Dadreli pass has become sort of trekkers’ favorite in Pakistan’s North in past couple of years. One possible reason is that Swat had virtually remained closed for trekking and tourism since 2009 army operation and trekkers remained reluctant to visit it despite things getting back to normalcy.
Dadreli pass connects upper Swat with Ghizer and has an altitude of around 5000 meters. Pass is considered a non-technical pass generally however rope use is recommended on the first 200 meters of descend because of some cravesses. Crampons are not required though. Although pass can be attempted from both sides, it is generally done from the Swat side. One potential reason is the easier and cheaper availability of porters from this side. July are August are the best months to attempt this pass. At Handrap police check post before lake in August 2014, we saw the record and found out that there had been 13 groups in total so far for the year crossing pass and all of them had come from Swat side.
Trek starts from the Mahodand lake which is accessible from Kalam through a couple of hours jeep drive. As of 2014, jeeps can be booked in 4-5k. Porters can be arranged from either Kalam or from the Matiltan village on the way to Mahodand.
Below is the day wise itinerary for doing Dadreli Pass.
Day1: Mahodand to Dawangar (4-5 hours)
The trek remains very gentle for the first day and runs in parallel to the river coming from Dadreli and Kachigani. There are many settlements along the way and locals are often seen fishing in the river. Dawangar is a small settlement of a few homes. This is the place where trek from Kachigani and Dadreli splits.
Day2: Dawangar to Palanchi (4-5 hours)
This is the day when tree line is crossed and trek ascends a bit more steeply than the previous day. Mid way comes the lush green campsite of Jabba which is tempting enough to camp. One can also make it the campsite for first day of the trek. There is a small lake at Palanchi. Campsite is further half an hour from there. Water is available however there is no shade.
Day3: Palanchi to Dadreli Base (6-7 hours)
As with every pass day, this is a tough day with high altitude pass to be crossed. In June, there will still be snow on this side of pass however it gets melted by July. From top the next few hundred meters of descend remain snow covered throughout the year. Last few hundred meters ascend to the pass are very strenuous. One can descend to the other side and camp at green meadows. There are no trees however available before Ambesh. Our porters were not ready to spend night without wood so we had to make it to Ambesh. It was a terrible experience however as we managed to reach Ambesh around 9 PM in the dark and got deeply exhausted in the process. It is therefore recommended to camp well before that.
Day4: Dadreli Base to Handrap Lake (6-7 hours)
Once the river level is achieved, the trek becomes very gentle and greenery doesn’t let you get bored or tired. Ambesh comes in around 3-4 hours from the base with a few settlements and forest. This place offers one of the most beautiful views of the trek apart from Handrap lake. This place from now onwards is known as the land of trouts and has some of the thickest trout population in Pakistan’s North with Handrap lake as the biggest sanctuary. At handrap lake, trouts of different sizes can be seen swimming inside the crystal lake water. They can be caught using spinners pretty easily. It is undoubtedly one of the best tasted fish and is very delicious even if cooked with salt without any spices.
Day5: Handrap Lake to Gulakhmoli (3-4 hours)
This is the last day of trek and can take you back to the civilization. Handrap village can be reached from Handrap lake in around 3 hours. From there it takes further an hour to touch the Gilgit Chital road. Alternatively, one can camp at Handrap village from where hiace vans leave daily for Gilgit very early in the morning.