Chitral,

Gokhshal An and Dooni An

Gokhshal An and Dooni An
Duration 3 days
Distance 24.8km
Standard Moderate
Season July-September
Start Chaghbini
Finish Shaikhanandah
Zone and Permit Open and restricted, no permit, toll tax
Public Transport Finish only
Summary A classic traverse of Chitral Gol National Park into the Kalasha valleys rewards with excellent views of Tirich Mir and the Likelihood of spotting markhor.

Two passes, Gokhshal An and Dooni An (also called Chimirsan An by people in Rumbur), combine for an exciting trek from Chitral Gol National Park into Rumbur, the northernmost Kalasha valley. The often faint, rugged trails offer mountain views and enhance the wildlife- watching opportunities.

Planning

Maps

The US AMS 1:253, 440 topographic Map Chitral (1-42 f) covers the park, but its scale isn’t useful for trekking. It doesn’t show the route across Gokhshal An.

The British survey of India 1: 63, 360 topographic maps 38 M/9, 38 M/13 and 38 M/10 show more detail, but don’t show the trail between Gokhshal and Dooni Gol. They indicate a route up Chitral Gol from Kasavir via Krui Dheri to Dooni Gol, which has been destroyed by landslides. The maps name the pass between Gokhshal and Awireth Gol to the north as Ghochhar An, but game watchers call that pass Chikan and the pass over the Ishperudeh ridge Gokhshal An.

Stages

Due to its popularity, the stage system is in effect on this trek. It’s four stages total from Chaghbini: (1) Gokhshal (or Kasavir); (2) Dooni Ghari; (3) Chimirsan Ghari; and (4) Shekhanandeh.

Getting To/From The Trek

To the start

For information on transport to the start of the trek, see Chaghbini

ACCESS FACILITIES

Chaghbini

The DFO operates two-room rest houses called Inspection and Watchers’ House at Merin, Gokhshal and Chaghbini. The one at Merin is sometimes referred to as the Merin special Hut. Rooms have a single bed with attached toilets. At Chaghbini, carry water from a spring 30 minutes away or melt snow. When starting a trek at Chaghbini (2925m), bring full water bottles from Chitral. Contact the DFO to book a room; no rate is set. Camping is free. Bring your own food; the game watchers are happy to cook it for you.

Getting there and Away

Only special hires go Chitral-Chaghbini ( one hour, 17km ). From Chitral, jeeps follow a sealed road west from PIA Chowk, then take the first unsealed road up to the left (the sealed road continues to the governor’s cottage). The unsealed road forks to the left to the microwave relay tower (locally called the ‘booster’) and to the right into Chitral Gol National Park (a park sign is posted there). Birmogh Lasht (2580m), the abandoned summer residence of the Mehtar of Chitral, is 2km before Chaghbini.

Alternatively, walk to or from Chaghbini or the booster, which usually adds one day to the trek. Follow the more direct, but steeper, route up the ridge to avoid the lengthy switchbacks on the road. Walking uphill to Chaghbini takes 3½ to five hours and downhill two to 3½ hours. Walking to the booster takes two hours uphill or one to 1½ hours downhill. Either way, it’s hot and dry.

From the Finish

Shekhanandeh- Grom jeeps & Special hires. Alternatively, it takes one to 1½ hours to walk on the road to Balanguru and Grom. For transport information from Grom, see Rumbur

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 without meals.

Kalasha Guest House, newly built with a large compound near the river in Grom. Exlant hotel and restaurant in Grom has an inviting shaded garden across the road from its older, plain singles/doubles with charpoys and a shared bathroom. Kalasha Guest House, a concrete two- storey building (with different owners from the hotel ofthe same name), is several minutes’ walk outside Grom and above the road. Offers free camping behind the hotel when you eat meals there. Kalasha Guest house, a popular place five minutes’ walk outside Grom, has rooms with a shared bathroom attached to a traditional Kalasha house.

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. Ayun- Rumbur jeeps and special hires.

The Trek

Day 1 : Chaghbini to Gokhshal

5- 6½ hours, 5.8km, 795m ascent, 1070m descent

From Chaghbini (2925m), follow the trail along the ridge’s south- facing side through open forest at the head of the Ishperudeh stream, passing a spring. (Avoid the ridge top trail, which leads to a Class 3 traverse across a rock face before joining the easier trail described here.) Then angle up a grassy slope towards the rocky Ishperudeh ridge. The pass, the lowest point, is a small notch to the south (left) of a larger, but higher saddle. Follow a livestock trail (used by cows) up, passing the junction with the Class 3 route from the right two hours from Chaghbini. Reach Gokhshal An (3720m) in another 45 minutes to one hour, with sweeping views from Lowari pass to Buni Zom.

