Pakistanis, particularly Lahoris, love the Kaghan Valley. In fact for many Lahori tourists the the village of Naran in the north of the valley practically is the northern areas. While the scenery here is not quite as dramatic as it is in Gilgit-Baltistan, it’s still very spectacular, and there’s no denying the ease of access. What’s remarkable about travelling in the Kaghan Valley is how abruptly the temperature drops – from warm Balakot to the frozen peaks around Naran, it’s easy to see why this is currently one of the favoured summer getaways for “downland” Pakistanis.
The valley begins as a crease between the foothills of the Himalayas north of Islamabad near the garrison city of Abbottabad. Driving upstream beside the Naran River, the valley walls become increasingly taller and steeper, until they open out to a wide valley at Naran – here you are 2,500m above sea level. The road continues to climb, cutting a swathe through glaciers until it eventually reaches Babusar Top, and the border with Gilgit-Baltistan. Culturally the valley’s inhabitants are closely related to Kashmiris, despite being in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province.