Another trip up the Kaghan Valley a couple of months later. Much of the snow has melted, lots of people and animals have moved back for the summer, and the tourists are invading.

The lower end of the valley is in some ways even more impressive than the higher reaches.

As noted elsewhere, the landscape is amazingly populous, even on these relatively inaccessible slopes.

Fancy rocks, and one of the numerous "landslide areas". The topography forces the road into some impressive detours.

The road repairers have made some progress, with this side of the valley now just about driveable again.

Beehives. Every half-a-mile there was another set, complete with campsite, all the way up the valley. We must have passed thousands of hives on our way up.

This being springtime, the nomadic shepherds are bringing their flocks back up to the summer pastures. A few flocks we had to pull over for must have numbered in the thousands. Some families hire a truck to do the annual migration, packing an entire farm and family into one vehicle.

Visiting a couple friends who were doing a spot of work in Naran, we decided to take another look at Lake Saiful Muluk.

Last time, if you'll remember, we walked up for 4 hours through deep snow. With the snow gone and the jeep track open again we can do it in less than an hour in a 4x4.

Apparently when they came to re-open the track this year, the landslides were so bad in some places that they had to find/dig a new route.

And now we see why this is such a tourist attraction! Click here for a larger view, and compare to this view from the last time we were here.

A day out at the beach is popular with the tourists, and even more so with the various guys trying to sell you boat or horse rides.

We set out to walk around the lake, with a couple of hopeful horse ride sellers in tow. We made it clear we were willing to walk, until they brought the price down to something more in line with what a Pakistani would pay. The river turned out to be deep and cold enough that we were glad of the ride.

We were starting to get a bit chilly, but then this happened, and we were so glad we'd come.

Malika Parbat, 5290 metres (17,356 ft). A relative tiddler compared to many of Pakistan's other peaks, yet the difficult top section with its hanging glaciers make it a daunting and sometimes deadly challenge.

The next day we decided to take a day trip up to the Babusar Pass at the head of the valley. There are numerous exciting-looking side valleys which will have to wait for another time.

Google Maps estimates the 65 or so kilometres would take an hour. We counted on 5 hours each way including breaks. It's refreshing to know that there are still some things in this world that Google has no idea about.

The torrents of 2010 had taken out many of the bridges (the mangled remains of which were often visible a little downstream). These army-built "temporary" structures were a regular occurrence. Our favourite one had no sides, was about the width of the car, and joined the road in such a way that we had to drive on and off it diagonally.

The landscape is very reminiscent of Scotland, only taller.

Getting near the final ascent to the top of the pass. This is a relatively civilised bit of road compared to some we'd met today.,

There were lots of these dry-stone dwellings, some empty, others occupied by shepherds and flocks after some rebuilding.

More sheep and goats. On the way home we passed some enormous flocks in the dark - stopping to let thousands of pairs of glowing eyes stream past us was kinda spooky.

There are lots of alpine flowers up here - if you look closely enough! At the top of the pass we had a brief but violent hailstorm.

Looking down into the next valley from the Babusar Pass, at 13,700ft. Before the Karakoram Highway was built, this was the main route to Chilas, Gilgit, and northwards to China.

Cairns, interestingly much more purposeful-looking and well-built than the average Scottish one.

Gittidas - high summer pastures where many of the flocks we passed on the road would be aiming for. Click here for bigger version.

We'd been told there were a couple more little lakes worth seeing down in Gittidas, so we set off along this fantastic piece of road - at about 2 mph!

Our borrowed Land Cruiser seemed quite happy with rocks and rivers...

...but less happy with soft mud. This might be a problem.

So, when was the last time any of us saw anyone? And how cold is it likely to get tonight?

Actually, even up here we weren't ever alone for long - every half an hour or so there'd be somebody passing, who might offer a suggestion or a short attempt at helping.

Eventually though, having remembered seeing a tractor somewhere further back down the valley, we sent the most language-proficient male member of our party off to find help. A more detailed version of this story is on our blog here.

Rs4000 flat rate: car = out.


It was just about worth it to see this as we climbed back up to the pass, not to mention some truly amazing stars on the way home. The driving was actually less daunting on the way home, as you couldn't see the drops!