How to prepare for the trip
When I finally alighted from that rusty, uncomfortable jeep after a three-hour-long back-breaking journey to Baboon Valley, the spell-binding view left me speechless.
I began to completely understand what famous Persian scholar Amir Khusro would have felt when he said this about Kashmir:
“Agar firdous baroye zameen ast, hami asto, hami asto hami ast!”
This roughly translate to, “If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”
Only a few places on this earth can match the beauty and serenity of Baboon Valley, which is located at an elevation of over 12,700 feet.
If you are travelling from Islamabad, the best route would to Muzaffarabad then towards Kutton, Neelam Valley.
It takes around four hours from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad and another three hours of driving to Kutton. It is best to stay overnight at Kutton, An average room would cost somewhere between Rs2,000 to Rs3,000. During peak season, which is counted from June to July, room rent can go as high as Rs8,000 to Rs10,000.
From Kutton, you’ll have to take a jeep. It’s going to take almost three hours to reach the top and, the road is bumpy and at most places almost non-existent. As you go up the hill, some turnings are so narrow that the jeep has to reverse to make a turn.
The jeep costs around Rs6,000 to Rs8,000, depending on your negotiation skills. During peak season, this could double as demand increases.
But the journey is worth every trouble. Once you reach the top, the view will make you forget all the pain and trouble you had to go through to get there.
Many domestic tourists head to the Northern Areas in June and July as this is the when the rest of the country becomes unbearably hot. Plus, children have their summer vacations so families prefer to book this slot.