KATPANA (COLD DESERT) SKARDU

katpana Desert Skardu

Skardu:
Skardu is a town and Capital of Skardu District, in Gilgit-Baltistan. Skardu is a 10 kilometres (6 miles) wide and 40 kilometres (25 miles) long Valley, located at the confluence of the Indus and the Shigar Rivers. Skardu is at an altitude of about 2,226 metres (7,303 feet). The town is surrounded by greyish-brown mountains.

Katpana Desert:
There are sand deserts in Skardu and Shigar Valleys, on the banks of Indus and Shigar rivers. Katpana Desert stretches from the Khaplu Valley to Nubra, Ladakh and Shigar, Skardu Valley to Zanskar in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The largest area of Katpana Desert is found in Skardu and Shigar Valleys. It is called Biana Naqpo and Katpana Biana, in local language. Katpana Desert is located near Skardu city while Shigar Desert is located on the way to Shigar Valley. Katpana Desert is situated at an elevation of 2,226 metres above sea level. This is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions of Northern Areas in Pakistan. It is called Cold Desert of Skardu Region. Its mesmerizing cold nights and magnificent sandy view makes it a majestic place to visit. There are large sand dunes in Katpana Desert, which presents a spectacular sight. It is located at an elevation of more than 7, 303 feet. It is one of the highest deserts in the world.

Means of Travelling:
By Air:
Skardu is connected to Islamabad via Pakistan International Airlines. The flights are regular; however it is possible only on a clear day.
By road:
Skardu can be reached by road from Islamabad, via four routes:
Islamabad>Mansehra>Basham>Dasoo>Chilas>Jaglot>Skardu
Islamabad>Mansehra>Basham>Dasoo>Chilas> Deosai>Skardu
Islamabad>Mansehra>Balakot>Naran>Babusar Top>Chilas>Jaglot>Skardu
Islamabad>Mansehra>Balakot>Naran>Babusar Top>Chilas>Deosai>Skardu
It is also possible to reach Skardu from Gilgit. It is a 256 kilometres long route.

Hotels and Resorts:
Tourists can get an easy access to the accommodation facilities here in Skardu. Hotels, Motels and Restaurants provide all the modern amenities and comforts to the tourists. Some places to stay are as follows:
Hotel One Skardu
Karakoram Inn Hotel & Restaurant Skardu
Concordia – II, Near K-2 Motel, Skardu
Hunza Inn, Naya Bazar, Skardu
Baltistan Tourist Cottage, Chowk Yadgar, Skardu
Baltoro Rest House, Satellite Town, Skardu
Northern Areas PWD Rest House, Hamid Garh, Skardu
Yak N Yurt Sarai, Satellite Town, Skardu
Skardu Inn, Main Bazar, Skardu
Indus Hotel
Karakoram Hotel Main Bazar
Hotel & Restaurant Dewan-E-Khas
Shangrila Resort
Shigar Fort Residence
K-2 Motel is a PTDC Motel in Skardu

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7 Days Naran and Kashmir Tour Package

PakistanTravelGuide offers 7 Days tour packages for Naran and Kashmir to Explore with Family, This package is exclusively for people of Karachi & Lahore. Kashmir /Neelum Valley is blessed with incredible beauty along beautiful places of Naran Valley. This package will cover Islamabad, Murree, Kutton Keran, Upper Neelum, Balakot, Shogran, Naran, Saif-ul-malook, Kaghan..

Inclusive :

  • Prado/Pajero Exceed/Landcruiser
  • Sightseeing
  • Fuel
  • Accommodation 3 Star
Days From To Stay SightSeeing
1st Day Islamabad Murree Murree Islamabad, Murree, patriata, Bhurban, Jheeka Gali
2nd Day Murree Muzaffarabad Muzaffarabad Kashmir Waterfall, Kohala Picnic Point, Muzaffarabad
3rd Day Muzaffarabad Keran  Keran  Pattika, Dhani Waterfall, LOC, Kundal Shahi, Kutton Waterfall, Keran.
4th Day Keran Shogran  Shogran Garhi Habibullah, Balakot, Shogran, Siri Paye
5th Day Shogran Siri Paye  Naran  Siri Paye
6th Day Naran Saif ul Malook  Naran  Lake Saiful Malook
7th Day Naran Islamabad

7 Days Package for 6 adults 4 Children 

Day 1: Pickup from Lahore / Islamabad enroute via Motorway Lahore

Sightseeing : Islamabad, Murree.

