|Zone and permit||Open, no permit|
|Summary||Easily accessible Kasavir, the location of the Mehtar’s former hunting lodge in the heart of Chitral Gol, has fine Markhor watching and, at the right time of year, snow leopards can be seen.|
The beautiful trek to Kasavir takes you into the park’s central sanctuary. An overnight trip to Kasavir is worthwhile to watch the Markhor at dusk and dawn. In Kalashamun, Kasavir means ‘a sanctuary for hunting’. In spring and early summer, Markhor are readily visible on the cliffs above Kasavir. In winter and early spring, snow leopards have been photographed here.
The US AMS 1:253, 440 topographic Map Chitral (1-42f) covers the Kalasha valleys, but its scale isn’t useful for trekking. It labels Ishperudeh Zom (4156m) as Sowarmapur Tak. The British survey of India 1: 63, 360 topographic Maps 38 M/9 and 38 M/13 show more detail. They don’t show the booster, the road beyond Birmogh Lasht, or the game- watchers’ route to Kasavir.
It’s two stages total around trip From Chaghbini: (1) Kasavir; and (2) Chaghbini.
Getting to/From the trek
For information on transport to/from the trek, see Chaghbini. At the end of the trek, unless you prearrange a special hire, walk down to Chitral town from Chaghbini. At Birmogh Lasht (2580m). 30 to 45 minutes below Chaghbini, you may get lucky and find a jeep that has brought tourist up and is willing to take you down if there’s room.
Day 1: Chaghbini to Kasavir
3- 4 hours, 3.5km, 880m descent
Chaghbini means ‘place where there is always shade’ for the space beneath a huge cedar tree (whose top was lopped off by a lightning strike) below the inspection and watchers house. The views from Birmogh Lasht and Chaghbini are spectacular, an almost 360- degree panorama. Tirich Mir is to the north, Buni Zom to the north- east and the sheer rock summit of Ghariet to the south- east.
Traverse west from the rest house (2925m) along a travel trail on the ridge’s south- facing side through conifer forest. Where the trail makes an obvious bend north, choose between two routes to Kasavir. Both routes are shaded by cedar and Chilghoza pine forests with scattered Oaks, hollies and junipers. A steep route drops dramatically down a lateral ridge to Kasavir in two hours, but you need a game watcher to show the way. Or, you can follow the longer, but more gradual, trail down the Ishperudeh Nala. Ishperudeh means ‘white place’ for the light- Coloured cliffs above. From the bend, continue to traverse north passing a spring in 15 minutes and meeting the Ishperudeh Nala in another 15 minutes. Cross the river and descend along its bank.
If you come down the game watchers’ route, you pass through abandoned apple and walnut orchards and cross two canals above the Chitral Gol’s left bank as you near Kasavir. Cross the Ishperudeh Nala and head upstream a short distance to find a suitable place to ford the Chitral Gol. Kasavir (2195m), the location of the now dilapidated hunting Bungalow of the ex Mehtar of Chitral, Saif Ul mulk Nasir, on the river’s opposites side.
A few minutes’ climb above Kasavir is Mroi Lodini (the Markhor viewing place), a distinctive rock outcrop visible from Chaghbini. Climb onto Mroi Lodini and look west across the river tot eh grassy plateau and the rocky cliffs above. At dusk, Markhor can usually be spotted. Mroi refers to Markhor in general whereas the term Shahrah refers to adult males and Majher to females and young.
Day 2: Kasavir to Chaghbini
5- 6 hours, 3.5km, 880m ascent
The climb from Kasavir is steep and hot, so start early to minimize the time climbing in direct sunlight. The trail up the Ishperudeh Nala is more gradual, easier to follow, and the best choice.
Alternative finish: Kasavir to booster
3 hours, 7km, 215m descent, 220m ascent
An alternatively route follows the Chitral Gol downstream to Merin (1980m) in two hours and continue to the booster in another 1 hours. In June and July, however, high water makes this route impossible (see Merin under other treks).
Alternatively route: Kasavir to Chaghbini
It is possible to make a circuit by returning to Chaghbini via Gokhshal. It is, however, much easier to visit Gokhshal first, and then Kasavir in a counterclockwise loop.
Alternatively day 2: Kasavir to Gokhshal
2- 3hours, 3.3km, 800m ascent, 345m descent
Cross the river to the grassy Kasavir Lasht (plain) and ascend a trail, climbing above the gorge to reach Kushunisuk. Then continue on an exposed and narrow trail along the ridge overlooking the gorge 15 minutes and descend north- west 30 to 45 minutes to Gokhshal (2650m).
Alternatively day 3: Gokhshal to Chaghbini
5- 6 hours, 5.8km, 1070m ascent, 795m 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 clear 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’ home 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.