Route 16


Land of Mystery and Romance

Whenever a chitrali asks Adnan “is this your first trip to chitral?” – Adnan’s pet response is “jaddon tu jamya wee naee see, maa udhun ithae aya see” – translated as “I came here, long before you were even born”.

“I came, I stayed and I fell in love. Had I stayed a few weeks longer in the summer of ’77, I would perhaps not have returned to the so-called civilization.”

Adnan Afaq



Chitral (4,840 feet – 1,475 meters) is undoubtedly the most romantic, captivating and enchanting place in the majestic Hindukush range dominated by the grand Tirich Mir 25,288 feet (7,708 meters).

The landscape is extremely mysterious, with its steep harsh mountains, lush green valleys and the enchanting pagan civilization in the Kalash valley. The ancient Kalash people or “wearers of the black robe”, a pagan tribe, reside in three sub-valleys of Kalash: Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir. According to legends, soldiers of the legions of Alexander the Great settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kalash.

Kalash valley is one of the most inaccessible areas of the world! It took Adnan and his group 30+ hours of very rough drive to reach Kalash valley in 1977. Back then, there were no hotels, no restaurants, and no tourists in the valley. Moreover, no one spoke Urdu or English.

Due to its isolation, there are over 10 languages spoken; the most popular being khower. The kho people, unlike the wild pathans, afghans, or kohistanis of dir neighbors are peaceful, friendly and many are stunningly beautiful with blue eyes.

Things To Do, See & Shop

From staying at princely estate homes where you can sit under grand trees, pluck the fruit of the trees to eat, breathe crystal clear air with the sound of flowing water and birds chirping, to high adventure treks and climbing some of the world’s most majestic mountains – there is a lot to do. Of course, a leisurely walk of an hour and two can also be arranged.
Experience the hot spring dip with us. But for those who are as crazy as Adnan, a dip in the glacier fed chilly streams is a must! Another favorite of his is to sneak a peek at the markhors as they come to drink water.

No trip to chitral is complete without witnessing men wildly galloping on horses, playing polo on the highest polo field in the world. And nothing beats spending a day with the Kalashi people.

To See


Summer palace

hot water spring

Hot water springs

Kalash valleys

Kalash Valleys (Bumburet, Rumbur, Birir)

chitral fort

Chitral Fort


Kalash Museum

flour mill

Water powered flour mills

Langlands school chitral

Langlands School Chitral



To Do – Activities

Fruit picking

Shandur Polo Festival

Glacier dipping

Adventure treks

Swimming in hot springs


Markhor watching

How To Get There

By Road

It’s under nine hours’ drive from Islamabad to Chitral; however, if you are to enjoy many of the interesting locations along the route, it would take longer. Following the construction of the Lowari tunnel (10.4km), the drive time has reduced significantly, which used to be 14 hours! It is purportedly one of the longest tunnels in South Asia, and is the longest in Pakistan.

As you leave Islamabad, first you touch Taxila, a UNESCO world heritage site, and a wonderland for history lovers. Then you drive through Hasanabdal, home to Adnan’s cadet college and many childhood memories.

Food along the way is mostly basic but one thing that is a must to have is chappal kebabs at Takht Bhai, which are cheap and delicious. It’s only a slight detour. If you still have energy to walk, make sure you check out the Buddhist ruins! 

Chitral Lahore Islamabad
Hours (drive time) 12 hrs 8 hrs 30 mins
Kilometers 735 km 390 km

By Air

From Islamabad, you can also take the exhilarating 1 hour 10-minute flight as you weave through mountains and valleys to reach Chitral.

However, there are a limited number of flights per week and all flights are subject to weather. As the plane has to fly between the mountains, it will not take-off if there are clouds in the valley. Thus, it’s best to be prepared for flight delays up to a couple of days.

There are also flights to Chitral from Peshawar, though again only a few times during the week.

Best Time To Go

Winters are cold and room heating is rudimentary. Roads are open all year round and so are some of the hotels.

April, May and then September, October are our favorite times to travel. Days are perfect and nights are cool. In May, flowers are in bloom while in September, the corn fields are ripe and it’s very green all-around. Between late May to early September, noon onwards, the sun gets strong making the afternoons hot; but the evenings are quite pleasant.

You can also time your travel around either the Shandur festival which typically takes place in July, or one of the Kalash festivals such as Joshi (spring festival), Uchal festival, Phool festival, and Chaumas festival.


Chitral offers very interesting to moderate price hotels. There are several princely estate homes where we can arrange for you to stay. The rooms are neat, clean, spartan and offer basic comfort. However, the settings are absolutely stunning. Serene environment, beautiful grounds with magnificent trees and view – ideal for yoga/meditation retreats, family get-togethers or some quiet time alone.


On the way to Chitral and in and around Chitral the food is mostly basic and very cheap. There are few restaurants in the bazaar where local dishes can be tried.

Dry fruit in Chitral is organic and very good. On the way, excellent oranges & peaches are available in the season and are a must try or buy in bulk to take back home.