We had couple to main destinations yet to cover in this tour. Naltar Valley and Astore Valley are known to be the beautiful vallies of Gilgit Baltistan. Let start discoving and shooting.
We had a good nights sleep. I was the first one to wake up in the morning at 5:30, followed by Fahad. It's always pleasant to watch the sun shining its rays on the mountains in the morning.
Whenever we took our own pictures, we put the camera on the tripod and set it on timer, we would normally set the camera to take 3 or 5 pictures on timer mode after every 3 seconds. Everytime a picture is taken it was completely different from the previous one because everyone keep changing their pose but most of the time ruining others' pose.
We had left Passu at 11:15 am and had limited time as we had to reach Attabad before 1pm. The tunnel was open between 11:30 am to 1pm. We skipped the plan to visit Borith lake and instead went for the famous Hussaini Bridge.
Upon reaching back, we went straight to Ganish, a 1000 year old settlement.
In Karimabad bazaar, the first thing we went for was the famous Cafe de Hunza walnut cake. Having eaten the juicy, soft and fresh apricot cake at glacier breeze we were expecting this to be very special too. but sadly it wasn't. it shouldn't be called a cake in the first place. We were expecting something soft and juicy, and what we got was hard and dry. Didn't like it at all.
After spending a few hours in the shops, we had quite alot of stuff to put in our already overloaded car. Khair, after shopping we had dinner and then went for a walk outside the hotel. Enjoying our last few hours in Hunza reliving what we had seen so far and how impressed we had been with the people and the land itself.
The next morning we woke up at around 6:30. We had breakfast and left for Nomal. Todays target was Naltar Valley. A place which we had heard a lot about. We took jeeps from the Police post as the road was not looking very convincing.
Reached Naltar Bala at about 1 pm. Booked 2 rooms in Naltar Continental hotel right in-front of the place where the ill fated heli crashed this June. The burnt APS building can be seen in the picture.
Started the journey towards Naltar lake on our pajero. Naltar was a truly magnificent place. Pictures can never justify it's beauty.
Reached the first lake, Satrangi lake at about 2 pm. it's reachable by jeep, and it was surreal. it was magical. It was just the beginning of the Naltar Valley magic.
Alfaaz nahi mil rahay Naltar lakes ko describe karnay k liye.
The second lake is also reachable by jeep, almost and is just a 10 min drive plus walk from the first lake.
The third lake was a mere 15 to 20 min walk from the Second Lake and not to forget, it was a beautiful and pleasant walk. Water streams running on both sides and a wide open valley gave spectacular views. An end to our amazement, We saw the Third Lake. It was way too beautiful. We had seen three lakes in Naltar and all of them had different color. So basically the best part about Naltar is that you get to see more then one lake a short distance apart from each other and all of them are different from eachother.
There is also a 4th lake in Naltar which we couldn't see because the sun was going down and we has to reach back to the hotel before dark. We reached our hotel before sunset. We saw the pictures we had taken today, just to confirm that those beautiful lakes did exist and it wasn't a dream. Had dinner and tea and after that some of us went to sleep. I was busy enjoying yet another star filled night while Khurram attended to some important issues. Milky way was once again clearly visible. this time i tried a different shot with the milky way which was an epic fail.
By the time Khurram got free from attending those certain issues, Ashiq bhai had started a choti si bonfire on the cold Naltar night; it was a blessing. We sat there for more than an hour and had a very nice gupshup with Ashiq bhai.
After this i went to sleep and Khurram got back to work. It had been yet another awesome day and we were now looking forward to visit Rama the next morning, something we had missed the last time we visited Astore.
The next morning, me and Fahad woke up early to explore the other side of Naltar Bala. The side where the heli crashed and where the chair lifts have been installed. Chair lifts going up the mountain. These chair lifts have been waiting to be inaugurated for quite some time now. I think PM Nawaz was coming to inaugurate the lifts when the heli crash took place, and thus it had to be delayed. Locals told us that on Sept 14th when Attabad tunnel was inaugurated, the PM had also planned to visit Naltar but then canceled it. Thus the chair lifts still stand there waiting.
Listening to some classic music in Ashiq bhai's pajero, down we came to Nomal. We arranged everything in our car took a few pictures and before leaving, when I went to pay Ashiq bhai, he refused to take anything from us and said,
''Agar aap log paisay kam honay ki waja say kisi jagah nahi ja rahay tou aap mujhay paisay na dein, aap wo jagah ghoom aein un paiso mei.''
What this offer meant to us, cannot be explained in words. For a second I was in shock. I told him that we had plenty of cash with us and in our accounts, so he need not worry. but he again said,
"Aap log safar mei hain abhi rakh lein mujhay Lahore jak bhej dena
He did insist a lot on it but I refused to listen to him and paid him the amount, and thanked him. Though we had paid him the due amount but still we will remain indebted to him forever.
I called Naeem bhai, the police man, told him that we were leaving and had called to say good bye. He asked us to stop for 5 mins and came to meet us, treated us with nomal ki special 'chaye.' He insisted that we have lunch with him, but because of shortage of time we had to leave asap. He accompanied our car all the way to the end of his jurisdiction on bike & said Allah hafiz and thanks to him, and off we went. Leaving Nomal, we were leaving behind our hearts, which the local people had won over the past 24 hours.
The road to Astore was in a very bad condition, worse than it had been 3 years back when we came here. Reached Astore and booked a jeep for Rama Lake. We had been told that the road till PTDC is car-able but a jeep would be needed for Rama Lake. Obviously no jeeps are available at Rama, so the jeep had to be booked from Astore. The road wasn't looking in a good condition so Khurram went on the car and the rest of us followed in the jeep. A loaded car on Rama road is not recommended at all.
Reached PTDC Rama at 4pm and it was definitely the best PTDC resort we had seen so far. Asked the manager shb to get a room ready for us, and we left for the Lake straight away.
Reached the lake in 20mins. The lake was a disappointment to be honest or may be having been to such colourful lakes the previous day, we weren't ready for such an average looking thing. We expected it to be very awesome, but it wasn't.
And we were back at PTDC by 5:40pm and after some rest we took some night shots.
Rama's night was cold to say the least. khair, after getting some sleep, we woke up at 6:30am. Today was going to be a long day; we were going to drive from Rama to Lahore in one go, with a small stop at Naran. Left PTDC at 8am. Didn't have breakfast to save time. Khurram went on car Till astore and we followed on the jeep. From astore, it was again, 5 friends and one car.
We had a short stop at Balakot and then stopped at mansehra bypass. From Mansehra we went non-stop to chakri, M-2. alot of time was wasted as KKH was closed from Haripur, so we had to take an alternate route. Had tea at Chakri and got the fuel tank filled. We reached Lahore around 4am. Finally the long journey was over. it had taken us almost 22hours.