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Introducing Upper Chitral

As you head north from Chitral town the mountains become increasingly spectacular, easily rivalling anything you might find along the Karakoram Highway. The valley is initially carpeted in fields and orchards, with each village clinging to the slopes that grow ever-more grand. The northern valleys form a gnarled Y, forking left into Turikho Gol and right to Yarkhun Gol. The welcome is warm in the mainly Ismaili villages and women lead more public lives.

Travel is rough, mostly by passenger jeep. Only Mastuj, a key stop en route to the Shandur Pass, offers any range of accommodation (and shops), although larger villages such as Koragh and Buni have cheap inns, and there are a few government resthouses. A sleeping bag can also prove useful, as can candles and extra food to supplement thin offerings along the road.

North of Chitral town the river changes name to the Mastuj River and, beyond Mastuj village, to the Yarkhun River. Turikho Gol is called Rich (pronounced ‘reech’) in its upper reaches.