Stay: Murree

Day 2: En route to Kashmir via Kohala , Muzaffarabad

Sightseeing : Kashmir Waterfall, Kohala Picnic Point, Muzaffarabad

Stay: Muzaffarabad

Day 3: Route to Neelum Valley.

Sightseeing : Kutton, Keran.

Stay: Keran

Day 4: Visit to Shogran via Ghari Habibullah

Sightseeing : Garhi Habibullah, Balakot, Shogran

Stay: Shogran

Day 5: Visit to Naran Valley

Sightseeing : Kaghan, Naran.

Stay: Naran Kaghan

Day 6: Explore  Saif ul malook via Jeeps

Stay : Naran

Day 7: Drive Back to Islamabad/Lahore

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White Palace Marghazar

The White Palace of Marghazar was built in 1940 by the first king of Swat, Miangul Abdul Wadud (Badshah Sahib) in the small town of Marghazar situated at about 13 kilometers away from Saidu Sharif. The name was given to the palace as it was built of white marble. The King brought marble from Agra, bronze from Belgium and artisans from Turkey who designed and constructed the palace, completing it in 1941.

white-palace-swat

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TOURISM IN SWAT VALLEY

Swat Valley, with marvelous landscape and wonderful history, is situated in Provincially Administrated Tribal Area (PATA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. The ancient names of Swat Valley are Udyana and Suvastu. Alexander the great entered the Valley in 327 BC, through Indian route, and captured the areas of Bazira and Ora. Later on it became the hub of Budhists/Gandhara Civilization. At the beginning of tenth century, Aghani Pakhtuns got settled down in Swat Valley, hence the territory came under the influence of Islam. The Yusufzais took over Swat in the first quarter of seventeenth century.
Swat Valley is often called mini Switzerland of Pakistan and it is located in the middle of Hindu Kush mountain range. The main towns of the valley are Mingora and Saidu Sharif. It is among of the most of the green valleys of the Northern areas of Pakistan, which are well connected to the rest of Pakistan, via roads and telecommunications. The Air Services from Islamabad to Swat are functioning on regular basis. One can also reach there either from Peshawar (160 KMs) or Islamabad (250 KMs).
Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is famous for, being the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety, in the world and considered a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. Buddhists belief that Buddha came to Swat himself, during his last reincarnation as the Guatama Buddha and preached the people there. It is said that the Swat had had fourteen hundred Stupas and monasteries, which had as many 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. There are more than 400 Buddhist sites in the area of 160 Km in Swat valley. Butkarha-I is the most important place, containing the original relics of the Buddha, is found in excavation of Budhists sites.
Swat Valley is rich with its natural beauty and cultural heritage of Archeology. Some of its tourists’ sites are as follows;

Gumbat Stupa is 9 kilometres in the South of Birkot in Kandag Valley. This is one of the well-preserved stupas of Swat.

Udegram is 8 kilometres away from Saidu Sharif. Aurel Stein identified this site as Ora, a city where Alexander fought one of his battles.

Saidu Sharif is the head-quarter of Swat and Swat Museum is its distinction, which contains one of the finest collections of Gandhara Art.
Mingora is the twin city of Saidu Sharif and many sites of Buddhist ruins of stupas.
Marghazar, 13 km away from Saidu Sharif, is famous for its “Sufaid Mahal” the white marble palace of the first Wali (Ruler) of Swat. It becomes a hotel now, where tourists come to stay in.
Butkara (Butkada) Stupa is one of the most important Buddhist shrines in Swat. It is near the museum.
Kabal is 6 km away from Saidu Sharif. It has an excellent golf course.

