“Growth happens in the valleys”
This saying is true for the beautiful valley of Astore. Situated in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, in the district of Astore, adjoining Nanga Parbat on its eastern side, a breathtaking valley, with snow capped mountains in winters and mild summers.
A valley with more than 100 villages that include Loas, Louze, Chilam, Bubin, Parisheng, Bulen, Chongra, Tari Shing, Rattu and Minimarg, located at an altitude of 8,500 ft with an area of 5092 km2. The capital Eidgah, a lush green village, is the main centre of trade. This valley is renowned for a number of tourists’ spots, that includes the fascinating Rama Lake, forests with juniper and cedar trees, magnetising peaks, and green Rama summer pastures.
It has all the fundamental essentialities, ranging from communication to metallic roads and all sorts of business facilities. Cemented homes and small cottages compose the villages with huge fields of vegetation and livestock. Transhumance is a common practice. The native language is Shina, but Urdu is also spoken frequently. The natives are known for their warm welcoming and pleasant attitudes towards the tourists.
The best months to visit this green valley emanate from June to September. It’s a period when the weather is perfect for jeep riding, climbing, trekking and sightseeing, activities. Tourists from all around the world visit this picturesque valley to view the splendid sights of Deosai Plateau which is one of the most craved jeep safaris in the valley of flora and fauna.
Most of the tourist visits this valley to climb the peaks of Nanga Parbat, which is one of the toughest challenges for climbers in this area. Other challenging peaks include the great Chongra and Rupal peaks. It is a valley perfect for trekking with magnetizing opportunities that allow you to view the beautiful landscape of the Rama Lake and pastures. In addition to trekking it provides you with a thrilling and adventurous jeep ride from Astore to Neelum, in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The route is called Astore-Shounter Valley road.
The scenic beauty of the valley is enhanced by the forests of Juniper and cedar trees along with the summer pastures of Rama Lake. It is indeed a sight worth seeing. For those of you, who seek solitude, this valley is the best option. The peaceful lake and the sky-high mountains provides one the peace of mind that is long sought after strenuous office working hours or hours of studies for students. You can stay in one of the few motels, including PTDC motel at Rama, but it is quite unfortunate that this lush valley lacks night stay options as compared to other tourist spots of Gilgit-Baltistan.
To travel to this land of greenery from major cities like Rawalpindi or Islamabad, it takes 18-24 hours, depending on the weather conditions as well as road conditions. It takes only 4 hours to travel from Gilgit to Astore, the distance being 112 KM. Availability of jeeps within the valley is sufficient for further travelling.
Astore Valley is well recognized for its diverse natural wildlife and access to the world’s most magnificent mountain ranges. This mesmerizing mountain town is situated at an altitude of 2600m with easy access to all the fundamental requirements of daily life like routine business facilities, communication and other requirements.
The main source of income in this part of Pakistan is through livestock and agriculture, while many Astore men work or seek job opportunities in the major business cities of Pakistan.
The best time to visit this beautiful place starts from June to September as it is the peak time for tourists to visit. The ingression of Astore valley is situated about 60Km southeast of Gilgit Baltistan at Jaglot. This wide magnificent valley is populated with more than a hundred villages including Loas, Tarashing, Chilam, Louze, Bubin, Gurikot, Fina, Bulen, Chongra, Rattu, Kamri, Tari Shing and Minimarg.
Sightseeing In Astore Valley
As already stated Astore is a paradise in Pakistan and has various sightseeing areas that interest all the kinds of people.
• Rama Lake
• Mazino Pass
• Harpo Pass
• Banak la
• Bubin Pass
• Kala Pani Valley
• Rupal Valley
• Deosai Plateau
Activities To Do In Astore
The Nanga Parbat mountain range is the prime focus of all the rock climbing activities in Astore. This massive killer mountain is the toughest challenge for every climber who dreams to climb the ninth largest mountain in the world. Besides, this massive mountain other climbing attraction includes Rupal and Chongra peaks.
People who love trekking won’t regret to travel to the Astore valley as it offers excellent opportunities for trekking. The possibilities range from simple to technical and arduous treks. Some of the famous routes for trekking are Rama pastures and lake, Tarishing to Rupal and back, Tarshing to Fairy Meadows, Atsore to Skardu through the Deosai Plateau and Banak Pass.
Note: The district beyond Chilam proceeding towards Minimarg is restricted and needs an authorization from FCNA Headquarters, Gilgit.
Where To Stay
Although there aren’t a lot of hotels in Astore Valley and a decent PTDC motel at Rama, the night staying options is comparatively less here as compared to other mountain areas of Gilgit Baltistan. Additionally, for those who can manage to get a sanction they can easily stay at the Rama PWD rest house.
Communicate And Access
You can travel easily to Astore valley as buses and vans leave for Astore on a regular basis. The estimated travel time from Rawalpindi to Astore is 18 hours, but generally it exceeds to 24 hours because of the road conditions. The distance from Gilgit to Astore is 112Km and takes around 4 hours by road.
For air travel, you can fly by Pakistan International Airline (PIA) as two flights are scheduled between Islamabad to Gilgit, The air travel is subject to the weather conditions around the area of Nanga Parbat.