Thursday, October 1, 2009

Malam Jabba - - Essential Travel Ski Guides

Arguably Pakistan’s finest ski resort, Malam Jabba is located in the breathtaking Swat Valley, close to the border with Afghanistan. The resort is perched on the slopes of the Hindu Kush range and surrounded by the magnificent peaks of the Karakoram and Black mountains, providing spectacular scenery for visitors to enjoy.

Skiing is a relatively new introduction to Pakistan’s winter activities and while Malam Jabba does not quite match up to international standards in terms of ski trails and facilities, it is nevertheless one of the country’s most enticing winter resorts, with a number of significant historical attractions and superb trekking opportunities on offer in the surrounding area.

Located at a lofty altitude of 8,530-feet, Malam Jabba offers a small selection of powdery ski trails including a gentle beginner’s track and a slightly more challenging slope for experienced skiers. The resort is equipped with two separate chairlifts, one providing transport to the novice track and the other with a capacity to transport more proficient skiers as high as nearly 10,500 feet above sea level.

Accommodation at Malam Jabba is offered in 52 rooms at the Swat Valley Hotel, including four VIP units. Additionally, there are two family cottages located right by the slopes, with stunning views of the snow-covered mountains that enclose the resort. Roller skating and ice skating rinks are also encompassed within the resort and on-site restaurant facilities cater for both local and international tastes.

The Swat Valley has been inhabited for over 2,000 years and several historical sites are located within close proximity to Malam Jabba, including two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries. An ancient mound and a fresh water spring are also located within a mile of the ski resort, offering additional leisure possibilities to fill your off-slope hours.

Malam Jabba’s ski season usually runs from January to March, with approximately 16 feet of snow falling during this time. The resort is accessible by road transportation from Islamabad, with a journey time of about 6 hours.

Skiing in Malam Jabba

Malam Jabba is an all-round summer and winter resort, offering a variety of adventure and leisure activities. Located in close proximity to two striking Buddhist stupas and six ancient monasteries, the region offers many alternative activities. The region is home to the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Black mountain ranges and a number of exciting treks through the pristine scenery surrounding the skiing area so visitors are sure to enjoy much more than just skiing.

Visitors to Malam Jabba should not expect to experience skiing on par with international ski destinations. While impressive in terms of Pakistani resorts, the resort presents a very small selection of runs, with a single groomed run suitable for beginners and another suitable for experienced skiers. However, Malam Jabba’s high altitude ensures dry, powdery snow and the region’s spectacular scenery and great adventure activities more than make up for any deficits in the skiing department.

In addition to two skiing platforms, Malam Jabba also features roller and ice skating rinks that provide alternative leisure opportunities, while those interested in the history of the area should visit the numerous archaeological sites in the area including two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries dating back roughly 2,000 years. Two gorgeous trekking trails begin from points close to the resort and pass through breathtaking mountain scenery, though these are far more enticing during the summer months.

For visitor convenience, the resort is equipped with telephone facilities, while a police post and hospital are situated in the town of Saidu Sharif, roughly 25 miles from the resort. Skiing accommodation is provided in 52 rooms at the Swat Valley Hotel as well as at two family cottages located next to the slopes at Malam Jabba.

Weather conditions permitting, skiing is offered at Malam Jabba between January and March. The resort can be reached by car, bus or shuttle bus, with road transportation from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad taking approximately 6 hours.

Transportation to Malam Jabba

Malam Jabba is located in the Hindu Kush range of northwestern Pakistan, just over 186 miles from Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, and only 25 miles from the town of Saidu Sharif. An airport is located at Saidu Sharif, from where road transportation is the only direct means of reaching the resort.

Malam Jabba can be reached by road transportation via the Saidu Sharif-Kalam road, located just off the Karakoram highway, one of the country’s major thoroughfares. The journey to the ski resort takes roughly 6 hours by road from Islamabad and under 1 hour from Saidu Sharif. The road leading to the resort is of a high standard, a pleasant rarity in Pakistan.

Islamabad is the main port of entry for visitors arriving by air from foreign destinations and connecting flights to Saidu Sharif are available from the capital as well as from Peshawar. From the airport at Saidu Sharif, the 30 miles away ski resort of Malam Jabba is quickly and easily accessible via road transportation.

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