This legendary name ‘Fairy Meadows’ was given from the early western tourist who visualized this real paradise crowded by fairies. Fairy Meadow offers superb views of the Nanga Parbat (8125 m) the highest mountain in Pakistan Himalayas.
Islamabad/Rawalpindi is typical starting point for heading up towards the northern heights. Due to the uncertain road conditions and convoy arrangements at Mansehra and Chilas, the travel time has been extended. In current situations, it takes about 15 hours to reach Chilas or Raikot by a public bus.
The famous Raikot bridge is the last stop on the KKH from where a sky touching, rough and tough jeep trek starts. You can leave the bus at Raikot if everything is planned and arranged for few days in an isolated highland. The other option is the Chilas, from where the final preparations can be made for this exciting trek.
The narrow, jumpy and dangerous jeep road from Raikot takes about 2 hours if the jeep and driver both are fit. The Raikot river flows in a very deep gorge starting from the edge of this zig-zag jeep road. This is a dry and barren area till Tatto. Tatto is a small village with a clear water stream and couple of tea shops. From the Tatto, a half day’s steady walk takes you to the Fairy Meadows. In case of continuous bus and jeep travelling which also covers a complete night as well; it can be an idea to spend a night at Tatto.
The incline path towards the Fairy Meadows usually tests the energy, fitness and consistency of every tourist. Keep water bottle filled from the Tatto as the first clear water availability is at a distance. At the half way up, the excitement dominates the tiredness when the snow covered Raikot peak appears from the left. It is also the start of a dense forest where water and refreshing shadow bring the energies back.
It is a sign of Fairy Meadows when a huge black mesh of stones, sand and ice surprises the eyes. This is Raikot Glacier. The Raikot River comes out from a cave in the glacier. This is a unique view for those who never seen a Karakoram glacier.
In less than half an hour the trek enters into a green plateau. Every inch of land is carpeted with a lush green grass and a thick forest is starting at a close distance. Behind this widely stretched wave of trees, a white giant is adding the perfection to the landscape. Nanga Parbat and Fairy Meadows together mark the ‘100%’ for any mountain grandeur standard.
The camp sites in addition to a couple of staying possibilities are available at Fairy Meadows. The camping with all necessary cooking arrangements is recommended. At an altitude of 3200 meters and in a world’s highest ranked valley, a tranquil stay for few days can be a life time experience.
The Nanga Parbat base camp trek continues along the Raikot Glacier. It is an easy walk in a pleasant forest and over a soft grassy land till Beyal. After Beyal there are two possibilities to reach the base camp. First is to keep walking straight over the green hill and the other possibility is just before the hill decline to left and walk on the side of Raikot Glacier. A guide from Fairy Meadows is recommended as there are frequent water and side glacier crossings. Sometimes it becomes impossible to climb over20 to 30 feet high ice walls to get across.
The height of Nanga Parbat base camp is 4200 meters. Beware of the high altitude sickness and sudden storms. If this is a one day return trek, carry the food, medication and rain coats to meet the uncertain requirements.