Kaghan valley is named after the town of Kaghan rather than for the Kunhar River which flows through the length of the valley. This valley has most popular summer holiday spots for both Pakistanis as well as foreigners. If you love hiking, trekking or fishing, then Kaghan Valley is like heaven.
Lofty peaks crown the mountains ranges on either side like turrets, ranging in height from 12,000 to 17,000 ft and more, with the eastern range higher than the western. The bed of valley slopes up from 3,000 ft at Balakot, which, as it were, the gateway of the valley, to 12,000 ft at Gittidas beyond which the valley crosses at Babusar Pass 14,000 ft.
The road to Kaghan is frightening because on your left are the deep slopes to the river and on your right are the lofty mountains. The first ten miles or so are largely barren, but when the valley raises to about 5,000 ft forests of pine and fir appear, densely overgrown with a variety of plants, which has won for Kaghan the epithets of ‘the botanists paradise’. The forests continue till about Naran 8,000 ft.
The road from Balakot ascends along the Kunhar River through lovely forests and the villages of Paras, Shinu, Jared and Mahandri. The valley is somewhat narrow along this stretch and the views are limited but as you ascend, the surrounding peaks come into view.
One spot that is quite famous for its spectacular view and scenery is ‘Shogran’. This village, surrounded by peaks and forests, is east of the main Kunhar River. It hosts the famous Siri Payee Lake mountain with breathtaking views at its top.
The region is Alpine in geography and climate, with pine forests, crystal clear lakes, cool mountain streams and meadows dominating the landscape below peaks that reach over 17,000 feet.
You’ll find the Himalayan peaks hidden with clouds or snow, somewhere you’ll find the beautiful fairy tale lakes, which will attract you toward them, and you might decide not to leave this at any cost. Where Kaghan is full of scenic beauty there it is full of thrill and excitement for the mountaineers and treks. That’s why it is called virtual paradise, unbelievably in pristine state and still unspoiled by the human.
The mountain scenerey, the dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers are the main reason to come here. Further north from Babusar Pass, a jeep track leads to Chilas, which is now on Karakoram Highway (the road that connects Islamabad to Xinjiang province of China via Gilgit, Hunza and Khunjerab Pass. Before Karakoram Highway was opened in 1978, the only road access to Gilgit was through Kaghan Valley.
The river Kunhar, originating from Lulusar lake, runs through the city and merges with Jhelum River just outside Muzaffarabad in Pakistan administered Kashmir. The river is muddy in the plains but as you go towards the mountains it becomes clearer. Road goes along the river Kunhar, meandering now to one side and now to the other. But keeping most to the bed of the valley and never too far above the bank of the stream except in the very first state.
If you like climbing this is a place for you because there are mountains all around you. You can explore the scenic and pictorials landscape and valleys by climbing up hiking.
In May the temperature ranges between a maximum of 11 °C (52 °F) and a minimum of 3 °C (37 °F). From the middle of July up to the end of September the road beyond Naran Valley is open right up to Babusar Pass. Movement is restricted during the monsoon and winter seasons.
The best time to visit Kaghan is in summer months (May to September). From the mid – July up to the end of September, the road beyond Naran, snow-bound throughout the winter, is open right up to Babusar Pass. Movement may be restricted during the monsoon season due to heavy rains and landslides.
Balakot is the gateway to Kaghan valley because Kaghan valley starts from Balakot, which is famous for the Mausoleum of two Muslim warriors Syed Ahmed Shaheed and Shah Ismail Shaheed who laid their lives fighting against Sikhs in the 18th century.
Balakot is located at about thirty-eight kilometers north-east of the city of Mansehra and 72 km from Abbottabad, in Hazara Province. It is a historical town, a famous tourist destination of the region and the gateway to Kaghan valley of the Hazar Province of Pakistan.
Balakot is one of the main cities of Mansehra District. It serves as the chief city of Balakot Tehsil, which is the largest Tehsil of Mansehra District. It is also a Union Council and administers the many surrounding smaller towns and villages.
This beautiful small town is situated on either banks of Kunhar river at the foot of the mountains that goes thousands of feet above. The toy huts, which are amazingly perched on their slopes. On other side is the Kunhar River, which accompanies you all along your journey.
