The Kaghan Valley is a valley in Mansehra District of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It attracts many tourists from around the world; the valley is named after the town of Kaghan rather than for the Kunhar River which flows through the length of the valley. The valley extends 155 km, rising from an elevation of 2,134 feet to its highest point, the Babusar Pass at 13,690 feet. Popular languages spoken in the area are Hindko and Gojri, while the Pakistan’s national language Urdu is also familiar among the locals. The region is Alpine in geography and climate, with forests and meadows dominating the landscape below peaks that reach over 17,000 feet.
One may wonder how to reach there, visitors would have to leave their cars in Naran and acquire a jeep to go further, there 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.
Once you reach in the area, you can enjoy the Trekking and Hill Walking. There are a number of trekking routes all along the valley. Brief descriptions of some famous trekking routes are given in Annexure-IV. Naran, Shogran and Sharan are ideal base camps for one to three days outings. There are also good opportunities for those interested in more leisurely day trips, hill walking or nature study walks.
River Rafting and kayaking are new sports currently under development along the Kunhar River. As the lifeline of Kaghan Valley, Kunhar River is excellent for rafting. Some sections between Naran are quite technical and suitable only for experienced white water paddlers. Other sections of the river, above Naran and below Balakot, are fun for beginners and are of relatively easy grade. Adventure Foundation Pakistan offers basic and advanced training courses in river running during October and April.
In addition to short duration jeep rides to Sri Paya, Saiful Muluk, Lalazar and Sharan, Kaghan Valley also ideal for thrilling jeep rides from Naran to Babusar Pass and Nori Top. All these places are unique in landscape and their details are given in the Introduction section. While going on a longer duration jeep ride make sure you have selected a good local driver and jeep for a safe journey on the rough roads.
Trout fishing is a popular activity in the Kaghan Valley. Fishing for brown and rainbow trout in the crystal clear water of the valley lakes and in the Kunhar River is favorite pastime for many. A fishing permit can be obtained from the Fisheries Department at Shinu or at Naran. Bringing your own angling gear is optional as you can rent equipment from shopkeepers in Naran Bazaar. Please remember that the use of fishing nets and explosive materials for fishing in rivers and lakes are illegal as they are harmful for the healthy and sustainable growth of trout fish and other wildlife.
The picture shown above is courtesy of Mr. Jaber from Kuwait