The journey towards this land of beauty is not an easy one let me tell you that before we begin. But if you are an adventurous soul who wants to explore and revel in the magnificence that the untapped areas of Pakistan have offer then let’s embark on this journey together otherwise, you can discontinue reading from here on.
I went to Swat with my family last year and we started our Journey from Lahore. We made a stop at the Margala Hotel in Islamabad to spend the night to rest then early morning we routed towards Mingora, the commercial city of Swat District. Mingora is a 6 hour drive from Islamabad so it is up to you if you wish to stay in Mingora and rest to continue your journey towards Malam Jabba. We stayed in the PTDC hotel, which is one of the best 3 star hotels in Swat. If you have budget to spare than you can go for Swat Serena and Swat regency hotel in the four and five star range.
Malam Jabba is 3 hours ahead of Mingora and is a popular tourist destination in that area also known as one of the most beautiful slopes in the world. It is a hill of luscious greenery providing the top view of the stunning K2 mountain Range and of course a heady sense of freedom with it. Malam Jabba has a chairlift which used to be made of state of the art technology but after the 2008 earthquake destruction, it is passable.
After spending 3 wonderfully exhilarating hours at Malam Jabba we embarked towards Kalam valley. Kalam is a 5 hour drive from Malam Jabba and is situated along the banks of Swat River at an elevation of about 6,600 feet above sea level. Now kalam is a mid-point where you get your hotel and rest. It is from Kalam you get jeeps and explore the deeper more breathtaking areas of swat. We stayed in a wonderfully accommodating hotel named Pameer. It isn’t a 3 star hotel but Kalam has many such as the Greens Hotel, Galaxy Hotel, and Hotel state continental to name a few and don’t worry about getting good food, Kalam has a variety of different restaurants that offer great Desi food.
People mostly get a deep and travel towards the picturesque Mahodand Lake which is a 1.5 hour drive from Kalam covered on a rented jeep mostly but you can take your cars too. The journey towards Mahodand will feel like a 4D movie ride but far more realistic (but don’t for a single moment think you can do without an SPF 100 sunblock, trust me you’ll regret it like I did). The ride started from a dense jungle then narrows down to a rugged mountain terrain, scoots down from the sides of the swat river oh and the Ride isn’t even the best part. The Lake itself if extremely beautiful, you wouldn’t have seen anything from the likes of it before. Even these pictures don’t do justice to it. There are various activities available such as boating, Rafting etc.
We returned to Kalam and on the next day began our journey towards a completely new location that most tourists who go to swat seem to ignore – Ghabral Valley. Gabral is a charming hill station that comes at a distance of 20 km away from Kalam. Oh, charming is an understatement. From its large expanse of grass tresses to its flowery meadows and horses running freely… That place is a heaven on Earth my friends. And since many tourists don’t really go there; it is just you, the vast clear sky and wide grass panes. I couldn’t find a single picture that explains the beauty that resided there and how breathtakingly refreshing that experience was for both my eyes and the soul (Take me back please!).
And If you hike for 2 hours from where Ghabral Valley ends. The Kharkhari Lake can be explored which according to ancient stories carries real Gold! Oh and India can be sighted from there too. But beware, there are looters in that area, who hide in caves and are known to kidnap tourist thus taking a gun man along would be a good precaution. Safety first! And bring food supplies along. There is not a single place in these areas where you get food and the explorations take at least half a day.
I have been to Naran and Kashmir but my experience with Swat was unparalleled. It is truly a one-time experience that will change how you view Pakistan completely. Pakistan you guys, is a wonderland full of beauty that we can’t even imagine. Trust me, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it and I was amazed.