It’s been a while that I posted something from my recent trip. Since when I left my job, I had been on the roll. After my trip to Kashmir, my wanderlust was not satisfied and I set out for another adventure, this time with The Escapers on a 7 days trip. I have already seen and written about my experiences on few places that I covered in this trip including Fairy Meadows, Beyal Camp, Reflection Lake, Nanga Parbat View Point 1, Rakaposhi, Eagle Nest, Karimabad, Attabad Lake, Babusar Top, Hussain Suspension Bridge, Passu Cones, and Naran. However, it was my first time to Shogran and Siri Paye.
So, here I go with my personal experience and must have information about the famous Shogran and Siri Paye 😊
Shogran is a small but beautiful hill station situated on plateau in Kaghan Valley at an elevation of 7,749 feet from sea level. Although the place is little compact because it is saturated with numerous hotels, guest houses, dhabbas, tandoors and other shops. The pathway is not too wide and only two people can walk freely at a time, and just spacious enough that a jeep can cross easily. However, the scenic beauty offered by Shogran is amazing. The distant view of fainted peaks, the far fetched smoky sky and the lush green mainland hold your breaths for longer. This place is perfect for a night stay not because of cozy hotel rooms but for the serenity it offers.
If you go a little higher from Shogran, you can savor the beauty of Siri Paye at a height of 9,186 feet (from Shogran). It’s not far from the hill station, but it takes around 30 minutes via jeep trek to reach the base of Siri Paye. The trek is steep, and it gets slippery in the rain. Also, it has some dangerous curves which scare the hell out of people. But it’s worth taking the risk in favorable weather conditions. Once you reach the destination, you forget if it’s the part of earth at all. Trust me, it’s beyond magical!
As you start walking towards the peak, you’ll be overwhelmed by the breathtaking views of Makra peak and Musa ka Mussala peak from a little distance. I visited in mid July and to be honest I was not fully able to absorb the beauty of these views because only after a few minutes the canvas changed its colors and I was unable to see anything at a distance of few feet from mine. Now this sounds funny! But it really happened, because it started to rain and clouds took over. It got so foggy that I had the feeling of walking into the hazy meadows with no direction visible at all. However, I rejoiced the walk in the rain and mystery of clouds. Luckily, I was nowhere closer to the edge otherwise I would have taken the slide back to the hotel instead of jeep trek.
Best time to visit
You can step into this magnificent landscape anytime during the months of summer (June – August), or late spring and early autumn. The unexpected rains keep the weather cool and pleasant throughout summers. In winters the valley remains covered with snow and it’s closed for tourism that you’ll find hardly any hotel open to visitors.
Shogran is accessible from Islamabad via Mansehra, Balakot and Kiwai. It’s not much far from the city, and you can plan a perfect weekend trip to this place. Maximum travelling time it can take is around 7.5 - 8 hours provided you don’t stop on the way which is not a possibility in a luxury trip 😊 So here is the tip:
- Isb – Balakot (4.5 hours): you can stop for tea and sight seeing for 20 minutes
- Balakot – Kiwai (roughly 3 hours): at Kiwai you can have a perfect breakfast near the chilling water stream
- Kiwai – Shogran (roughly 40 – 50 minutes): now this is challenging and daring because the road is not in good condition in addition to being dangerous with difficult curves. Only the jeeps are recommended as the safest transport to go by.
- Shogran – Siri Paye (30 minutes by Jeep trek, 2 hours trekking)
Well, when you are at a hill station, it’s all about soothing your eyes with breathtaking views. Not to forget, the word Siri Paye is combination of two words "Siri" and "Paye" meaning "lake" and "high grazing ground" respectively. But there are few things which you can do for making a perfect memory:
- Horse riding is available at both places i.e, within the valley as well as on Siri Paye.
- There are shops where you can shop for souvenirs and traditional caps and other outfits.
- Amazingly, there also some sports shops from where you can buy board games such as luddo or solitaire cards if you are with friends and family.
- If you are travelling alone, I would highly recommend you take a good book along or have something from your hobbies to escape boredom.
- BBQ and bonfire along with soft music are must when you are at a place like Shogran. Never miss it!
- There are many hotels and dhabbas on Siri Paye where you can get Pakistani’s ever favorite pakoras, bhutta, french fries, and even full meals like chicken karahi, daal chawal and biryani. They are bit costly as everything else is, but you can’t help when your stomach groans 😀
- Yes, to my surprise I found a swing on Siri Paye, but not for free 😀 They charged me Rs.20 when I got off.
- Leave early morning if you want to climb Makra peak because weather can play tricks anytime.
Tips for travelling
As always, there are some factors you must consider when you are planning a fun trip to save yourself from the hassle of end moment arrangements.
- Keep warm clothes because both, Shogran and Siri Paye experience dramatic weather changes and it’s usually chilling.
- Carry an umbrella along. You cannot be sure if the sky will remain clear as the clouds are moody and they can surprise you anytime 😊
- Keep sufficient cash if you are travelling light because the things are at-least 20% expensive than the normal price. Your cards won’t be useful, because it’s only cash that is accepted.
- Keep basic toiletries along with you for a budget friendly trip. Otherwise you’ll have to buy at a higher price.
- If you have booked a hotel in advance, and your plan is to “rest first” or “refresh first” then try not to reach there just around the checkout hours i.e, 12:00 PM otherwise you’ll have to wait until the room is spared and cleaned. In such a case, always confirm from the hotel management and plan your departure and mid-way stops accordingly
After fairy meadows, it’s hard for me to fall for any other peak. But, I found Shogran and Siri Paye worth exploring. It’s mainly because of the weather that completely had me! It’s a perfect spot for weekend trip with less travelling, admirable views and cherishing weather. The memory of the 40 minutes’ insane walk with blur vision in the racing clouds, the inhaling of fog along with cold air, the soft touch of the rain and feeling of wet grass is still fresh in my mind. I felt light, pure and active as I walked further. Siri Paye revealed its best to me! Shogran is all about tranquility and peace, but it does get dramatic at night when the clouds pay visit to say hello!
PS: The picture below is my first time contribution to any BBQ activity! 😀
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta