The valley is 351 kms away from the capital and stretches over 10,350sq. Kilometers. It is located in North West of KPK by the river Swat, close to Pak Afghan Border. Saidu Sharif is the capital and the center of all activities. The largest city is Mingora which is also the oldest market town.
The elevation ranges from 991 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level at Saidu Sharif to the top its highest mountain Flaksair which is 6,257 meters (20,528 feet) high. The valley is an integral part of the strategic and significant region where three parts of the Asian continent–South Asia, Central Asia and China, meet.
The summers in Swat are pretty short and moderate with temperature ranging between 33°C and 16°C. The coldest month is January and temperature may fall to as low as -2°C. The winter quite season is long and extends from November to March, rain and snowfall occurs during this season.
Exploring the Valley
The best attractions are in upper Swat and have the most scenic valleys like Malam Jabba, Kalam, Madyan, Miandam, Behrain along with some nestled streams of exotic lakes. The roads to Swat are exciting because of the amazing landscapes and lofty mountains stretching across the length of the valley. The roaring river Swat makes the road trip more exciting. There is a series of restaurants and food stalls by ends of the river where you can enjoy the local cuisines with chilling and refreshing river breeze.
The birthplace of skiing in Pakistan offers visitors much more than peaks and chalets. From art to food to outdoor adventures, there’s so much to anticipate when you plan to visit this amazing valley. Here’s our advice on what to do when you’re in Swat.
- River Rafting in Swat River
- Jeep Safari
- Chair lifting at Malam Jabba
- Ice Skating
Planning a Trip
For an equisetic trip in Swat, pre departure planning counts a lot.
Prior booking of hotels and a thorough look at the maps and routes and there a lot of other certain things you should watch for and plan for.
Summers are good to visit if you want to beat the heat and need a break from hot days. Fill your senses with fresh air, ocean breeze and views beautiful wilderness. If you are interested in trekking and hill walking, the best time starts in April and lasts in August.
Winter is the best time to enjoy snowfall and ice skating. The Malajabba top is loaded with snow and there are a lot of fun activities. However, due to heavy snowfall sometimes the roads get blocked and its difficult to get up to Mallam Jabba peak.
Swat is relatively cheaper compared to other holiday spots; however, it’s good to spare money and take out time for budgeting. In seasonal days the prices of food and accommodation gets very high that’s why, save some money before leaving and always ensure to have a backup reserve for emergency cases.
The average cost per person for a trip of 4 days and three nights is around 8,000-15,000. The price may vary to the number of persons and the standard of hotel.
There are enough hotel rooms in the region; mainly is Swat city. The prices vary from as low as 500Rs per night for an average room to a maximum of 8500Rs per night for luxury spacing. A directory of hotel rooms with their telephone numbers is available on internet, so it’s better to book rooms prior leaving.
- The car or any other vehicle that you are using is fully reliable and in a position to beat mountainous track.
- The road is a bit frightening and unsmooth so the driver must be tough and experienced.
- You are in a perfect health state, better to consult your physician for advice.
- Talk to your acquaintances that have done a similar trip.
- Read everything you can about the area.
- Draft a rough outline of your trip that might have three or four target points and a variety of ways to get between them.
- Set up a pre-trip time-line so you don’t end up with a full to do list your last week of work.
- Pack light. Only bag essentials. It’s pretty troublesome to carry things in the mountains.
- The locals are very friendly and welcoming but also a little traditional and conserved so avoid offending them.
Swat is linked by metalled road with the capital Islamabad and Peshawar via Mardan and Malakand Pass.
The nearest airport is Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar, from where you can easily hire a cab or get to the bus stand if you prefer transport. Swat is 171 km from Peshawar to Mingora/Saidu Sharif using the above mentioned route from Mardan onward. Total driving time from Peshawar is around 4 hours.
Company Guided Tours
Recently a lot of tour operators have started services for Swat. Tour operators are a god option if you want to travel with family as they may also provide a lot of fun activities for children and families that would have been difficult for you to manage alone.
Choose your tour operator wisely, based on its experience or you can even turn to Facebook to check their reputation. Guides offer walking tours, including visits to monuments, museums, and historic locations, as well as eating tours. Tour prices can be high, but most participants consider them a trip highlight.
The best thing about self guided tour is that you can wander around freely with no time restrictions. There are many eating and dine out places that are of good quality and dirt cheap. You can get maximum adventure by the way you want and may save a handful of money.
Top Places to Visit
The biggest problem about visiting Swat is the confusion from where to start and what to see. We are listing down all the top places that you must visit on your trip to the valley.
Some of the most beautiful sights in Swat are in Usho Valley. The snow covered Mount Flaksair at a height of 6,257 meters offers some of the most spectacular views. The fast flowing Ushu River is a chilling spot and there are a number of small hotels and restaurants along the river.
