Swat, also known as the Switzerland of Pakistan, is one of the greenest valleys of Northern Pakistan and is well connected to the rest of Pakistan.
The major attractions of the Swat contain archaeology, lush green valleys, nimble rivers, huge mountains, elegant lakes, history, art and much more.
Malam Jabba, in swat, is the oldest Ski resort in Pakistan, owned by the Pakistani Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and built jointly by Pakistan and Austria in the mountains of the Karakoram range.
The Resort has a ski slope of about 800 m with the highest point of the slope 2804 m (9200 ft) above sea level. It is the most beautiful and top skiing Hub with a lot of skiing resorts. This place has a history of over 2000 years.
Malam Jabba is more longed for as compared to any other resort in Swat because of its development and beauty. It features all kinds of accommodation facilities to refrain the tourists from any kind of disappointment.
Malam Jabba is a perfect place for spending your summer or winter vacations given that its beauty is beyond words and no picture or praise can do justice to its true charm.
International snow skiing is conducted here every year and all sorts of equipment are easily available here without any hassle.
Also Read: A travel guide to Hunza Valley!
Table of Contents
Our Travel Experience
On 5th march our journey from Islamabad to Malam Jabba began in the evening with little captivating rain , it is 314 km from Islamabad.
From Kashmir highway of Islamabad we joined the motorway M1 which also leads to Peshawar, from there we joined swat expressway which is a total of about 80 km and is still under construction.
Our first stay was at Katlang service area which probably is the only service area available at swat expressway. After a little stay and having snacks, (rain continues) we moved forward.
From chakdara which is located near the junction of the Swat River with the Panjkora River, we headed to Mingora which is a commercial city in swat.
Around 10 at night we finally reached Mingora. On our way, we also paid our visit and said a prayer at Saidu Sharif (Shrine of a saint) and had a little stay for tea at a random dhabba.
Mingora To Kalam
From Mingora at 11pm, we continued our journey towards Kalam. It’s about 100 Km from Mingora to Kalam, about 4 or 5 hrs drive. Road conditions to Kalam are not so smooth and as it’s a hilly area the root is rough but under maintenance.
On our way to Kalam there wasn’t any traffic we met only few cars during this journey from Mingora to Kalam.
It was all silence on the route between the mountains with frightful darkness. The only sound we could hear was the fast clear water of river Swat.
Hotel Stay In Kalam
At 2am, we reached Kalam. We had to face a little problem in finding the room at the same time we were planning to sleep in the car, remember! We were four friends.
In most hotels rooms were occupied, and also we wanted to book a room just next to the river bank but since those were already reserved.
After sometime we found a hotel named Pamir Hotel and restaurant, where we get a room to stay in just 1500 Rs. per night (March 5, 2020).
Also Read: A travel guide to Kalash Valley!
By throbbing, we slept after having a cup of tea at 3am and awoke at 7am in the morning just to enjoy the beautiful morning of Kalam Valley.
The next morning, as we woke up our plan was to visit Kumrat valley but since we were traveling in winters the roads were blocked due to heavy snowfall, which was heard to be 8 to 10 feet.
The usual root of Kumrat valley is 5 to 6 hours by road but heavy snowfall made it out of our estimations and roads being risky, made us change our mind. (In such a season you can visit Kumrat Valley from lower and upper Dir Road).
So, We decided to explore more of the Kalam valley. In Kalam, there are some very pleasant walks since the weather is always pretty; one can easily walk over the hills for hours and enjoy the unspoiled nature.
Editor’s Note: You might also like to look at our best hostels recommendation in Phuket.
Kalam is a place known for its lakes, waterfalls, and greenery. It is one of the most popular destinations for tourists.
There are small and fertile plateaus adding to its beauty. Additionally, the Ushu and Utrot rivers join in Kalam, to form the Swat River.
After wandering around a bit and seeing the serene beauty of mother nature, a mini but beautiful forest, we came back to the hotel and got done with our breakfast in Kalam valley, not to forget, the very basic one.
