So you are visiting Islamabad (capital city of Pakistan) and not sure what to do? One activity that I recommend all to partake in is hiking up Margalla Hills. Hiking! Yes, surprisingly Islamabadis are a bit more prone to such adventures than their counterparts in Karachi and Lahore. And Margalla Hills provides a great uniqueness about a big city where one can just forget the worries of the day while climbing up the beautiful mountain.
You ask what is this hoopla about hiking? Well, you see those hills dotting the north-west of Islamabad city. They also host many hiking tracks that take you all the way up the mountain and beyond. Initially, these tracks were nothing but trails for the local village folks to travel up and down the hill. However, with the passage of time, they also become frequented by hikers who just wanted to enjoy a few hours. And one such track, called, Trail #3, (adjacent to Sector F-6/3) is one of the most popular among the hikers. It goes all the way to the top of the hill and meets up with the famous mountain top village, of Pir Sohawa.
A bit of stats about the track. It begins at 600meters above sea level and goes all the way to 1100meters. It is about 5 Kilometers long and it is all gradual moving up. So the round trip down is a good 10 Kilometers. And during the strenuously hot summer months, it seems like 100 Kilometers.
Well, Islamabad, like the rest of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent cities suffers from a very hot summer, where temperatures soar over 100 degrees Fahrenheit regularly. Hence, a typical climb becomes far difficult to achieve. But there is one great aspect of this summer heat. As you climb higher, you literally feel the temperature fall and become cooler around you and usually a light breeze constantly cools you down. It is one of the most wonderful feeling to have. However, I do recommend carrying a small bottle of water (or bigger if you like) all the time to hydrate yourself regularly.
There are numerous resting spots available where one can sit, rejuvenate and take in the atmosphere. The higher you go up, the more serene, beautiful, and calmer it becomes. On a clear day, you can see for miles literally. I, like many other fellow climbers, love to sit at the top and gaze the beautiful scenery in silence before heading back down.
The great thing is that it is not just guys, but lots of female Islamabadis also make it part of their regular routine to hike. Occasionally, one can spot a famous local personality including politicians and television stars. I have taken many foreigners and out of towners up the climb to let them enjoy Islamabad for what it really is. I recommend everyone to go up the track at least once during their visit to the capital city.