A very well-known and famous tourist destination in Pakistan is Fairy meadows.
Fairy Meadows is the region, which is at an altitude of 8126m above sea level, is in the district Diamer and from there it takes approximately 8 hours ahead to trek to the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat Mountains. In summers, this grassland has bright green trees and grass all over the place whereas in winters it is covered with white thick snow and is not accessible easily. Whatever the season is, Nanga Parbat Mountains, which tourist love to see from Fairy Meadows are always cladded in snow.
This spot is cradled in the grasslands between snow capped mountains, underneath a clear turquoise blue sky which turns completely white like snow when covered with a cloud bed. Nowadays, a lot of tourist groups have evolved, that take tours to Fairy Meadows, since it’s as popular as Murree used to be at one time. However, the beauty of both is incomparable.
You can easily go to Fairy Meadows if you’re not a good hiker because although the trek takes long still the land is almost straight and scarcely rocky with not too much of elevation. Additionally, you can always hire a porter for carrying your luggage and in any case if you want yourself to be carried up there too, then you can hire a pony too. During my travel a lot of people hired ponies after an hour of trekking especially the families, young ladies and children. So porter facility is available for carrying your personal equipment. It is advisable to carry backpacks instead of trolley bags because trolley are tough to carry and there’s no point dragging them all along since the surface is not even. This was our travel itinerary:
Day 1, Friday: We sat off from Lahore 09:00 PM.
Day 2, Saturday: Reached Chilas via Islamabad and Dir- stayed in hotel
Day 3, Sunday: Reached Tatu village on jeep via Raikot Bridge. Trekked to Fairy Meadows
Day 6, Wednesday: Trekked back to Tatu Village. Took the jeep drive to Raikot Bridge and started our return journey to Lahore.
Day 7, Thursday: Reached Lahore in the late evening.
You can take a flight from Islamabad to Gilgit Airport which is the nearest to Fairy Meadows. That takes approxiately an hour after which you still have to cover a 3-4 hours journey by road. From the airport to Raikhot Bridge and further towards Tatu Village. While travelling from Islamabad or Lahore by road, it is recommended to take a night’s stay in Chilas, the city on the way. There are only a few options of hotels that are just okay to stay. It takes approximately 26 hours from Lahore to reach Chilas if you go through Dir. While travelling through Naran and Babusar Top, the journey is less, approximately 18 or 19 hours. Unfortunately, you cannot travel from Naran route in June as that road opens in July or late June hardly till August, the rest of the year you need to take the longer route.
Throughout your journey, Chilas would be the hottest city you come across. Even in summers, where the rest of the cities and places in the north are mostly cold and breezy Chilas is the city where hot winds blow. You need to have coolers, fans and air conditioning for staying in the hotel since the rooms are warm too. From Chilas, you can leave early in the morning reaching Raikhot Bridge that takes you to Tatu Village on Jeeps in almost 3-4 hours.
On reaching Tatu Village, the trekking to Fairy Meadows begins. It is a 3-4 hours trek depending on your stamina and hiking experience. Even before reaching the campsite, you get the view of Nanga Parbat that looks so magical and serene. I traveled with a tour group, we left on Friday night 20th June 2014, and reached Fairy Meadows on the 22nd June, Sunday, by the evening. We stayed there for 3 nights and left on Wednesday morning. It’s been two years and we stayed there only for 3 days but me writing about my trip now again, shows how I remember everything so vividly and clearly. The tiring journey, the fatigue, the strenuous trek, hiking up to the mountains and capturing the beauty of the area, all was a very enticing experience.
At Fairy Meadows, there are multiple camping sites, offering a variety of camp sizes and styles to choose. Besides, there are rooms, made up of stones and wood completely. The place is well organized since this setup of lodging and camping has been established around 10 years ago, while the frequency of travelers to tour this place has taken a boost in the previous 5 years. Gradually this place is developing more. The interesting fact is that, no matter how much developed the area gets, it is a remote land that is cut off from the nearby areas. When you travel to Fairy Meadows, there’s very limited electricity, limited water, no gas, no mobile phone reception and no internet at all. There’s just one phone line that is linked up with all the sites. Travelers can pay and use it for any important calls.
