Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Mountain Expedition: Phase I - "Balakot/Thandiani"

Kashmir View
Asalam Aleykum!

In the last weeks of my stay in Pakistan I will try to explore finally the mountain area, so called "Northern Areas".
The plan:
+ Phase I: "Balakot/Khagan Valley - Hillstations:Thandiani/Nathiagali/Murree"
+ Phase II: "KKH: Chilas/Nanga Parbat - Karimabad/Hunza Valley - Khunjerab Pass/Chinese Border"
+ Phase III: "Peshawar - Khyber Pass - Afghan Border"

Phase I: Successfully done! (Except of Lake Saiful Maluk)
Expedition crew: 2 Austrians, 1 German, 1 Swedish, 4 Pakistanians

The first phase was a journey which could be described best like a "roller coaster".
Our primary target was Khagan Valley. It is about 4 hours drive from Islamabad and is situated at the border to Kashmir. It is famous for its fascinating landscape and also known because of the 2005´s earthquake in this region. Balakot is or better was the city were the epicenter was located. It was completely devastated and about 84.000 people died just in that region!
So with this knowledge in the mind and heavy rainfall starting we tried to fight with our 2WD vehicles to pass the extreme slidy roads. After it got worse and worse we decided to cancel that route and drove another 3 hours to Thandiani. It is the highest hillstation scratching 3.000 meters what all of us experienced in a very dizzy way, (Mountain Sickness). So we settled down and organized asap an accommodation for the night. It was a great evening and we were supported with spicy but delicious Pakistanian food. Having a nice view to Mansehra and Abbottabad it got darker and darker and the weather changed from blue sky to big fat clouds which were bringing heavy rain for the night.
Next day i stood up at 05:00am to get some nice shots of sunrising and the mountain chains around. You could even see
slightly the Nanga Parbat (8.125m), which will be a POI on Phase II.
So after everybody woke up we had breakfast and then quickly went on to Murree reaching there around lunch time. On the way to Murree we drove through big valleys going up and down all the time. We also passed through Nathiagali were you can find lots of monkeys hanging around and begging for food. Finally we reached Murree where we could once more relax before going back to Islamabad.
Resuming: It was an exciting weekend with breathless views over the mountain area of Pakistan. We enjoyed and are motivated to start into Phase II by Thursday.

All the best,


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