Northern Areas of Pakistan are famous for their natural beauty, cultural diversity, and remoteness from the modern world. 2008 was the year when I stretched my limits and ventured beyond the usual Pakistani scapes of Swat valley and Kaghan-Naran the first trip. That trip mainly covered the picturesque Hunza Valley plus touching the Pakistan-China border at highlands of Khunjerab National Park through the mighty Karakoram Highway.
In 2009, I took the one-of-its-kind flight from Islamabad to Skardu with my wife for our honeymoon trip. While staying besides the heavenly Lower Kachura Lake, commonly known as Shangrila, we also made the trip memorable and adventurous by traversing around Upper Kachura Lake, Sadpara Lake, and eventually to the sky-high Deosai Plains.
Despite those two back to back trips, there was still a lot to see and explore in the Northern Areas; most importantly the primitive Kalash Valley and the sight of Nanga Parbat - the world's 9th highest mountain - from Fairy Meadows.
Finally, this year I got the opportunity to spare 2 weeks and make a circuit covering both Kalash and Fairy Meadows in one go. Clubbing both destinations in one trip was quite challenging, logistically speaking, especially when it had to start from Karachi. It was rewarding too, as the route had to inevitably pass through Lowari Tunnel and Shandur Pass which was an adventure in its own. Expectations were also high because of the onset of the Spring Festival - Joshi in Kalash during the exact days of our stay there.
Those two weeks were divided like that:
2 Days - Karachi to Kalash via Lowari Tunnel
3 Days - Kalash
3 Days - Kalash to Fairy Meadows via Shandur Pass
3 Days - Fairy Meadows
2 Days - Fairy Meadows to Karachi via Karakoram Highway
This time I opted the typical backpacking style trip successfully which included using public transport, eating local food, sleeping at budget places, etc. That not only enhanced the experience with a lot of local interaction but also helped in keeping the budget down to amazing level.
I had two companions Nadeem and Zeeshan while the later only planned to come back after attending the Joshi festival without continuing with us to Fairy Meadows.
After returning home, I documented the trip here on my travel blog in a 5-part travelogue:
Part 1: Karachi to Kalash - a 50 Hours Road/Train Marathon
Part 2: Attending the Colorful Kalash Festival - Joshi and Trekking to Pakistan's Last Village towards Afghanistan
Part 3: Kalash to Fairy Meadows via Shandur Pass
Part 4: 3 Days at Fairy Meadows - Nanga Parbat and Snow Fall
Part 5: Fairy Meadows to Karachi - Another Marathon
Other related posts:
Trip Itinerary, Logistic, and Cost
Photo Blog: The Colorful Kalash Spring Festival - Joshi
Opinion: Can a Solo Foreign Female Traveler Visit Kalash
I hope these detailed reports will be fun going through and would also help other travelers in making similar trips. I would be really glad to have your comments and questions.