The following treks are all in an open zone.
Rama Lake (3482m) lies along the Sachen Glacier’s south margin above Rama 6km west of Astor village (2345m) in Astor Valley. An easy two- or three- day visit to the lake (Sango Sar See on the DAV map) and the surrounding area takes you through flower- filled meadows and pine, fir, cedar and juniper forests with views of the Chongra peaks.
Gilgit- Astor jeeps go all day from Gilgit’s Domyal link Rd. Gilgit- Astor special hires. A jeep road goes from Astor to Rama, 1200m above Astor, so unless you want to walk, organize a Special hire.
After successfully crossing the Mazeno La from the Rupal Gah and continuing to Fairy Meadow in Raikot Gah (see the Mazeno La trek,), a circumambulation of Nanga Parbat is possible by continuing clockwise from Fairy Meadow to the Astor Valley over the Muthat Pass. Meat Contractors supplying goats to the army reportedly use this very demanding route.
From Fairy Meadow, descend towards Tato (2475m) to cross the footbridge over Raikot Gah. Ascend north- east over a ridge (3362m) and descend to stream, then cross the Buldar River to reach Muthat Village (3000m). Follow the Buldar Glacier’s snout- east margin to 4000m. Then ascend a more difficult route along an ablation valley to Muthat Pass (4965m). (The DAV map shows a glacier west of the pass that is no longer present on this route). Descend steeply to the Lotang Glacier, following its north margin to a point where you can cross to its south side. The route over the ridge separating the Lotang and Sachen glaciers isn’t obvious. Descend to Rama and Astor villages in the Astor Valley. An experienced local guide who knows the route is helpful.
Bezar Gali (4062m) is an infrequently used pass linking Raikot Gah and Jalipur Gah. From Fairy Meadow, a moderate three- day trek over the pass leads to Gunar on the KKH, 30km from Chilas. Head north- west and cross Bezar Gali, descending to camp the first night at Bezar in the Jalipur Gah and the next day at Khusto.
The 160km- long Kaghan Valley, south of Diamir in North- west Frontier Province’s (NWFP) Hazara District, is renowned for its vast meadows, pine forests and sparkling alpine lakes nestled among western Himalayan 4000m to 5000m peaks. Formed by the Kunhar River, perhaps Pakistan’s finest trout streams, the valley takes its name from Kaghan village. The local Language is Hindko, similar to Punjabi, with Pushtu and Urdu also widely spoken. The upland meadows attract Gujars, nomadic herders who bring their flocks each spring in a colourful migration. Naran is the staging point for trips upvalley, a one- day drive from Islamabad via Mansehra.
Lake Saiful Mulk
Most visitors to Kaghan between mid- June and September make the day trip from Naran to Lake Saiful Mulk (3200m). The turquoise lake lies amid flower- filled meadows, surrounded by glacier- clad peaks. Above its far shore rises Malika Parbat (5290m), Queen of the Mountains, Kaghan’s highest peak. Legend has it that fairies would gather at the lake to dance on moonlit nights. A young prince caught a glimpse of them and fell in love with the fairy princess. The illicit love between the fairy and the mortal human ended tragically, and the lake is named for the prince, Saif- ul- Mulk. This fairy realm has lately become spoiled by human visitors, who thoughtlessly leave trash. A small rest house and several tea stalls mark the spot.
From Naran, follow the 10km- long road through forest three hours to the lake. Walk an hour around the lake to a camp site in the meadows below the Saiful Mulk Glacier. It’s Possible to cross the ridge (4191m) at the valley’s south- west end and descend steeply into the upper Manur Valley, which joins the Kaghan Valley at Mahandri, 37km south of Naran.
Babusar Pass (4175m) at the Kaghan Valley’s head, is really an alpine plateau marking NWFP’s border with the Northern Areas. An infrequently used jeep road, once the only road linking Gilgit with down- country Pakistan, runs the Kaghan Valley’s length and crosses the pass to meet the Indus River at Chilas to the north. Every year a few trekkers opt to walk along the road between mid- June and September as an alternative to travelling the KKH. The 130km walk between Naran to Chilas takes from four to six days. It’s possible to jump on any vehicle the last 39km between Babusar village and Chilas. At the time of writing, a project to improve the road across Babusar was underway.
A five- day trek between Burawai and Lulusar Lake crosses four easy passes as it dips into Azad Jammu and Kashmir, visiting the high lakes south of Babusar Pass and east of the road. A local guide from Naran is essential. Start from Burawai, 26km north- east of Naran. Follow the good trail south- east up the Jora Valley, passing the stone huts of Jora, and camp in the meadows six to eight hours from Burawai. On Day 2, cross Ratti Gali (4115m), a pass leading south- east into the upper Dhorian Valley and marking the NWFP and Azad Jammu and Kashmir border. Follow the stream down from the pass. At its confluence with another stream, turn north and follow the stream 5km to the gentle Nuri Nar Gali (4115m). Cross north into the upper Nuri Valley and camp in meadows along the stream four to five hours from Jora. On Day 3, follow the stream down to the main valley, which flows east towards the Neelum River. A trail leads north- west over a pass to Jalkhand River and back to the Kunhar River. Instead, follow the north- east fork as it bends around to the east past a small lake and then north over Saral Gal (4191m) into the upper Saral Valley and camp near Saral Lake, five to six hours from the upper Nuri Valley. On Day 4, walk a short way downstream, then turn west and follow a stream up 2km to a fork in the trail. The west fork leads shortly to Saral-di- Gali (4488m), a pass to Jalkhand Valley and back to the road. Follow the north fork and cross Jor-di- Gali (4450m), re- entering NWFP, and descend to Dudibach Lake (3962m), four to five hours from Saral Lake. On Day 5, walk six to seven hours west down Purbi Valley to the road at Besal, followed by an easy 2km walk on the road to Lulusar Lake.
Alternative, from Dudibach Lake, head 4km west down the Purbi Valley, then north across a ridge into the Kabalbashi Valley. Camp in the upper valley and the next day continue downvalley to Gittidas. Gittidas, although south of Babusar Pass, is a Chilasi summer settlement where it’s best to avoid camping.