By Fatima Shaheen Niazi
It was the summer of 2018 and the weather of Karachi was hotter than usual – and it was amidst these sweaty nights of June that I made a sudden weekend getaway plan to Murree.
Here’s how it started. It was Wednesday night and I was planning my birthday celebration for Saturday and had to choose between the cliched dinner plan or a beach trip. That’s when my friend suggested a short trip to Dubai. But then I thought to myself, is shopping and sightseeing in Dubai as cathartic as a trip up to the mountains in Pakistan?
The answer is no. And it is on that very night that we made the arrangements for my birthday weekend getaway.
Why just the weekend, you ask? Because I had recently started a job and couldn’t afford to take a lot of days off.
After a lot of discussion and calls to hotels, here’s what we decided. We were to catch a flight to Islamabad and head over to Bhurban from there. We would spend one night in Bhurban, the second night in Murree, and then head back to Karachi on the third day.
Yes, I know what you are thinking. Why couldn’t we go to Naran instead. It’s because we just had two days and I didn’t want to spend the majority of the time travelling.
Following are the details of the trip.
As soon as we landed in Islamabad, we headed towards Bhurban. We had already booked a car for the next two days so we weren’t worried about conveyance at all. When we reached Bhurban, we were welcomed with rain and hail. Imagine sweating away in Karachi just 5 hours back, to watching snow melt in your hands a little while later. I had really never felt this refereshed.
After my friend and I had rested, we went off exploring Bhurban. All we did was walk around inhaling the fresh pure air. By night time, I had realised travelling for my birthday was the best decision I had ever made.
The next morning after breakfast, we decided to explore the area before heading to Murree. At that point in time, I simply opened up google and researched on the best places to visit nearby. The internet suggested Ayubia so that’s where we went.
Ayubia is basically a protected area located in Abbottabad District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is a small natural park 26 km from the Murree hill station and is now managed by the Wildlife and Parks Department of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The protected area was not only beautiful, but had several activities that one could partake in such as the chair lift, several amusement rides in the park, horse riding, and numerous snack stalls to eat from.
What attracted me the most was the family of monkeys that would put on innocent face while begging us for food, and then snatch whatever we had in our hand when we looked away. What a sneaky bunch they were!
If you haven’t yet visited Ayubia, we suggest you fit it into your schedule if you are headed towards the murree site.
Though Murree is crowded in general, the place we picked to stay was secluded and nestled within a forest. Hence, we had hoped for the second trip day to turn into a relaxing retreat too.
Upon reaching, we again took a much-needed nap and then headed to the famous mall road in Murree at around 8 pm in the night. Anyone who has been to mall road knows just how crowded it is, hence it really was a battle for two girls to walk among a sea of people. However, it was totally worth it because the stores in the area had some of the most amazing yet cheap jewellery I had ever seen.
We shopped and ate for more than three hours before we finally decided to head back to our rest house. There we slept satisfied of having spent two amazing days just enjoying nature and exploring the areas differently than we did as children.
The trip cost us around 60 thousand including the car rental and plane tickets, but it was totally worth it. Maybe next year, I’ll head to Skardu on my birthday instead. What do you suggest?