Duration2 Days
Distance10.2km
StandardEasy
Seasonmid-April-mid-October
StartBatrik
FinishRumbur Gol
Nearest FacilitiesBumboret, Rumbur
Zone and PermitsRestricted, no Permit
Public Transport Yes
SummaryGiant ridge- top Cedars, the Relatively intact forests of Acholgah, and stunning Hindu Kush vistas feature in this Traverse of passes and valleys

A scenic forested route connects Bumboret to the Upper Rumbur Gol via the Donson pass (2970m), the intervening Acholgah Gol, and Kundyak An (2855m). The villages in Acholgah are inhabited year- round by Kalasha men from Anish and Batrik Villages who tend their livestock. A few Kalasha women come in July and August to tend their fields. This trek is best done south to north with Bumboret villagers who know the way. Rumbur villagers rarely travel this route and may not know the way.

Planning

maps

The US AMS 1:253, 440 topographic Map Chitral (1-42f) covers the Kalasha valleys, but its scale isn’t useful for trekking. It shows only the western alternative crossing of Kundyak An. It shows the higher trail into the upper Rumbur Gol that leads to Shekhanandeh (labeled as Bashgaliandeh), and doesn’t show the riverside trail. It doesn’t label any settlements in Acholgah or along Rumbur Gol.

The British survey of India 1:63, 360 topographic Maps 38 M/10 and 38 M/9 show more detail. A trail is shown incorrectly along the true right bank of the stream coming from the Kundyak An. Ravelik is not labeled, and Balanguru is positioned incorrectly and mislabeled Kalashan Deh.

Nearest villages

In peak season and during festivals, rates may be higher than those listed. At other times, most hotels are willing to negotiate.

Bumboret

Accommodation is in the villages of Anish, Brun, Batrik and Krakal. Shops with Basic supplies are in each village. With nearly two dozen hotels, Bumboret has been overbuilt and many rooms are vacant except during festivals. Generally, hotels that advertise a Dorm or double rooms cater to foreigners, whereas hotels that advertise quadruple rooms cater to domestic tourism where a bunch of guys share a room.

Getting there and away

Chitral- Bumboret jeeps depart regularly from Chitral’s Ataliq Bazaar. Alternatively, take any Chital- Ayun vehicle and look for a rode from there.

Rumbur

Accommodation is the villages of Balanguru (1860m) and Grom, which are no Opposites sides of the river. Saifullah guest house, run by Saifullah Jan and Washlim Gul in their Kalasha home in Balanguru, has a relaxing rooftop terrace shaded by Walnut trees. Room with a shared bathroom, including tea and meals. Their newer, popular compound close to river.

Getting there and away

Transport to and from Rumbur can be sporadic. Chitral- Rumbur jeeps depart from Chitral’s Ataliq Bazaar. Alternatively, take any Chitral- Ayun vehicle and walk or look for a ride from there, or take a Chitral- Bumboret jeep and get off at the Check post, 8km before Grom either Walk from there or look for a jeep.

Getting to/from the trek

To the start

For information on Transport to the trail head. See Bumboret

From the Finish

Unless you flag down a vehicle, walk on the road along the Rumbur Gol’s true left bank for 3.5km, or one hour, to Balanguru and Grom, passing the footbridge to Sajigor 15 minutes before reaching Balanguru

The trek

Day 1: Batrik to Gomenah

3 – 5 hours, 5.7km, 930m ascent, 990m descent

Ascend the gully behind Batrik (2040m) on a steep, but solid and well defined trail. Pass through forest of Cedars and occasional Chilghoza pines, where aggressive logging and milling is evident. Alternatively, you can walk from Krakal on the gentler and wide donkey trail that traverse east and north to join the path up from Batrik in two hours at 2700m.

Proceed up gentle switchbacks on the wide trail 45 minutes to one hour to Donson Pass (2970m), 2.5km from Batrik. Donson Pass is crowned by massive, stunning cedars, at least 1000 years old. A rocky Pyramid called Gorasin lies to the east, with a forested ridge to the west. Goats and cows graze on the grassy slopes to the north. Acholgah Gol is visible below while the Rumbur valley is hidden behind the Kundyak An ridge. Tirich Mir and Noshaq are prominent to the north.

Descend north through flower- filled meadows and then steeply down a Spur for 30 minutes, following a trail. The trunks of some cedars in this forest are in 3m in diameter. Just west of the Spur is a small gully. Cross the gully to its true left side. In five to 10 minutes pass through forest to a wooden Shelter called Owzurie (2460m). Continue down 45 minutes, crossing a side stream and traversing high above the Donson Gol on a good trail. Pass below Gogalog, a point and westward bend in the trail (2220m).

