Kalash Valley is one of the major tourist attractions in Pakistan. This is situated in the Chitral district of Pakistan. This valley has a historic background but its history has controversies. Kelash is actually a very old Greek civilization. The people belonging to this civilization are called ‘The Kelash’. Belongs to old tribes and have their own religion and culture.
This is one of the beat places to visit in Pakistan. In addition to natural beauty, the valley has a unique and amazing culture. People living here in small villages that they built on the hill sides. These villages are at the banks of the streams and rivers. People construct their homes with rough shaped logs. People of Kalash are cheerful, they celebrates many festivals like Uchal Festival, Phoo Festival and Chomos Festival. Also, there are many attractive sites for visiting.
How to get there?
If you are coming by public transport, you will have to go first to Chitral, the capital of the district. You can come to Chitral from either Gilgit City (24h journey, overnight in Mastuj) or the Swat Valley (18h journey, stop in Timergara). If you are in the Karakoram Highway, you can also go from Gilgit through Mastuj but it’s a long 2-day journey.
The different villages are spread across 3 different valleys, so you should first decide which valley do you want to go. The three main valleys are Bumboret, Rumbur and Birir. Bumburet is the biggest village, hence the most commercialised one; whereas Birir is, perhaps, too small and there is not much going on. I suggest you go to Rumbur, which is very authentic and big enough to keep you busy for a couple of days.
Whatever valley you go, you should first go to the village of Aini (30km away). From Chitral main bus station, there are mini-vans (20PKR), as well as shared taxis (100PKR), going there.
In Aini, you can take one of those local pickups (100PKR) with 20 other locals hanging from the back of the car with their chickens and their goats. It’s quite an experience, as well as a tough journey which goes through a pretty bad mountain road.
Where to stay
There are several homestays across the three valleys. If you go to Rumbur, I recommend you stay at Engineer’s Guest House. Engineer (this is his actual man) is a local, kind man who speaks very good English and will try to make your stay unforgettable. Price varies and it’s quite negotiable. When I was there, there were a few other foreigners and we all paid different prices. However, you should pay something between 10-20USD, including accommodation and three meals a day.
Responsible tourism in the Kalash Valley
Please, remember that the different villages across the valleys are not zoos where people in colorful dresses live. It’s all right to take pictures of them but always try to have some human interaction first. The Kalash people are actually quite friendly and they like foreigners but they don’t like people who come to their villages, take pictures and leave. Instead, go walking around the area, smile and try to talk to them. Always accept chai (local black tea with milk) invitations and ask for permission to take a picture first.