A few years back me and my friend went to hike the famous Mukshpuri peak in Natia Gali. We reached Dunga Gali which is a few kilometers short of Nathia Gali and checked into the famous Mukshpuri hotel. It takes about 3 hours to get to Dunga Gali from Islamabad. Since it was off season the hotel was mostly empty and there was also a 25% discount on offer. So the Rs.4000 standard room was offered to us at Rs.3200 which we gladly accepted. Mukshpuri hotel is more than 100 years old and has great historical significance. There is beautiful wood work all over the place which adds a romantic charm to the place. There is also an old billiard room for those who have some extra time on hand.
After staying overnight at Mukhshpuri hotel and having a sumptuous breakfast we headed off to the Mukshpuri trail. There was a minor glitch as one of the tyres of our Suzuki Alto went flat but this was taken care of at the Nathiagali petrol pump. Mukshpuri trail starts from parking lot of Shangrilla hotel, which is also quite a decent hotel in the area. After a gentle hike of about 10-15 minutes one reaches the forest department compound. There are a few animals here that have been captured from the wild including two snow leopards. The leopards can be usually seen here during the summer months and are taken to Islamabad in extreme winters. I guess the snow leopards would be quite comfortable in this weather but it would be difficult to maintain the place with 8-10 feet of snow.
After spending some time with the animals we went ahead towards Mukshpuri peak. This is a about a two hour hike from the forest department compound. Quite a gentle hike in the beginning but getting quite steep towards the end. Its always a good idea to carry some water and some snacks which can be consumed at the stopovers en-route the peak. The weather in this area changes quite rapidly so its also a good idea to carry an umbrella or a rain coat or better still an all weather camp. After reaching the top we were totally exhausted and spent some time resting and taking pictures. We returned to Nathia gali in the evening, with the return trip taking little over an hour.
If you are not in the best of physical condition and want to avoid a strenuous hike we recommend that you hire a horse from the Shangrilla hotel parking that is going to take you all the way to the top. If you are adventurous enough you can also camp overnight at the top but this now needs permission from the forest department folks. Also you might hear stories about wild leopards but in the 4 or 5 trips we have taken to the Mukshpuri peak we are yet to see one. Finally, if you want to avoid the same route that you had taken from Islamabad to reach Nathia Gali you can also take the route through Abbotabad. This is about 50 km longer than the usual route but gives you the opportunity to visit Harnoi, a picnic spot at the confluence of Harno and Barengali rivers.