islamili Muslims, followers of His highness the Aga Khan. The local language is Brushuski. Urdu and English are also understood by most of the people.
Karimabad, the capital of Hunza, offers an awe-inspiring view of Rakaposhi (7,788 meters). The snows of Rakaposhi glitter in the moonlight, producing an atmosphere at once ethereal and sublime.

The fairy-tale like castle of Baltit, above Karimabad, is a Hanza landmark built about 600 years ago. Stilted on massive legs, its wooden bay windows look out over the valley. Originally, it was used the resistance of the Mirs (the title of the former rulers) of Hunza.

MOUNTAINEERING AND HIKING:
Hunza is ideal for mountaineering, trekking and hiking. Special permits are required for mountaineering. Please contact the Tourist Division, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad.

KARAKORAM HIGHWAY

A new all-weather road, the Karakoram Highway connecting Rawalpindi/Islamabad with China's Xinjiang Province runs through the Northern Areas.

The 805 kms. dual carriage metalled road starts from Havelian 100 kms. from Islamabad and winds through Abbottabad-Mansehra-Thakot-Besham-Pattan-Sazin- Chilas-Gilgit-Hunza to the Chinese Frontier across the 4,733 meters high Khunjerab Pass. The road built by the Pakistan Army engineers in association with the Chinese experts and technicians has been described as a marvel of civil engineering and even as "The Eighth Wonder of the World". Completed in 15 years, it has been forced through some of the world's toughest terrain. The road not only opens up the Northern Areas to trade and travel but provides easy access to hitherto closed regions, connected by jeep or goat tracks.

KAGHAN VALLEY

A holiday in the Kaghan Valley, the Himalayan hide-away, north-east of the Hazara district of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, is an unforgettable experience.

Its mountains, dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers are still in a unbelievable pristine state, an unspoiled paradise. That is why it can be such a deeply satisfying experience to spend a few days in Kaghan. The Valley extends for 155 kms. rising from an elevation of 2,134 meters to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 4,173 meters. Kaghan is at its best in the summer months (May to September). In May the temperature is : maximum 11oc and the minimum 3oC. From the middle of July up to the end of September, the road beyond Naran, snowbound throughout the winter, is open right upto Babusar Pass. Movement is restricted during the monsoon season also.

The Kaghan Valley is accessible by road from Islamabad and Peshawar.
You can drive in your own or a rented car, taxi, station-wagon or bus to abbottabad which is 122 kms from Islamabad and 217 kms from Peshawar. Abbottabad is a Charming town spread out over several low, refreshingly green hills.

From there you drive 72 kms to Balakot, the gateway to the Kaghan Valley. Balakot has shrines of Syed Ahmed Shaheed and Ismail Shaheed Brelvi, the sub-continent's great freedom fighters.

For your drive to Kaghan, you switch over at Balakot to a jeep. Your first stop is 34 kms. away at shogran at 2,362 meters above sea level. At Kaghan, the little village that gives the valley its name 61 kms. from Balakot - you get down to stretch your legs.

At Naran, 23 kms. from Kaghan, you reach the half-way point. Naran also serves as the base for the whole valley. From here you can ride a jeep or horse or hike in excursions to several picturesque lakes, valleys and peaks.

Fishing is the chief sport in Kaghan. Brown Trout and Mahasheer are stocked in the pure silvery waters between Kaghan and Naran. The Kunhar river's trout is considered best in the South Asia. Fishing licenses are issued by the Fisheries Department at Naran.



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