Manoor Valley Kaghan, A Trek to Kuch Gali
Kuch Gali is a green forested pass in the Manoor Valley of the Kaghan region of Pakistan. Manoor Valley Kaghan is a picturesque valley in Balakot Tehsil and Kuch Pass is a two to three days pass with a moderate level of difficulty. Many years ago, a couple of our friends did this trek and from their blog post, we came to know about this trek. The route to Manoor Valley Kaghan goes from Mahandri, which is an important town on Mansehra Naran road. Mahandri is 105 km away from Abbottabad city, 243 km away from Islamabad city and it comes 40km before Naran. The elevation of Mahandri village is 5144 feet above sea level. From Mahandri, a bumpy and dilapidated 4*4 road leads to the Manoor Valley situated around 8,500 feet above sea level.
Best time to Trek Kuch Gali PAss
Although Manoor Valley Kaghan can be visited most time of the year. However, Kuch Gali Pass needs a specific time frame to do this trek. The traditional trekking season in Pakistan is June to October. Particularly, it depends on what do you want to see on the trek. Most of the people do this trek in July/August when they still find a fair level of snow at the top. On the other hand, they enjoy the lush green trek to its peak too. In September/ October, you can find dry weather with an Autumn touch. A few friends did this trek in the shoulder months of winter too.
How to Get to Manoor VAlley Kaghan
Generally, it takes three steps to reach Manoor Valley Kaghan
- First to Reach Mahandri from Islamabad/Mansehara/Balakot
- Mahandri to Bihari Village by Jeep
- Bihari Village to Bihari Bangla Rest House by walk or by Jeep
We started our travel from Islamabad a night before our trek. Our team was consist of 6 members. We took public transport from Islamabad to Naran. Mahandri is an important town on the way to Naran and it comes about 40km before Naran. So, early in the morning, we reached Mahandri. Our Guide Mr. Uzair was already there and had arranged a jeep for us to Bihari Bangla. The jeep trek was a fully 4*4 offroad. We loaded our luggage into the jeep and also fitted ourselves into the jeep. The jeep ride wasn’t a normal travel experience. On the way, we crossed many springs falling down and making their way into the road. At some steep turns, we had to get off from the jeep to make it easier to cross the hurdle. Consequently, we reached Bihari Bangla around 10:00 in the morning.
Bihari Bangla Rest House in Manoor Valley Kghan
We stopped at the only Rest House of the Valley called Bihari Bangla Rest House. It is a lovely building with a vast green park beside the hill. You can reach Bihari Bangla a day before your trek and can take a much-needed rest before your trek. If you are not in trekking hobby even then you can take a couple of days relaxing in this area. It is quite a calm and serene place in Kaghan valley that still offers a natural way of living in the hands of wild nature. We took our breakfast at the Rest House.
Remember, if you want to spend your holidays at Bihari Bangla then you have to take your eatables from Mahandri. However, you can get the facility of a cook from Rest House, who will cook your lunch and dinner. Bihari Bangla Rest House is a nice place with two family rooms. It was constructed in 1989-90. It belongs to the forest department and can be booked in advance from Mansehra.
Kuch Gali Trek in Manoor Valley Kaghan
We started our trek about 11:30 of the day and completed our trek in the afternoon of the next day. In between, we camped at Dhair top for a night’s stay. However, the following stages can be observed on the trek and I will elaborate on them one by one
- Bihari Bangla to Dhair Top
- Dhair Top to Kuch Gali Pass
- Ansoo Lake after crossing the Pass
- Saif Ul Malook lake
- Saif Ul Malook to Naran By Jeep
Bihari Bangla to Dhair Top
- Day: 01
- Trek Distance: 6 km
- Trek Time: 7/8 hours
- Elevation Gain: 3510 feet
- Bihari Bangla Altitude: 8500 feet
- Dhair Top Altitude: 12010 Feet
After taking our breakfast, we opened our luggage for the trek. We left the extra luggage here and only kept with us the most needed gadgets. At around 11:30 we started our today’s trek. It was supposed to be a 7/8 hours trek. We had a plan to reach and camp at Dhair top till evening. We started our trek beside the Bihari Bangla through Pine forest and turquoise color Manoor Nala. At times, the sunshine was hurting, so we used to take a tree shelter then. In trekking, the 1st hour of the trek is always challenging. So, onward to the second hour of the trek, we became a bit relaxed while walking. The best thing about Manoor Valley Kaghan trek was its evergreen landscape that never makes you bore. We made a short break for our lunch as noodle break and then continued to our further trek.
