31st May 2019
The trip to Fairy Meadows is one that demands courage and stamina. The jeep ride from Raikot Bridge is a white knuckle ride with plenty of adrenalin rushes. The road winds up through rocky dry terrain to an engineering feat of incredible road building with the rugged track clinging to the side of the hill as you ascend quickly into the craggy mountainous terrain. The fairy meadows road is unable to accommodate more than one jeep for the majority of the ride so the approach of an oncoming vehicle causes some consternation for the passengers. The drivers are incredibly experienced and can judge the width of the road and vehicle to within centimeters. Lucky really as an error of judgment could see a vehicle plummeting down a vertical drop of some 2000m!
Our fairy meadows road driver, Shogun, was amazing. He offered to play some soothing music from Hunza as he could see we were nervous. Ironically mid-tape the tune pouring forth from the sound system was 'Staying Alive' by the Bee Gees. We were hoping this would be the case despite the shear drops, narrow track and continuous attempts to pass other vehicles where there was an increasingly precipitous drop! The 40-minute journey was amazing and horrifying in one go and left us very happy to step out of the vehicle and heave a sigh of relief!
Then came part two - the fairy meadows hike from 2600m to 3200m following the Raikot river valley towards the enchantingly titled 'Fairy Meadows'. We knew the altitude would be tough but decided that we would rise to the challenge and not take the horse option as the 7km journey was said to take around 3 hours. The path is an easy one to follow but requires stamina and determination as it rises steadily and relentlessly for the first hour and a half. We were encouraged by the fact that the domestic Pakistani tourists were also struggling and the camaraderie and chat encouraged us to continue - albeit slowly with many 'viewing stops' and opportunities to catch our breath.
We then reached a fairly flat section through some trees and felt as though we were really making progress. However, we were shown a railing a few hundred metres above us which was the entrance to our destination. It looked impossibly far away and significantly higher up than we were! We continued and reached the final ascent up the hill. Our energy was sapped and we were tired and very sweaty. One more push for another 20 mins or so and we would be there. Our local guide was courteous and encouraging, telling us it was "only a short distance". To us this was the hardest stretch of all. Slowly we continued upwards and finally reached our goal – the flat grassy area with our rustic and homely log cabins – 'Fairy Meadows'. The beautiful tranquility of the natural setting, the wonderful hospitality and stunning views of Nanga Parbat as our backdrop made this journey all worthwhile.
If you are interested in visiting Pakistan and take a trip to the fairy meadows, check out our tours to Pakistan.