Dear Members & Friends of Islamabad Jeep Club ( IJC )
Writeup from Dr Nadeem Naeem ( nn )
Taapo Taap, Over the Top with IJC, through Lowari Top (10500 feet), Shandur Top (12300 feet) and finally Butogah Top (14200 feet).
The TOP QUEST participants
24 people with 9 Vehicles
Toyota LC, Rizwan Aslam + Son and 2 cousins
Toyota LC, NN, Aamir Malik, Aimen RG and Asad T
Toyota LC, Salman Alvi + Cousin
Toyota Tiger, Asad Marwat + Juma Khan
Nissan Safari Cruiser, Shabab Haidar + Zohaib Jadoon
Nissan Safari Patrol, Shahid Khan + Yousaf (sooti wala baba ) PunK & his cousin
Jeep, Suhaib Kiyani + Siddique
Jeep, Noman Zulfiqar + Chachu
Tomb Raider, Ali Zafar + 2 friends
Duration – 5 days (4 vehicles with 11 people stayed a day extra, so 6 days)
Total distance travelled home to home in ISB, 1680km (336km/day)
Travel sequence: Islamabad-Malakand Pass-Dir-Lowari Top-Kalash Valley (Bamburet Village)-Chitral-Mustug-Shandur Top-Phunder-Gilgit-Hunza (Karimabad)-Gilgit-Chilas-Butogah Top-Naran-Balakot-Mansehra-Abottabad-Islamabad.
No amount of words or explanations can give the real essence of the trip. It was the most memorable trip ever from my point of view. Just calculated that during this trip which last exact 5 days (120 hours) 5:30am start on 7th, ending on 05:30am 12th, my total sleeping time was 13 to 13 ½ hours, and yet this in no way contributed to lessening the tour excitement and thrill.
The shear beauty of our country in MashaAllah beyond any imagination. I had already been to few of the destinations covered during this journey, yet I was still in awe of what I saw. The number to snaps captured during this trip will be without any doubt over 10-12 thousand. I know I captured over 400 along with 40 odd vdo clips. And this was with me on driving wheel for over 80 hours of the 120 hour trip duration. I know Aimen alone captured well over 1000 images, Aamir Bhai sitting next to me had well over few hundred and same goes for Asad T travelling with me, so if we in one vehicle managed this many, I am sure the rest in remaining 8 vehicles were snapping away like anything as well, such was the sheer beauty, grace and wow factor of visited sites
The constant radio chat n banter among almost all vehicles was entertaining as hell and very helpful in working out (read mucking up) all our plans of travel.
The most wonderful and lavish lunch served by Suhaib Kiyani’s family friend in Dir on the first afternoon needs special mention. It was just marvellous, many of us were extremely tempted to just stay put and camp there and enjoy the hospitality right there for the next few days. But we had to move on. I am sure none of us regret the moving on bit when we arrived at Lowari Top, it was simply magnificent and freezing cold up there. We could not stop there for long as we were already way behind schedule.
The next stop was Bamburet in Kalash Valley and with the thoughts of beauty (both natural and human ) of the Valley, we kept moving in the dark on tight narrow twisted very rough mountain side tracks to arrive late (11pm) in the Bamburet. Where we had decided to stay in hotel rooms. So after a jolly long wait for the dinner at PTDC restaurant we headed to our rooms around 2 in the morning.
The next morning every one was up and ready to explore the beauty/ beauties of Kalash valley and most weren’t disappointed
From Bamburet we headed for Chitral, where we reached at lunch time. Along with lunch at a local hotel some of the vehicles which needed some repairs were sorted out there as well.
We left Chitral late around 5pm and headed towards Shandur, the road wasn’t the best and our time estimation proved way wrong. The guidance given by various locals was so varied and misleading. We reached an extremely fast flowing stream Nalah around 11pm. There our first 3 vehicles passed successfully without too much excitement. Than Suhaib’s Jeep had some trouble crossing the fast flowing water which provided some excitement. He was eventually winched out safely to the other end. The water flow was very rough and turbulent bring down huge stones with it and a local Hilux double Cabin driver got scared and decided to not cross, so next was Shahid in his Safari and he managed it with sheer brute force. After that Ali managed to cross his defender with a bit of a struggle.
