Ensconced up north in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is the magnificent Swat valley. Dubbed the “Switzerland of the East”, the area is a traveller’s paradise with its refreshing weather, lush green pine trees, snow-capped peaks, and the crystalline waters of the Swat river meandering through its heavenly plains.
Whether it is adventure tourism, historical exploration, or a peaceful holiday retreat you’re interested in, Swat offers something for all its visitors.
Easily accessible by road, Swat is a 5 hour drive away from Islamabad, with the journey to it undertaken in 12-seater Toyota HiAce vans. The Swat Motorway, which will be operational from May 1st, 2019, will further facilitate visitors.
The group departs from Islamabad around 8 am taking a scenic route to arrive in Mingora— a city in Swat. Pick one of the many hotels in the populated city to have breakfast in. Public bathrooms are also available nearby.
From there on it’s a 3 hours’ drive further up north to the Malam Jabba hill station. As the altitude rises, the temperature begins to drop. Malam Jabba is considerably colder than Mingora and also houses a ski resort. Ski trips can be arranged in the winter months onward; the rest of the year the hill station serves as one of the loveliest viewpoints in the country.
Take out your cameras and don your sweaters and trekking shoes to traipse around the picturesque Malam Jabba. It is advisable to ask for permission before taking any pictures of the locals though. Those up for skiing can rent equipment separately from the ski resort, but need to keep their safety in mind. Skiing down the treacherous slopes requires prior training and a well-informed navigation guide.
In a few hours it’s time to leave for Bahrain, where you’ll arrive in 4 hours, have dinner and stay overnight in a hotel. Make sure that you’ve packed your toiletries and nightclothes for two nights.
After breakfast, the troops set out on a 4-hour journey to Kalam valley. This is where the real trekking happens. Every route here is beautiful; you have the option of following the trail to the stunning Mahudand lake in four-wheelers or heading over to the colourful local bazaars on foot.
Don’t miss a relaxing boat ride along the Mahudand lake. Let the idyllic meadows, vibrant poppy fields, magical forests and waterfalls around you heighten your senses. A lack of signals here automatically renders you off-the-grid.
In winters the lake is blanketed by a sheet of ice and snow. It’s not advisable to try to walk over this delicate surface. To complete the fulfilling experience, a delicious BBQ dinner and bonfire are arranged for you in the evening.
The last night of the trip is spent at a hotel in Kalam, where hot water is not an issue during the winters.
The following morning it is time to bid farewell to the dreamy valley and head home. The journey back begins at 6 am, includes a stopover at Mingora with a lunch and bathroom break, and draws to an end at 6pm in Islamabad.
The best thing about Swat is that one can visit any time of the year; the weather is equally wonderful in the windy summer as it is in the snowy winter. Swat receives the greatest influx of visitors from May to August and December to January. The temperature ranges from 19 °C to 29 °C in summers, while winters bring heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures.
Malam Jabba Hill Station
Bahrain Hill Station
Hindu Kush Mountains
Shelton’s Rezidor Hotel
Burj Ul Swat Hotel
Plan your trip to Swat
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