Journey from Abbottabad to Balakot is a charming experience. The road passes through beautiful green hills and thick forests. The views are spectacular especially between Attarshisha and Garhi Habibullah. A famous battle was fought here between the Sikh Army and Mujahideen in 1831. The Mujahideen leaders, Hazrat Syed Ahmed Shaheed and Hazrat Shah Ismail Shaheed lie buried here along with other martyrs.
The town was destroyed during the 2005 earthquake and later rebuilt with the assistance of the Government of Pakistan and Saudi Public Assistance for Pakistan Earthquake Victims (SPAPEV), a Saudi relief organization.
13 miles away from Balakot to Kaghan is Kawai in these 13 miles you’ll reach the altitude of 4000 feet starting from 3000 feet which means that you have covered 1000 feet of altitude in just 13 miles.
You should not miss a trip to Forest Rest House. Most of people sit and relax in its huge lush green lawns. Entry might be restricted when senior officials visit or stay at rest house. Views of Sri Paya and Musa Da Mussalah peak are really nice from the lawns of rest house.
Shogran’s real asset are the views it offers. The air is impregnated with the scent of flowers and the fine forests around. If one for something totally out of the world in the deep pine forrest and wonderful alpine trees, it would be suggested to chose Shogran.
The eveing views of the forest and the mountainsnearby are spectacular. you can also go for an evening walk to the traditonally built resturants and shops in the heart of the settlements. And dont forget to taste the tasty Green tea as well. It is an expensive resort with limited number of hotels and facilities.
From Shogran, a steep climb through dense forest of fir and pine brings you to a plateau of great scenic beauty of Siri and Paya. Sri and Paya are one of the most beautiful places. Siri and Paya is a plateua above the hill station of Shogran. At Paya there is a very small lake, and further up at Siri is the plateau.
From Shogran there are many jeep and hiking treks lead you to the wonderful meadows of Siri and Paya. The road going up towards Siri and then Paya is very adventurious but very dangerous. On your left is the lofty razor sharp rocks and on your right thousand of feet down will be Shoran which you just left behind..So prepare yourself for the ultimate adventure.
Hike is also possible from Shogran but its gonna take you two n half hours. Keep in mind its very tough hike. You can also camp at Paya if you are in group with having all necessary equipment n stuff. Once you reach Paya the discomfort of the journey is forgotten.
Paya is one of the most beautiful places. It is at an altitude of 11,200 feet (3413.76 m) above sea level. You would feel your self out of this world once you reach at Paya. The feeling is like if you are on a fairy land.
Most of people just sit at resturants at top but it is strongly recommended that you not to do that because for real beauty of this spot you would need to hike a bit more. Then you can view the beautiful lake and lush green meadows. A trip to Paya is journey of life time, most beautiful and amaizing!
Just after five minutes of ride on your jeep you would find yourself at a really lovely place named Sri. There is small green colored forest rest house in Sri where you can sit and view this amaizing place. Mostly this place is covered with thick clouds but the view is simply awesome and out of this world.
Here in Siri and Paya you would find yourself surrounded by a spectacular view of lush green meadows. The views are breathtaking. On the grassy plains of Siri and Paya one can experience the grandeur of Musa-ka MassalaPeak (4,267m), Malka Parbat 17,156 feet (5,229 m), Makra Peak 15,030 feet (4,581 m). One can also hike all the way to Mt. Makra (1 day hike).
To climb makra peak you have to track around 6 hours, its a moderate type of climbing but some death occur. Some student of Punjab university were on Makra trip but then they disappeared and nobody knew about them. Locals has the believe that single person cannot come back from Makra. Thats mean you also have to track in group. From top u can enjoy the view of Muzaffarabad, Malika purbat, Musa ka musallah, Thandiyani, Kashmir, Hazara and many other places.
Manna meadows is really beautiful place full of natural beauty, it is located very right side of Makra mountain. Atleast 4 hours taught hiking from Paye meadows you can explore this beautiful place.
Manna Meadows is 8000 feet above from sea level.Its lush green meadows where u can get the many aspects of natural beauty. Best season to come this place is August when u can find out hundred of flowers at the meadow. Overall its good place if u want to explore the whole valley then this track is best for you. From Manna meadows you can track to shogran also which is at least 3 hours from here. You have to pass Peerang Village. There is also a forest rest house.
