This is when I started learning about winter survival, and this was my very first time in extreme cold weather. It was about November, 2014 when some of my good friends made a plan and most of them recommended a weekend trip to SaifUl Mulk Lake in Naaran. Saiful Mulk is located in the Mansehra district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), about eight kilometers north of Naran, in the northern part of Kaghan valley. The lake is easily accessible from the nearby town of Naran during the summer season but access during winter is limited.
Karachi Railway StationWe were travelling by train and started our journey from Karachi passing through interior Sindh and reached to Lahore.
Since the journey was about 17-18 hours long, so we decided to stay one day in Lahore. We went to the Gulberg area in Lahore where we all stayed in a hotel, it was nice and clean hotel. As we have reached to the hotel in afternoon, so we had a chance to explore surroundings of Lahore city. Let me tell you a little about Lahore city which is very famous for historical culture. The most famous places you must visit in Lahore are Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort, Sheesh Mahal, Shalimar Bagh, Wazir Khan Hammam, Gurudwara Dera Sahib and what not. The other day in the evening we started our journey from Lahore towards Naran via Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M-2), which took around 10-11 hours to reach Naran.
So here we were passing by small cities and villages as well and the road condition was really smooth. We continued our journey and got stuck at Abbottbad as usual there were a heavy traffic. Abbottabad is the capital city of Abbottabad District in the Hazara region of eastern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is about 120 kilometres north of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar, at an altitude of 1,260 metres. Kashmir lies to the east. So, our first stop was Mansehra, where we had our breakfast and after that we explored the surroundings of that small tea shop. Mansehra is a city in northern Pakistan.. I along with two friends walked to the small village nearby where we visited the school the teachers were so generous and told us more about the school and the education system there. We clicked few photos with kids and then came back to our vehicles; it seemed everyone was waiting for us to go ahead. Anyways, we drove towards Balakot now and again we stopped to have tea break, as our driver was also tired. Balakot is a town in Mansehra District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The town was destroyed during the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, but was later rebuilt with the assistance of the Government of Pakistan and Saudi Public Assistance for Pakistan Earthquake Victims, a Saudi relief organization. It was a beautiful weather there, surrounding consist of beautiful water fall, flowing river, the sound of nature. Finally, we moved towards our final destination Naran but between we passed by Kaghan valley as well. Kaghan Valley is an alpine valley in Mansehra District of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, attracting tourists from throughout Pakistan. The valley extends 155 kilometres across northern Pakistan, rising from an elevation of 2,134 feet to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 13,690 feet. As we reached hotel in the evening the main attraction WAS the fresh air and the beautiful scenery, who wouldn’t want to see that. This view is something worth seeing in both seasons.
If you walk down the road, there are small shops where one can get basic groceries. The air was chilly and froze us to the bone. If you keep moving and walk around a bit and have some tea or coffee, you will be just fine; we had biryani in dinner and we were so tired that we went to sleep. Due to the fewer tourists in this season, most hotels and motels were closed. However, the tour organizers got us accommodation in a modest hotel. The rooms were spacious, and even though there was no central heating, there was no hot water available in the morning which was so painful for us! 😀 My friends’Huma, Sumaira, and Faiqa we stayed in the same room and that night my friends hardly slept for few hours as it was too cold, but I slept really well.
As we woke up we all got ready and our jeeps were also outside waiting for us to go towards SaifulMulk Lake. The three people in the group wanted to trek towards the lake, but halfway they got into the jeep as there was so much snow. During the summers, the lake can be accessed by road (as per the map below) as SaifulMulk lies between valleys of mountains.
This is when we reached to the lake; it was a perfect sunny weather, and the frozen lake beautifully reflecting Surround Mountains.As there was little deep snow in the surrounding of the lake, my friend Zeeshan accompanied me to go further and explore the lake from the other side it took us hardly an hour to come back from the other side of the lake. We came back to the camping area and had French fries and later in the dinner we had bar b q in this cold.
After having our meal we did bonfire and sang songs together, and then we went to the sleep it was a tough night for all of us as our sleeping bag which we rent out wasn’t very warm and from this experience I always tell people to have your own good sleeping bag for the camping. The other day we all had our breakfast at Saiful Mulk Lake and left for home, the view of the lake is something worth seeing in both seasons. One should visit in late April-early May to see this winter wonderland and once again during the summers to see the greenery that surrounds the lake.
All in all, it was a great trip and people should see this place both in the summers as well as the winters. Below is a handy list of basic necessities you will need in case you plan on taking the trip during winters.
- Down Jacket
- Trekking shoes (waterproof)
- Good sleeping bag
- Necessary warm clothing
- Gaiters (If you’re trekking from Naran to the Lake SaifulMulk)
- Trekking poles
- Sun glasses
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