Chitral town in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province is a famous stopover for both tourists and trekkers specially during summer months. There are multiple options to reach Chitral from Islamabad or Peshawar…
- PIA runs daily flights from Islamabad and Peshawar to Chitral. From Peshawar, flights are available on all seven days of the week while from Islamabad, they are available on all days except Sunday. All of the flights depart early in the morning with some slight timing variations on different week days. Return fare from Peshawar is Rs. 6040 and from Islamabad it is Rs. 7480 as of May 2010. Islamabad-Chitral flight time is 45 minutes. As with other northern areas bound flights, Chitral flights are always weather dependent and often get cancelled due to bad weather specially around lowari pass.
- To travel by road, best option is to take 25 seat flying coach from Pirwadhai bus station in Rawalpindi through the service run by Chitral Travels. Two coaches leave every night at 9:00 and 10:30 PM respectively with the later one is tentative and depends on the number of advanced bookings. The route passes through Dir and crosses Lowari Pass at 3100 meters and takes around 12-14 hours in total to reach Chitral. Fare for this one way journey is Rs. 900 as of May 2010. For reservations and other information, one can contact Usman Ali the managing director on 0344-8865550 or Khursheed Ahmed who is the booking manager in Rawalpindi on 0336-5414201. For bookings in Chitral, Haji Baig can be contacted on 0343-5801661. These coasters leave from crystal-line bus terminal near the Pirwadhai police post.
- From Peshawar, buses and vans leave for Chitral more frequently than Rawalpindi and take 10-12 hours. For reservations and further information, these numbers can be contacted: 091-2215545 and 0301-8865223.
- Another option from Islamabad is to go to Dir first and get Chitral bound van or jeep from there. From main Pirwadhai bus station a daily bus leaves for Dir at night while hiace vans operate more frequently on different timings. If there is no direct service available for Dir, one can go to Mardan from where regular transport leaves for Dir.
Dir-Chitral road remains closed from late November to late May every year because of heavy snowfall at Lowari Pass. During this time, vehicles cannot cross the pass and it has to be crossed on foot. A glimpse of what to expect in such conditions can be read in an interesting post by Mathew here who did a backpacking trip to Pakistan in late 2009. Work is still in progress on the much awaited Lowari Tunnel and is expected now to be completed in 2012. Once operational, the 8.6 km long tunnel will cut the Chitral travel time by half and will also make it possible to travel on this road even in winters. For locals, an all seasoned road remains opened through Afghanistan’s Kunar province or else the last option is to come via Gilgit on KKH which increases the travel time three times.