One of longer trips. While my parents were out visiting, we tried to fly up to visit Hunza, where lots of big mountains are, but the flight is incredibly weather-sensitive, and unfortunately it just wasn't going to happen. Plan B was a trip up the Kaghan Valley. Here is a view down onto Mansehra, not far north of our home.
Who needs a roof box? Even though we had to hire a guide, driver and vehicle, the entire 5 day holiday for four came to about £150, including accommodation, and food!
The journey up to Naran takes around 5 hours - mainly because the landscape forces the road to take some amazing detours.
"Rinta Jeep!" This is at Shogran. After half an hour of steeply climbing narrow track you come out, bizarrely, onto a plateau with several hotels and a cricket pitch. (Sam Wilson's photo)
After our guide negotiated the hotel down to ~£7.20 per room, we set off on our first excursion.
Our trusty wheels. At this point the muddy track hit the first serious snow banks, so we left the driver to figure out how to turn round and set off upwards.
Somewhere under this snow bank is a jeep track.
The village of Sri. Nomadic shepherds will take up residence again here once the snow melts and the pastures open up again. The more tired members of the party halted here before ambling back down at a gentler pace.
The less tired explorers charged on up to Paya, 3000 metres above sea level.
An beautifully weathered tree stump on the way down.
Some members of the party spent a large proportion of the ride back to the hotel Not Looking Down.
Malika Parbat, which translates as Queen of the Mountains - the highest in the valley at 5290m
The next day we continued our journey up the main valley. Here, 1/4 of a mile of landslide had to be circumnavigated via a couple of temporary bridges and a track on the other side.
The guidebook said "The road to Naran is blocked by 4 or 5 small glaciers in the off-season". Here's one.
Emerging from the muddy trench cut through part of one glacier, we arrived in this impromptu car park in the middle of it.
The 25-foot deep trench through the first half of the glacier. Often these have small meltwater rivers flowing across the road before plunging down a deep hole in the ice.
This not quite being the tourist season yet, this one was still being dug through.
We unloaded the jeep and hiked over the glacier into Naran, where one little kitchen was open, and one hotel opened because we'd arrived.
Looking back, they've still got another 30-40 feet to get through.
On this day, we took a hike up to the popular tourist destination of Lake Saiful Muluk. In summer, you can take a jeep up in 45 mins or so.
We walked up in 4 hours, our guide Bashir kicking out steps for the rest of us with his loafers.
A daunting challenge. Despite copious amounts of sun-cream, I managed to acquire sunburnt nostrils.
At this point, Bashir stopped, which surprised us slightly as we hadn't yet spotted the lake, buried somewhere under there! View a bigger version here.
We got back down in less than half the upwards time, as in many places you can slide for long stretches on the plastic bags we had brought for the purpose. One of my attempts ended in a flip which fortunately didn't quite turn into a giant snowball!
On another day we hiked a little further up the valley, which looked like this. In the interests of getting our guests back in plenty of time for their flights the next day, we elected to leave the evening before we'd originally planned. Which turned out to be a good move, as we were chased by a rainstorm all the way home, which Bashir reckoned would probably have closed the road again in several places behind us.