One of the major attractions of Chitral are the Kalash valleys- the home of the Kafir-Kalash or "Wearers of the Black Robes", a primitive pagan tribe. Their ancestry is enveloped in mystery and is the subject of controversy. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of Macedonia settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash.
Over 3,000-strong Kafir-Kalash live in the valley of Birir, Bumburet and Rambur, south of Chitral. Bumburet, the largest and the most picturesque valley of the Kafir-Kalash , is 40 kms. from Chitral and is connected by a jeep-able road. Birir, 34 kms. away is accessible by a jeep-able road. Rambur is 32 kms from Chitral.
The Kalash women wear black gowns of coarse cloth in summer and hand-spun wool dyed in black in winter. Their picturesque headgear is made of woolen black material decked out with cowry shells, buttons and crowned with a large coloured feather.
The Kalash are fun loving people who love music and dancing particularly on occasion of their religious festival like Joshi Chilinjusht (14th & 15th May-spring), Phool (20th – 25th September) and Chomas (18th to 21st December for a week).
Polo in Chitral is as popular as in Gilgit. Polo matches are great attractions at festive occasions. A regular Polo tournament is held every year (First week of July) at Shandur Pass.
Foreign tourists require permits for visiting the Kalash valleys, which are issued @ Rs. 50/- per person at check post outside Kalash valley. (Rs. 20/- for Pakistanis).
Apart from Trichmir (7705 metres) reigning over Chitral valley, other exciting peaks are Istornal, Bunizem, Saraghrar, Noushaq, Ghocharsor, Phal, Daser and Don, rising from 6,096 to 7,315 metres. Permission for mountaineering is issued by the Tourism Division, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad.
Trekking and Hiking
Trekking and hiking in the enchanting valleys of Chitral is a dream come-true. Some of the trekking courses are: Drosh-Madaklasht- Golden – Kuguzi-Chitral 48 kms. and Chitral-Shighore-Sassum-Ovir-Mroi, through areas of magnificent scenic beauty in the shadow of the Trichmir. There are no regular camping sites but you are always welcome by the friendly and hospitable locals to camp on their lands or lawns: provided, of course, you obtain the owner’s permission.
The angling season is from April to September. The rivers in Chitral, specially the Lutkuh River, is famous for its brown trout. Golenbol and Shishi Kuh Nallahs are also famous for trout. The Fisheries Department at Chitral issues fishing permits.
How to Get There
By Air : PIA operates three daily flights between Peshawar and Chitral, subject to good weather.
By Road : Chitral is accessible from Peshawar by the 363 Kms. Road which goes via Malakand, Dir and the 3,118 metres high Lowari Pass. The Pass is open during the summer months only i.e. from June to mid-November. It may even close earlier due to snowfall. Transport can be hired at Peshawar through PTDC Information Centre at Dean’s Hotel, Peshawar. Tel: (92-91) 279781-4, and Jeeps at Dir from the main bazaar. Chitral can also be reached from Gilgit via the 3,734 metres high Shandur Pass. (distance 406 kms.)
Where To Stay : There are reasonably priced hotels, a PTDC motel and several rest-houses.