The Following treks are all in an open zone, except where noted.
See Permits and Regulations in the Kalasha Valleys section (p) for a discussion about Zones.
An easy one- day trek goes from Rumbur Valley to Urghuch village in the Chitral Valley 6.5Km south of Chitral town (see map,). From Rumbur, head east up the side Valley south of Balanguru. Follow the true right bank for half a Kilometre, then cross to the true left bank. Three quarters of a Kilometre beyond the crossing, as the trail enters the higher forest, turn south, then contour east and cross the ridge south of Sunwat (3066m). The route heads north- east and half a Kilometre below the ridge lies an abandoned rest house of the Mehtar of Chitral. From here, the trail descends north 1.5Km to a spring (2272m) and the Urghuch Valley. Follow it 2.5Km east to Urghuch village. Find a jeep in Urghuch, walk to Chitral or Ayun, or cross the footbridge over the Chitral River and wait along the Chitral- Drosh road for a ride.
Another route from Rumbur Valley towards Chitral goes to Uchusht, Just 1.5km south of Chitral town, in two easy days (see map,). Take a local guide from Balanguru as the trail is seldom- used and can be tricky. From Balanguru, walk west along the road upvalley for 30 minutes. Head north- east up the true left (east) bank of the second side valley above Balanguru; the first side valley leads to Sundargah. Some 1.5Km up the side valley, cross a side stream to reach the herders’ hut at Palario. Then work steeply east 2Km to the forested ridge top separating Rumbur from Urghuch. Turn north and contour the upper Urghuch Gol. You can camp in this upper basin where water is available. Water isn’t found on the ridge top- only views. Ascend to the ridge between Urghuch Gol and Uchusht Gol, 750m south and east of the high point Urghuch Gol (3510m). Follow the ridge east into forest (3025m) then descend north- east past herders’ huts. Follow the small stream’s true left bank, then the spur north of this stream down to Uchusht village.
An enjoyable, moderate three- day loop from Rumbur follows the Gangalwat Gol west past Shekhanandeh. The trail along the river’s true left bank passes through several small settlements to the confluence with the Shekhan Bohok Gol (3518m), 12Km from Shekhanandeh. Head south up the Shekhan Bohok Gol, where the Bohok Pass (4725m) leads into the Kalasha Bohok Gol, which is the valley north of Acholgah. Descend the Kalasha Bohok Gol past Narajau and the junction with the trail coming from Kundyak An (see Day 2 of the Donson Pass and Kundyak An trek,) to the road along Rumbur Gol.
Utak An (4647m) is one of several passes with permanent snowfields linking Begusht Gol, the large valley south of Garam Chashma, with the upper Rumbur Gol. The moderate trek starts 4km up the Begusht Gol at Turi Beshgar village, where the Mohour Gol flows in from the south and east. Head 7km up Mohour Gol to Putrik village, where two streams join. The route to the Utak An follows the stream that leads east. Across the Utak An, on its east side, is Dundeeni Chhat. This lake, in the upper Chitral Gol watershed, is the summer grazing area for Chitral Gol’s markhor. The route Continues south- east along the Utak Gol to Chimirsan Ghari and Shekhanandeh (see Day 2 of the Gokhshal An and Dooni An Trek,).
Jinjeret Kuh, a western tributary of the Chitral River south of Drosh, is inhabited by converted Kalasha, who became Muslims in the 20th century. They still speak Kalashamun, and live in Kalasha- style homes. Several interesting old Kalasha- style forts, or Kot in Urdu, stand near the valley’s highest village. These forts aren’t found elsewhere and are the subject of current research. Jinjeret Kuh is scenic, and the friendly people welcome foreigners. Kalasha Historic Adventure Tours organizes tours of a restored watchtower; go to the Hindu Kush Heights hotel in Chitral to make a booking.
A visit to Jinjeret makes an easy day trip from Drosh or an overnight trip from Chitral. Chitral- Drosh vans cost; special hires. From Drosh, special hires 7km to Dashmanandeh, or to the road’s end, 5km farther. Alternatively, take a vehicle to the mouth of Jinjeret Kuh, then walk three hours upvalley.
