Naran has become a hot destination spot for people from all around Pakistan and tourists from out of the country. Visiting for the first time recently, I was pretty surprised to see how many people actually come out so far and are willing to sit through a long and strenuous drive to get here.
Pakistan has some of the worst summer heat imaginable in its small and major cities. Getting away from that is a relief after the struggle of driving for hours and hours towards the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Murree is and remains the top and most accessible spot for tourists and Pakistanis to cool off, but Naran is where the real cold is. There are practically no air conditioning units anywhere around the small valley in any hotel room or house. There aren’t even any fans! You can imagine how comfortable the temperature can be during the summer, but it freezes down in the winters.
Naran is basically inaccessible during the peak winter time for most people due to the fear of land sliding and snow blocking the narrow, mountain carved roads. Which makes June, July and August peak times for people to come rushing in and get a wisp of cool air before it’s too late.
There is one major issue though. Mobile internet services like 3G and 4G are non-existent in Naran and beyond the beautiful valley. Although mobile signals are fine to make calls in Naran, the ability to do that dies once you head out even slightly towards Babusar Top, Jhakland and Saif-Ul-Maluk.
Where is Naran Located?
If you’re from Punjab or Sindh, driving to Murree is always a challenge. Not as much now since a double lane expressway has been built from Islamabad to Murree, but driving to Naran still isn’t for the faint of heart.
After landing in Islamabad, you’ll be taking the M1 towards Hassan Abdal, now being on the N35. You will enter Haripur, cross Abbottabad and Mansehra, then start your ascension towards Balakot, Khagan and finally enter Naran. The journey from Islamabad to Naran is approximately seven to eight hours depending on how many stops you make on the way there.
You shouldn’t experience any difficulty in using your smartphone, making calls and browsing the net until you reach Balakot. It all goes downhill from there.
This is another reason why it’s probably a good idea to have the directions noted down before you lose access to Google Maps and have a problem getting there. Driving during the night is not recommended in any circumstances!
Nevertheless, Naran is stunning. The drive there is breathtaking and going beyond towards the even higher peaks is just nature untouched. Pakistan is beautiful and there are so many sights to see you never would realize the power of nature unless you really go out and visit.
Which Mobile Service Provider Works Best in Naran?
Upon reaching the beautiful, but now heavily commercialized Naran valley, you will see tons of 3G and 4G advertisements by numerous telecom companies. Unfortunately, not a single one of the telecom companies are currently providing 3G and 4G internet in Naran.
For calls, my experience with Zong was the best. The signal quality was strong enough to make clear calls, but not enough to even browse the web with Edge. Mobilink, Telenor and Ufone were not any better, but quite awful to be honest. The people I was travelling with couldn’t even get enough signal power to make a decent call. Let alone use the internet. WiFi through the valley in the hotels and restaurants isn’t that much better either, but since there is much work going on throughout laying down fiber optic cables for CPEC, it may get better soon.
How to Check Mobile Internet Coverage Around Pakistan?
Luckily, the telecom operators in Pakistan are offering online resources for you to see where they offer 3G and 4G services around the country. Some even list how strong or weak their signals are in specific areas. Check out these links to get a better understanding of where you’ll have the best signal quality before heading out on a long journey.
What to Do Without 3G in Naran?
During your stay in Naran and beyond, it’s the best time to get back in touch with nature. Go for an adventurous drive towards Saif Ul Malook, which is only accessible by Jeeps and 4x4s. Visit the 13,000+ feet Babusar Top.
Take a whole lot of memorable pictures and upload them on social media once you get back to the cities. 3G and 4G services start working fine in Mansehra, but before that, all you can do is look down at your smartphone and think about how worthless this device really is. Well, it really isn’t your fault and hopefully Zong, Mobilink and all these other telecoms will finally get some 3G and 4G internet running in Naran.
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How has your experience been visiting Naran? Were you able to go a couple of days without 3G and 4G or did you end up losing your mind? Let us know in the comments section below or on the official TechBizWeb Facebook page!