A heavenly lake Mahodand meaning lake full of fish in the local language is a very good trout fishing spot and stays true to its name. The lake is situated at a distance of 35 km from Kalam and 27km from Ushu. On the way to lake, Matiltan village is a stopping point because of its old wooden mosque, potato fields all around, and Mount Falaksair in the backdrop giving it a magical view. Beyond the village of Matiltan the jeep road will take you all the way to lake.
The beautiful Kalam valley is known for its waterfalls, lakes and lush green hills. It is about 29 kilometers from Bahrain at the height of 2,000 meters above sea level; the valley opens out, providing rooms for a small but fertile plateau above the river. It is a popular destination and is the reason for Swat being called as the Switzerland of the east.
The main road continues north up the valley and reaches the village of Fatehpur. A nine Km road branches off towards east and runs through charming hillside villages and reaches the popular hill resort of Miandam. Miandam is located at a distance of 40 km from Saidu Sharif, the main city of Swat. It is very picturesque tourist spot at an elevation of 1800meters above the sea level AND is ideally located in the bosom of the valley astride lush green lawns overshadowed by majestic Chinar trees. Miandam is good place and hikers. Two walking trails run along the streams up north. Total distance of Miandam from Mingora is 56 kilometers.
On the same road from Manglor, at a distance of about 35km, Malam Jabba is one of the most popular hill resort located at an elevation of 2,750 meters (9,000 feet) from sea level. This place is developed as ski resort with the facility of a chairlift and 22 rooms hotel.
Presently there are enough facilities and visitors can come up here on excursion trip from Mingora to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the mountain peaks, lush green pastures and thick pine forest. This place is a picnic and hiking trip to the top station of chairlift.
Back on main road at a distance of about 8 km from Fatehpur, Madyan is a tourist resort on the Swat River. Distance from Mingora is 56kms. At the elevation of 1,321 mters steep wooded hills provide a scenic backdrop of the fast flowing Swat river which gushes through the narrow gorges. Bashigram valley from the east is drained in the Swat River in Madyan. The source of Bashigram torrent is Basigram Lake at 11,600 feet above the sea level. Tha lake can be reached after a daylong strenuous trek. It riverside location and pleasant climate make it an attractive tourist spot with rows of shops, hotels and resturaants lined along the main road. Antique and modern shawls, traditional embroidery, tribal jewellery and craved wood furniture are sold in the shops of the main street. The shawls are woven in the side valley east of Madyan, where the cottage industry has been thriving for nearly 2000 years. There are number of comfortable hotels and guest houses which provide accommodation facility to the tourists.
At an elevation of 990 meters above the sea level, Mingora and Saidu Sharif are twin-towns merged into each other. Mingora is the biggest market town is Swat with all the main markets, buses and coaches stands, hotels, resturants and shopping places; while Saidu Sharif, to the south is the administrative capital of Swat. Over the passage of time Mingora has particular has become heavily congested and comparatively hot in summer as compared to sadui sharif. The shrine of Akhund of Swat, residence of former Wali of Swat, Swat Museum, Swat Serena Hotel and other archeological remains of the Butkara are also located at Saidu Sharif.
Swat Museum is located on main Mingora-Saidu Sharif road. The museum has a huge collection of Gandhara sculptures from the Buddhist sites in Swat. The building of the museum was inaugurated in Rome. The Italian Archeological Mission in Pakistan has beautifully restored the museum and kept it well maintained for visitors
Utrat and Gabral
Utrot is a charming village about 16kms from Kalam at 2200 meters from the sea level. It is totally un-spoilt place with excellent walking and fishing opprtunites. There are number of picnic spots along the river. This part of valley is also called the lake district of Swat because of its number of beautiful alpine lakes. From Utrot, a jeep road runs 8 km northwest to Gabral village which is a lush green picnic spot along the river. From Gabrel, the jeep continues another 20km towards north at Kharkhari Lake located at an elevation of 9,500 feet from the sea level. From Utrot a 13 km walking trail go towards Izmis Lake which is located at the elevation of 11230 feet. The name Izmis means cave in Kohistani and also the lake is surrounded by several natural caves, the people have named the lake after these caves
Near the museum of, is one of the most important Buddhist shrines in Swat. This site is located about one kilometer from the museum. The stupa, which dates from the 2nd century BC, was possibly built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka to house some of the ashes the Buddha.
Another important and unique archeological site located in this area is Gumbat. The great sanctuary of Gumbat, the only monument in the architecture of Gandhara exhibiting a double cuopla is a great site fro visitors. The research work has revealed that the sanctuary was arected no later than 2nd century A.D. and the holiest part, is dominated by three surrounding shrines, and remained in use until relatively late times.