Hiking to the top of a snow covered mountain, a group of college students playing the rubab, a troop of monkeys on the roadside angling for some food, all this and more may be part of a trip to the mountain resort of Nathiagali. About two hours drive North of Islamabad the Galiyat Region, home to many resorts (Hill Stations) as well as the Ayubia National Park. This area is also home to two hike-able peaks, Miranjani and Mushkpuri. Nathiagali is perhaps the most famous of all resorts in the area. I have had the good fortune of visiting the area during all four seasons.
A trip to the North
One can reach Nathiagali either going through Muree or Abbottabad, it is about 40km from both the cities. Both routes are very scenic and all weather, in fact time permitting one should do the loop from Rawalpindi to Muree on to Nathiagali and back.
The weather is very pleasant during Spring, Summer and Fall, winters are a bit harsh though. However, the hiking trials are open throughout the year.
Besides the tranquil beauty of the place, there are several activities for the outdoors types. Miranjani and Mushkpuri are two peaks with elevations around 10000 ft, and one can hike to the summit in all seasons, although it is a little more challenging during the winter. Ayubia National Park, spread over 3300 hectares is another adventure in waiting for those visiting the area. For the less adventurous types the pipeline trek is an easier option.
There are several eateries one can head to after a good hike, serving a varied menu, from fast food and barbeque to the local specialty ‘patakha (firecracker) chicken‘. There are several lodging options from renting out a cottage to the backpacker hostels.
With its proximity to Islamabad/Rawalpindi and the many adventures it offers Nathiagali is a must visit for anyone wanting to explore the Northern Pakistan.