(Kashif Ali, Manager GPRS) solemnly declare that I went to Nathia Galli last week with my family.
I thought I will share my experience with you as some of you are planning to visit this areas
in your dreams.
What to See?
Galliats around Mari ,
don’t confuse it with Murree (Nathia Galli, Donga Galli, Ayubia, Bhurban etc) are excellent to visit. These are easy to commute, roads are nice and there are many hotels. Nathia Galli & Ayubia (Recommended, 25 KM from Muri or Murree) are excellent for natural views. Lash or Lush or whatever green jungles, beautiful hills, full of monkeys and birds, and relatively less crowded compared to Muri or Murree, so only go if you are newly married (any of you planning 2nd or 3rd marriage?) or are with extended family (avoid in-laws!). Highly recommended visit.
PC Bhurban hotel (5 KM from Muri
or Murree) is a must, even if you don’t stay there. It will keep you (especially kids) busy for one day. There are good attractions in it namely swimming pool, bowling alley, Amphitheatre (Roman Architecture open air theater) as we don’t care about islamic Architecture anymore, play land for kids, theme gardens, tracking path, shopping etc. Entry fee is RS 300 per person, which can be reclaimed against food bill. Their Hi Tea is good value for money (approx Rs 500 per person, kids under 5 go free, time 4.30 to 6.30pm, go around 5.30 and you can save on dinner). Link to PC Bhurban http://www.pchotels.com/pchb/index.htm
Ayubia to Donga Gali Pipeline Track (in Ayubia National Park, Built in 1930, 8200 feet high, Distance 4 KM. This is a beautiful walking track (it is straight, no climbing
or mountaineering). Views are stunning. Just do a part if can not complete. Small children can walk, babies need carrying and the rest can sit on their ass and watch.
There are 3 chair lifts around Muri
or Murree (Ayubia, Patriata & Pindni Point). All are a bit difficult (but not impossible) to manage with small kids. I have personally done Ayubia one with two small kids & elderly mother. Views are nice at the top and there is a park there too. Ayubia is near Nathia Galli (hence can be combined with it) so you can have a combo, Patriata is 25 KM from Muri or Murree in opposite direction. Main Muri or Murree especially Mall Road is very crowded.
Hotel & Accommodation
For accommodation, highly recommended is PC Bhurban (very expensive though, Rs 10,000 per night for double bed). 2nd choice could be PTDC motel (link below). Double room is around RS 3500. It is government owned, relatively clean & comfortable
according to their own standards (I have not stayed in it though). Their food is very good. PTDC motel is located in Ayubia. Check PTDC Motels http://www.tourism.gov.pk/
Otherwise you can go to the area early in the day and bargain any cleaner hotel there. Before committing always visit the room, especially check the bed (sit on it & smell it) and see the bath room. Because weather there is damp and cold hence bed mattresses and carpets start smelling bad. My recommendation is to go for a really good hotel. This is money well spent. You don’t want to be uncomfortable with your family on vacations.
Weather is a bit cold & rainy there. So take warm clothing. Avoid weekend with 14th August. It is going to be very crowded. Sunny Bank (chowk) is a hub for Muri
or Murree, Pindi, Bhurban, Nathia Galli and Muzaffarabad roads. It really gets chocked with traffic (I spent one hour in car on Friday evening). So avoid weekends if possible.
Best use mineral water (easily available there, in fact all amenities are easily available). Take vomiting (motion / travel sickness) tablets with you. For food, just be vigilant & eat what is freshly made. If you are used to Lahori restaurants, you will cope easily. Food is not bad (at least it is comparable to Lahore).
Full of Fats, Spices, and what nots