Chitral Gol National Park
The Merin bungalows sit above the Chitral Gol’s South bank (see map,). Female and young markhor live year- round on the cliffs across the river from Merin. Although Merin is best visited from April to October, in December male markhor come to the booster and mate with the females. The aggressive displays and competition between males are an unforgettable sight. You can visit Merin on a day hike from Chitral or camp in Merin and make this an easy two- day trip. From the booster (2200m), descend 45 minutes to a footbridge over Chitral Gol and then ascend 15 minutes to Merin (1980m), 2.4km from the booster. The climb up the northern hillside back to the booster takes 1½ hours. Mohammad Deen, the former mehtar’s huntsman, lives in Merin and can show you where the markhor are. Bring binoculars. Figs, apples, pears, apricots, and grapes grow near the crumbling mehtar’s bungalow, and a now dilapidated former British officers’ bungalow with fine woodwork. The British 38 M/13 Sheet shows the road and trail to Merin, but not the booster, which is very near where the trail meets the road.
You can visit Kasavir (see p) on an easy 9.2km day hike from Merin. The trail is passable only when the water in Chitral Gol is low, usually between August and October. Follow the route up- stream three hours, fording the river up to 10 times. It takes two hours to retrace your steps to Merin.
The mehtar’s bungalow in Bironshal (3068m) sits in mixed forest and grassland. It’s no longer used, in ruins and the trail is not in good repair. Bironshal is best visited from April to October. The easy 10km route to Bironshal begins from the sealed road past the DC’s office in Chitral town (see map,). It takes six to eight hours to ascend 1600m to Bironshal. This is too far a day hike, so plan on two days. Return via the same route in four to six hours. If you have a local guide, you could return to Chitral town via Merin and the booster.
No trail exits beyond Bironshal except a seldom- used, difficult game- watchers’ route to Kasavir. Herders take goats from Merin to Bironshal over a faint track. Reaching Dooni Gol from Bironshal is very difficult. The cross- country route with Class 2 and Class 3 sections is in bad shape and not recommended.
Arkari is a seldom- visited area surrounded by the Hindu Kush peaks that form the Afghan border on its west side and the massif of Gul Lasht Zom (6657m) and Tirich Mir on its east side. Flowing through the area is the Arkari River, a northern tributary of the Lutkho River. Treks in Arkari are challenging routes for adventurous trekkers and offer good wildlife- watching opportunities. A local guide is essential. Jeeps to Owirdeh (Four hours), at the road’s end in the Arkari Valley, depart from the Damdam Hotel at 10am. Special hires. This area is in a restricted zone, and the DC in Chitral authorizes visits.
Besti An and Lutkho An
Agram Gol and Besti Gol are western tributaries of the Arkari River. Besti An and links these valleys, which form a wildlife sanctuary bordering Afghanistan. Because of the steepness of the south side of Besti An. It’s easier to start from Owirdeh in the Agram Gol and head in a counterclockwise direction to form a three- day near- loop. The demanding trek is possible July to mid-September. Exercise caution in Agram Gol, because Agram An is an uncontrolled pass leading to Afghanistan.
The first day, the trail leads up the true right (south) bank 5km, then crosses a footbridge with Gul Lasht Zom prominent to the north- east. Reach Agramdeh village in a grassy area 4km above the footbridge. After a farther 3km, the valley widens and offers views of crags above glaciers, with scree slopes descending to the valley floor. Cross the Dajal Gol coming from the north, and 6.5km from Agramdeh reach the junction (3200m) of the trail coming from the Agram An. Cross to the main river’s true right (south) bank and, a beyond a grove of willows, reach Nawasin Ghari (3447m) after another 8km, eight to nine hours from Owirdeh.
The second day, continue up Agram Gol’s true right bank as it curves south. The routes to Besti An and Lutkho (sad Qalachi) An divide 8km from Nawasin Ghari. The more difficult Lutkho An, with a steep, long ascent from Agram Gol, crosses to the Siruik Valley, with a difficult descent involving Class 3 rock. Sad Qalachi means’ seven lengths of outstretched arms’ as the final 15m to 20m its south- west side requires traversing a narrow ledge along a 75m cliff and may require fixing ropes for safety.
