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Chitral – Kalash, Kafiristan and Tirich Mir, Malakand, Pakistan

Chitral is located in Malakand division of Khyber Pukhtunkhwah, Chitral is connected to the rest of Pakistan by just two roads: one to Gilgit over the Shandur Pass and one to Swat via the Lowari Pass. From the Swat Valley you need to cross another high pass, the Malakand, to reach the frontier city of Peshawar.

After exploring the Upper Chitral Valley and the splendid Chitral Gol National Park, head south to Rumbur, Bumboret and Birir, stronghold to Pakistan’s Kalasha who still practice their pre-Islamic religion. You can even trek between the Kalasha valleys. The road continues south through the army town of Drosh and the sublime Naghar Fort, overlooking a bend on the Chitral River. Just before the 3118m Lowari Pass (usually open from June to October) the road suddenly zigzags up a steep mountainside in 48 switchbacks.

The view from the top is superb but the weather usually isn’t, so after signing the register, start the sedate decline towards Dir town where there are comfortable lodgings. The Swat Valley is reached at Chakdara and the road south crosses the 1500m Malakand Pass towards Mardan, the centre for exploring several Buddhist ruins, including Tahkt-i-Bahi. From Mardan take the road to Charsadda, and the ruins of Pushkalavati, and then push on to the frenetic frontier city of Peshawar on the Grand Trunk Road.

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