Malam Jabba is located 40 kilometres (25 miles) away from Saidu Sharif. It is fine place for skiing and other such activities. There is a chairlift facility as well.
Khuwaza Khela is a mid-point between Mingora and Kalam. A path from here also leads to Shangilla Pass, and to Besham on Karakoram Highway.
Miandam is a small summer resort, about 49 kilometres (30 miles) from Saidu Sharif.
Madyan is another tourist resort on the bank of Swat River. It is about 1,321 meters (4,334 feet) above sea level.
Bahrain is in 10 kilometres North of Madyan and its height is about 1,400 meters (4,593 feet) above sea level.
Kalam is 29 kilometres (18 miles) from Bahrain and about 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level.
Ushu/Utrot/Gabral Valleys are behind Kalam. There is some good fishing for trout in Utrot Valley. Foreign tourists are advised to contact the local police authorities at Kalam before preceeding to these valleys.
Mahodand Lake is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Kalam and only reachable by Jeep from Kalam. It is a worth watching place.

Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan

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Camping in Naran Valley

camping in naran valley

While visiting to Kaghan Valley, Camping could be a soul-enriching experience. Visitors and trekkers can carry their own tents and related accessories, as well as get on rent. There are camping sites in the Kaghan Valley adjoining areas, where large number of tourists could be accommodated, in summer season.

These Camping sites are available at Lake Saiful Muluk Lake, Lulusar Lake, Dudipatsar Lake, Babusar Top and Lalazar in Kaghan Valley. In these sites, tourists can experience a clear sky full of stars, at night. They can also enjoy magnificent view of early dawn; the view of the lakes and surrounding mountain, especially the most eye-catching view of Malika Parbat.

Preparedness & Accessories:

If you are intended for camping while visiting the Valley, you will have to be well-prepared. You must take some important steps to secure your camping trip, and must carry the following luggage with you.

Essential Equipments:

A large rucksack to carry all required trekking apparatus

Sleeping Bag, which could give protection from harsh weather

A folding mattress

Shoes for Trekking, with durable rubber sole

Sandals to wear for walking during camping

Water proof jacket and trousers

Two to three pairs of full length trousers and full sleeves shirts

Three to four pairs of socks (preferably in woolen stuff)

Sun Hat & Woolen Cap

Pair of Gloves (preferably woolen and water proof)

Sun Glasses

Walking Stick

Water Bottles

Emergency Light

Pocket Knife

Toilet Kit

Other Items (optional):

A light weight water proof tent

Small Stove with fuel

Plastic Cane of water

Medical Kit (First Aid box with basic medicines)

Cooking utensils

Food stuff (per-head, menu and duration of trip)

Washing Kit (toilets/kitchen soaps)

Match box

Map and Compass

Binoculars

Camera

Some Extra Suggestions:

Luggage bags:

Back packs are ideal. Do not carry fancy bags, these inappropriate for hilly area.

Clothing/Shoes:

Hiking shoes and sneakers are recommended.

Bring umbrella, as weather is always unpredictable in these areas.

Sun glasses

Sweaters, Cardigans and Jackets

Medicines:

You should have to bring all the necessary medicines alongwith you because these might not available in Naran.

Miscellaneous:

Bring all other everyday use facial products; i.e., shaving gels/creams/sprays etc. Sun block cream is a must.

