Natural heritage refers to the sum total of the elements of biodiversity, including flora and fauna, ecosystems and geological structures. Heritage is that which is inherited from past generations, maintained in the present, and bestowed to future generations. A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or an exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure and amusement.
Natural beauty of Pakistan is un-matched. Pakistan has world’s most beautiful places to visit, specially at its best in northern areas of Pakistan and Kashmir region. This part of the country is famous all around the world because of sky high mountains, lush green valleys, mighty rivers, beautiful lakes, and amazing wildlife. The Paradise on Earth “Neelum Valley” (mini Switzerland) ‘Swat Valley’ and Mountain Kingdom ‘Hunza valley’ are the major tourist attractions in Pakistan. All these places are real natural beauty of the world. There are also many best camping sites in Pakistan, where tourists can enjoy hiking and camping. Here, below is a list of top 10 best natural places to visit in Pakistan.
1. Neelum Valley
Neelam Valley is a 144 km long bow-shaped valley in Azad Kashmir Region. The Valley is situated at the North & North-East of Muzaffarabad (The Capital of Azad Kashmir). Running through the Lesser Himalaya, the Neelam River valley has excellent scenic beauty, panoramic views, towering hills on both sides of the noisy Neelum river, lush green forests, enchanting streams and attractive surroundings make the valley a dream come true.
Neelum valley is one of the most attractive places for tourists due to its famous lush greenery, springs, streams, lakes and hilly and sloppy mountains. Some of its famous places like Athmuqam, Kutton Jagran, Karen, Neelum, Ratti Galli, Baboon, Noori top, Sharda, Sharda Fort, Sharda University (The Oldest University of Sub-Continent), Arrang Kel, Surgon, Halmet, Taobut and many more.
In addition, Neelum Valley offers you to visit the most beautiful lake “Ratti Gali”. Patlian Lake and Baboon Top are new addition in Neelum Valley’s attractions. You can access Ratti Gali, Patlian and Baboon by 4 x 4 vehicles.
2. Hunza Valley
The Hunza Valley is a mountainous valley in the Gilgit–Baltistan region. It was formerly a princely state. The Hunza valley is situated north/west of the Hunza River, at an elevation of around 2,500 metres. The valley has three regions – Upper Hunza (Gojal); Center Hunza and Lower Hunza.
Hunza valley has many stunning sites to see. Some of these beautiful places are: Rakaposhi Base Camp; Diran Base Camp; Hoper Glacier; Passue and Gulmit; Khunjrab Pass; Atta Abad lake, Batura Glacier and Nagar valley.
Nagar Valley is also one of the best natural places to visit in Pakistan. The valley offers you to enjoy world’s biggest glaciers as well as natural landscapes. The people of Hunza are one of the best throughout the country.
3. Swat Valley
Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range.
Swat is one of the Pakistan’s most popular tourist destinations. With lush forests, verdant alpine meadows, and snow-capped mountains it offers a lot to enjoy. Located at an average elevation of 3,220 ft, Swat considerably has a cooler and wetter climate compared to most of Pakistan.
Swat Valley is also called “Mini Switzerland of Pakistan”. The valley has many attractions for visiting such as Mahodand Valley & Lake, Natural Ushu Valley & Ushu Forest, Malam Jabba (Famous ski resort in Swat Valley), Madyan, Swat & Kalam vallies, Bonir, Deer and many other naturally beautiful sites.
4. Deosai National Park
The Deosai National Park is a high-altitude alpine plain and national park in northern Pakistan. It is located within Skardu District in Gilgit Baltistan. The Deosai National Park is located between Kharmang, Astore and Skardu in Gilgit Baltistan. It has an average elevation of 4,114 metres (13,497 ft) above sea level, making the Deosai Plains second highest plateau in the world after Changtang Tibetan Plateau. The park protects an area of 3,000 square kilometres. It is well known for its rich flora and fauna of the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe eco region. In spring, it is covered by sweeps of wildflowers and a wide variety of butterflies.
Deosai is accessible from Skardu District in the north, Galtari Kharmang District in the south-east and the Astore District in the west. Deosai is located approximately 30 km from Skardu city and it is the shortest route to visit Deosai. Most foreigners visit Deosai via Skardu. It takes one hour to reach Deosai top via Sadpara Skardu. Another route is from Astore valley via Chilim. It is also accessible from Shila valley. The people of Galtari travel via Deosai. While it is a National Park, the Gujjar-Bakwarwal travel large distances to utilize the Deosai National Park as grazing lands. There is another route called Burgi la via Tsoq Kachura valley Skardu.
Several varieties of wildflowers grow on the plains. The Deosai National Park was established in 1993 to protect the survival of the Himalayan brown bear and its habitat. Having long been a prize kill for poachers and hunters, the bear now has a hope for survival in Deosai where its number has increased from only 19 in 1993 to 40 in 2005. During the last decade, a few but effective measures have been taken by the Government of Pakistan for the survival of brown bear in the region. In 1993, Himalayan Wildlife Project was founded with a substantial financial support from international environmental concerns. But the brown bear is still under threat. The Deosai Plains are also home to the Himalayan ibex, red fox, golden marmot (locally called Phia), gray wolf, the Ladakh urial, snow leopard and over 124 resident and migratory birds. Birds in the park include the golden eagle, lammergeier, griffon vulture, laggar falcon, peregrine falcon, Eurasian kestrel, Eurasian sparrow-hawk and snowcock.