Below Donson Gol meets the Acholgah Gol near a hot spring. Ghariet peak dominates the view Downvalley to the east. Looking south up the Donson Gol, the entire valley is forested and the route back to the pass is visible with Gorasin rising east of the pass. Continue north, just around the bend of the trail, are two enormous cedars. From here, either drop down to the fields below or continue 15 minutes on the trail to the settlement of shigala. Camp anywhere in the three settlements of Passuwala, Shigala or across the river in Gomenah (1980m), 3.5km below the pass. Several log and stone footbridges cross the Acholgah Gol.

A road connects the Acholgah Gol to lower Rumbur Gol 3km above the border police check post. The road is open only in low water and is usually impassable from May to July. To the east of Gomenah rises Lachorsin peak. In Kalashamun, it’s called Pushak (snow leopard hill) because of the snow leopard that is known to come down and raid the villages’ livestock. A mineral- water spring is two hours’ walk up the Acholgah Gol.

Day 2: Gomenah to Rumbur Gol

4- 5 hours, 4.5km, 875m ascent, 785m descent

Once across the Acholgah Gol, walk north 30 minutes up the road to its end, passing through an impressive cedar forest (2460m). Ascend either the slope to the west or the barren hillside, both of which cross the Kundyak An a short distance apart. Climb up the barren hillside, also called Kundyak, 15 to 30 minutes on goat paths to a small wooden shelter (2670m). Notches cut into trees are to encourage bees to build hives so Kalasha can collect honey.

Continue up a 10m- wide logging scar one to 2 hours. Eventually this strip narrows and becomes a gully with deadwood lying around. The trail then disappears and the heavily forested route to the pass heads up and to the right of the gully. In May and June, the forest floor offers Qutsi, or morel mushrooms, and later, wild strawberries. Kundyak An (2855m) is forested and is not visible from below. Views to the north from the pass are obscured by trees. The sweeping views south towards the Donson pass, however are excellent. This 1.25km ascent is through an old- growth forest with trees ranging from 300 to 1000 years old.

No obvious trail exists north of the Kundyak An until you reach the first settlement below in 1 to 2 hours. A local companion who knows the way down is essential, as the overgrown trail appears and disappears. The route stays to the right, bearing north- north- east, and traverses high for an hour before descending steeply to a Kalasha house and barley field at Narajau (2225m), 2km below the pass, Traghdhur, a Muslim and Gujar settlement, is across the valley. Ravelik, a Kalasha village, lies high above the confluence of this side stream and Rumbur Gol. The fields of Shekhanandeh are to the distant north.

It’s a short descent to the footbridge over the stream below Narajau. Cross to the true left bank on the first of eight footbridges (the number of footbridges changes depending on the water level). Steep cliffs flank the true right bank and the stream enters a gorge. After 30 minutes and several river crossings reach the Rumbur Gol (2070m). From the confluence are views west up the Gangalwat Gol towards the Afghan border. Cross the Rumbur Gol on a sturdy Plank footbridge to the road along its true bank.

 

Sajigor
In the midst of an Oak grove, the Kalasha Shrine of Sajigor lies beneath a Glant oak tree. Elaborately carved wooden pillars stand behind the Altar and the Sajigor tree. Only males can visit this scared place where men gather for festival rituals and young virgin boys offer goats as sacrifice

 

It’s possible however, to piece together several forms of transport. A daily NATCO bus operates between Gilgit and Gupis. Beyond Gupis, jeeps go as far as Teru and Barsat. It’s usually difficult to catch a ride over the Shandur pass between Gupis and Mastuj. Daily Mastuj- Chitral jeeps cost RS 80. Only jeeps can travel the road between Mastuj and Buni. The 75km between Buni and Chitral is sealed and has regular Van and coaster service.

In light of these logistics, some trekkers opt for special hires. Under the best Circumstance, the trip from Gilgit to Chitral takes two long days with an overnight stop. The driving times on the largely unsealed road are: Gilgit- Gupis, six hours; Gupis- Phundar, 3 hours; Phundar- Mastuj, five hours; and Mastuj- Chitral, four hours. The best camp sites are in Phundar and 4km beyond Mastuj in Shachar.

Getting around

Outside the gate of the airport, jeeps and Suzukis to town. Special hires to or from the airport. The bazaar is small and everyone walks.

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