Kumrat is a small Valley in KPK. Only a few local tourists from KPK visit here. Tourists from the rest of Pakistan don’t know about this hidden gem. Foreigners are rarely seen here. The valley is described as heaven on Earth.
This article is a humble effort to guide future tourists on their journey to Kumrat. How to get there and where to spend the night once there.
The valley is located in the Dir district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. There is a town nearby called Thal. It is at a distance of about 45 km. you should be vary of Thall as it is considered to be very conservative. Most trips to Kumrat start right here at Thall. The valley itself is very beautiful with vibrant meadows and seraphic views. a river also flows through the valley called the Panjkora river. The river starts from somewhere in the Hindukash mountains.
One of the most popular reasons among tourists to visit Kumrat is the local Deodar forest. The Deodar trees are considered to be very precious because of their unique heartwood. Their heartwood has special insect repellent compounds which make it perfect for construction as it is largely left untouched from damage by insects and especially termites. The heartwood is also said to have medicinal properties. It is sometimes used to treat ailments such as hemorrhoids, insomnia, fever and diabetes. It is also sometimes used as a diuretic to reduce blood pressure. It is also said to have anti cancer and anti inflammatory properties. No wonder the wood is considered very precious. It is actually the national tree of Pakistan but unfortunately due to deforestation the number of Deodar trees has been declining rapidly. The locals here primarily use Deodar wood as fuel for cooking purposes and also to keep warm as there is no natural gas here.
Thall is a very small village with very basic resources, it is located at the entrance of Kumrat.
To get to Kalam your first stop is Utrar village. a small village one hour away from Kalam. From Kalam you have to take a taxi from the main bazar all the way to Utrar village. The fare depends upon how many people you share the taxi with.
In Utrar the main bazar has many local jeeps that can take you to Thall. The jeeps leave when full. If there are fewer passengers and the demand is limited you can ask the driver to go, however you will be charged extra to make up for the fewer number of passengers. The drive from Utrar to Thall is about 4 hours long. It is a rough but enjoyable ride. you will get an amazing view of beautiful mountains while passing through a 3000 m high mountain pass between the upper Dir district and Swat Valley. If you happen to travel during tourist season you might also find some small and temporary tea shops along the way that support the locals during this time of the year.
Once you arrive in Thall you have two choices. either just spend the night to rest and re-organize yourself and also visit the local Bazar and collect some souvenirs or move on. It is possible to reach Kumrat on the same day but it might get a bit tiring if you are not used to traveling that much so it is generally preferred to stay there and spend a night recovering and getting ready for the Journey ahead. If you choose to spend the night then the Hotel Green Hills is the only official hotel near the Thall Bazaar off the main road.
To get to your final destination Kumrat from Thall you will have to hire a jeep along with a driver. The fare may vary depending on how deep in the valley you want to go. You can also ask the driver to pick you up a few days later but it will cost you extra. It is recommended that you be clear about where you want to be dropped off to and picked up at. Also haggle your way down to a cheap price. you will also pass through an army checkpoint. It might take around 2 hours to pass through the narrow passage between the mountains.
There aren’t any local hotels where you can spend the night so you will have to make do with a tent. There are plenty of tents here both during off and on season. You will be charged based on your haggling skills. if you know how to haggle you might get quoted significantly less than someone who is not. It is also recommended that you bring your own food as there are few facilities here and everything costs extra.
If you also want to visit the Kalash Valley, Chitral then you can head there from Thall. To get to Dir you will again have to ride a shared taxi which also leaves from the main Thall Bazaar. The ride is about 8 hours long.
As tourists aren’t very common in Kumrat the locals here are very sensitive towards foreigners and especially women in particular.
It is considered too dangerous for women to spend the night in Kumrat due to the attitude of locals towards non conservative women especially if you don’t wear a hijab. You can spend the night at the army guest house but it can cost a bit. You might want to consider the services of a local guide if you don’t want to encounter any sort of trouble.