Some 6 km further ahead north of Kewai is the small village of Paras. Most public transport stop here for tea and snacks before moving on to Naran. At Paras a rough track crosses the river and climbs 15Km to Sharan, in the middle of nowhere at 2,400m.
From Paras you can hike through the forest or trek overnight across beautiful Siran Valley, north of Mansehra (though a local guide can help you find the trail and avoid the occasional black bear and wild cat). The next stop is a small village of Sinhu and from there the road continues to Jared.
A 16 km jeep-road from Paras on the other bank of the Kunar leads to the dense forests and absolute wilderness of Sharan; located at a height of 7,872 ft. Campers seeking absolute isolation usually head here. The only population is that of a forest rest-house and a youth hostel. It is part of the mountain range with Musa Ka Musalla as its peak at 13,372 ft. It is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Apart from different species of birds, it is also home to cheetah’s and bears.
From Paras you can hike through the forest or trek overnight across beautiful Sharan Valley. Local guide can help you find the trail and avoid the occasional black bear and wild cat. The next stop is a small village of Sinhu and from there the road continues to Jareed.
Jared is known for its handicrafts. The N.W.F.P government operates a handicraft developement centre at Jared, two hours from Balakot. State-run and private shops sell traditional-style carved furniture, hand-made woolen shawls and other work.
The altitude of Mahanderi village is 5,800 feet the landscape and the scene changes here and becomes wilder. The river Mahanderi is still with you but you’ll feel it much closer to you.
The 4100m high above sea level, Manur Gali connects Lake Saiful Malook to Muhandri. This rout is an extravaganza of nature painted with crystal clear streams, flowering meadows, cascading glaciers and dense forest.
Just a little distance from Mahanderi is the Khanian. Khanian is a small but attractive, peaceful village on the right bank of the Kunhar. It is the starting point for a trip to Kamal Ban Forest and Danna Meadows.
destroyed by the earth quake so dana is no more Jeepable), and about three hours on foot. On foot u cant make it back in one day as its a steep climb.So a over night stay is must at Danna.
Local elders are friendly and very helpful. If you are trekking from Khania, you can stay a night at the Rest House and wander in the area. There are things like centuries old fir tree, with more than eight meters of dia and 58 meters high. More interesting thing include a red color crop which they use to roast with sugar for the winter season.
One can reach here through Mansehra – Shinkiari. Public transport is available from Mansehra for Mandakucha with a fare of Rs. 150 per head (May 2010). The road goes through Jabori and takes around 2-3 hours. One can also hire a hiace van or a jeep that can be taken up to Jacha village. Porters can be taken from Mandakucha village. From the starting point, the trek to the top of Musalla takes 8-10 hours. One can camp at Bikhi or Khori on the way which are 4-5 and 6-7 hours of trek from Mandakucha respectively.
One can reach Naddi bangla from Balakot on a jeep road which comes through Hangrai and takes around a couple of hours. Rest house here is mainly used to monitor the forest and is not in a very good condition. The road is metalled up to Hangrai and a little beyond after which a left turn takes one to a jeep only road. A normal jeep would take Rs. 3000-4000 one way up to Nadi Bangla and can accommodate a maximum of six persons. A loader jeep if available can be hired if one wants to save some bucks. It charges between Rs. 2000-3000 and can accommodate a group of 10+ people along with the luggage very easily. The disadvantage of a loader jeep is the lack of proper sitting space and often you have to spend the journey which standing in the open roof jeep which is quite an adventure in itself. It is recommended to take the jeep further few kilometers ahead to a place called as Kachal Katha from where the trek can be started. From here one can take a) Bagheer meadows route towards Northeast of Naddi Bangla b) Maidan route towards Northwest. Both the approaches converge at Shaddal Gali (also known as Thandi Gali) where one can also camp. Fresh water is available here at a short walking distance. From Bagheer, one can reach the top of Musalla in 5-6 hrs via Shaddal Gali.
Out of the above mentioned options, Naddi Bangla option via Bagheer is the most recommended path in terms of natural beauty. It is advisable to get the porters arranged beforehand as the population is scarce and locals might not be willing to go on a time of your choice.
