Though it has had a rough past, the present and future of Swat Valley are shining very bright. This stunning valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan is something straight out of a fairy tale.
Think bright green fields and forests, picturesque villages, and rivers boasting shades of blue so clear and bright you wouldn’t have thought them real!
The true beauty of Swat can be found around the town of Kalam, which serves as a base to the explore the beauty of the valley. Here are 3 places you can’t miss in Swat Valley:
Boyun, also known as Green Top, is a short drive or manageable up-hill walk from Kalam town. When you finally reached the pinnacle, you’ll be rewarded with a panorama of one of the most vast and beautiful villages I’ve ever seen – along with sweeping views of the valley below. Boyun is an easy day trip from Kalam.
If you live in Pakistan – or have read anything about the country – it’s almost certain you’ve come across the name Hunza. Don’t let the word ‘valley’ confuse you, though – Hunza is actually a massive district made up of numerous valleys and villages. One part of the ancient Silk Road, here are some of the most beautiful sights in Hunza:
The Passu Cathedral is a natural work of art and one of the most recognisable scenes in Pakistan. Though staying overnight in Passu village is no longer allowed, the cones are visible from a ways away, starting from the village of Gulmit. The most iconic view of the Cathedral is from the Karakoram Highway, about an hour’s drive from Gilgit City.
A lake that doesn’t look real… Even when you’re standing right in front of it. Attabad was born out of tragedy when a massive landslide occurred in 2010. The flow of the Hunza River was blocked, and the now-famous lake was created in its wake. Its bright-blue turquoise waters make the it one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan.
Though it’s relatively unheard of and forgotten compared to Pakistan’s most famous tourist spots, I think Yarkhun Valley was the most beautiful place I visited in the country. Located in the Upper Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Yarkhun dazzles with its mountain ranges and untouched villages.
Reaching the valley, which stretches for many kilometres past the administrative town of Mastuj, requires a bit of effort if you don’t have your own vehicle. If you do have one though, the ride isn’t too bad – just prepare for mostly dirt roads!
The side valley of Gazin is most definitely worth a detour if you make it all the way to Yarkhun. Here, you can see the mountains of the Thoi Pass, a high-altitude pass that connects Upper Chitral with Yasin Valley in Gilgit Baltistan.
Phander Lake, located in Phander Village, is almost too good to be true. The teal-coloured lake sits silently amongst light-green trees befitting a landscape painting.
Despite being insanely beautiful, Phander Lake doesn’t see anywhere as close to the number of tourists as the more popular Attabad Lake does.
Hingol National Park is technically in Pakistan, but it looks more like a Martian planet! The park is over 6,000-square-kilometres and contains incredibly unique rock formations, vast canyons, numerous animal species, and even a mud volcano.
What’s more, part of the National Park hugs the coast, adding the ocean to all its other assets. Though totally out-of-this-world in its looks, Hingol is only 3.5 hours from Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city.
Pakistanis shouldn’t have any problem entering the park, but foreigners have had mixed experiences. Some who were accompanied by locals have been able to spend a night/ weekend in the park, while others were only given day permission. There is no public transport to the park, so having access to your own transportation is a must.
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