What kind of leopard is found in Margalla hills?
It could be either the Indian leopard or the Snow leopard variety.
It all started one Sunday morning when everyone else in the country was sleeping off the Ramadan blues.
My friends were more interested in multiplying their “sawab” (divine rewards) by sleeping all day – but I am not that guy.
Hiking Equipment for Trail 2 Islamabad
I did not even bring my gloves because I had done lot more lengthy hikes, like trail 1, and managed without it.
There was no need for bringing water because it was Ramadan.
The thought of encountering a leopard never crossed my mind.
The dagger that I carry with me is just out of habit.
I would recommend taking 2 liters of water, gloves, hiking boots, a full sleeve shirt, and head gear to protect from the heat.
How long is trail 2?
Trail 2 Islamabad is supposedly the simplest and shortest of all numbered trails 1 through 6.
I thought I would be done with Trail 2 in two hours as this was the last of the Margalla trails that I had to attempt.
Other trails are-
- Leopard of Shumber Waterfall Shahdara
- Trail 1 Islamabad
- Trail 3 & 5 Islamabad
- Trail 4 Islamabad
- Trail 6 Islamabad
- Margalla Ridge Hike
- Makhnial Hike
- Neela Bhotu Hike
- Bara Kahu Hike – Neela Bhotu to Bara Kahu is the longest hike of all.
- Ban Faqiran Stupa Hike
- Hazir Pir Hike, Margalla Pass
- Bruti waterfall Trail
- Lohe Dhandi hike
- Angoori Bicycle Ride
The starting point of Trail 2 Islamabad
I took off toward Islamabad Zoo on Pir Sohawa road, with my trusted knife, my watch, and hiking boots.
I parked my car near the Islamabad zoo turning, and monkey-feeding point.
A signboard says “trail 2 Islamabad” starring point, on the Pir Sohawa Highway, so it is difficult to miss.
The end point of Trail 2 Islamabad
Cactus Point across the road from Damne Koh parking (1.5 km).
Routes of Trail 2
Google Maps shows two routes of trail 2 Islamabad
Route Number 1 Trail 2 Islamabad
The first route is simpler from Islamabad Zoo to Dame Koh Parking or Cactus viewpoint across Pir Sohawa Road.
It starts at the first concrete cement marker, from where you must turn left and go straight to Damn-e-Koh Parking.
Air Blue 202 Crash Memorial Site also comes in between.
Plenty of food available at Damne koh parking.
Route Number 2 Trail 2
The second trail 2 route starts at another cement marker 500 m ahead of the first one.
It ends up on Pir Sohawa Road high above Damne Koh.
This is not a frequently used track and now I know why.
No food or water on this trail.
Who all can go on Trial 2 Islamabad
Families and kids can easily go on Trial-2 route-1 to Damne Koh, but not people above 60.
Only young people can go on Trial 2, route 2 to Pir Sohawa.
Why I went to Trail 2
The adventurer in me dared me to take the tougher route, in Ramadan, without water, company, and proper hiking equipment – and I said hallelujah to that.
Hike on Trail 2 route 2
The first half-hour was thick bushes with thorns 1 inch and bigger.
One thorn went straight up my hiking boot and into my foot.
After scrapping my forearms and hand on the bushes, I came across a dried upstream and the bushes cleared out a bit.
I started climbing the steam and realized the marked trail was nowhere to be seen.
Google Maps was of great help here, as I was going in the right direction toward Pir Sohawa road.
I passed below Damn e Koh cliff, still on the dried stream trail.
The dangers of adventure hiking
Then, the plot got murkier.
The mountain passage that I was going into kept getting tighter and denser.
All the old track had now been covered with dense bush and vines made my progress slower.
I had to break through a few branches to move ahead.
Then, suddenly I came across a large boulder with signs that someone had been resting under it.
I thought nothing of it as these woods have many illegal woodcutters who stay in the woods for many days at a time.
I kept bulldozing my way ahead.
My experience of the woods has taught me to move quietly across the jungle, to avoid startling the animals.
PRO TIP 1
Predators in the jungle hear noisy intruders and think it is easy prey trying to free itself from the thick brush.
However, I was doing the opposite.
I kept forging ahead and ended up at a dead-end, right at the mouth of the valley
I was standing in front of a 30 rock face that doubles up as a waterfall in the rainy season.
There was nowhere else to go, except the climb the rock face.
As I was not prepared to climb rocks and had exhausted my limited energy supply, I decided to go round this valley.
For that, I had to back a few hundred meters, climb on the mountain toward my right and come back across.
My encounter with the Margalla leopard on Trail 2 Islamabad
Luckily there I picked up a lesser-used trail that was headed in the exact same direction.
Little did I know the trail that I had picked up was that of leopard’s itself.
I was walking right into a leopard’s den.
Lo and behold after climbing about 200 feet, I leveled out another cliff face.
Dead in front of me were freshly eaten wild boar with its eyed gauged out and fur still fresh and shiny.
At that exact moment, it hit me hard that I was trapped in leopards feeding ground.
The valley that I walked into was the leopard’s hunting ground.
This leopard was probably watching me walk into his lair right from the beginning.
Instead of panicking, I start walking briskly toward another trial that went eastwards.
The leopard’s Cave
Unlucky for me, this track took me right to the mouth of the leopard’s cave, below a huge boulder.
My body sensed the danger and hurriedly started climbing up the shoulder of the cave by hanging on to a branch.
The branch gave way and I came hurtling down right in front of the cave again.
It is at that moment I heard the growl and hissing sound from some animal that was close to me.
Without trying to decipher the natural camouflage of these predators, I backed off slowly down the mountain.
I award the game, set and match to Mister Leopard, and then bolted down on a 60-degree ledge.
This is the first time I had my dagger drawn at full mast with the intention to kill.
Every crack of branches or rustle of leaves would have me looking over my shoulder to check for a leopard attack.
I covered up my face with my forearms and went straight into the thick of the forest.
When I finally did reach the main track outside the jungle, I was still jumpy.
My Battle Damage
When I reached home and inspected myself I saw several major bruises on my knees, my feet, and arms.
My hands and forearms were full of thorns and my face was scratched.
Well, at least my limb is intact.
I could very much have been leopard iftari, that day.
However, nothing was bruised as my confidence and ego.
PRO TIP 2
We should not challenge the art of the perfect predator of nature.
Will someone put up a signboard at the Trail 2 Islamabad Route 2 toward Pir Sohawa warning people of the leopard’s lair?
For the next few hikes, I will limit myself to baby trails and drive to Pir Sohawa.
This is the first time I was spooked.
Although the leopard is close to the human population, I still feel we are in its territory, not the other way around.
Keep the population away from the wildlife of Margalla hills.