Just 5 km ahead of Khunia at 7000 feet is the wonderland and important town of Kaghan; after which the valley itself is named, here river is 800 feet below the road. The town has plenty of hotels of various variety. Although tourists usually aim to head for Naran, they do stay in Kaghan especially in winters or the start of the tourist season when the road to Naran is blocked due to snow.
Shingri is locted just above the Kaghan village, while standing in kaghan bazaar you can see the ptcl towers on Shingri Top towards east at 12,700 ft above sea level offering superb panoramic views of Kaghan Valley.
Onwards a 3 hour drive away from Shogran is Naran. Naran is the middle point of Kaghan Valley and it is a place where you defiantly want to spend few days of your leisure. It is a small tourist village open only during the tourist season of May to September. The rest of the time it is covered with snow. All visitors come to Naran to pay a visit to the Saiful Muluk Lake (10,500 feet) 6 miles east of town. If the road is open transportation by jeep can be arranged. If the road is closed, it is an easy, gradual three-hour walk, and the lake is a lovely spot for a picnic.
Naran is a hamlet in Pakistan and is one of the favorite holiday destinations of the world. Tourists from across the world come to Naran to witness its undulating terrains that are dotted with crags and massifs as well as pristine lakes.
For hikers and Safari Lovers there are plenty of stuff to see in Naran. From the height of Nuri Top to the banks of Lulusir and the romantic Lalazar and many more. Huge range of Kohistan is blessed with plenty of rain and weather is wonderful from May to September.
For adventure lovers there is a lovely footpath leads from Lalazar Plateau down to lake Saiful Malik, taking 5-6 hrs involving camping for a night. Its not an easy track. One can get a chance to see the rare wild life variety of “Markhoor” on this track during the months of October and November.
Lalazar is a place where one would enjoy camping. It has large grassy grounds and there is no fear of falling rocks or being in way of a broken glacier. And then something strange happened!
At a distance of 13 km from Batta Kandi is the small town of Barhawi, home to a small guest-house and a few eating joints.
Further ahead at a distance of 12 km about 3 and a half hour drive is Jhalkad, where the Jhalkad stream flows into the Kunar. Jalkhad is a beautiful valley, it has turned into a picnic spotm, the road uptil Jalkhad is great.
From Jalkhad the road bifurcates. One part leads to Chilas and joins KKH while the other goes to Sharda and Muzzafarabad in Azad Kashmir. This part is popularly known as MNJ (Mansehra– Naran –Jalkhad) road. It runs along the Kunhar River up to Jalkhad and from there over the Nuri Nar Gali Pass to Sharda and the other which takes you to Besal (base camp for going to Lulusar Lake, Babusar Top and Doodipatsar Lake).
It is absolutely a mystic land with deeply serene and enchanting solitude all around. It seems as one is standing in the midst of a Lost Paradise. Four lakes of sapphire blue water shimmered under the sun. As far as the eyes could see, a lush green carpet of wild foliage stretched all over the place. Herds of sheep and goats spotted the vast panoramic grandeur of the valley. A picturesque pastoral and magnificently inspirational landscape surrounded the valley. Some patches of snow from icy months still lay around the lakes. Multi colored stones is being reflected in the shallow crystal clear waters. Pink, yellow and blue flowers swayed in abundance in the swampy areas and vast pastures. Green hillocks descended towards the banks of these shining lakes with mighty Nanga Parbat looming in the distant background. Blue sky overhead dotted with white cloud patches as small sailing boats on a wild blue ocean. This is the glory of Supreme Nature. This gorgeous canvass carrying unforgettable strokes of color and motifs of a never ending beauty.
The road north of Jhalkad rises sharply and after a dangerous journey, one reaches the barren wilderness of Besal. In contrast to the lush green forests of the Kaghan Valley, Besal offers jagged rocks. A small chaikhaana (Tea Shop) summers to cater for the needs of travellers.
Noori top is a beautiful place. Noori top has 12900 Ft. It is covered by snow but no doubt for trackers it is paradise, from there you can cross the dawariyan from right side of it and track to Ratti gali and from left side you can reach the saral lake.
On the way to Jalkhad(Near Baisal) to Sharda, there is a top called as Noori Nar Top. From a day trek from Noori Nar Top on right side is Ratti Gali.
