The North of Pakistan is famous for its mountains, high peaks and beautiful valleys and lakes. This region has the confluence of the Himalayas, Karakorams, Hindu Kush and the Pamirs. Some of the highest mountain peaks in the world are found here. Due to its Alpine terrain and climate, tourism mainly happens in the summer months. However, the diehard mountaineers and hikers visit this area throughout the year. There are also a number of opportunities for adventure tourism in particular paragliding, white water rafting and extreme skiing.
The North is also famous for its unique cuisine which is very different from the rest of Pakistan.
Gilgit Baltistan territory in the north of Pakistan, bordering China, has some of the most scenic mountains, valleys and lakes of Pakistan. Some of the highest mountain ranges and peaks criss cross this region including Himalayas, Karakorams and the Hindukush. The second highest mountain peak in the world K-2, Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum I&II are located in this region. Also located here are the Deosai National Park situated at an average elevation of 4,114 metres (13,497 ft) above sea level and considered as the second highest plateaus in the world. The Park is a host to a wide variety of flora and fauna as well as animal species including the Himalayan Brown Bear.
Gilgit Baltistan offers a vast range of possibilities to all types of tourists including sightseers, hikers, trekkers, and mountain and rock climbers.The region is open for tourism from April to October. However, for mountain climbers and trekkers, activities are conducted throughout the year.
When visiting Gilgit Baltistan, the key places to visit include Gilgit city, Hunza, Skardu, and Deosai National Park. You will be able to see the Kachura Valley including the upper and lower Kachura lakes, Sadpara Dam, Katpana Desert and lake, Shigar Fort, Khaplu Valley, Hunza Valley, Attabad Lake, Fairy Meadows, Altit Fort, Khunjerab Pass, Passu Glacier, Batura Glacier, Satrangi Lake, the mountains peaks and many more breathtaking sites.
Chitral and Kalash Valleys:
Chitral located in the North west of Pakistan is a beautiful valley in the Hindukush range of Mountains. It has always been a very important route for many invaders to south east Asia, Including Alexander the great Scythians, Mangol Changez Khan and numerous others. Chitral can be reached by air from Islamabad or by road from Peshawar or Swat via Dir through the Lowari tunnel and from Gilgit through Phander (Below Shandur Pass ).
From Chitral you can visit Kalash Valley. Kalash is a mountain tribe, of the Hindukush Living, known to be descendents of Alexander the Great, isolated from the rest of the world since ages. Kalash or Kafirs are very colorful people with their own traditions and a polytheist religion. As you reach the valley you get a very unique feeling of being in a very different culture. The women of the valley wear a black gown with beautiful embroidery and a Cap which hangs till the Back, embroidered with shells. You may witness a Kalash dance which made some people relate them to the armies of the Alexander the great.
The people of Kalash are known for their festivities. The Chilam Joshi Festival is one the most vital kalash festivals and is also known as Kalash spring festival. The Kalash people celebrate this four day festival across all three Kalash valleys of Rumbur, Bumburet and Birir. A large number of domestic and foreign tourists attend the Chilam Joshi festival every year.
The Shandur Polo festival takes place in Shandur Valley since 1936 and is held annually in the first week of July between the local teams of Gilgit and Chitral. Shandur is the highest polo ground in the world at 3,700 meters (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). The festival also includes Folk music, dancing and a camping village is set up.
Swat District is a district in the Malakand Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Centred upon the upper portions of the Swat River, the modern-day district was a major centre of early Buddhism under the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, due to which a strong presence of Buddhist cultural influence exists in the region. Swat was home to Hinduism and later Gandharan Buddhism until the 10th century, after which the area predominantly came under Muslim control and Islamic influence. Although swat valley has a reputation for its spectacular natural beauty, yet many of its tourist attractions spread across its area of 5,337 km2 (2,061 sq. mi.) are relatively undiscovered.
Kaghan, Naran, Saifulmalook:
The Kaghan Valley is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and borders the Pakistani-administered territories of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the north and east, respectively. The 155-kilometre-long valley is enveloped by the Lower Himalayan mountain range, resulting in an alpine climate and the prevalence of pine forests and alpine meadows. Alongside the flow of the Kunhar River, the valley features glaciers, crystal-like clear lakes, waterfalls and frosty mountain streams. The Kaghan is famous for its scenic beauty and landscapes, resulting in its popularity as a summertime resort amongst locals and tourists alike.
Naran is a medium-sized town situated in upper kaghan valley which is a part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is one of the most beautiful parts of northern areas in Pakistan which is elevated 2500 meters above sea level. Its beauty captures a lot of people towards itself and thus it is a famous resort for tourists and trekkers. The weather of Naran is very cold. The ice on the mountain tops never melts, even in the months of June and Jully there are glaciers and mountains are covered with snow.
Saifulmalook lake is situated 8 kilometers north of Naran and it takes 1 hour to reach there from Naran. The lake is situated in the middle of mountains, which throughout the year are covered with snow. Saifulmalook is named after a folk tale. It is the story of the prince of Persia who fell in love with a fairy princess at the lake. The impact of the lake’s beauty is such that people believe that fairies come down to the lake in full moon. The colour of water is blue and it is crystal clear.
Murree and Galyat:
Murree is a mountain resort town, located in the Galyat region of the Pir Panjal Range, within the Rawalpindi District of Punjab, Pakistan. It forms the outskirts of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area, and is about 30 km (19 mi) northeast of Islamabad. It has an average altitude of 2,291 metres (7,516 ft).
Galyat region, or hill tract, is a narrow strip or area roughly 50–80 km north-east of Islamabad, Pakistan, extending on both sides of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Punjab border, between Abbottabad and Murree. At a driving distance of 1 to 2 hours from capital Islamabad, the Galyat region includes several famous hill station towns that provide ideal opportunities for hiking and sightseeing.
- Ayubia (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
- Bara Gali (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
- Changla Gali (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
- Dunga Gali (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
- Khaira Gali (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
- Khanspur (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
- Nathia Gali (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
- Thandiani (Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa)
- Darwaza Ayubia (Khyber Pukhtunkhwa)
- Jhika Gali (Punjab)
- Ghora Gali (Punjab)
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan, and is federally administered as part of the Islamabad Capital Territory. Islamabad was built as a planned city in the 1960s to replace Karachi as Pakistan’s capital. The city is surrounded by the Margalla hills on three sides that provides an idyllic background to this capital city.
In addition to being the center of government, the city is home to several landmarks, with the most notable one being the Faisal Mosque − the largest mosque in South Asia and the fifth largest in the world and the Pakistan National Monument and Democracy Square. The city has a number of hiking paths in the surrounding mountains and most of the northern mountainous areas are accessible from Islamabad by road (Murree, Galyat, Swat etc.) and by air (Gilgit, Skardu and Chitral). The ancient town of Taxila is one hour’s drive from Islamabad. From Islamabad you can also visit the Pothwar region to see the ancient Katas Temples and the Salt mines of Khewra. The city also offers shopping of souvenirs and handicrafts made in all parts of Pakistan.