HIGHLIGHTS OF JAHAZ BANDA TRIP
WHEN TO VISIT JAHAZ BANDA
Jahaz banda is a beautiful meadows in upper DIR district of KPK province in Pakistan. It remains covered with snow from October end till May. So the best time to visit Jahaz Banda is between JUNE to SEPTEMBER.
However before leaving, always take weather, route and distance updates from from Accuweather.com and Google maps
LOCATIONS ON GOOGLE MAPS
CAN FAMILIES VISIT THESE PLACES?
This is subjective. Every family should take decision according to the age group of their members. You can see the trekking paths in my videos (below) and should take decision accordingly. I have seen many families trekking these valleys from age group of 12 years to 60 years but not everyone can do this.
You should ask following questions from your family, friends (and yourself too) before coming to this place:
- Have you done hikings and trekkings before?
- Do you have stamina for this?
- Can you hike for 6 to 10 hrs in a single day without having proper meals?
- Can you bear wild places and sleeping in a camp on an un-even surface?
- Can you use uncleaned and smelly toilets with no soap and small amount of water?
- Can you eat un-hygienic and not a proper cooked food?
- Do you have some members who always have complaining nature and have high demands of having facilities?
- Do you have members whose habit is to always curse the Government on not providing facilities in every remote location of Pakistan?
The main purpose of visiting this place should be to enjoy the Wild nature away from hustle and bustle of populated city life. Your focus should not be on getting facilities but to enjoy few nights in a forest/valley
There are 4 ways to reach Jahaz Banda
- Join a group tour on facebook (around 12,000 Rs per person for 3 Nights trip)
- Drive your car upto THAL and then hire a jeep to reach Takki Banda
- Take public transport to reach THAL and then reach Takki Banda on jeep
- Drive your motor bike and you can even take it up to TAKKI BANDA (and there is proper parking area for bikers at tuckshop)
I traveled to Kumrat Valley and Jahaz Banda on Public Transport. Although my route was:
Lahore > Dir > Thal > Takki Banda > Jahaz Banda
but i recommend to travel through other route because its a hassle to get a public transport from Dir > Thal. So i recommend the below route:
Lahore > Mardan > Thal > Takki Banda > Jahaz Banda
There is another route recently being used by tourist:
Lahore > Swat > Kalam > Utror > Badgoi pass > Thal
CONTACT NUMBERS TO BOOK A SEAT IN PUBLIC BUS/ VAN:
- SADAAT BUS: Lahore to Dir or Mardan : 0300-5697625 or 0306-4066634
- VAN from Mardan to Thal (and vice versa): 0347-3075783
They have fix timings of departure so better take all timings from them by calling and then plan your journey accordingly.
ACCOMMODATION FACILITY IN JAHAZ BANDA
You should always keep this thing in mind that you are going on an adventure journey and going to stay in a remote area where no facilities are present. These places are for only those who love hiking, trekking and want to spend some time in wild nature. You should never expect good facilities and hospitality like Naran, Shogran, Murree and Nathiagali which are proper developed places for more than 50 years.
I visited first time Jahaz Banda in July 2019. At that time there were only camping facility available by locals. A 2-person tent is given at 500~1000 Rs and a four person camp is given at 1000 ~ 2000 Rs.
The rates are depending upon the number of tourist visiting this place. However i visited Jahaz Banda again in July 2020 and now 5 to 6 proper wooden hotels have been built with attach bathroom. They charge 1500 ~ 2000 Rs for a room which can accommodate 3 to 4 people.
Although there are local tuck shops and kitchen huts available but you should keep this thing in mind that Jahaz Banda (or Kumrat) is a place of adventure and camping so you should not expect high quality facilities and food options at this place. Locals try their best to serve you chicken, daal, rice etc and you should thank them instead of complaining them for taste and hygiene conditions.
I always suggest people not to eat Roti, Naan and bread during your trekking trips because you have to do Katora Lake trekking next day which will take around 9 hrs (both ways) and there will be no bathroom in the way. So better eat some snacks or take along Noodles, Dry fruits and snacks with you.
ELECTRICITY AND CHARGING FACILITY
There is no proper electricity at Jahaz Banda top. People have installed Solar panels at their huts which are only sufficient for LED bulbs for lighting however do not expect that you would be able to charge your mobiles or Drone batteries. So better take Power banks and extra batteries with you.
MOBILE SIGNALS AT JAHAZ BANDA AND KATORA LAKE
As of now, there are currently Telenor and Jazz mobile signals available at Jahaz Banda top. You would hardly able to use internet but can easily make calls.
There are no mobile signals at Katora Lake (and also not at KUMRAT VALLEY)
SAFETY/ SECURITY/ LAW AND ORDER
The upper DIR region is very hospitable and i have found no issue of security during my 2 separate visits of Kumrat valley and Jahaz Banda. You can see my video of Katora Lake trekking where i left my big Backpack in my tent at Jahaz Banda and nothing was stolen. People are genuinely helping and offer you free things as a good gesture.
From camping point of view, there are no wild animals in this area. So you can sleep without worry.
⛔JEEP DRIVERS SCAM⛔
I am writing these lines with heavy heart and It is very unfortunate that Jeep owners at THAL are very unprofessional and not reliable. The are new in this tourism industry and thus lack professional ethics. Be very cautious while dealing with them and i highly recommend to record your conversation on mobile while you are finalizing the Jeep fare and the drop-off point or any other terms and conditions. For example; You guys negotiated with jeep owner that in 2500 Rs he will drop you at Takki banda. So what they do, either they will drop you 2 km before Takki banda point OR if they drop you at exact point, they will demand some other price (say 4000 Rs which they asked you initially while negotiations)
It has happened to me 3 times and i have heard many such scam stories from my friends and tour operator companies. I personally reported these scams to local police and also hope that local people will learn professional business ethics with the passage of time.
