Kalam is located about 98 km away from the Mingora city of swat valley, and about 29 km from Bahrain up in the north along the bank of Swat River in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
Kalam is a beautiful and top tourists attraction in swat valley having population about 50 000. It is a green haven for visitors, surrounded by lush-green & rocky hills, trees, waterfalls and meadows. Kalam is at an evaluation of 2,000 + meters high which is about 6,800 + feet above sea level.
Two major rivers Gabral & Ushu join together in Kalam to make swat river; you may find so many flat fertile terrain which are used for farming above these rivers.
Main paved road ends after crossing Bahrain, Kalam is about 18 miles from it. It would take about 2 – 3 hours to reach the town. Two most amazing valleys in upper Kalam are Ushu and Utror, only shingle/stone roads lead to these valleys.
Kalam valley is haven of serenity for tourists with many hiking sites and glaciers. Kalam culture is very rich and locals are very hospitable and friendly with area covered with green plateau, thick forests and fruit trees.
There are about 150 small and big hotels in Kalam; there are many quality and famous hotels, some are located on the bank of Swat River where one can enjoy the river sound, picturesque views of mountains and cool breeze, and a real serenity for the tourists in the area.
What to see in Kalam (Tourist Spots)
Once you reached to Kalam, it is not hard to find Kalam bazaar, it is on main road of Kalam town (Tahsil Raod). It is easy to find general & grocery stores, pharmacies, gift shops, fruit and met shops. You many find so many small economical restaurants in this bazaar. Further can find several famous hotels on the same road.
Kalam Forest & Festival
Forest is about 20 minutes walk from Kalam center, it is a very thick forest covered quite a huge area; A road going through it toward Ushu valley, gives marvelous view of this lush-green forest.
At the start of the forest you may find a vast ground on the west side where Kalam festival held almost each year. Its arrangements are made under Pakistan Army supervision with the coordination of KPK government. Festival is usually announced during mid august. Festival covers tent pegging, khattak & chitrali dances, musical show, jeep rally, food stalls, kite flying, mountain Bike Park, water fall repelling, fishing, Para gliding, Para jumps and drill shows.
Usho or Ushu is a beautiful hill station located about 8km in the north-east of Kalam. The area is about 7500 feet (2300 meters) above sea level, one can find some attractive hotels along the bank of Ushu river. One should avoid to drive on small cars to the area as road is non-metalled.
About 2miles from Ushu or 11km from kalam you would reach charming point of Matiltan. You will find high mountain peaks, forests and huge glaciers . Wonderful view of Snow-capped Falak Sar mount can also be seen from here which is 5918 meters and 19,415 feet tall, tourists can enjoy another mountain of 20 000 feet tall on the way.
Passing through Matiltan valley on Saifullah lake –Mahodand Lake road you may reach to one of the most beautiful and huge lake of Kalam called Mahodand lake, about 30 – 40 km away from Kalam. Lake is situated in the foothills of tall Hindu Kush Mountains. It is a wonderful resort for camping, horse riding, boating and fishing, surrounding by clad mountains and amazing green meadows & water. One can enjoy scenic beauty of high mountains peaks, waterfalls, green plateau, gushing river and forests on the way to lake.
The lake is accessible through tedious trekking on unpaved road; it is advised to take four-wheel or automatic vehicle to reach the area. It is recommended to start trip a day trip from Kalam to Mahodand lake, can enjoy a picnic; you may find many small restaurants and tea shops in the area.
About 15-20 minutes walk from Mahodand lake, Saifullah lake is located beside Mahodand lake, if you have time, you should visit this beautiful point as well. You may take a horse ride to visit the lake which takes take 20 – 30 minutes to complete a tour of Saifullah Lake.
Utror is another picturesque valley located about 16 km in the north-west side of the Kalam. Good route of day excursion for the tourists, it is quite populated area, you may come cross many locals on the way and vegetable plateau along side of Utror River. Famous for potatoes and cabbages; people are very friendly and hospitable. Road is non-metalled, can be accessed by four-wheel vehicles which can also be rented from Kalam.
Kundol lake is located in north of Utror valley about 19 km from Kalam. Lake lies at the height of 9950 feet above sea level between tall trees and snow clad mountains of Hindu Kush. It is accessible from Ladu valley about 5-6 hours trekking by passing through thick forest and waterfalls. This is a good spot to visit for the adventure tourists, suitable place for fishing and camping.
After crossing Utror, Gabral valley is located, contains fertile lush-green plateau and green mountains. It is about 25 km from Kalam. A road is also leading to Dir and Chitral from here.
Further to Gabral about 30 – 40 km from Kalam you would reach final point of Utror route, this shingle road ends on a wide green meadow valley surrounded by tall mountains at three sides and green fertile fields on the east end. Mountain springs join to make up a wide water body in the middle of the valley which makes it an excellent sport for a picnic, fishing and camping; further you can arrange a memorable Barbeque here. People here are very hospitable and cooperative as well. You can enjoy walking on clean sand in the river water. Tourists would have a scenic view in the west of snow-capped mountains; you can further trek to the nearby valley on foot to enjoy the beauty of these mountains closely.
Tips for the Tourists
It is not difficult to reach Kalam valley, you may take your own private transport or can take a public transport from Islamabad to Mingora city of swat and from there to Bahrain or Kalam directly. Locally you can rent transport for excursion and day trips beyond Kalam which constitute the most amazing part of swat.
Weather in Kalam is usually cold vary from 5 – 20 Degree Centigrade, so if you plan to visit Kalam you must prepare for cold weather and keep warm cloths and a set of sports or outdoor shoes.
It is highly recommended to travel on 4×4 Wheels vehicles as all roads are shingle and non-metalled. Trekking on small (manual gear) vehicles is dangerous as it is not possible for such vehicles to trek through valleys beyond Kalam in upper swat.
You can book your room once you are in Kalam, there are over 150 hotels in the valley; it is recommended to book hotel in advance during peak season and during Kalam festival.