The real downfall for tourism in Swat Valley came with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s. By 2008, the Taliban had reached the height of its control over the valley, destroying schools and torturing those its members accused of acts such as adultery and homosexuality. When the Pakistani military finally launched an offensive in 2009 to root out the Taliban, over 1.5 million people were displaced from their homes by the fighting, creating what the U.N. called possibly the worst refugee crisis since Rwanda. The military has since achieved a degree of stability in the region, but there is still violence and attacks on schools. Swat may look like Switzerland, but it's a lot less peaceful.
Above a child watches as passengers traverse a river by cable car on Oct. 9, 2007 near Mingora in the Swat Valley.John Moore/Getty Images