After a hectic wedding, it’s well worth the time and money to seek out memorable honeymoon destinations.This is probably the most romantic period of your life and here are some soul-stirring destinations not far from home that will help make memories of a lifetime.
Nathiagali remains one of the most popular tourist and honeymoon destinations in Pakistan for a wide cross section of Pakistanis. Located in the Hazara district, it is easily accessible by road from Islamabad. Cloaked in walnut, oak, maple and pine forests, this picturesque holiday point still retains its old world charm. Developed by the British as a recreational hill station, remnants of its colonial past add to its character. Notable is the small timbered church in Nathiagali as well as the Governor’s house and other colonial style bungalows.
Nathiagali has many trekking trails of varying difficulty, depending on how adventurous and fit you are. One of the most popular treks is to the nearby Dunga Gali to the Mushkpuri peak which is the highest point in this area. Trekking and horse riding are the most popular pastimes here but for a slower pace, amble through the grassy slopes, picking daisies or simply soaking in the fresh air and greenery.
There are many reasonably priced hotels and guest houses here. And while in Nathiagali, do venture into the town and try out the famous Nathiagali chicken at the Tajmahal restaurant. This red-chilli encrusted, roast-style chicken will be the culinary highpoint of your trip.
Take a flight from Islamabad to Skardu. The flight itself is a memorable one and when you descend in the beautiful Skardu Valley a sense of calm descends with you.
The Shangrila Resort which boasts the breathtaking Lower Kachura Lake is a perfect spot for honeymooners. The Lake is surrounded by fruit trees and other flowering shrubs and is rich in fish. With its verdant setting and with the magnificent mountains in the backdrop, a boat ride on this lake is a must.
Alternatively, you can head to the Shigar Valley and live like royalty at the Shigar Fort. This historic 17th century fort, which was once the residence of the local Rajas, has been extensively restored and converted into a hotel. Other accommodation is also available but even if you don’t stay at the fort, it is still worth a visit.
The little town of Shigar will charm you with its timber and stone structures and quaint little shops. There is an ancient wooden mosque here built by Kashmiri carpenters.
Skardu also boasts some ancient rock carvings and engravings made by Buddhist monks several centuries ago.
Satpara Lake located at a higher altitude is another magical location, with the clear blue lake nestling like a jewel in the bosom of the mountains.
Take a flight to Gilgit from Islamabad and fly over some of the most majestic peaks of the sub continent. The valley is quite narrow and the scenery very dramatic. From Gilgit, you will travel to Hunza by road on the recently constructed Karakorum Highway which will take you through the rocky hillsides and past babbling rivers to Hunza.
Hunza will stun you with majesty of the snow-capped peaks surrounding it. The lawns of the Serena Hotel Hunza offers a stunning view of the mighty Rakaposhi and the as yet un-scaled Lady’s Finger peak. However, there are many other affordable places to stay in at Hunza, including the PTDC hotel.
Hunza has much to offer for any adventurous spirit. The mountainous topography cradles many glaciers and stunning lakes. The terraced hill-slopes with their stone-walled houses and cherry trees offer a sense of serenity and bounty that is denied to the city dweller. Hordes of rosy-cheeked children making their way to school wave at you cheerfully – the rate of school enrolment here is remarkable. Young and old, men and women will all greet you with the same ease and warmth.
Not to be missed are the Baltit and Altit Forts which were once occupied by the royalty of the region. Abandoned by the Mirs, the forts fell into disrepair. Today, the forts have been restored and are open to the public.
If you have time, go and spend a night at the Eagle’s Nest Hotel. Perched on a 2850 meter high ridge above Altit village, the hotel offers the best viewing points in Hunza. Watching the sunrise here is a sublime experience. Among the truly memorable honeymoon destinations.
Azad Kashmir is famed for its beauty even in Pakistan’s north. You can drive from Islamabad to Muzzafarabad. Entering Azad Kashmir, one of the first things that strike you is the cleanliness. The locals clearly appreciate the bounty nature has bestowed upon them.
Visit the village of Keran situated on the banks of the Neelam River. Snow-capped mountains offer a stunning backdrop to the lush countryside. Only a river marks the boundary between Keran and Indian-controlled Kashmir. There is a small bridge across the river, patrolled by both Indian and Pakistani soldiers.
But to truly immerse yourself in nature, head over to the Nikron valley which is as yet relatively unspoilt by tourism. In fact, parts of this valley are quite remote and remain off the beaten track.
Also close to Keran is the Kutton or Jagran Valley where the beautiful Kutton waterfall is well worth a visit. History buffs should venture into the the town of Sharda where you can visit the remains of Sharda Peeth, a Hindu Temple and place of learning dedicated to the goddess Sarasvati. The remains of the Sharda Fort are also found here.
Even though Gwadar has not been developed to its full potential, this is a good honeymoon destination option for people living in the southern regions of Pakistan. Several tour operators are offering tour packages now. You can either catch a flight to Gawadar from Karachi or drive down the Makran Coastal Highway.
If you choose to drive, you will be treated to some very distinctive topography enroute to Hingol National Park. The most famous is the Princess of Hope and the Sphinx. These are both rocky outcrops, one which resembles a carved female image arising out of the barren hillside while the other is almost a replica of the famous Egyptian Sphinx.
You can also stop at the Hinglaj Mandir on the way, a Hindu Temple that sees massive annual pilgrimage at certain times of the year.
Once in Gwadar, the sea dominates everything. It’s almost always in sight and most activities are related to either the port or fishing.You can stay at the PC Gwadar which is located on the famous Hammerhead, a rocky mass that was created by ancient mud volcanoes which covered the region and resembles the head of a hammerhead shark. However, other decent accommodation is also available.
Gwadar is famous for its fresh seafood and you can venture into the town to visit the fish market which boasts the best catch one can find anywhere. You can buy seafood of your choice and request your hotel or guest house to cook it for you.
Gwadar port is also worth a visit and a boat ride on the Arabian sea can be arranged.
Surrounded by water on three sides, the highlight of Gwadar is, of course, its pristine beaches. The PC has its own private beach which is a short drive away from the hotel but the other beaches of Gwadar are equally unspoilt and an absolute treat for honeymooners or anyone else.