Youth Times Travel Guide to Pakistan’s Ayubia National Park Situated between two of the most popular hill stations of Pakistan, Murree, and Nathiagali, Ayubia National Park is located at an elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level. When you step into the natural forest you are surrounded by pristine views of the lush green plains, set against the backdrop of tall pine trees and steep mountain slopes. Every now and then you hear the chirping of exotic birds echoing across the forest, giving you goosebumps as you trail through the park.
In this blog, we will discuss everything there is to know about Ayubia National Park in Pakistan, including its history, management, picnic spots, and variety of wildlife.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
WHY IS AYUBIA NATIONAL PARK CALLED A NATIONAL PARK?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), land can only be termed as a national park if it is spread over 1,000 hectares or more. Another prerequisite is the non-exploitation of any kind of natural resource.
The main function of a national park is to conserve wildlife, flora, and fauna in their natural setting and habitat. Ayubia National Park fulfills the criteria set by the IUCN as it is spread over a sprawling 3,312 hectares of land. Government authorities are leaving no stone unturned in conserving animals and rare birds at the park.
WHAT MAKES AYUBIA NATIONAL PARK A ONE-OF-ITS-KIND NATURAL FOREST?
The park is one of the best remaining examples of Himalayan temperate forests in Pakistan surrounded by seven villages and three towns namely Nathiagali, Thandiani, and Khanspur. It is covered with coniferous pine trees, as if God had pegged nails deep into the earth, to keep the mountains fixed. The forest spreads out on both the northern and western sides giving an expansive feel.
There are also numerous picnic points at Ayubia National Park, well-suited for everyone. For adventurists there are ample opportunities for hiking and trekking, You can easily reach the highest mountain peak in the Galyat region – the Miranjani peak, which is located in the Namli Maira area in Ayubia National Park. When you reach the peak, enjoy the breathtaking sight with a set of binoculars, take a deep breath and inhale fresh oxygen the trees produce, fill your ears with nature’s sounds – the chirping of birds and the gushing water stream. Be prepared to hear a leopard’s roar or the howl of a wolf! Nathiagali, Mukshpuri Peak, and Azad Kashmir can be viewed from the top.
Since you can reach Islamabad in only a 2-hour ride via car, you will find throngs of foreign tourists and visitors, mainly from Islamabad and Abbottabad. Although there are no official figures available, the local estimates suggest that there is a footfall of about 250,000 visitors per year.
The journey uphill is equally enjoyable, with green trees on both sides of the road and pointed mountain peaks set in the backdrop giving a dreamy feel. You can’t explore the entire national park in a day. So, if you plan to stay near Ayubia National Park, then check in any of the available hotels and acclimatize yourself to the mountainous landscape. The next day you can plan the pipeline walk through the Ayubia National Park and climb the Mukshpuri Top, which is at an elevation of 9,800 feet above sea level. En route to the journey, you will see numerous exotic wildflowers and fluttering butterflies decorating the pathway. Not to mention unforgettable views overlooking Kashmir and Abbottabad. You can also enjoy the beautiful forest side by taking a ride at the chairlift in Ayubia National Park.
There are numerous natural springs that abound the slopes and their water is stored in different water reservoirs which are a source of water supply for Murree and the adjoining areas. Only about 3 km further up and about 14 km from Murree, on the main Abbottabad-Murree Road, is Changla Gali which is situated at an altitude of 2,560 meters above sea level, amidst thick pine forests.
The 2,743 meters above sea level, Changla peak commands a fine view of the Jhelum Valley and on the other side, it presents a beautiful panoramic view of the Murree hills. From Nathiagali to Abbottabad the road runs downhill from about 9,000 ft. to an astounding 4,500 ft. About three miles down the road, there lies Baragali, which is a small hill station, located at an altitude of 2,408 meters. The last of the chain of Galis is only 24 km from Abbottabad on the road to Nathiagali.
HISTORY OF AYUBIA NATIONAL PARK
Ayubia National Park in Pakistan was termed as a national park in 1984, based on IUCN standards. Originally, it was spread over only 857 acres, but in 1998 it was expanded to an area size of 1,684 hectares of land. As of now, Ayubia National Park stands at 3,312 hectares of land and since then is being managed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department.
WILDLIFE AT AYUBIA NATIONAL PARK
Ayubia National Park is home to a variety of bird species and is therefore considered one of the best places for bird watching. Invest in a good set of binoculars and watch exotic birds perched on forest trees or flying across the park. You can easily spot these birds:
Himalayan Griffon Vulture
Indian Sparrow Hawk
Other animals that are living in their natural habitat in the national park are:
Kashmir Hill Fox
Red Flying Squirrel
Himalayan Palm Civet
OTHER WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES IN PAKISTAN
Pakistan is home to several other wildlife reserves which are quite popular among tourists and adventure seekers. For those planning to get off the beaten track, explore these best wildlife sanctuaries in Pakistan.
Astor Wildlife Sanctuary
Baltistan Wildlife Sanctuary
Chasma and Taunsa Barrage Dolphin Reserve
Cholistan Wildlife Sanctuary
Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
Karah Wildlife Sanctuary
Mahal Kohistan Wildlife Sanctuary
Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary
Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary
Sukkur and Guddu Barrage Dolphin Reserve