BY USHNA KHAN
Northern Pakistan is a holy grail for all adventure enthusiasts who want to take a break from the monotony of city life and experience the wild. If the lockdown has left you feeling sluggish, you could take a trip up north and delve into exciting adventures.
Below mentioned are some sports that one would love to experience given the opportunity-
Skiing: Pakistan has internationally acclaimed ski slopes, wherefrom starting early January enthusiasts make their way to the snowy mountains before routes get blocked due to extreme weather. If you are looking for some action in winters, you must make a stop at the ski schools in North Pakistan to experience the thrill of skiing. Amateurs need not worry as training lessons are provided by instructors and after a few inevitable falls you begin to get the hang of it. You know the skier’s motto, “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning”.
The two main ski schools are Rattu Army High Altitude School patronized by the Army and Naltar Ski Resort managed by the Air Force, both of which provide guests with a comfortable and hospitable experience. There are also entertainment facilities such as a sunroom, table tennis, rappelling, television, and arrangements for a bonfire on a chilly night.
River Rafting and Water Rappelling: If the thought of battling ice-cold rapids while rowing downstream with the constant risk of falling overboard gets you excited, it is time for some water sports. This is perhaps the most exhilarating activity one can engage in during the summer season in Pakistan. River rafting takes place in multiple river bodies across the country but one of the most popular destinations is River Kunhar. The starting point is a small vicinity in Gari Habibullah from where participants row 23 kilometers downstream to get to Balakot which takes a little more than 3 hours and leaves everyone feeling exhausted. But a sense of accomplishment quickly follows.
If this does not quench your thirst for water sports, you can also try out Water Rappelling which takes place in Sajikot, a town some thirty minutes before Abbottabad. Hidden in the undulating countryside is a 200 feet high tremendous waterfall with a small pool at the landing. The entire activity is handled by professionals who provide instructions and handle the ropes as participants rappel down the vertical slope amidst the freezing waterfall gushing thunderously around them. The rappelling itself takes no more than 5 minutes but the experience remains etched in one’s memory forever.
Trekking: Home to some of the highest peaks in the world, Pakistan provides limitless destinations for hiking and camping in the wild. Some of the most popular trekking trails can be found in Kalam which is strewn with crystal clear lakes and one of these is Kandol. Located at an altitude of 9950 ft, Kandol Lake sits among snow-clad mountains and towering trees and is a sight to behold. The 4-hour trek to the lake begins from Utror valley and follows an exciting trail and steep ascents. Local jeeps are hired from Kalam to head to this valley which is accessible by a dirt track. As Kalam is a tourist hotspot, guides can be easily found to help you explore the area further. Spinkhor Lake, Khar Karri Lake, and Andrab lake are just a few of the numerous locations you can trek to in Kalam. Recently, with the construction of the Swat Motorway, travel timings have greatly reduced making it easier to plan a short vacation.
These are only a few of the many exciting activities that you could indulge in. So if you had been planning to explore Pakistan, linger no more and head out to live your own adventure. (Edited by Khadijah Kamili)