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Kaghan Valley vs Neelum Valley

neelum valley vs naran kaghan
The two valleys are located on parallel position to each other and separated by snow-covered peaks, some over 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level. Both the Valleys have equally beautiful landscape, Lakes, Glaciers, and high Mountain Peaks. Nature bestowed them with generous hands; we would remain undecided, which Valley to visit first. Here we make a comparison of both the Valleys below:

Kaghan Valley:
Kaghan Valley stretches in the lower Himalayan Mountains Range. The Kaghan Valley is famous for its splendor and natural beauty, and one of the most fabulous Resorts of Hazara Division, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is located at the distance of 64 kilometres from Balakot, it is surrounded by magnificent mountains, mighty glaciers, mesmerizing waterfalls and crystal clear lakes in abundance with of flora and fauna. The valley is spread over a 155 kilometres area and rising from an elevation of 2, 134 feet (650 metres), with its highest point, 13,700 feet (4, 176 metres) at Babusar Top, above sea level.
Shogran:
Shogran is at a distance of 34 kilometres from Balakot. It is a plateau, reachable by metalled road via Kawai. It is surrounded by green mountains with cool climate.
Jared:
Jared is a small hamlet, located at 40 kilometres from Balakot and beyond Shinu. This small place serves you with a large variety of locally manufactured products
Naran:
Naran is a medium sized town, located at the height of 2498 m (8, 196 feet) above sea level. It is 119 kilometres (74 miles) away from Mansehra.
Lake Saiful Muluk:
It is located at an elevation of 3, 224 metres (10, 578 feet) above sea level. This bowl-like famous Lake and it is 10 kilometres away from Naran. It can be visited during the whole summer season.
Lake Dudipatsar:
This beautiful Lake is located at an elevation of 12, 467 feet (3800 metres) above sea level and famous for trout fish. It can be reached from Basel after 8 hours trekking.
After the middle of June when the weather is more pleasant is the best time for visiting the lake.
Lake Lulusar:
Lake Lulusar is the biggest natural lake in the Hazara Region, and located at the height of 3, 410 metres (11, 188 feet). It is main source of Kunhar River.
Babusar Pass:
Beautiful Babusar Pass (Top) is at a distance of 80 kilometres from Naran/Kaghan Valley. From the Babusar Top tourists can view Nanga Parbat (8, 126 metres).

Neelum Valley:
Neelum Valley spreads over 144 kilometres area in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. It is named after the River Neelum, which flows through the Valley.
The Valley is situated in the North-East of Muzaffarabad, and it is connected from Muzaffarabad by Neelum road, which leads up to Kel. The road condition from Muzaffarabad to Athmuqam is very good and suitable for any kind of transport.
Rest houses and lodges of AJK Tourism and Archeology Department are available in Keran, Kutton, Dawarrian, Sharda, Kel and Taobat. There are some private hotels, rest/guest houses etc. as well.

Places to Visit:

Kundal Shahi:
The village is located at 74 kilometers (46 miles) from Muzaffarabad, on the bank of River Neelum.

Jura:
Jura is densely populated area in District Neelum, which is famous for its beautiful places and highest mountains.
Athmuqam:
This main town of valley is situated about 84 kilometres from Muzaffarabad. It is the headquarters of Neelum District.
Kutton:
Kutton/Jagran Valley is a village and also a tourist resort. It is situated 82 kilometers (51 miles) from Muzaffarabad and 8 kilometers (5.0 miles) away from Kundal Shahi on the bank of Jagran stream.

Keran:
It is at the distance of 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from Athmuqam. Keran is tourist resort and located on the bank of River Neelum, at an altitude of 1, 524 meters (5, 000 feet)

Dowarian:
It is located at a distance of 106 kilometers (66 miles) from Muzaffarabad and 22 kilometers (14 miles) from Athmuqam. Its altitude is 1, 615 metres (5, 299 feet). It is the base camp to Ratti Gali Lake.
Dudhnial:
It is a very famous and beautiful town of Neelum Valley.
Sharda:
One of the beautiful areas of Neelum Valley located at an altitude of 1, 981 metres (6, 499 feet). It is 136 kilometres (85 miles) away from Muzaffarabad.
Tehjian:
Tehjian is small beautiful Village of Neelum Valley and its total population of Tehjian is nearly 5000.