The following species are found in Deosai: Artemisia maritima, Polygonum affine, Thalictrum alpinum, Bromus oxyodon, Saxifraga flagellaris, Androsace mucronifolia, Aster flaccidus, Barbarea vulgaris, Artemisia maritima, Agropyron longearistatum, Nepeta connate, Carex cruenta, Ranaculyus laetus, Arenaria neelgerrensis, Astrogalus leucophylla, Polygonum amplexinade, Echinop nivetus, Seria chrysanthenoides, Artemisia maritima, Dracocephalum nutsus, Anapalas contorta, Chrysopogon echinulatus and Dianthus crinitus. There were also observed some medicinal plants which are locally famous i.e. Thymu linearis (Reetumburuk), Saussures lappa (kuth), Ephedra intimedia (Say), Viola canescens (Skora-mindoq), Dracocephalum muristanicum (Shamdun) and Artemisia maritima (Bursay) etc. are used as traditional drug therapies.
5. Kalash Valley
Kalash Valley is one of the major tourist attractions in Pakistan. This is situated in the Chitral district of Pakistan. This valley has a historic background but its history has controversies. Kelash is actually a very old Greek civilization. The people belonging to this civilization are called ‘The Kelash’. They belong to old tribes and have their own religion and culture.
This is one of the best places to visit in Pakistan. In addition to natural beauty, the valley has a unique and amazing culture. People living here in small villages that they build on the hill sides. These villages are at the banks of the streams and rivers. People construct their homes with rough shaped logs. People of Kalash are cheerful. They celebrate many festivals like Uchal Festival, Phoo Festival and Chomos Festival. Also, there are many attractive sites for visiting.
6. Kaghan Valley
The Kaghan Valley is a beautiful valley in the north-east of Mansehra District. It attracts many tourists from not only Pakistan but also from the whole world. Lying in lower Himalayan mountains range, the Kaghan valley is famous for its bewitching splendor and natural beauty. It has one of the most charming tourist resorts in scenic Hazara division. There are many beautiful and attractive spots like Shogran, Jared, Naran, Lake Saiful Muluk, Lake Dudipat Sar, Lake Lulu Sar, Babusar Pass and much more to do.
The Kaghan Valley is at its best during summer. Naran is most famous spot for tourists in the valley. Thousands of people visit Naran daily. The region is Alpine in geography and climate, with forests and meadows dominating the landscape below peaks that reach over 17,000 feet.
Near the town Naran, there’s one of the highest lakes in Pakistan “Saiful Muluk”. It is a mountainous lake in the Saiful Muluk National Park. At an elevation of 3,224 m above sea level, the lake is a source of the Kunhar river.
Babusar Top is another wonderful place to visit in Pakistan. Located at an elevation of 13,691 feet above sea level, it is also one of the highest spots in Babusar Valley. The Pass connects KPK with Gilgit Baltistan via the Thak Nala with Chilas on the Karakoram Highway (KKH). It can be easily accessed by cars.
7. Murree Hills
This is a summer hill station. The summer resort and is situated in Murree, the subdivision of Rawalpindi District. Murree was the summer capital of the British Raj in the Punjab Province. People from all over Pakistan wish to go there in summer to enjoy its natural beauty. Also, in winter season for astonishing experience of snowfall.
Bhurban and New Murree (Patriata) are the main tourist centers. One of the most favorite tourist points of Murree is Galliat. It has fascinating greenery and scenic beauty that attracts tourists belonging to different regions of Asia. Most popular picnic points of Murree Hills are Dunga Gali , Muskpuri Hill , Nathia Gali, Bara Gali and Mall Road.
8. Shandur Pas
Shandur is the Highest Polo Ground on Earth. Located about 3738 meter above sea level between Chitral District and Ghizer District of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is often called the ‘Roof of the World’. The top is flat, a plateau and can be crossed between late April and early November.
In addition to its natural attractions, each summer a huge event called the Shandur Polo Festival is organized here. There is a polo match being played between the teams of Chitral District and districts of Gilgit-Baltistan which is also a big source of attraction for the tourists. Different people come against each other in this freestyle contest. The Shandur Pass is one of the major mountain passes of Pakistan. Also, one of the best places to visit in Pakistan. It is generally unpopulated and passing through its snow-covered slopes in winters is an exceptionally difficult adventure. The polo ground is about 168 Km from the main town Chitral and accessible by jeep. The road is closed during winter due to heavy snow.
Rawalakot is a town in Azad Kashmir, and is the district headquarter of Poonch Division. It is in a beautiful valley surrounded by hills, which is located 80 km away from Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Rawalakot is a summer visiting point. The winters in Rawalakot are cold and chilly. There are many attractions for visitors like Banjosa; Toli Pir; Poonch River; Tatta Pani; Banjosoa Lake; Sudhngalli and many more.
Ziarat is the capital of Ziarat District, Balochistan. Also, Ziarat is a famous holiday resort of Balochistan and nearly every trip from Karachi to Quetta stops at Ziarat. It was the summer residence of the chief commissioner of Balochistan, and sanatorium for the European troops at Quetta. There is a good water supply, and the hills around are well-wooded and picturesque. A visit to Quetta is incomplete without a trip to Ziarat. Ziarat is a hill station in the Sibi district of the province of Balochistan. It remains quite cool during summer and receives enough snowfall during the winter.
11. Jehlum Valley
This is an ideal valley of Azad Kashmir region for both the domestic and international tourists. The curling river Jhelum passes through from East to West between the high green mountains of this valley. This valley has an extremely beautiful valley called “Leepa Valley”. This is the most fascinating & attractive valley in Azad Kashmir. Its lush green rice fields in summer and typical wooden Kashmiri houses present a wonderful view to the people visiting the area. Walnut, Apple, Cherry and honey of Leepa are very popular and in great demand. There are many visiting sites like Peerchanasi, Chikar, Chinary, Leepa, Chakothi, Ghari Dopatta, Chokothi Cham-fall and Zilzaal Lake.
(Courtesy: dawn.com and wikipedia.com)