Last autumn we took a trip to the Kaghan Valley in northern Pakistan. This valley is located north of Islamabad, adjoining Azad Kashmir, and requires a drive of some 7 hours from the capital. Now, driving for seven hours in Pakistan is not something to be undertaken lightly – traffic is bad, and Pakistani driving habits cause significant amounts of stress, even without the added complication of having to swerve to avoid camels on the road – but the drive is well worth it.
People in the West seem to think that Pakistan is a dry, dusty and unappealing place. I can’t think why this is, since northern Pakistan has some of the most astonishing scenery I have ever seen, easily the equal of the Swiss Alps or the Rocky Mountains. Pakistan also has the added bonus in that, unlike Switzerland or Canada, there are almost no tourists here, meaning that these vast mountainous panoramas, lush valleys and alpine lakes are yours and yours alone.
We stayed in Naran in October. This is right at the end of the tourist season as almost everything shuts down for the winter, since it gets remarkably cold. Even in October the night-time temperature dropped to around zero, and as there is no such thing as central heating in Pakistan the temperature outdoors is basically the same as the temperature indoors.
An unprepossessing situation for a holiday, you might think. Well, if you idea of a great holiday is a beach and a swimming pool and an open bar, you’d probably be right. If, on the other hand, you see travel as a way of discovering new places, encountering different cultures, and learning more about the world, I can think of nowhere better.
Enough writing. Let the pictures do the talking!