As a passionate traveler and a dedicated employee, the frustration has been growing inside since I was dealing with too much at the too early stage of my life. I needed a break, and here the trip to Fairy Meadows was a perfect escape!
I joined a tourism team “Urr Chalay Pakistan” for my new adventure since I was alone and I was not too good at routes. Also, they had planned estimates for the best-known staying spots. The entertaining company, as they turned out to be, was a bonus.
With a necessary information, I’ll walk you through my experience along with the tips that you will definitely want to know when you are planning to enter the beauty of your dreams.
Named by Willy Merkl, a German climber, Fairy Meadows, just like its name, is a magical bed of grassy land that has all to offer one ever wishes for. From the mesmerizing view of Nanga Parbat to water streams, rocky tracks, lush green grass, mirror-like sparkling lake, lustrous sky studded with constellations, the innocence of humanity, the wooden huts, the filmy campsites, the wild horses, the craving aroma, open air, and everything else that combines to add a unique charisma to the scenic beauty of the far-fetched grassland.
Before you are captivated by your dreamy imagination, I would suggest you also take a look at the interesting story of Prince Saif ul Maluk and a fairywhich is often associated with the place. It is said that Fairy Meadows or Joot, as it is locally called, is a home of fairies among which the beauty of one fairy completely enticed the prince who fell madly in love with her.
Where is “Fairy Meadows” located?
Elevating 3300 meters above sea level, Fairy Meadows is one of the exotic points in North Pakistan and located at the base of Nanga Parbat (8,126m) which is the 9th highest mountain in the world and 2nd highest in Pakistan after Mount Godwin Austen (K2).
What is the best time to visit?
Well, this is the most important question for snow lovers like myself. Since I always love to trek in the snow, and therefore I have been wondering for some time if it’s even possible to visit Fairy Meadows in winters (i.e. Nov — Feb in Pakistan).
So, here are some answers to that:
- Due to heavy snowfall in winters, it’s suggested that Spring (April — May) is the best season to visit this place. Whereas some tourists recommend that July — September is the best time for base camp in fairy meadows. Since the locals move to Chillas due to harsh weather conditions, and you might not be able to get staying or food facilities, especially in Base Camp and Biyal Camp.
- However, there are adventurous souls who plan their trips in winters for the sake of the thrill and owing to snow carpeted track they have to trek extra hours which otherwise would be traveled by jeeps. In such cases, it is suggested to take proper measures for staying and trekking and get weather and open routes information prior to your departure for the destination.
- Personally, I would never suggest you visit in extreme summers since you have to trek for almost 4 hours from Tatu village all the way up to the FM. And that is one of the best times you can enjoy while you take your steps through the snake trail. So, make sure you plan your trip in bearable temperatures.
PS: I visited at the end of August this year, and plan to say my “hello again” to Nanga Parbat sometime in winters to savor the real joy.
Visiting Fairy Meadows
That’s an interesting thing to discuss as I properly took notes on routes with the help of one of the trip organizers.
The trip was planned in a certain way that we took the route from Naran to Chillas via Babusar Pass. And upon reaching Raikot bridge, we took jeeps to arrive at Tatu village for fairy meadows hike. The jeep trek usually takes 2 hours, and the hike to fairy meadows viewpoint normally takes 4 hours.
Thus, you must have 6–7 hours on your clock for reaching Raikot bridge before you are ready to witness the breathtaking view. If you are staying at Naran, I’ll suggest you leave early in the morning i.e. around 7 am, so you mark your footsteps on the land of fairies before the sun sets. Because it is one hell of a challenging track, and just one slip or mistake could set your soul free forever. Therefore, make sure you sleep well the previous night, since you have to travel, and hike if you are not planning any stay in Chillas. I wouldn’t even recommend it until or unless you are medically unfit.
To be very honest, we got up late and had to strive hard through the last 1.5 hours of the trekking, merely in the flashlights. The Moon was however shaded by thick forest. The funny thing is that by the last hour I was dead tired that I would not have reached the destination if I hadn’t been dragged by one of the friends and a trip organizer. I was treading like a drunk zombie and it makes me laugh when I recall it now. So yes, also eat well and f*** your diet plan, because I had not and thus was a half-alive corpse by the end of the day. I took a lot of water instead which is good though. Keep your bottles along with you if you are a thirsty bird like myself.
However, you always have an option of hiring a porter to carry your stuff and you have to pay according to the weight. Further, you can even take a horse ride up to the FM staying spot since the ride is the biggest temptation one could fell for at that time i.e. comfort and ease! I preferred using my legs instead.
I don’t want to scare you by the mention of my personal toil through the spiral rocky path with sharp edges carved through the mountains, and covered with a sheet of stones and sand. It’s just that I want you to be mentally prepared for the journey you set on to. It’s not difficult if you have a good company and caring friends or travel mates or even a guide to talk to and share your feelings as you move ahead.
I myself was traveling alone, and I made good friends on the trip. There also came a time, when I interacted with the new people and socialized with some other travelers on my trip whom I had not known before. Well, this really helped me forget that my legs did not have any life, plus I could ask one of the group members to give me a sip of his Tang (the juice). I know this sounds funny and greedy as well, but I wanted that badly to revoke my taste buds, and to give hope to my stomach.
