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The Swat-Hunza Jeep Safari from Islamabad to Hunza via Chitral promises an unparalleled blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of Taxila, the pristine landscapes of Swat Valley, the unique civilization of Kafir Kalash in Chitral, and the breathtaking beauty of Hunza. Don’t miss this chance to explore the northern beauty of Pakistan like never before.
Embark on the Swat-Hunza Jeep Safari and discover the rich cultural tapestry that the Northern Areas have to offer. This road trip covers four distinct places, each with its unique culture and history, making it an experience of a lifetime.
Our journey begins in Islamabad, and our first stop is just an hour’s drive away – Taxila. This ancient city has deep historical roots dating back to the Gandhara civilization. Taxila was once a bustling meeting point for traders from both China and the West. Today, it stands as a testament to its glorious past with archaeological sites and stupas surrounded by Taxila museums.
Continuing our expedition, we head towards the historically rich and mesmerizing Swat Valley, nestled at an elevation of 975 meters, south of Gilgit and north of Peshawar, across the highest Malakand pass in the Hindu Kush range. Often referred to as Udhayana or the garden of the ancient Hindu epic, this place truly lives up to its name. It was in Swat that Alexander the Great faced opposing armies before his legendary march.
Swat boasts an array of excavated archaeological sites, ranging from prehistoric caves and Aryan graveyards to Buddhist monasteries. At one point, there were as many as 1,400 monasteries in the valley. The land of Swat is divided into upper and lower regions, each with its distinct charm. Lower Swat is wide and fertile, with wheat and lucerne fields lining the riverbanks, while upper Swat, with its narrow river running through pine forests, is perched on green slopes, adorned with mud-plastered stone houses, quaint shops, and water-powered flour mills. Swat offers some of the best hiking opportunities in Pakistan, along with excellent fishing and climbing sites.
Our next destination is Chitral, accessible via the famous Lowari Top, often referred to as the “Jewel of the Hindu Kush.” The majestic Trichmir peak (7708m) graces the horizon. Chitral, situated at an elevation of 1518 meters in the northwestern corner of Pakistan, is a land of enchantment. Its Kafir Kalash valleys, including Rambur, Brir, and Bamburet, lie about 35 kilometers west of Chitral and offer a unique civilization that is dramatically different from the rest of the Chitral valley. Here, you can immerse yourself in the distinct rituals, lifestyles, and architecture of the Kalash people, making this a truly extraordinary experience.
Finally, our journey leads us to the enchanting Hunza Valley, starting from Gilgit, situated at an elevation of 1454 meters. As we drive through the Karakoram Highway (KKH), we’ll be treated to several picturesque viewpoints that offer breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains. Hunza is a land of natural wonders and cultural treasures. Explore the tiny valleys of Hunza, where pristine natural beauty awaits. Discover the cultural forts and remote places that will introduce you to experiences you haven’t encountered before.
Your journey begins as you touch down in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. Islamabad not only serves as the political center of the country but also as the gateway to the mesmerizing Northern region. Upon arrival, you’ll check into your chosen hotel, where comfort and relaxation await. After settling into your hotel, consider exploring some optional activities in Islamabad. You can visit Faisal Mosque, Pakistan Monument, and Lok Virsa Museum to get a taste of the city’s culture and history. Alternatively, you might want to indulge in some local cuisine at one of the city’s renowned restaurants.
On day two, we’ll hit the road for Swat, a region often referred to as the “Switzerland of Pakistan.” The non-stop drive from Islamabad to Swat takes approximately 4-5 hours, offering scenic views of lush valleys and winding rivers. En route to Swat, make a stop in Taxila, a historically significant city that dates back thousands of years. Explore the ancient ruins and archaeological sites of Takht-e-Bahi on the way that reveals Pakistan’s rich heritage.
As you arrive in Swat, you’ll be captivated by its stunning natural beauty. Swat Valley is often likened to Switzerland due to its lush green meadows, pristine lakes, and snow-capped peaks. A visit to Budhkara is a must during your time in Swat. Explore the charming Gandhara Heritage, interact with the friendly locals, and witness their unique way of life. Swat Museum is another highlight, showcasing a remarkable collection of Gandhara art and artifacts. It’s a place where history comes to life, offering valuable insights into the region’s past.