To continue to Besti an, take the east (left) fork of the stream, alongside a glacier, and ascend 600m to Besti An (4633m). Descend 1200m to Khoin village in the upper Besti Gol in 2.5km, six to seven hours from Nawasin Ghari.
The last day, follow the trail down the Besti Gol 6.5km to Besti village, then 9.5Km more to the confluence with the Arkari Gol and the roadhead, five to six hours from Khoin. . Jeeps occasionally come up Besti Gol as far as Besti village.
Maps depicting these two passes are confusing one pass heads south and west from Agram Gol into the Siruik Valley and on to Lutkho; and the other heads south and east into the Besti Gol. The Zebak (J 42- X) sheet names the first pass Sad Qalachi An. The British Survey of India 1930 edition Afghanistan and NW- Frontier province 1:63, 360 37 P/SE sheet and the editors of the Himalayan Journal, however, call this pass Lutkho An. The second pass, which leads to Besti Gol, is named on the Zebak (J 42- X) sheet as Lutkho An. The British 37 P/SE sheet, as well as the editors of the Himalayan Journal, call this pass Sad Qalachi! The authors prefer to call the pass leading to the Siruik Valley and upper Lutkho the Lutkho An and the pass leading to Besti Gol the Besti An, a name given by Cockerill, who travelled here in 1894.
Gazikistan (grassy place) is a pleasant camp site between the Lower and Upper Gazikistan glaciers, which descend from Gull Lasht Zom. It makes a good base camp for climbs on the Surrounding peaks. The road up the Arkari Valley goes to Owirdeh, at the Agram Gol’s mouth. From Owirdeh to Gazikistan is a two- day trek. Camp at Yun, a summer village 6.5km from Owirdeh, or at Kurobakh, 14.5km from Owirdeh, at the Nuqsan Valley’s mouth. Gazikistan lies 6.5km beyond Kurobakh.
SHISHI and GOLEN
The steep, rocky passes at the head of Jughor Gol and Roghili Gol are not snow- free until July. They’re best crossed before Late September. The routes over all of these passes are infrequently used (see map,). When exploring them, hire a local herder who knows the way since map references are poor and routes aren’t obvious.
Jughor village, at the Jughor Gol’s mouth, is south of, and across the river from, Chitral town. Plan to visit Jughor the day before you start in order to organize any trek. Four demanding passes are towards the valley’s head: two head south to Shishi Gol; and two head east, one to Koghozi Gol and the other to Roghili Gol.
From Jughor, walk upvalley to a hut at Chhato Shal (3048m), where the trail crosses to the true left bank. Go 750m farther to a junction (3161m) of two trails. One trail leads south up the kapashung Gol to the passes to Shishi Gol and the other leads east up the Bungolbahan Gol to the other two passes.
The kapashung Gol route splits father upvalley. Here, the route to the south- east crosses the Domukh An (4380m) to Kalas in Shishi Gol. The route to the south follows the Kapashung Gol’s true right bank for 3Km, along the highest branch, to Kapashung Gree (4318m), which also leads into Shishi Gol.
The route east up Bungolbahan Gol stays on the true left (south) bank and offers two options. First, from the 3161m trail junction, you can proceed 3Km upvalley and cross the river. A very steep 500m climb north brings you to the difficult Koghozi An (4480m) from where a steep descent into the Koghozi Valley leads to Koghozi village on the Chitral- Gilgit road. This is a difficult Class 3 cross-country route.
Second, you can ascend half is a Kilometre farther north- east along the Bungolbahan Gol’s true left bank to Roghili Gree (4638m). It’s then a steep 850m scree descent into the basin of the upper Roghili Gol. The basin is labeled Angarbah on the Chitral (I- 42 F) sheet, but local People don’t recognize this name. Follow the south bank of a stream heading north- east 8km farther to Lut Chhat (3764m), a lake. From a trail junction 500m above the lake, you can head north down Roghili Gol by crossing the stream feeding the lake and contouring along its north bank (see the Roghili Gol Treks,). Alternatively, you can cross the Roghili An.
