trail 2 islamabad

Encounter with Leopard on Trail 2 Margalla, Islamabad

Leopard Cave and the two Trail 2 routes

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-

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.

This is the easier trail 2 route

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.

Beware! Leopard territory toward left

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.


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.


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.

Also, see


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.

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  1. flyfisher66 says:

    I like your conclusion that it is “us” who have intruded the habitat of leopards and other wild animals and therefore, we need to give them space and respect their habitat.
    Leopards do not normally attack humans unless they are injured and incapable of hunting their normal prey which is certainly far more agile than humans OR they are cornered in a way like you bump right in their living area (which is usually very difficult for humans as it is always a very difficult to reach and isolated location) or you threaten their cubs etc. Usually, leopards do not attack humans.
    I have tracked a lot with my sons and dogs in Margalla hills but unfortunately, never came across a leopard though my dogs would always locate a pheasant most of the time. But I always carry a stick (other than a knife) with me. A stick is more useful in most conditions. I always thought that if ever we come across a leopard, it would actually be a danger to my dogs….. not to me.
    It was a good writeup to read. Thanks

    1. Thank you for reading my post. You will find a leopard on the track parallel to track 2.

  2. Interesting! I grown up in northern Pakistan where we have extreme adventure experiences in our daily lives. walking, hiking, long full days trekking and climbing without food, proper kit and first aid kit is very common. So, when i am coming to Islamabad for work purposes, sometimes i am thinking that my body needs torture, so my direction is always remains towards Margala hills. I have done most of the trails at Margala hills and had same experience like your but without leopard danger on a trail right after trail2 which is you talking about and I am the first winner in a competition during my university life here in Islamabad. I have done it almost the same trail just in 54 minutes 36 second .
    Anyhow, i moved to Canada in 2014 with my family and enjoy my adventure life there in Banff Rocky mountains, love the trails and other activities of my interest there. But I have small tourism business (Active Tours Pakistan) in Pakistan and i have to spend minimum of 5 month in a year to lead the business.

    Anyhow, I always love to read stories of people especially to adventure/challenges. Therefore I must say you had great experience and well explained. Stay safe, stay tuned and enjoy the nature as there are many amazing things to do.

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