Nathiagali is a popular destination from Abbottabad because of its proximity and excellent road conditions. The driving distance is about 25 km that can be covered in one hour. Late February summons the beginning of spring in Pakistan. The snow starts melting on the mountain tops and days become warmer. The nights, however, can get very chilly with temperatures dropping below zero degrees. The road between Abbottabad and Nathiagali is well maintained and snow is removed from the roads on regular basis.
What is the best time to travel to Nathigali from Abbottabad?
It is best to start around 9 am as you will find occasional snow on the road. The frozen water on the road can create slippery conditions. Therefore, it is better to wait for the sun to come out. We started from Abbottabad around 10 am The day was clear and sunny offering clear views of the mountains. The driving time from Abbottabad to Nathiagali is not that much.
If you plan to enjoy a driving trip it is suggested to leave around 10 am. Make sure to carry extra layers or a light jacket and cap as the weather can get quite cold in Nathiagali.
Views of River Doar from the road outside Abbottabad
Driving from Abbottabad to Nathiagali
The roads are clear but busy with regular traffic up to Harnoi River Area. As you ascend towards Nathiagali, the small hamlets can be seen on the top of the mountains at a distance. Recent redevelopment on the road has secured dangerous turns with concrete embankments. Therefore, the drive is quite easy and manageable.
As you get close to Lalazar, you will see plenty of snow along the roadside as well as on the slopes. Mini landslides leave rubble and granite rocks on the roadside. Stay away from any hanging icicles or ice. Climbing the slopes is also not recommended due to uneven surface and hollow space under the snow.
Snow statues made by locals along the road to Nathiagali
Some villagers made amazing snow statues along the road to attract tourists. With very little traffic on the road, it is a great opportunity to stop over and take photographs. Make sure to watch out for the monkeys who come down from the slopes waiting for some goodies and treats from the tourists.
Driving from Dunga Gali to Ayubia
Most of the hill tracks and peaks are not accessible at this time of the year. Therefore, sticking to the main road and developed area of Galiyat is the safest bet. It is not recommended to trek in snow as the weather can change quickly creating a life-threatening situation.
The pipeline track was not opened for tourists till the last week of February due to snow on the track. However, plenty of locals approached our group to sell sticks and socks to be worn over the shoes to avoid slippage etc. With little to don in Dunga Gali, we decided to drive up to Ayubia.
Ayubia is another ten-minute drive from Dunga Gali. Most of the hotels in Dunga Gali were closed down due to snow. The only place open was Hotel Amore located on the main road in Dunga Gali.
Ayubia had a few tourists as the chairlift were still not operating by the third week of February. We walked up to the top of the hill near the chairlift. A number of small cafes and shops offer coffee and tea as well as some deep-fried snacks.
We were carrying our own sandwiches and snacks and ordered coffee from the cafe. The cold clear afternoon and frozen snow on the mountain peaks offered views. Some locals offer horse riding as well as photographs with the falcons.
We decided to head back to Abbottabad before the darkness set in. Unlike busy summer seasons, a relaxed atmosphere and no traffic on the road is an experience to be enjoyed. As the evening approaches, the mountains can appear a bit intimidating.
When is the best time to visit Galiyat?
It will not be long before the snow starts melting and the cool sunny days will attract tourists from across the country. Galiyat is expected to experience bumper seasons as the weather clears.
The best time to visit Galiyat is between March and August. The warm weather attracts millions of tourists and driving up to Nathiagali from Abbottabad can take over 2 hours or more
Galiyat definitely has a lot to offer for a short or long stay. The pristine forest and peaks offer an amazing opportunity for hiking and trekking.
Driving back from Nathiagali, Harnoi offers a nice stop for a dinner. Baithak Restaurant is a new addition to the surrounding offering an amazing setting along the water reservoir. We enjoyed dinner at the Baithak Restaurant before making our way back to Abbottabad.
More photographs from this trip