For excursion, bonfire arrangements are made at the campsite for tourists to enjoy barbecue and the night life at Fairy Meadows. Visitors sit by the fire and sing and can dance on the local songs being sung by the locals. For lodging purposes, you can avail the tents of the people residing there or you could even pay for campsites and pitch your own tents etc.
We stayed in camps for 3 nights and sleeping in the wild for continuous 3 nights was an experience that I will always cherish my whole life. It was June and the temperature at night used to fall below 0 degrees. It is strongly recommended to take along down jackets, wind breaker jackets and proper clothing to protect one from the freezing temperature. I clearly remember how most the people of the group shared their stories the very next morning of their survival during the extremely cold night. Sleeping tents, mattresses and bags etc were provided to us and are available for rent at the campsite too. Some necessary items that you should carry along with you are as follows:
- Necessary medicines
- Tooth brush and tooth paste (a travel pack)/mouth wash
- Trekking stick
- Proper trekking shoes
- Down jacket
- Wind breaker jacket
- Rain coat
- Water proof plus warm gloves
- Water proof trousers
- Multiple pairs of socks
- Long lasting battery torch
- Water bottle
- Tissue roll
- Wet tissues pack
- Flip flops
Apart from this, you need to carry along with you passion that is to face anything and everything that you come across, wholeheartedly. Love nature and nature will reward you. That’s what I have experienced throughout my traveling experiences. You need to have a strong heart and should be easy going with all sorts of things for instance, the food could be undercooked, or it could not even taste nice. There are well constructed toilets, but they might not be nice and could be foul smelling. They may not be clean and hygiene. You’ll have to use them, as there would be no other option. So, out of home it’s never like home, so you need to be a bit strong and not much finicky in this regard. You might have to make compromises, maybe your sleeping bag might stink, and perhaps you could stay awake the whole night due to cold weather.
Nevertheless, it was cold and dark when we reached Fairy Meadows and the very next morning it was cloudy too and remained cloudy for the next two days. For 2 consecutive days, during the day the sky used to be filled with white fluffy clouds. It even rained one day. We could see the Raikhot face of Nanga Parbat clearly from our campsite. But the mountains used to be covered in snow and the fine lines of the peaks couldn’t be seen because of the thick and heavy clouds. Luckily the day we had to return was a treat for us. I woke up and got the idea that the sun had come out. My camp was lit up around 8 in the morning. Throughout our stay, it was really cold and dreary. However, on the last day it got really sunny. The sky was cleared from the clouds and it was blue and shiny. The greenery around us was shiny with streaks of sunshine striking the leaves and grass. That was indeed the best part. The peaks of Nanga Parbat Mountains were well defined and the picturesque was beautiful.
Since the sky was cloudy so stars couldn’t be seen for the first two nights. On the last night, the sky was full of stars and all the photographers were out in the field to capture the galaxy, the Milky Way and shoot the star trails. This picture is my attempt to capture the Milky Way.The whole area looks magical. People who live there are nomads who have moved from other areas. They bring along their cattle and animals to graze the land. It does not harm the land since the area is so expansive and huge. You hardly see a herd of sheep or animals at one place or another.Bayal Camp is a campsite named after the village Bayal, which is somewhat near Fairy Meadows. It is worth seeing too. You could reach this area after a trekking of around an hour. The trek is pretty easy and plain so one should not miss this while staying at Fairy Meadows.
Some people visit Fairy Meadows and plan other trips and places alongside and stay at Fairy Meadows for a night or just for the day. I would not recommend that. To enjoy the beauty of a place, you need to spend some days and nights there like we did. You really need to see the difference of the beauty of the place with the changing times and the changing weathers. We set off for our return journey on 25th June 2016. We trekked down to Tatu Village and from there again that dangerous and adventurous jeep drive to Raikot Bridge began. The jeep ride from Raikot Bridge to Tatu Village is indeed scary and heart wrenching. One cannot enjoy the ride if you have height phobia because the jeep path is just a one sided road and whenever a jeep comes from the other side, you need to look for wide space to cross each other. That’s actually a skillful task that only the local drivers could do. To sum up, each and every part of the journey is just so amazing and full of adventure that it remains as a good memory forever.
On the way back to Lahore, everybody was tired and sleepy and most of the people on the bus were sleeping. Full of fatigue, wonderful memories and a great experience the journey could be summed up as one of the best journeys of my life.