Neelum Valley Road — Latest Situation

I have spent a last few days in the Neelum Valley. “Mess” is the word I will use if someone asks me to describe the latest road situation in a single word. As of now (May 2010) the 84 kilometers long road till Athmuqam is in the worst situation. Although you feel a lot of construction activity and heavy machinery on the road, the overall working pace doesn’t seem to be very fast. Places where road had been widened last year are still waiting for the next phase to get initiated. Comparing to last year, the only difference I felt this time was the presence of Chinese Engineers and workers. Unless you are in an air-conditioned vehicle where you do not have to open the car windows, the dust during hours long journey is going to certainly change your appearance once you get dropped. There is very little tangible progress on the patch till Ghori bridge which is nearly half way to Patika where the work seems to be in final stages. But based upon the overall road situation, it seems like it is going to take at least a couple of years before the work could get completed.

If you have to travel in to Neelum valley anyway and looking for better slots, try night travel or Friday. Friday is the best day to travel on this road as it is an off day for the workers. Else, try night traveling if you can manage it as the work usually stops before sunset. If you are traveling in daytime on a day other than Friday, chances are that you will be stopped every few kilometers for letting the heavy machinery work freely. The halt could be anything from five minutes to an hour. Once you cross Athmuqam, construction work on the major project stops but the road remains shaky and some construction work is continuing on a few patches. Till Athmuqam, the drive could take something between five to seven hours.


22 thoughts on “Neelum Valley Road — Latest Situation

  1. Nice information about neelum valley.
    but can you guide me about kel to deosai sakardu trek rout
    actually i coul not find information about that rout, our group want to do this trek at end of this june.
    i need following informations
    1 What is the exact rout of the kel to sakardu?
    2 Is Chitta Katha lake is visible in our trek?
    3 How much time this trek will take?
    4 what is the trek condition?
    5 Expected expense for this trek.

  2. Asad, there is no direct trek that can take you from Kel to Deosai. You will have to trek to Astore from where you can reach Skardu via Deosai on jeep.

    To reach Astore from Kel, there are two options
    1) Kel > Domail > Shounter valley > Shounter pass > Rattu > Astore
    2) Kel > Taobutt > Kamri top > Burzil pass > Mimimarg > astore

    Option 2 is restricted and you will need a permission from Army to trek into this area as it is pretty close to LOC.

    If you go for option1, you can do Chhita Katha from Domail with an additional day or two for it.

  3. Thanks for very useful information.

    I am planning to visit beautiful neelum valley next week. We were leaving on 2nd July night (Friday night) from Lahore. But after reading your article, I am thinking of leaving on Thursday night so that we could travel on those roads on Friday.

    We will be using local transport throughout. Any suggestions/guidance regarding the transport we should pick would really be appreciated.

    We are also planning to do Ratti Gali Lake from duwarian. Is the track for this lake open these days?


  4. @Fahim: From Muzaffarabad, hiace vans leave for Athmuqam almost every hour in the day. To go beyond Athmuqam, you will have to use the local buses (jumbo ones)

    Ratti Gali trek should be open generally next week. You might get some snow on the pass however.

    Happy trekking!

  5. rightly said, i was there in june 2010 for shounter top, and faced the same problem..

    though the work in progress was rapid but yet dont know what is the update of road now (if we can call that a road)

    @ fahim,

    sure brother after july you can be there, rati gali lake will be open, get a jeep direct from muzaffarabad, else ride on the roof of jambo bus… (dont fear dust as you are out there to taste the same….)
    another enchanting place in neeleum is arang keil village, the most fascinating one i ever saw… Reach the town like village of KEIL (ahead sharda) and from keil it is almost an hour or 1.5 hours walk.

    for big treks, Kamri top is off due to army, yes you can cross shounter top… meet Dr. Mumtaz at Domail bala if you need help give him my reference if required.
    you can catch me with the help of Mr. umair (owner of this blog)


  6. Hey Guys,

    Sorry for very late reply 🙂 As I visited Neelum Valley as I had planned. It was an amazing trip. Road condition was very bad as I was expecting but overall experience was just fabulous. I visited the valley up to Taobut. You can see few pics from the link below:

    You can also comments if you like them 🙂


  7. i visited patika on 28 april 2012 . the road is excellent. it has now been made by the chinese company. the is excelllent till keil

  8. SYED NASIR BHAI…. did u went there on ur car??? how was the weather?? Im planning to go there on 29th May on my honda city… how r the road conditions from Muzaffarabad to Sharda or Kel??
    Can u upload pics??

  9. Hello Fahim,

    Could you please tell how much the expense in transport and lodging you had paid in your trip?

  10. Mubarik :
    Hello Fahim,
    Could you please tell how much the expense in transport and lodging you had paid in your trip?

    Dear Mubarik,

    I don’t exactly remember the overall expenses but let me tell you that you should not be worried about the expenses in Neelum Valley. Transport and accommodation is considerably cheaper than other areas like Naran and northern areas. I guess we booked a jeep for 3000 per day with fuel which is not too much.

    You can get more details in my Pakwheels post below.


  11. did taobut-kamri trek last week… Met with Omair and his team at taobut, These guys have some serious stamina as they did the trek in just 14 hours.

  12. we are planning to go to neelum valley or either sudhan gali what do you suggest is better one…. and also tell the road conditions of both the roads,,, and kindly tell the preferred routes for both,,, thankx…

  13. @Taimur: Neelum valley is certainly a better option. Road condition is fine till Athmaqam but beyond it, road is in miserable condition. For Neelum valley, you need 3-4 days and the route would have to go through Muzaffarabad while for Sudhangali you would have to go through Bagh.

  14. @dashtnavard….. what are the latest road conditions for neelum valley. do u have any update. i want to go there on my own car with my family. what do u suggest about that. your guidance will be a great asset to me. Jawad

  15. Aoa,
    @Dashtnavard, sorry for the eavesdropping. Was checking on Google for the route from Lahore to Neelum Valley. My family, relatives and I were planning to go there either on our own cars or hire a coaster for like 7 to 8 days (for the whole trip). I’m sorry for the disturbance, I just needed a little information from you as we haven’t been to Neelum Valley before. Could you please tell if its okay to take normal cars (sedans) direct to the valley or would we have to hire any jeeps on our way? And is the road safe to travel on, these days or is it still under construction? and can you please highlight the exact route that we should follow.
    Other than that, I know it’s kinda weird, but we dun av any plans how to complete the travel thing. I mean which places to stay in and how to plan the exact trip on the respective days.
    Your help could be an important stepping stone for us moving ahead for this trip.
    Ahsan Sajjad

  16. @Ahsan, normal vehicles can go till Kel although the road is in bad shape beyond Keran. It is absolutely safe to visit Neelum valley. Have mailed you a few more details.

  17. Reviving an old thread, I just had to ask for the details of the Taobut-Kamri-Minimarg-Burzil trek especially the part regarding the Army permission. Would you please share the details and the procedure you followed? You just went up there and asked the Army guys for their consent or you arranged for a sort of NOC from where you live? I would highly appreciate if you could share some detailed steps along with the contacts. Do they normally permit or refuse? Also the information about the trek itself would be very welcome. You can drop me an email if you want.

    Thanks a bunch for all the nice info you provide in your blog and flickr stream. I have gone through your other post on Minimarg as well.

    BR/Faisal` .

  18. Faisal, yes you will need to get permission from Rwp. There is no formal documented process or contact persons so you will have to use your own links.

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