Kel:
It is situated at a distance of 19 kilometres (12 miles) from Sharda, at the altitude of 6, 879 feet (2, 097 metres).
Arrang Kel:
A small tourist spot located on the hill top near Kel at an altitude of 8, 379 feet (2, 554 metres) feet.
Taobat:
This is last destination of the Neelum Valley. It is 200 kilometres (120 miles) away from Muzaffarabad and 39 kilometers (24 mi) away from Kel.
Chitta Katha Lake:
It is located in Shounter Valley, at an altitude of 13, 500 feet (4, 115 metres). The lake is 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from Kel through Jeep track.
Shounter Lake:
It is a small lake located in Shounter valley at an altitude of 10, 200 feet (3, 109 metres). It is accessible from Kel by a jeep track.

Ratti Gali Lake:
Ratti Gali is located in Neelum Valley at an altitude of 12, 130 feet (3, 697 metres).

Saral Lake:
Saral Lake is located at an altitude of 13, 600 feet (4,145 metres). Sharda is the base camp to this Lake.

Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan

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Cuisines of Naran- Kaghan Valley

cuisines of swat valleyKaghan Valley is a popular resort while summer season. Tourists often want to know about the foods beverages in the touring place. Kaghan Valley has many hotels and restaurants , which are well versed with the needs of the tourists. Here are some of food items, which you can enjoy in hotels of Kaghan Valley, during your trip to the Valley.

Chicken/Mutton Karahi:

Chicken Karahi or Mutton Karahi is a famous dish in Pakistan. It is prepared with mueatingtton or chicken meat and it is popular for its spicy taste. It is called Karahi, because of its cooking utensil, a Karahi (wok)

Chicken/Mutton Biryani:

Biryani is a traditional Pakistani dish and it is made by Basmati Rice with meat or vegetables. Its origin is not found yet it often relates to North India; Delhi (Mughlai cuisine) and Lucknow (Awadhi cuisine). Its rich taste and aroma of flavors, makes it the most popular dish of the whole region. Many recipes of biryani, are offered at the eating out places.

Chicken Roast:

This dish is Chinese origin, and very popular even in the house-hold feasts. It is a simple and easy yet a delicious and aromatic dish. It takes much less preparation and cooking time. It is marinated in in spices and roasted in the oil, in oven, on coal or in steam; and served with Naan, Raita and salad.

Chicken/Mutton Handi:

Chicken (also mutton, beef) Handi is traditional Pakistani dish and popular in all regions of the country. This delicious and tasty dish consists of boneless meat, yogurt, cream and spices.

Trout Fish:

Trout likes to live in freshwater lakes or rivers. The rainbow trout which may either lives in fresh water or spends two or three years in sea, then returns to fresh water. A rainbow trout which spends time in the ocean is called a steelhead.

It is a common fish for hunting in Pakistan, especially in Kaghan Valley. Tourists like fishing, then mostly grilled it. On the contrary, hotels in Kaghan offer a variety of recipies to the customers.

Fast Food:

There are many fast food corners in Kaghan Valley, which offer a vast variety of burgers, shawarma, macaroni, etc.

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Why Neelum valley trending more then Swat/Naran/Skardu/Murree ?

Pakistan Travel Guide analyzes data of tourists, which part of Northern areas is more trending for summer vacations, we manage hundreds of tours and analyzed that Neelum Valley is one of best tourist destination for summers.

Reasons of tourist trends for Neelum Valley

1. Cheap accommodations

If we compare Neelum Valley with Naran KPK  then the prices are like as;

Hotel rates in June-August at NARAN  PKR 5000/- to 25000/-

Hotel rates in June-August at Neelum Valley PKR 1500/- to 5000/-

 2.  Easily Approachable

Neelum Valley is easily approachable , road conditions are good, you need 6 to 5 days to explore complete Neelum Valley, AJK tourism offer guidelines for tourists about routes/tourist huts/food restaurants. Naran opens for very little period of time and you don’t had much to explore as compared to Neelum Valley. 3 days are more then enough for visiting complete Naran Valley.