From Lut Chhat in the Upper Roghili Gol (see the Roghili Gol trek, p144) a route crosses the Roghili An (4496m) to Madaglasht in Shishi Gol. Continue along the north and west shores of Lut Chhat. Go beyond the lake for 500m and the cross the stream to its South bank. Here two routes divide: one to the Roghili An and the other to the more difficult Roghili Gree (see Jughor, above). The demanding route to Roghili An (4496m) turns south- east and Crosses a steep Ridge to Madaglasht in Shishi Gol.
Dok An (4420m) links Istor, Golen Gol’s highest village, with the upper Shishi Gol. It takes one day to walk to the upper Dok Gol with its streams, flowery meadows and sheer cliffs typical of Golen.
Istor villagers graze flocks in the pastures at the summer settlement of Warazo Shal. From here, it’s a one- day trek over the moderate. Dok An, which is usually open mid-June to September, to Shishi Gol. Once over Dok An, you can turn north- east into upper Shishi Gol, cross the Lohigal An, descend into Lohigal Gol and loop back to Istor.
The following are specified and unspecified treks that fall within a restricted zone, but no permit is required. The Dc in Chitral authorizes visits.
The moderate four- day trek up the idyllic and infrequently visited Rosh Gol begins in Zundrangram, Tirich Valley’s main village. Saraghrar, one of nine 7000m peaks in the area, towers above the valley’s head. The first day, cross the Tirich Gol and walk 13km up the Rosh Gol to Duru (3600m), Labeled Bachorgaz on the U502 Mastuj (NJ 43- 13) sheet, a lovely camp site with flowers and springs amid birches and willows. Continue the second day up the river’s true left bank 2.5km to the Rosh Gol Glacier’s snout, and then on the true left side of the lateral moraine 5km to The lush ablation valley Kotgaz (4300m). Beyond Kotgaz, enjoy a day hike on the moraine- covered glacier for superb views. The fourth day return to Zundrangram.
Udren Gol and the Udren Glacier flow from a ring of 7000m peaks, including Udren Zom (7108m), Noshaq and Istor-o- Nal. A moderate four- day trek visits the glacier’s head (see map,). From Shagrom, follow the Tirich Gol 1¼ hours, then cross a footbridge and follow the Udren Gol’s true right bank north past Shang-o- Lasht to a camp site 8km from the Confluence. The second day, continues 3Km to the glacier’s snout and walk 2km along its true right side. Head onto the moraine- covered glacier and traverse it diagonally 5km to its true left margin for views of Istor-o- Nal up the South Udren Glacier. Continue on moraine 6km to the confluence with the smaller North Udren Glacier and camp in the ablation valley (4300m). Retrace steps downvalley to Shagrom in two days.
Saraghrar Base Camp
The Saraghrar massif rises at the Ziwor Gol’s head. A demanding five- day trek leads to the base camp of the successful 1959 Italian expedition. From Zang Lasht in Turikho, walk across the bridge over the Turikho River Burzum village (2400m) at the Ziwor Gol’s narrow mouth. Follow the trail north and west up its true left bank, past the hot springs of Uts, 11.5km to Golung Shal (2800m). On Day 2 continue 12km to the once- cultivate Gram Shal (3400m), crossing the river just before it. Ziwor Gol was once inhabited, but abandoned when the glacier at its head advanced. It has since receded, but the valley hasn’t been resettled. On Day 3, head up the true right bank 3.5km to the Ushko Glacier’s snout (Hurusko Kuh Glacier on the U502 Mastuj (NJ 43- 13) sheet), with the Nirogh Glacier’s snout (Nuroregh Glacier or maps) just to the south. Cross the Ushko Glacier just above its snout to its true right side. Leave the glacier and continue south along the Nirogh Glacier’s true left (west) margin as it heads south and bends west. Cross the Sorlawi Glacier coming from the north-west to reach Saraghrar Base Camp (4200m), at the base of the spur separating the Roma and Sorlawi Glaciers above the Nirogh Glacier. Here you’re surrounded by 6000m and 7000m peaks and get the best view of Saraghrar. Return downvalley to Zang Lasht in two days.