Trust me, it was one hell of a fascinating experience so far. All the efforts reward you a heavenly view and evenly enchanted land of Fairy Meadows as if it was really housed by fairies. Once you are there, you have the control to decide how long you want to stay and how much you wish to explore. However, make sure you come back on the time as booked with your jeep driver for your return from Tatu to Raikot. We stayed for two nights according to our 8 days trip plan that I’ll share in a separate blog.
Trekking downwards is the easiest thing to do that if I am given an option to iron someone’s dress or trek down the fairy meadows, I would choose the later. It took only 1.5 hours without taking stops to relax, except to take a sip of water. Still, I didn’t feel much thirsty this time since all the work was done by gravity and I need not do anything against nature’s force. If you are a very good trekker, it would hardly take you 50 minutes to come back.
I would like to mention a few tips here that could be helpful:
1) If you are trekking for the first time, I suggest you warm up your body for at least a week before the decided day
2) Carry a hiking stick, it helps a lot in climbing
3) Take water bottles along, for you’ll be able to get water only after 2.5 hours from a little wooden shop on the trail
4) Carry cash, since there is no ATM facility in the midst of natural beauty
5) Hire a porter, or avail the horse-riding option if you feel really sick
6) Travel with a guide if you are traveling for the first time — because I was about to lose the right track on my way back. Had not been it a friend of mine, it would have been found crying by the locals. So, don’t cause trouble for the companions if you are not sure. Wait for the right person, and then continue with your speed.
7) Carry your toiletries along
8) While trekking upwards, take small steps since you are not tired this way
9) Be patient, and cheerful. Entertain and enjoy your company because this is the time you are going to recall most often. No one forgets tough challenges (:
10) Must carry your torch/flashlight along
11) User proper trekking shoes, since the rock-hard stones on the way are brutal and you’ll end up hurting your toes. This happened to me, partially for the reason I was not careful enough.
12) Being a millennial, I would sincerely advise you please make sure the person capturing your picture knows how to fit you in the frame, otherwise your all your hopes of “perfect picture” will be ruined, as it happened to me.
13) Last but most important things: Carry a good sunblock, a pair of sunglasses, and a T-Cap or may be an umbrella otherwise you’ll get a severe sunburn.
Things to do at Fairy Meadows
Yeah, the hike is over, and you are already on the land you had been missing and discussing for last 3 to 4 hours. You can finally feel the softness of lush green grass and savor its soothing fragrance.
You know what the first thing I did upon reaching? Let me be honest here. I was searching and shouting for my bag pack because I could not find it since it was carried by a friend when I had gone into the zombie state on the way. Finally, I located him and made sure my stuff was fine. LOL.
Now, the first thing that I did, after my bag quest, was lying down on the slightly-wet grass exactly in front of Nanga Parbat! It was cold out there but I wanted to stay there for long. Even in the darkness of the night, the snow-capped peaks were shining under the moonlight while I could see different shapes in the clouds as they passed by the sky that was intensely populated with the stars. It was a magical moment I had ever dreamt of experiencing. I could admire the nature even more for it had exposed its exquisite beauty to me. I could not touch those white mountaintops, but I could shout out for them and I did, “Nanga Parbat” and there were many other things we shouted which were funny though.
- So yes, there are a lot of things you can do out there besides savoring the eye-catching views. I would suggest you opt for camping instead of huts or rooms, considering the favorable weather conditions.
- Bonfire and late-night ventures add even more to the exciting trip.
- Must go and look for Reflection Lake in daylight so you can witness the nature’s magic. Plus, you’d see rocky mountain goats and cows. Horses and Ponies are commonly seen grazing grass.
- Trek to Biyal Camp through the beautiful pine forest. It hardly takes an hour or 1.5 hours from fairy meadows.
- If you have a longer plan, you can go even further up to the following mentioned viewpoints, however, the choice is always your depending upon your stamina and plan. We, however, returned from Biyal Camp.
Viewpoint 01 (Biyal Camp): (50 minutes from Fairy Meadows)
Viewpoint 02: (about one hour from viewpoint 01)
Base Camp: One hour from viewpoint 02.
Well, the interesting thing about Biyal Camp was that they were literally serving “Daal Chawal” which is my ever fav food, and yet I did not eat it in the hope of saving time for visiting Viewpoint 1, but couldn’t. So yes, you can have food and tea there which could be a treat forever hungry person like me. Even though I am not foody.
You can always capture enticing views from just anywhere on that place. Since it’s a land blessed with ever-increasing beauty.
If I put into words, I would say that my overall experience of two whole nights at fairy meadows is unforgettable and irreplaceable by any other memory. It completely had me mesmerized, that I felt like staying there for at least a little longer.
The innocent, yet kind gestures of the people and the simplicity of their lifestyle was a blessing for them and I felt unfortunate to have missed this connection with nature.
I rather put it this way:
The nights are like a competition between the moon, the stars and the clouds,
The air is always chilling yet leaves a calming touch
The dawn is the perfection of the sun’s kingdom that overpowers the night’s romance
Yet, the snow remains glued to the mountain tops in the view
The water is freezing yet it doesn’t steal your warmth
And the land is no more a land, it’s under your feet, yet a mountaintop for many
So, you are somewhere between the definitions of the sky and the earth
You forget all your worries, and clearly listen to your heart
That’s is when you feel “the real you”
That’s the beauty of Fairy Meadows
It’s the reflection of perfection
You ever desire to connect with