Picking up where we left off in the last episode, we made our way back to Islamabad from Kalash. We then spent a couple of days getting ourselves organised before embarking on our drive up the Karakoram Highway.
Staying in Islamabad we parked up at Sana's campground which he's set up just to help out overlanders have a safe and comfortable stay as there's no other designated places to camp in the city. Not only does the site have room for two vehicles, a couple of motorbikes and lush green grass to pitch a few tents on, he's also set up a building with a new bathroom and a communal area to hang out in. What a legend!!
Thanks so much for having us Sana and also for taking us on an adventure to Chitral and Kalash. It was an amazing experience which we'll remember forever!
Moving on from Islamabad we hit the road with our first stop as Besham, about 7 hours drive away. We were advised to stay in the parking of a hotel for security in this area and that we should go to the PTDC, which we did. It seems that this particular hotel knows that they can cash in on these circumstances as we were charged 1000 rupees/$10 AUD to park here overnight!
From Besham to Chilas, 200km further north, we'd read that we would have a police escort for this entire leg changing from one escort car to the next at each check point. Arriving at the first check point just after Besham we handed over the photocopies of our documents and politely said to the officer that we would be ok without an escort, which to our surprise they agreed and bid us farewell. This ended up being the case the whole way to Chilas which was great as we could travel at our own pace allowing us to really appreciate the beautiful landscape which we were traversing.
We spent the night camping about 20km to the east of Chilas, which was more of just a rest stop before we continued further north to check out Naltar Valley.
It was still fairly early in the season (early April) which unfortunately meant that a lot of the side tracks were still closed due to snow. We had planned to explore Fairy Meadows, Deosai National Park and Skardu as they look incredible (in the right reason), though it just gives us reason to come back again soon!
The drive from Chilas to the turn off to Naltar Valley was incredible; snow-capped peaks, narrow valleys, big drops-offs and lush green villages popping up sporadically. Every corner we turned I couldn't help but say "wow!", as it seemed like the scenery just kept getting better and better!
Part of the reason why we wanted to go to Naltar Valley was to see the ski resort there, the other was to have some fun on the track up there! A few very loose rocky sections, mud and snow certainly done the trick! Further up the valley is also some beautiful lakes though the road was still shut off from the winter..
We spent the afternoon playing around in the snow (a novelty for us Aussies) and drinking chai as we took in the beautiful mountain views.
That's it for this episode! Thanks for watching! In the next one we'll be continuing our journey up the KKH!
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