The Kaghan Valley is blocked at the end by high mountains but a pass lets the jeep-able road snake over into the Chilas Valley. This is the 4,173 metres high Babusar Pass. Babusar pass is the end of the Kaghan valley which commands the whole Kaghan panorama. The total distance of Babusar Pass is 161 km from Balakot and 75 km from Naran. A minaret here points to the highest point of the pass as 13,690 ft.
Babusar pass is the gate between Kaghan and Gilgit valley. From here you can have the glimpse of the naked mountain Naga Parbat with a towering height of 26,660 feet. and the distant snow-clad mountains of Kashmir. Road at Babusar Pass is remained closed, because of snowbound, from October to June, also restricted during monsoon season.
The water of this lake is over a mile in diameter, this oval shaped lake is spectacularly clear with a slight green tone. The clarity of the water comes from the multiple glaciers all around the high basin feeding the lake.
The Queen of the Mountains “Malka Parbat” at height of 17,360 feet (5291.33 meters) is standing in the east and looking her image in the mirror of Lake Saiful Maluk.
The Ansoo lake is panoramic & beautiful. It is near Malika Parbat in the Himalayan range. The name “Ansoo” comes from its tear-like shape (the Urdu word Ansoo means teardrop). The lake is said to have been discovered in 1993 by Pakistan Air Force pilots who were flying low above the area. Earlier, the lake was not even known to the locals.
Jalkhad is a name if a place 50 kilometers from Naran at a height of 3200 meter from the sea level. The lake is situated one kilometer from Jalkhad. The water of this lake is dark blue and during the summer seasons the red lotus blossom around the lake.
Noori lake lies at the border between Kaghan Valley and Azad Kasmir at the height of 12,780 ft above sea level. you can reach noori top from jalkhad by jeep. It is One and a Half hour drive from Jalkhad to Noori Top. Once u cross noori top, you enter Azad Kashmir. The jeep road goes upto Sharda in Neelam Valley,
The hike is rewarding, as tourists are greeted with green pastures and the lake’s blue-green waters.
From Dudipat, a trek of 5-6 hours can take you to Saral Lake at an elevation of 3500m. From Saral, one can come back to Naran or can try descending into the Neelum valley. A trek of 6-8 hours from Besal can take one to Noori Nar top from where jeeps can be taken for Sharda in Neelum Valley.
48 kilometers away from Naran, on Naran-Babusar road Near Gittidas the loveliest spots to camp on this trail, just before the final grade to Babusar Top and surrounded by tall peaks is the 11,000 feet high Lulusar Lake out of which river Kunhar issues with redoubled strength to flow down the valley first as placid blue stream and then a roaring torrent until it joins the Jhelum.
Lulusar has very enchanting beauty and its view remains in the mind of tourist for a long time. The is surrounded by snowcapped hills whose purple and white forms are reflected in the green-blue waters of the silent lake, making it one of the most beautiful spots in the valley. From Gittidas the road goes on through the Babusar Pass into Gilgit. This road is one of the highest in the world.
Surkhail, at 14,000 ft. is the highest lake of Sat-Sar-Mala group of lakes.
Sambak Sar Lake:
Dharam Sar Lake:
Bring all necessary medicines:
Where to Stay:
The road beyond Balakot was once fit only for four wheel drive vehicles. Visitors would have to leave their cars in Balakot and rent jeeps for the onward journey. Today, the road is suitable for vehicles, up to Naran, Adding a little flavor of the old days however, are a couple of glaciers that have not yet lost their snowpack in the early tourist season, and are difficult to cross with cars. From mid-June onward the road to Naran is open for regular cars, vans and coaches. If you are driving, always start early in the morning to safely reach your destination well before dark. To plan your trip, you can find some useful itineraries in “Plan your trip” section.
Daewoo operates the most comfortable and reliable air conditioned bus services on all major routes in Punjab and NWFP. They have frequent bus services to Abbottabad from where shuttles depart to Mansehra, the main station for the onward journey to Kaghan Valley.
In addition, buses to Mansehra originate from Pir Wadhai bus stand in Rawalpindi. From Mansehra, one can find direct van service for Balakot, Kaghan and Naran.
One can also hire a jeep from Balakot to go anywhere in the Kaghan Valley. There are plenty of private jeeps for hire at Balakot, Kewai, Shogran, Kaghan, and Naran to go on various day trips. More information about the availability and rates of transport is given under Transport Facilities and Rates.