The Kaghan Valley; Prior to the building of Karakoram Highway. Following to the Kunhar River along the Kaghan Valley to Babusar Pass (about 4,150 meters high), it joined the Indus near Chilas. While the scenery here contrasts with the high Karakoram, the journey up the Kaghan Valley provides a gradual and sober introduction to the mountains of Northern Pakistan.
At the northern edge of the monsoon belt, Kaghan supports an abundance of vegetation. The general lushness of the environment makes the region very similar to Kashmir to the east.
At 900 meters, the small town of Balakot provides the gateway to the 150 km long valley. During the summer months the town is fairly quiet, with the majority of population involved in farming or tourism up in the valley.
Shortly after the village of Kawai a rugged road leads steeply of to the right up to the plateau of Shogran (which means “Forest in the sky” about 2,500 meters high) surrounded by stunningly beautiful mountains rising to over 4,500 meters.
The center of the activity in the Kaghan is undoubtedly the village of Naran. In winter months, the majority of the population descends to the warmer climes of Balakot. Along a side valley to the east of Naran, a jeep gtrack leads up to the fabled Lake Saiful Muluk. At over 3,000 meters the lake is surrounded by impressive snow-capped mountains, crowned by the summit of Malika Parbat which at over 5,000 meters is the highest mountain in Kaghan. It is difficult to imagine a more silent and eerie place than lake Saiful Muluk.
A further descent leads down too the village of Battikundi, back on the Kunhar River and the main route up the valley. There is the tributary to the Kunhar River, here whose valley, leading east towards Azad Kashmir is worth exploring.
Further up the valley, the headwaters of the kunhar river are to be found at Lalusar Lake. Beyond the road, a jeepable track makes a final steep ascent to the Babusar Pass. The Pass is the Direct Access to Chilas on the Karakoram Highway.