Average jeep fare are:
Thal to Takki Banda: 2500 ~ 4000 Rs (one way)
Thal to Kumrat Valley: 2500 ~ 3500 Rs (one way)
Kumrat to Takki Banda (vice versa): 3500 ~ 4500 Rs
Take phone number of 5 to 6 separate Jeep owners with you so that you can call them when you want to return from Takki Banda/Jahaz Banda to Thal.
PREPARATION FOR LEAVING ON CAMPING/ TREKKING TRIP TO KUMRAT
In order to see how to pack your bags, read my separate blog on Preparation Checklist
RESOURCES TO BUY TREKKING/ CAMPING EQUIPMENT IN PAKISTAN
Since many of you have asked to share resources where one can purchase camping/trekking gears so here is the list:
- Dominance.pk (5% discount code: BBT05)
- WALI MALL (for Bikers and campers)
- DARAZ.pk (open market for all kind of equipment)
- OLX.pk (Pick from the seller directly and save the shipping fees)
EXPENSES AND JOURNEY DETAILS OF MY PERSONAL VISIT TO JAHAZ BANDA
Jahaz banda is getting much popularity these days and it is always filled with lot of group tours and tourists from all over Pakistan. So in order to avoid heavy rush, i decided to travel this place just 5 days before Eid-ul-adha. This is the time when no one travels to north and every one is busy at their home in buying Goat and cows for the sacrifice. So here is chronological details of my journey:
DAY-1 | 26-JULY-2020
– Took Sadaat Bus from Lorry Adda Lahore @ 1400 Rs
DAY-2 | 27-JULY-2020 | TREKKING TO JAHAZ BANDA
– Left from Lahore @ 06:00 PM and Reached DIR bus stop at 0400 hrs
– Left from DIR in Jeep at 500 Rs @ 0730 hrs
– Reched THAL bazar @ 1030 hrs
– Hired a personal jeep @ 1500 Rs from THAL to Drop me till Takki Banda
NOTE: In normal days, average one-way jeep fare is 2500 ~ 4000 Rs depending upon season. Since i went there just 4 days before Eid-Ul-Adha so there was not a single tourist in Thal. Thats why i got a good price of 1500 Rs
– Left from THAL @ 1100 hrs and Reached at TAKKI TOP at 1230 hrs
– Trekking from Takki top to Jahaz Banda normally takes 3 ~ 4 hrs (depending upon your fitness and number of stops you take during the trip)
– I was shooting my videos with different angles and flying drone so it took my around 7 hours to reach at my camping site.
– Although lot of huts and camps are available at Jahaz Banda (between 500 to 1000 Rs per nite) but i setup my own tent. Had a rest and slept early at 9:00 PM
DAY-3 | 28-JUL-2020 | TREKKING TO KATORA LAKE
Trekking time from Jahaz Banda to Katora Lake one-way is 3 ~ 4 hrs . I woke up at Fajar time and left at 0600 hrs. Since i was alone and took the wrong path so i took around 7 hours to reach Katora Lake. However, on return i took the right path and reached back to Jahaz Banda in 3 hours only. Below are the details of trekking from Jahaz Banda to Katora Lake path:
It is highly recommended that if you are visiting first time then either travel with a group of people or hire a local tour guide for this track.
TREKKING TO KUND BANDA AND JAHAZ BANDA WATERFALL
– After coming back from Katora Lake at 1700 hrs, i took some rest and then packed my tent from Jahaz Banda and left for trekking towards Kund Banda which starts at backside of TAJ DIN HUT. This trekking is 45 min down hill and very steep. This place is one of peaceful spot and my favorite place in this region. I setup my tent and slept alone in that valley as there was not a single tourist there.
Locals have also setup tents and huts to offer you a sleeping place at 500Rs per person. If you do not have your own tent, then you cn easily get space there along with mattress, pillow and blanket.
Watch details of Kund Banda trekking in below video:
DAY-4 | 29-JUL-2020 | KUND BANDA TO THAL
– Woke up early morning and left from Kund Banda towards Takki Banda at 0700 hrs
– Reached at Takki Banda at 1200 hrs
– Had a long wait at Takki Banda to get some jeep because no tourist was coming from THAL (because of upcoming Eid) and hence no jeep was available which could take me to THAL
– Finally after a wait of around 3.5 hrs, there were few people going back on their personal HILUX, i took a lift from them @ 03:30 PM and they dropped at THAL at 04:30 PM
– From THAL, took a local van seat @ 700 Rs for Mardan. The van started at 08:30 PM from Thal
DAY-5 | 30-Jul-2020 | MARDAN TO LAHORE
– Van dropped me at Mardan Bus stop at 0400 hrs
– From Bus stop, went to Malakand Chowk (on rickshaw) which is around 1km and Booked a seat for Rawalpindi at 300 Rs on HIACE van
– Van started at 0515 hrs from Mardan and Dropped me at Pindi Peshawar mor at 0645 hrs
– From Pindi, took a YUTONG bus @ 800 Rs at the spot at 0800 hrs and reached Lahore at 1200 hrs
– 31-Jul-2020: Had a full time rest and got our Goats for Qurbani
– 1st-Aug-2020: Celebrated Bakra Eid and started editing of videos 🙂