Just before sunset, we reached Dhair top. We covered around 6 km and gained an altitude of 3500 feet in 7 hours. We pitched our camps before dark and cooked our meal there. When we were pitching our camps, a storm of clouds came from all sides to cover us. however, it stayed away and stopped much below us. We can see and admire this beautiful cloud formation beside our campsite that seems a daredevil.
Dhair Top to Kuch Gali Pass
- Day: 02
- Trek Distance: 4 km
- Trek Time: 3/4 Hours
- Elevation Gain: 1850 Feet
- Dhair Top Altitude: 12010 Feet
- Kuch Gali Altitude:13860 Feet
After a sound sleep in the camps, we got up early in the morning. We have a plan to leave our campsite before 6 in the morning. So we got up at about 5 and start to prepare our breakfast there. Remember, our breakfast was the 2nd thing which we can consider there. The first thing was definitely the feeling to live above clouds. We can see the ocean of clouds beneath us. There was a forecasted rain in the morning. So, we have to start our trek as early as possible to go beyond these clouds. Just at 6, in the morning, we were able to start the trek. We can see the morning sunshine over the cloud layers. It was a mesmerizing experience to float into the cloud and over the clouds.
The ascent was steep but a long and deep sleep charged up the team energies, so slowly and steadily team was reaching the topmost position of the trek. We crossed a couple of rocky portions and a few risky crossings on the way. Finally, we reached Kach Gali Pass around 9 in the morning. It took us around three hours to reach there. At the top, we found hard snow especially on the other side of the pass. From the top, we can see the iconic Ansoo lake.
After reaching the top we can see Ansoo lake at our left and we have to cross a snowy ridge to go to the other side of the pass. It was a bit tricky portion. A slight miscalculation can lead us to the bank of Ansoo Lake. It was a roughly 300/400 feet steep crossing. As we did this trek in mid-July, so we were finding a fair level of snow there. If anyone does this trek in Aug/September then they can find a flat top to cross without any tricky portion. We crossed the interacting ridge within a half-hour and then all team reached the other side of the Kuch Gali pass. We celebrated our success there and spent almost one hour at the top ridge.
Ansoo Lake to Lake Saif ul Malook
- Day: 02
- Trek Distance: 9 km
- Trek Time: 5 hours
- Descent: 3240 feet
- Kuch Pass Altitude: 13860 feet
- Saif ul Malook Altitude: 10620 Feet
After crossing the Kach Gali Pass, we have to descend down all the way to Saif ul Malook. Indeed, it was a tough descend in a barren rock-like landscape. We covered this 9km trek in 4/5 hours. Actually, it was our last point of trekking.
Saif ul MAlook Lake to Naran
From Saif ul Malook we got our seats on a public jeep and reached Naran well before evening. Consequently, we got our seats on public transport to reach Mansehra and then to Islamabad.
Is Manoor Valley Kaghan safe?
Although the Manoor Valley Kaghan is quite safe by all means. However, we will discuss specifically Kuch Gali Pass here. Indeed, it is safe now but in past, there were few incidents of robbery reported on the part from Saif ul Malook to Ansoo lake. So, It is strongly recommended to do this trek with a local guide. Again it is best to do this trek from Mahandri Side, as you can easily find a local guide there. Although the height you have to ascend is more from Mahandri side.
Furthermore, there are a few crossings on the trek that needed to be handled with care. Most importantly, you have to be prepared for a continuous descend after crossing the pass towards Saif ul Malook.
Important tips to do Kuch Gali Trek, Manoor Valley
- If you are on public transport, then better to start from Mahandri and end at Saif ul Malook. In this way you can get public transport easily to go back home.
- Try to reach one night before your trek to Bihari Bangla. In this way you will be fresh to start early in the morning.
- Start you trek early in the morning, so that you can reach to your camp sites well before time and enjoy your camping stay.
- Closely monitor the weather forecast to plan your trek.
- Get a guide from Mahandri or Bihari Bangla. Try to arrange one before your arrival or add ample time to arrange at the spot from Mahandri/Bihari Bangla.
- You can go to Bihari Bangla on public jeeps too. It is an economical way but it takes time to fill all seats before travel.