Lake Saif ul malook as most of you know, is around a two hour drive from Naran city. I was in Naran this may, that is 2019. At this time of the year the road to the lake is covered in snow, not even 4×4’s can go. Usually the route open’s around 1st june.
I asked around and was told that half of the way is clear, a jeep driver was willing to take me half the way. BUT somehow my inner dragon made up my mind to walk all the way. It is an estimated walk of 4 to 5 hours. I thought it was no big deal. People trek to the lake often, it’s not never done or something, but usually people prefer jeep rather than foot.
The crazy part was that it was Ramadan and i was fasting, for those of you who don’t know it means that i wasn’t allowed to eat or drink till dawn, by then i would’ve returned back. Another crazy part was that I was alone as you’ve probably read in the title, one thing is clear though, of all the difficulties i’ve had in kaghan valley as a solo traveler, safety isn’t one of them. That is the reason why I didn’t hesitate on going alone to the lake. I did hesitate at a point when i was halfway i met a local who told me to not go alone because their were lions and snow leopards along the way, but I couldn’t back down now.
The First 3 to 4 kilometers is a paved road known as jheel road, It is a bit steep, It gets a lit exhausting at some points but the fast flowing river along side makes up for it. The sound of water crashing into rocks was accompanying me, I was not alone. Just like that jheel road came to an end, You know how they say the start is difficult then it’s alright, I found that completely untrue, the start was a piece of cake, The trek was just beginning.
I came to a point where I could go right or left, to the right jheel road continued, to the left was a shorter trek, looked like a short cut, so i took it and about 2 km later i had a feeling that this is the wrong way, a small village was there that made me think that this was the path to the village, it was around 5 am so nobody was there, I didn’t want to wake anyone up, I went back to jheel road, there I met a local who told me that the way i was on was indeed a shortcut and insisted me to go back. From there on it was around 10 km to the lake.
I think an average fit man could do the Trek as i was one and i did it, You must be prepared to walk 13 km, in summers you can find a jeep back but if in winters make it 26 km. The trek is steep after the village and i had to take brakes and rest after every hour for at least 10 mins. It wasn’t dangerous but you could slip and break an ankle or something if you don’t have solid shoes.
I forgot to mention earlier about this, this was another moment when i thought of going back, there was a huge glacier in the way about half a kilometer long. I could see the foot marks but I had very little experience for glaciers and my shoes weren’t good. The point is if you are going in winters, prepare yourself for a snow covered trek. It’s also better to have some friend with you in case you slip, no it’s not if you slip you’ll go straight down and he can’t do anything, anyway i crossed it slowly, it looked harder then it was.
I started at 4.30 am and reached around 10.30 am , it took me around six hours, but it’s a 5 hour trek my extra hour was me going 2 km and back 2 km and then going again. More experienced people can easily make it in 4 hours, i could’ve done it in 4 if i had water, remember? I was fasting.
The return is faster and easier as usual took me 4 hours (still no water).
The moment you see the lake you know your trek was worth it. In winters snow covered and in summers lush green, this is called the most beautiful lake of Pakistan. The lake has a reflection of the surrounding mountains and that is an extra plus.
The lake is usually crowded with tourists but when i reached there was like literally not a single sole there. In Ramadan the lake is totally closed and the tourist season start after Eid, so this time is the most peaceful time at the lake,
The trek doesn’t end here 4 hours from here you reach at ansoo lake, a tear shaped lake, yes actually a lake shaped like a tear or a water droplet. I don’t have a photo of it because the trek was inaccessible because of snow in may too, it melts in july or something. you can search the web for pictures. There is also the highest mountain of the region malika parbat along the way.
Any way the lake and the silence and the air, made my day, eventually a couple of dude also came when i was lying beside the lake. A local came form some where and told me a story about how the lake came into being, an ancient fairy tale.
The return was easier, i had made a couple of friends to accompany me now, so time flied, we reached in an hour or so, (4 hours, it seemed like an hour though)
26 km that was the longest I’ve ever walked ,let alone it be a hike, and also without food or water, but every bit was absolutely worth it.
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