The bread wasn’t available and we were told that it’s available only in summers. However the Chapli Kabab were delicious.
Kalam To Malam Jabba
After breakfast, we planned to move towards Malam Jabba. On our journey to Malam Jabba, we Passed through Bahrain which is a developed town in Swat, 60 km North of Mingora at an elevation of 4700 ft on the right bank of the Swat river.
Recommended: Check out our guide about the BEST hostels in Brussels!
The meaning of Bahrain is two rivers. This is because Daral and Swat rivers meet here. Due to this, the atmosphere is pleasant in Bahrain.
There are resorts and bazaars which are known for its handicrafts. Tourists visit this place throughout the year because many hotels can be found at cheap rates.
From Bahrain to Madyan we moved towards Minglore. Madyan and Bahrain are the administrative Places also known as The Heart of Upper Swat.
MADYAN is a popular hill station, located at a distance of about 55 km from Mingora, in the Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
There was another root through Shangla top but it was blocked due to snow so we took the Minglore root.
From Kalam to Malam Jabba, the route is open all the way but almost broken from Madiyan onwards and takes about 3 or 4 hrs. The roads were snowy and steepy.
If you look around, there are beautiful valleys and huge mountains full of lush greenery. Clouds wander on the hills, Roadsides are full of Peach trees in different shades and a wide range. Overall it’s really an amazing journey.
In summers, vehicle access is very easy, but if you’re traveling in winters and the roads are full of snow near Malam Jabba , that isn’t easy at all! Normal cars are definitely not a good option to go through those roads. You need 4/4 cars or jeeps etc.
Usually in the morning, at about 8/9 am, you can find appropriate vehicles to take you up there from Mingora or Kalam.
Other cars are Chained to move forward when roads become snowy and cars face problems in moving forward. We also faced little problem but by the grace of Allah Almighty we reached safely.
On reaching Malam Jabba, there was a game going on and only players and other members were allowed to go ahead. And when we talk about Malam Jabba, how can we not discuss skiing, for which it is famous for?
For skiing and snowboarding, there is one kilometer of slope available. One lift transports the guests. The winter sports area is situated between the elevations of 2,469 and 2,670 m.
High altitude and 2-3m of winter snow make it fairly snow-sure and besides skiing, there are many hiking options too. The small intermediate ski area of Malam Jabba is serviced by 4 lifts and a single large hotel (the elegant 35 room PTDC hotel).
They charge 3 to 4 thousand( Pakistani rupee) for skiing per person. But From Locals, you can get it done in just one thousand. Snowfall throughout our stay at Malam Jabba was continuous. Perfect weather to put on a hiking kit and go to explore Malam Jabba or skiing your heart out!
Editor’s Tip: If you are in Istanbul don’t forget to check out these cool hostels in Istanbul!
On our way back
Around 4 pm in the evening, we left Malam Jabba and moved back to Mingora. On our way back, we bypassed through Mingora as its roads are high on traffic.
Around sunset, we reached Mingora and stayed for a little relaxing at a hotel called sar daryab fish center which is very famous for fish as per locals, we were served fish with tomato sauce which we found okay-ish.
On our way back to Islamabad, we stayed again at Katlang service area.
Gist of talk
Besides awesome weather, old culture, green mountains, waterfalls, people over there are very humble and hospitable.
Most of them speak Pashto so there’s a little communication barrier if you don’t know Pashto.
Mobile networks are available on all the routes however at some places 3G/4G facilities may decline. You can also rent snow equipment and even snowshoes if you happen to be in need.
Modern facilities including roller/ice-skating rinks, chair lifts, skiing platforms, telephones and snow clearing equipment are also available at the resort.
Recommended for you: planning your visit to Los Angeles? Well here’s what you need to know about your stay when in Los Angeles!
If you’re someone planning to travel with family we recommend you the best time to be summer or when it’s less snowy.