Day four marks the beginning of an adventurous journey to Chitral. The drive to Chitral via Lowari Pass, which stands at 3,234 meters above sea level, is a scenic route that promises breathtaking vistas. Upon reaching Chitral, you’ll check into your hotel. This picturesque town, nestled in the Hindukush Mountains, is known for its serene beauty and rich culture. The evening offers a perfect opportunity to soak in the tranquil ambiance of Chitral.
In the Kalash Valley, a place where time seems to stand still, you’ll experience the unique culture and traditions of the pagan Kalash people who have preserved their customs for centuries. The journey to Kalash is as enchanting as the destination itself. As you wind through the valleys, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of lush forests and picturesque landscapes. Upon arrival in Kalash, you’ll set up camp amidst the natural beauty that surrounds you. The evening promises a magical experience with a bonfire and opportunities to engage with the Kalash community. Gather around the bonfire, listen to traditional Kalash music, and partake in their dances and rituals. This is a chance to immerse yourself in a culture unlike any other in the world.
Explore the Kalash Valleys on foot, you can choose from a variety of hiking routes including Rambur, Bamburet, and Birir, each offering its own unique charm. While hiking, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of terraced fields, lush orchards, and the simple yet beautiful architecture of Kalash houses. During your hike, you’ll have opportunities to interact with the Kalash people and learn about their way of life, beliefs, and customs. This cultural immersion is a highlight of your Kalash Valley experience.
We’ll continue our journey deeper into the Northern region by heading to Mastuj. This hidden gem promises more awe-inspiring landscapes and cultural discoveries. Mastuj is a destination that often goes unnoticed by mainstream travelers, making it a serene haven for those seeking solitude and natural beauty. In Mastuj, we’ll set up camp amidst the pristine surroundings, allowing you to truly disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with nature.
Gupis is another off-the-beaten-path destination in Northern Pakistan where you’ll find untouched landscapes and a sense of tranquility. Camping in Gupis is a serene experience. You’ll be surrounded by the sound of flowing rivers and the rustling of leaves, providing the perfect setting for relaxation and reflection.
Day nine marks our journey to Gilgit, the bustling hub of Northern Pakistan. Gilgit not only offers a range of modern amenities but also serves as a gateway to further adventures. Upon arrival in Gilgit, you’ll check into your hotel, where you can freshen up and relax after the day’s journey. The region is known for its delectable dishes, often featuring hearty meats and fresh mountain produce.
Day ten begins with a visit to the lively Gilgit Bazaar, where you can shop for souvenirs, handicrafts, and local products. It’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. In the afternoon, we’ll depart for Hunza, a breathtaking destination known for its stunning vistas and hospitable people. The drive to Hunza promises jaw-dropping scenery at every turn. Upon reaching Hunza, you’ll check into your hotel, where you can relax and take in the majestic views of Rakaposhi and other nearby peaks.
Day Drive to explore the Hoper Valley, a natural marvel known for its lush greenery, glaciers, and pristine landscapes. While in Hoper Valley, you can indulge in activities such as hiking, trekking, and photography. The valley also offers spectacular views of Ladyfinger Peak and Passu Cones. After a day of exploration, return to Hunza in the evening to unwind and savor a cozy dinner.
Day twelve takes us to Sost, a town known as the gateway to China due to its strategic location on the Karakoram Highway. Upon arrival in Sost, you’ll check into your hotel and have the opportunity to explore the town and interact with fellow travelers. Sost often becomes a gathering point for travelers from around the world, making it an ideal place for exchanging stories and experiences.
Day thirteen leads us to the remote paradise of Chapurson Valley, where pristine landscapes and solitude await. Set up camp in the heart of Chapurson Valley and immerse yourself in the serenity of this untouched wilderness.
We’ll make our way back to Gulmit, a place where you’ll reconnect with the comfort of a hotel. Check into your hotel in Gulmit and enjoy the amenities it has to offer after camping in the wilderness.
After breakfast, drive to Chilas, a destination known for its unique rock formations and picturesque surroundings. Upon arrival in Chilas, check into your hotel and relax before the next leg of your journey.
Day sixteen marks the final leg of your journey as you drive back to Islamabad for a comfortable stay. Arriving in Islamabad, you’ll check into your hotel, reflecting on the incredible experiences and memories you’ve gathered during your 17-day adventure.
Check out from your hotel and make the necessary departure arrangements. Your 17-day adventure has allowed you to witness the natural beauty, rich culture, and warm hospitality of this extraordinary region, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
This concludes our comprehensive travel guide to Pakistan’s Northern treasures. We hope your trip was filled with wonder and adventure, leaving you with a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of Northern Pakistan.