We left for Paikka Azad Jammu and Kashmir at 1 pm on Saturday 28th March 2015. We made quite steady progress for the first 2 hours and reached Kohala bridge at around 3 pm. There was intermittent rain on the way but there were no major land slides en-route Kohala. However things were not as smooth further on and we had to take couple of diversions, one of which was around 9 km long. This slowed down our progress and we reached Muzaffarabad around 5:30 pm. Except for the two diversions due to road construction the road from Kohala to Muzaffarbad is in excellent condition.
After collecting supplies from the local market and getting information on the road conditions we ventured off to Patikka which is about 20 km further from Muzaffarbad. We reached our friends home in Patikka at around 7:30 pm. We had planned to have a BBQ on reaching Patikka but with increasing rain intensity and strong winds this was not possible. So we decided to make best use of the kitchen and prepare Chicken Karahi instead. After gulping down the tasty Karahi and Naan we hit the bed so that we can make an early start the next day.
After having a scrambled egg and tea breakfast we decided to head off to Keran which some of us had not visited before. Karen is about 60 km from Patikka Bazar but due to poor rood conditions and rain our progress was quite slow. One interesting landmark on the way is the dam being constructed on Neelum River. From here you crossover from the right side of the river to the left side. We crossed Kundal Shahi and Uthmuqam on the way to Keran but then disaster struck. The road to Karen was blocked due to landsliding and there was no heavy machinery in the area which could immediately clear the road. So we decided to head back, munching the pokaras and tea that we got from the local bazar. We reached Pattika after sunset and gathered around the bonfire to keep ourselves warm. After consuming some sumptuous Chikken Tikkas, Naan and Chatni we decided to call it a day.
A good breakfast and morning walk later we decided to head back to Islamabad. But given that the road conditions between Muzaffarabad and Kohala were not that great we decided to take the alternate route through Garhi Habibullah. This route connects Muzaffarabad to Balakot-Mansehra road and is quite a decent journey, albeit 50 km longer than the route we earlier took. We took a lunch stop at Abbotabad and then continued our journey to Islamabad via Jabri. This is a mountainous track that connects Havelian to Pir Sohawa through the Margallas and is a bit shorter than the GT Road route. After a wonderful time with friends and family we returned to Isloo the beautiful at 9 pm.
Note: Please carry your ID card with you as you will be stopped by the police and army a number of times to verify the identity.