Trek from Thandiani to Nathiagali is one of the most popular weekend treks of the Galliyat area. This is the trek on which many people mark the beginning of their camping/trekking life. Thandiani is a famous hill station at an altitude of 2700 meters and at an approximate drive of 4 hours from Islamabad via Abbotabad. Thandiani top is generally identified from various towers it has which can be viewed from the a very far. Nathiagali is another famous hill station at an altitude of 2500 meters which has now turned into a very commercialized tourist spot with all sort of hotels and facilities available.
This trek can be done both ways but generally people start from Thandiani and end at Nathiagali. One possible reason for this choice could be the availability of public transport in Nathiagali which is a bit hard to find in Thandiani. For first timers, it is recommended to do this trek in three days with nights at Birangali and Dagri forest rest houses respectively. However if one is in good stamina, it can easily be managed in two days. As the first day in this case could become a very long walking day, it is advisable to start it very early in the morning with the night stay at Thandiani. A few low standard hotels are available at Thandiani along with a nicely maintained rest house owned by PTCL. Birangali forest rest house is in the Birangali village around 7-8 km from Thandiani. The track that leads to it mainly involves descend and does not take more than 3-4 hrs. There is a fresh water stream at 5 minutes walk down the hill from the rest house. There are also a few shops in Birangali village where basic items are available. Basic structure of the rest house was partially damaged in the 2005 earthquake. Dagri rest house is at an elevation of 2720 meters whose main structure was also damaged in the earthquake. The track from Birangali to Dagri is around 15-16km and involves mainly ascend. On average, it takes 5-6 hours to reach there. The dense Quercus (burongi) forest of this area is the main charm of this whole trek. with some of the trees hundreds of years old. If the weather is clear, Dagri also offers an awesome sunset view. Fresh water is available at 15 minutes walk from the rest house towards Northwest. Next day, one can reach Nathiagali via Miranjani top (2980m) which is the highest peak in this Galliyat region. Total distance from Dagri bangla to Nathiagali is 19km.
On a clear day, one can view different peaks of the region from Miranjani top. Mountains of Kashmir are visible at west and northwest including Ganga peak, Pir Hassmir, Qazi Nag and the Pir Panjal range. Towards the North, you can view Makra, Blue Mountain and Malika Parbat. If one is lucky, the massive Nanga Parbat can also sometimes be spotted from behind Makra and Malika Parbat towards North.
If one just has a single day to spend, another option is to do the hike from Nathiagali to Dagri Bangla via Miranjani and coming back via the same path. This part takes 4-5 hours on average. Starting point of the hike from this side is near the governor house.
On the whole, this is a great alpine trek ideal for spending a nice weekend away from the daily hustle and bustle of our busy lives. For night stay at both the forest rest houses, written permission is required from the District Forest Office in Mansehra or Abbotabad. It is not however mandatory if one intends to do camping instead. Both rest houses have assigned caretakers from the nearby villages who can help out with cooking and other chores. Porters with possibly horses can be arranged from Thandiani generally however there are no pre-defined rates and it has to be negotiated.
Another interesting account of the same hike done by Irfan Ahmed can be read here.
Below is the summary of elevation and distances for different points on the trek…
|Thandiani – Birangali||
|Birangali – Dagri||
|Dagri – Miranjani Top||
|Miranjani Top – Nathiagali||