Chikor Pass (44330), which is usually open mid-July to mid-September, links Uzhnu and Ziwor, two uninhabited valleys branching west from Turikho Valleys. A moderate five- to seven- day near- loop starts at Uzhnu village along the jeep road in Turikho. Head north and west up the Uzhnu Valley, then turn south- west into Chikor Gol. Climb to the Chikor Pass and descend south- west to Gram Shal in the Ziwor Gol. Go east down Ziwor Gol returning to Zang Lasht in Turikho. This is an unspecified route in a restricted zone.
Nizhdaru An (5087m), an infrequently crossed pass, links Sor Rich in Rich Gol to Bang in the Yarkhun Valley. This demanding 25km technical trek takes two to three days and is best done in July or August. From Sor Rich (2785m) walk up the Chakosh Gol’s true left (south) bank 5Km to Ghari Chhan. Continue another 8Km and camp below a small glacier descending from the pass. The next day, ascend the glacier steeply to the Nizhdaru An, which may require fixing rope or cutting steps; bring an ice axe and crampons. Descend steeply over scree on the west side to the meadows of Garagar (4023m). Camp here or continue to Bang in a long day. Bang- Mastuj jeeps. Special hires.
Hindu Raj Crest
A demanding and exciting five- day cross- country trek traverses the crest of the Hindu Raj Range, crossing three seldom- visited passes. Anyone attempting this route needs to be an experienced trekker, accomplished at route- finding, completely self-reliant and able to communicate with herders in pastures in each separate valley. Khot herders know the Ghochhar An route, Bang herders the Bang Gol Muli An, and Paur herders the Siru An. The passes are typically snow- free between July and late September, but Plan to do the trek before early September when herders depart the pastures.
Walk from Khot Lasht to Shahglasht in 3½ to four hours on Day 1 (see map,). It’s seven to nine hours on Day 2 to reach Garagar. From Shahglasht, leave the trail to Khot An and continue to the Jharogh huts, along the Jacha Gol’s true left bank. Cross to its true right bank and continue up stream. The Jacha Gol (not marked on maps) and the Ghochhar Gol meet just beyond. Continue along the Ghochhar Gol’s true right (west) bank 1.5km to the confluence with the Mazan Gol. Follow the Ghochhar Gol, and after passing beneath several small Permanent snowfields, cross the stream to its true left bank and ascend to the Ghochhar An (4727m), involving a steep scree ascent, and descend over a small glacier. Continue to Garagar, a herders’ settlement in upper Bang Gol.
On Day 3, head north- east, cross Bang Gol Muli An (4763m) and descend, traversing a Small glacier, to the upper Paul Gol herders’ settlement at Pimin Sor in five to eight hours. On Day 4, head north, then north- east to cross Siru An (4572m). Camp in the upper Siru Gol Beyond the Siru glacier, five to seven hours from Pimin Sor. On Day 5, continue down the herders’ trail along the Siru Gol’s true right bank to the confluence with the Ishperu Dok Gol. Cross a footbridge to the Ishperu Dok Gol’s true left bank and follow the trail to Yashkist at the confluence with the Yarkhun River.
Glacial lakes dot the upper Bashqar Gol, above which towers Ghuchhar Sar (6249m). Beyond the first lake, the valley divides: Thalo Gol heads south- west and Manali Gol heads south- south east. These upper valleys offer interesting, demanding, trekking and climbing possibilities, and are best visited by starting/ finishing in Sor Laspur. It’s ill- advised to attempt the difficult passes at the head of these valleys, which leads to lawless areas where people are armed, may not welcome trekkers, and should be considered dangerous.
It’s tedious going up the long, rocky Thalo Gol, which has numerous hanging glaciers. The moraine of the Thalo Glacier descends to the valley floor and another glacial lake lies beyond the Thalo Glacier. Thalo An leads to Dir’s Panjkora Valley. The way up the shorter Manali Gol leads over the large Manali Glacier, and on to an upper cirque. Manali An leads into Swat’s upper Gabral Valley.