Next was my turn, and to take the lime light away from Suhaib I got my LC badly stuck due to rapidly changing currents. Inside the vehicle it seemed that the vehicle would topple over when the vehicle started tilting badly and with one wheel was lifted in the air during my attempt to get out of there. I was stuck there for nearly 30-35 minutes and during that time all the YouTube vdo’s that I had seen over the years showing vehicles being swept away by fast flowing water just whizzed right in front of my eyes. The tow hooks of my LC were submerged in water and the stones being thrown by the rapid water flow made access to front hook impossible and eventually I was pulled back by Rizwan Bhai with his Amazon from rear. After seeing me, no one attempted the crossing till around 3 in the morning when the water flow became lot less and we could visualize better how to attempt again. As I was at front I gave it another go and this time managed it successfully. After me the rest of our vehicles also crossed successfully by the grace of Almighty.
Here I would like to thank once again all of the gang, all of whom stayed together. Despite my suggestion that they should move ahead and camp at a suitable place to rest up, all of them stayed right across the other end of the glacier stream and just sat/ slept in the car seats and we only moved forward when all had crossed safely.
The next stop was Shandur Top and when we got there, every one just went WOW, all cameras were snapping away. The lake, the surrounding, the atmosphere, the colours, the beauty was just brilliant. After watching the Polo Finals we gathered on the small hill nearby and cooked ourselves some lunch with music and chit chat.
Eventually we left for Gilgit, on way we stopped over at the beautiful PTDC motel in Phunder for quick tea and headed straight to Gilgit, reaching around 9:30pm. The dinner in Gilgit was arranged by one of Asad Marwat’s friends posted in Gilgit. We were all very thankful of the hospitality he showed.
Most of the gang were knackered by lack of sleep because of my previous night adventure, so they decided to stay put in Gilgit, while Shahid (jeepaholic) and I decided to head on to Hunza. As it turned out that decision proved to be not the wisest. Due to lack of sleep we made poor road direction decision and headed completely opposite direction and lost 2 ½ hours in that and the Gilgit Hunza road was in such poor condition that normally 2 ½ hour journey took us 4 hours so we reached Hunza at 5:30 in the morning. I have no way of explaining how we made it, considering I hadn’t slept a wink the night before because of all the adventure!
We checked straight into the Darbar Hotel and passed out before you can imagine. After getting up we went to see the magnificent Hoper Glacier. It was just amazing, and even though we had to walk uphill the last 45 minutes as the wooden bridge had broken down, just the sheer size and beauty of the glacier made us all fresh again.
On our return to Karimabad, Ali Zafar n the gang + Nomi and his Chachu joined us from Gilgit. After a late lunch we went next to eagle nest in Karimabad, which provided some really amazing views of the valley. Here Asad Marwat and Suhaib Kiyani also joined us. They had earlier gone to visit Attabad Lake to plan some relief effort for which Asad had already collected a significant contribution.
The same night Suhaib Kiyani and I + my gang headed back for Gilgit. Once again we managed to lose our way, but managed to find our way back to Gilgit without losing too much time. We checked into our hotel and were off to sleeping land in minutes.
The next morning Asad Marwat and Nomi arrived from Hunza and joined Me, Shabab and Suhaib back for our return journey. While Shahid, Rizwan Bhai, Salman and Ali had decided to spend an extra day in Hunza.
The return journey till Chilas was slow as road was in very poor condition. After lunch in Chilas, we gathered info regarding the Butogah Pass and headed in its direction. It took us 4 hours to get to the top, but boy was it worth it. I think everyone was just awestruck by what we saw, it just seemed beyond words! I think when you will see the pics you will understand what I mean! Unfortunately our stay up at the top had to be brief as it was already too late and we wanted to be out before it was completely Dark. As it is we were extremely lucky to find a way to cross the river where the bridge was broken despite it being almost dark by the time. We reached Jalkhad in reasonable time from there.
From Jalkhad to Naran there is a magnificent road these days. There Shabab and I decided to put 1FZ against other 1FZ. Because of the time of night there were no other vehicles and we enjoyed the fast twisty roads to Naran in double quick time. There were few drags and some more. The results of which I will leave to your imagination !
After a nice dinner in Naran, we all left for back home to ISB/RWP at around 11:30 and managed safely, uneventfully by 05:30 in the morning. On the way some were sleepier than the rest and needed proper punching to wake up. On the Motorway, I saw the thunderous rain storm of my life, it was impossible to see where we were headed and staying in the middle of motorway was a difficult job. At least the thunderous rain cleaned up my LC up n down thoroughly and from outside it looked like it never went off the road by the time I got back home
Once again, a mind blowing trip in true sense of words. Excellent company, friendship and camaraderie seen during the trip. Thank you all!
All these pictures were taken by Aimen