Excursions and popular sites to visit
Siri Paye (Sari Paya) Meadows – While in Shogran (Alt. 7,850 ft.; 2,400 mtrs.), it is mandatory to head up the rough jeep track to the Paye Meadows that sit pretty amongst the clouds at 10,500 ft. (3,200 mtrs.). This perilously winding 6 km. exciting, and (for some) jaw clenching drive up steep hairpin turns is an adventure in itself – and one that you will not soon forget. Fitter visitors can opt to dispense with jeeps in favour of a 2 to3 hour hike up the extravagantly lush pine forest track.
The jeep ride will take you roughly 45 minutes up to the Siri ridge, with its pretty little pond (or lake as some call it) and dilapidated forest department hut, the veranda of which you can sit in. Another 15 minutes or so of driving gets you to your ultimate destination, the breathtaking Paye meadows that roll lazily and exquisitely all the way up to the majestic Makra Peak.
Once at Paye, enjoy leisurely walks around the meadows, have a picnic lunch, and take your time letting the incredible views sink in. The weather can change suddenly at the top, and rain comes in quick and hard with practically no warning in the late afternoon or early evening on most days. So make sure to take extra jackets with you and head back for Shogran with time to spare before sunset. Keep in mind that the drive downhill will take as long as the trip up.
Siri and Paye are only accessible in jeeps from early summer to late autumn (May to November). The track is completely and heavily snowed in during the winter and spring months, though hiking up with proper gear is possible. To put speculation and wild stories at rest, Sar (hence Sari or Siri), in Hindko, the local language, means ‘Lake’ and ‘Paya’ (or Paye) is a high grazing ground.
Makra Peak – The 12,746 ft. (3,885 mtrs.) Makra (Spider) mountain may not be able to boast the elevation of its mightier cousins in Northern Pakistan, but that, in this case, is a blessing. With the peak rising only around 2,200 ft. above Paye, the 2 to 2.5 hr. hike from the meadows to the top of Makra Peak is relatively easy in the summers, making the summit a popular goal for amateur trekkers. The Spring/Autumn climb through knee-deep snow is also possible and often successfully done, though that is obviously a more strenuous endeavor. Visitors who venture up to the top are strongly advised to plan their hike so that they return to Paye well before sunset. Hikers in the past have gotten lost in the dark on the way down, sometimes with serious implications.
Paprang and Shinkiari Hut– The relatively flat and easy 6 km. walk from Shogran to the village of Paprang is the perfect activity for visitors who want to enjoy nature without exerting themselves too much. The jeep track to Paprang meanders South East of Shogran, more or less horizontally, through beautiful forested mountainsides and truly refreshing nature. Along the way you’ll pass a couple of lovely streams; and glaciers as well if you visit before mid-June. It should take you around 1.5 hours to reach Paprang at a leisurly walking pace.
If you’re really up for walking, keep going after Paprang along the same track for another 6 km. up to the old forest hut on the Shinkiari Plateau or Dana Shinkiari. ‘Dana’ means mountaintop meadow in the local language. The hike becomes somewhat steep in parts on this second leg, which is why you’ll need around 2 to 2.5 hours to get to the hut. The effort will be well worth it, though, as this is another of those hidden wonders of the Kaghan Valley which most visitors never see. The pine-clad plateau sits at approximately 8,350 ft. (2,545 mtrs.) and the views are, again, magnificent. Travel to Paprang and Shinkiari Hut is also possible by jeep, but this whole track is really perfect for walking and also, if you are so inclined, for mountainbiking.
Khanian – Wonderful Khanian is definitely one of our most favourite spots in the Kaghan Valley and that’s why we’ve established our Arcadian Riverside Resort there. The best option for visitors is always to spend at least a couple of nights in Khanian and to explore the various options for excursions from there. The Khanian village and waterfall, Kamal Ban forest, Manoor Valley, Naran, Lake Saif-ul-Maluk, Lulusar Lake, and Babusar Pass are all destinations that you can make easy day trips to while based in Khanian. If, however, your travel plans do not allow for an overnight stay, you can, nevertheless, head out there for a relaxing day’s trip to our beautiful resort. The drive from Shogran to Khanian is only 1 hour and 15 minutes, so do take at least a day out to visit Arcadian Riverside for lunch, walk up to the Khanian waterfall, lounge around in our garden by the river, and return to Shogran by the evening. You’ll enjoy this excursion for sure. For further details on Khanian, please have a look at our Arcadian Riverside Brochure.
Sharan – People who’ve been to Sharan often call this their favourite destination in the Kaghan Valley. As with Khanian, Sharan lies on the west bank of the Kunhar River; Shogran and Naran are on the east bank. Descend from Shogran to the village of Kawai on the main Balakot to Naran road and then drive 10 minutes north to the town of Paras, from where you’ll cross a bridge to get to the other side of the river. A further 1.5 to 2 hours’ drive up a jeep road will take you up the mountain, past the village of Bela Saccha and its terraced fields, to the Sharan Forest Guest house at 8,000 ft. (2,440 mtrs.) altitude. This old landmark, rebuilt by the British in 1942, was destroyed again in the earthquake of October 2005 and has, unfortunately, not been repaired since then. You may, however, be able to convince the guard stationed in the remnants of the hut to make you a cup of tea.
The drive up to Bela Saccha is mostly along denuded hills with sparse tree cover, but once past the village, you’ll soon enter one of the largest reserve pine forests in Pakistan. Sharan, bound to the west by Musa Ka Musalla Peak (Alt. 13,266 ft.; 4,044 mtrs.) and to the North by Rinjkan Peak (12,779 ft.; 3,895 mtrs.), is virtually unpopulated and you’ll fall in love with the natural beauty of the place. Depending on the season, you may get to see a profusion of butterflies and a riot of colourful flowers sprouting wild on meadows and mountain slopes – truly heavenly.
The trip from Shogran to Sharan should take you around 2.5 hours in a jeep. Provided that you leave Shogran by 10 or 11 a.m., you’ll have plenty of time for a round trip, including a couple of hours up at Sharan for a picnic lunch and a walk around the forest.
Or – If you’d like to just relax and not move around much, you can just spend the day at our very private resort and read a book or just chat with friends and family in one of our gardens. To stretch your legs you can also wander around Shogran town or do smaller walks around Arcadian Sprucewoods.
Islamabad to Shogran – 4.5 to 5 hrs. (Depending on traffic and driving speed)
Shogran to Siri – 45 min.
Siri to Paye – 15 min.
Shogran to Sharan – 2.5 to 3 hrs.
Shogran to Khanian – 1 hr. 15 min.
Shogran to Naran – 2 hrs.
Shogran to Siri – 1.5 to 2 hrs. (Medium – Hard)
Siri to Paye – 30 to 45 min. (Medium – Hard)
Paye to Makra – 2 hrs. (Medium – Hard)
Shogran to Paprang Forest Hut – 1.5 hrs. (Easy – Medium)
Paprang Forest Hut to Shinkiari Forest Hut – 2 to 2.5 hrs. (Medium)