This National Geographic photographer visits Pakistan every year for the love of nature

Paley - National Geographic


4 minutes read

Innumerable areas of Pakistan are the perfect embodiment of nature’s magic, leaving people in awe as they get stunned by the rustic plains or prodigious mountains. This alluring beauty compels them to visit Pakistan again and again, amongst these one of the many admirers is Mathieu Paley.

A professional photographer working with National Geographic, Paley is completely spell bound with the rawness of the Northern areas of Pakistan. He shared details of his latest visit to Gojal village near Passu, Pakistan.

Over years he has visited many areas of Pakistan but Gojal village personally intrigues him and that is the reason which pulls him back to place every time since 1999.

Accompanied by friends and his two sons, Paley says everyone around him first thought it was a joke. Many got scared as well on the mention of Pakistan, his friends were on the verge of cancelling their trip but at the end it all came out to be like a pleasant surprise.

I mean, if you ask someone back home to imagine life in a remote mountain region in Pakistan, do you think they will picture this? This place is really doing something to me; it’s making my soul grow. Says Emmanuelle, a friend accompanying Mathieu Paley

Mr. Paley has rediscovered the area in a new way and has documented many stories of the area. One of his stories is about Sajid Alvi, a local of Gojal village, who received a grant for studying in Sweden. He will be pursing his PhD in Sweden, working on developing new aerospace materials.

It is quite unexpected to see a person from an isolated place like Gojal to come up with such ideas, nonetheless, Paley’s stories have revealed the potential of the areas. Through his stories, the citizens of Gojal are getting recognition which otherwise would have been a dream.

The fascinating thing is that despite developments and changes, Gojal village has stayed true to its core and roots. It still follows the same values and keeps its traditions alive allowing it to craft its own niche.

Paley has featured many positive stories about the areas, enabling myths to be broken. It is often presumed that people of Northern areas do not allow girls to study but Paley through his stories negated the perception.

He photographed girls playing cricket during school break and included responses of local who stress on the importance of education. One of the locals named Alvi reaffirms the fact and said,

We have a famous saying: If you have two children, a boy and a girl, but you can afford to educate only one, you must give the education to the girl.

An Ismaili dominated area, Gojal was initially a very remote place, cut off from the hustle and bustle of the world. Few recognized it but due to Paley’s unconventional stories, it is now getting international recognition.

Paley reminisces his journey in Pakistan as a beautiful experience, his words perfectly explain how travelling can actually teach you the real meaning of life.

Travelling in places that we only know little about—or hold wrong ideas about—puts life into perspective. I hope the grace of this place will touch many more people. says Paley.