3. More Lakes then Naran

Neelum Valley blessed with 200 plus lakes but Naran had only one lake approachable named Saiful Malook, Neelum Valley lakes are far more beautiful and unexplored. RattiGali Lake is one of the famous lake of Neelum Valley just like Saif ul Malook Lake.

 4. Lush Greenery

Lush Greenery over the neelum river makes the valley more beautiful as compared to Naran and Swat.

5. Security 

Security is one of the biggest factor of tourist rush towards Neelum Valley, as media highlights taliban issues at Swat, Hunza route security issues, Naran Kaghan Glacier Issues.

Disclaimer : This opinion could be right or wrong, it’s based on trends we are having from tourists each year.

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Tourism in Kaghan Valley

Tourism in Kaghan Valley
The Kaghan Valley situated in Mansehra District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. This Valley is a popular tourist attraction in Pakistan, because of its pleasant weather and its natural charm. The valley has been built after the colossal Earthquake in 2005.
The Valley stretches at 155 kilometers (96 miles), its highest point is at elevation of 2,134 feet (650 m), the Babusar Pass (Babusar Top), at 13, 700 feet (4,176 m).

Trekking and Hill Walking

trekking in kaghan valley
Kaghan is a magnificent hill-station with a wonderful trekking trails and lush green scenery. There are numerous trekking routes in the Valley. Naran, Shogran and Sharan are fantastic hill-stations for outings for leisure-seekers for short trips, side-walks or nature study-walks.

River Rafting:
River Rafting and Kayaking are newly-introduced sports, along the Kunar River. Kunar River is a lifeline of Kaghan Valley, with excellent rafting waters. Some parts of the River, between Naran Vallley, are technically suitable only for experienced white water paddlers. Above Naran and below Balakot are suitable for the beginners, for fun-lovers and is relatively at easy level. Kunar River Rafting Enterprise (Pvt.) Limited offers basic and advanced training courses in running waters during October and April respectively. It organizes rafting joy-ride during June and August, for common tourists, who visit Kaghan Valley.

Jeep Safari:

jeep-safari-kaghan-Valley

Tourist can enjoy short jeep rides to Sri Paya, Saiful Muluk, Lalazar and Shogran. Kaghan Valley is ideally famous for thrilling jeep rides from Naran to Babusar Pass and Noori Top (12780 ft.). These places, with unique landscape and blessed by nature. When you want to go on long journey on jeep, make sure you should accompany a competent driver and your jeep must be in a good working, for a safe journey on the rough and patchy roads.

Fishing:

Fishing in the Kaghan Valley is another favourite hobby of the tourists. Fish-hunting of brown and rainbow trout in the crystal clear water of lakes and in the Kunar River, is a pastime for leisure-lovers. A fishing permit will be issued by the Fisheries Department at Shinu or Naran. Tourists can get angling equipment on rent from Naran Bazaar, or bring the gadgets along with them. Fishing-nets and use of explosives, is prohibited for fishing in rivers and lakes of the Kaghan and adjacent Valleys.
Mahasher:
Kaghan is heaven of fisheries. Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and especially Mahasher are abundantly found in pure silvery waters of the Upper side of the Valley. Trout of Kunar River is considered the best throughout the Sub-Continent. Fishing licenses are issued by the ‘Fisheries Department, Naran or by the ‘Trout Hatchery’ at Shinu. There are some private trout fish farms at Kawai (or Kiwai) and at Kahania as well. Angling equipments are easily available here.

Mountaineering:
Mountaineering and Rock Climbing in Kaghan Valley, has a lot of potential. Malika Parbat or “Queen of Mountains” (5, 290 m) is the highest peak in the Kaghan Valley; which is climbed by the European as well as Pakistani Climbers.

Author : Fehmeed Fareed Khan
Bio : Fehmeeda Farid Khan is a freelance Content Writer, Reporting Analyst and a Translator as well. She assists M.Phil Scholars with their Thesis work. Being a Physically Challenged Person, she is an Advocate on Disability Issues. Working for Environmental Awareness is her another attribute.

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