Introducing Chitral District
The 350km-long Chitral Valley sits up in Pakistan’s northwest corner, hemmed in by the Hindukush mountains and sharing a long border with Afghanistan. It’s a relatively isolated region, connected to the rest of the country by just two roads over the 3118m Lowari Pass from Dir and the 3810m Shandur from Gilgit. Both roads are closed by snow in the winter, leaving just a highly weather-dependent air service or a rough road that briefly skirts into Afghan territory (which foreigners are forbidden from using) to stop Chitral becoming totally cut off. The Lowari Pass tunnel, if it’s ever completed, will improve Chitral’s connections considerably.
Its isolated location means that Chitral (the name refers equally to the town and valley) sees comparatively few tourists, which is a great shame as it’s an area of amazing beauty. The massif of Tirich Mir (7760m) dominates the entire lower valley, while the mountain slopes are softened by orchards and terraced fields of wheat and barley as they descend to the wide valley floor and the banks of the grand Chitral River (known further upstream as the Mastuj River).
Hospitable people and the valley’s grandeur make Chitral tailor-made for trekking, while the Kalasha valleys offer a wholly unique view of Pakistan, in the remnants of an ancient pagan culture that welcomes sensitive visitors with open arms.