Carefully descend over steep, loose gravel switchbacks to reach the gentler vegetated slopes 30 minutes below. After 10 to 15 minutes, pass a tiny spring then cross two small clear streams and follow the trail above the second stream’s true right bank. Fifteen minutes farther, cross another small stream and follow down its true right bank rather than going ahead into cedar forest. Reach the valley floor in 30 minutes, and follow the trail down the Gokhshal stream’s true left bank to reach the tin- roofed game- watchers’ house at Gokhshal (2650m) in another 30 minutes. Nearby are walnut trees and a spring near willows. The house sits in an amazing amphitheatre- like rocky gorge with a pine- forested boulder area nearby. Unfortunately, cows graze nearby, so all grass is gone and dung piles under the trees.

Day 2 : Gokhshal to Chimirsan Ghari

7- 8 hours, 11km, 1340m ascent, 890m descent

Cross the stream, heading west- south- west and ascend the easternmost (first) of three forested Spurs from the prominent ridge Separating the Gokhshal Gol and Dundini Gol. A former bridle trail, now faint, works south- east, contouring up one hour to the ridge top (3049m) due south of Gokhshal visible below. Descend 10 minutes, then leave the trail and follow a very faint game- watchers’ route to the west and south (right).

The main trail into Dooni Gol was wiped out by a slide. Contour 45 minutes to Dundini Gol (2772m), locally called Chhato Ush (water from the lake), and a good water and rest spot. Cross a log footbridge and climb steeply 20 minutes to a forested ridge. Contour south- south- west along the Dooni Gol’s true left (west) bank and meet the stream in 30 minutes. Cross it via a snow bridge, which is present even late in the season, and climb a grassy hill along its true right (east) bank 30 minutes to Dooni Ghari (3350m). A small spring amid willows here makes it a possible camp site for trekkers coming in the opposite direction.

Follow the remains of the old trail steeply up switchbacks well above the Dooni Gol’s true right (east) bank, passing some stone shelters adjacent to boulders. A few small cairns occasionally mark the faint trail. Pass 100m beneath a prominent isolated stand of five or six large cedars. Ascend a gully south of these trees a short distance and emerge onto a grassy ridge with scrub juniper. Tirich Mir comes prominently into view. Follow livestock trails, switchbacking up the grassy, flower- covered slopes another hour to Dooni An (3713m), the southern boundary of the Chitral Gol watershed. Tirich Mir is impressive and Buni Zom is visible in the distance. To the west above the many feeder streams of the Dooni Gol is the summer habitat of markhor herds.

From Dooni An, descend and contour the east (left) side of the bowl below the pass. Aim for the level plain’s north end where herders’ huts are visible below on the Chimirsan Gol’s true right (west) side. Follow the middle Spur that leads to the point. Cross the stream and reach the level area one to 1½ hours from the pass. Just 15 minutes ahead, behind the low Spur at the plain’s south end, are the huts (ghari in Khowar) of Chimirsan Ghari (3100m) along both sides of the Utak Gol, the stream coming from Utak An (see Utak An under Other Treks,). Rumbur and Uchust people, both Kalasha and Muslim, herd goats here. Camp on the slightly sloping grassy area with abundant clear water.

Day 3 : Chimirsan Ghari to Shekhanandeh

4- 4½ hours, 8km, 850m descent

Descend 30 minutes on old lateral moraine and cross Utak Gol. A steady descent through 500- years old cedar forests and across small side streams leads in 1½ to two hours to the start of a canal near Baltum hut (2762m) on the Rodi Gol’s south bank. Continue down another hour, contouring through forest above Chimirsan Gol’s true right (west) bank to Nuristani- style homes above the Jajok Gol’s north bank. Descend through cornfields along the spur separating Jajok Gol and Chimirsan Gol and cross Jajok Gol. The trail stays well above Chimirsan Gol’s true right bank one hour, and then descends the ridge separating the Chimirsan Gol and Rumbur Gol to reach the roadhead at Shekhanandeh (2250m). This village, where Kati- speaking people of the Bashgali tribe live, used to be called Bashgaliandeh. Shekh is a term used for converts to Islam.

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