If you’re looking to explore the beauty of Pakistan, you must not overlook one of the most beautiful lakes of the country, the Ratti Gali Lake. This awe inspiring lake belongs to a special category of lakes which are called alpine glacial lakes. This means that the lake has been formed with the water which flows out of a melting glacier. This also means that the lake is visible only in certain months of the year and may be covered by ice for up to three months each year. The lake itself is one of the most incredible examples of natural beauty in Pakistan with its wide vista of the snow covered mountains and its location at the base of those mountains.
Ratti Gali Lake’s Geography
The lake is located in Neelum Valley which is in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Even though the mountains surrounding the lake go quite high, the altitude of the lake itself is 12,130 feet or 3,700 meters. As the lake is fed by glaciers, it does not have any designated inlets for springs and rivers and the route to the lake is easily accessible in the summer months. The nearest village settlement which serves as a base camp for the tourists who wish to visit the lake is that of Dowarian and it is located only 19 kilometers from the valley. A metaled road has been built for easier access to the valley. Other larger towns are also quite near with Muzaffarabad only 120 kilometers away and the smaller town of Athmuqam located only 35 kilometers from the lake.
Best Time To Visit Ratti Gali Lake
The Ratti Gali Lake is a seasonal lake, which means that the hiking trails which lead to the lake will only become accessible once the snow has melted from them. Even though it is not required that traveling should be done only when all of the snow has melted, but it is advisable to choose a date when, at least, the walking trails are with only a small amount of snow.
This allows the tourists and hikers to move easily across the valley without any special equipment. To have the best experience, May through August can be the best time to visit this heavenly paradise.
Ratti Gali Trekking Guidance
In order to trek to Ratti Gali Lake all trekkers must have special carrying and survival equipment. Basic equipment needed for the journey includes rucksacks, sleeping bags, and ropes, cooking equipment, food packs with pre-cooked meals and day packs. Personal equipment includes good footwear, warm clothing, water proof jackets or windbreakers and trekking sticks. The team should also carry a supply of first aid and water treatment pills.
Actual trekking to Ratti Gali Lake and the return journey are made in 6 simple steps. It is up to the hiking team to decide how long each step should take.
- Road Journey from Narran to Jalkhand
This is usually done via public transport, but jeeps and vans are also available for personal hire at the spot. This journey should be undertaken during the first part of the morning.
- Road Journey From Jalkhand Town To Noori Top
This journey should be undertaken only by private jeep. Self-driving should be avoided as only the local skilled drivers are able to traverse the steep and winding paths.
- Journey By Foot From Noori Top To The Noori Lake
This is a nominal trek, which can take up to 3 hours. It is advisable that this trek is also undertaken during the early hours of the morning as this is the first trek during the entire trip.
- Long Distance Trek From Noori Lake To The Hans Raj Lake
This is the main trekking journey which can take anywhere from 7 to 9 hours depending on the conditions and the physical capability of the trekking group. This should be undertaken on a separate day and must never be compounded with other treks.
- Trek From The Hans Raj Lake To The Ratti Gali Lake
This trek is quite steep but it usually takes only 3-4 hours. As most of the distance is covered while in the valley, the scenes are very beautiful.
- Trek From Ratti Gali Lake To The Village Of Dowarian
This is a long trek which can take up to 8 hours, but as the trek is towards the village the advantage of speed is with the trekkers and by this time much of the food has been eaten so the trekkers are usually carrying less weight.
When going on trekking journeys such as this there are some things which should be done and some that should be avoided. These Dos and Don’ts are very simple to follow. Here is what you should do in order to ensure a safe and good journey.
- Preplan the journey
- Taking care of the equipment
- Make sure everyone is following the same route
- Take local guides when the path is uncertain
- Always travel over pre-marked treks instead of going into uncharted land
The things that should be avoided are:
- Over exerting the hikers, which may lead to serious physical injury
- Using unmarked trails, which may lead you to get lost in the wilderness
- Using crumbling paths, which may cause small landslides resulting in personal injury
- Breaking the local law and purchasing anything contraband while on trekking journey
Ratti Gali Lake’s Nature Reserves
The route towards Ratti Gali Lake and the lake itself is of unsurpassed natural beauty. The flora and fauna of the area are well known throughout the world. Small animals such as otters are usually visible during the trek, so are large birds such as hawks. Flowering plants cover the valley during the summer season but during the snowed months there is almost no shrubbery to be seen. However, large trees continue to thrive.
Animals of prey like foxes are also common in the area but their number has been drastically reduced during the past few decades due to hunting and loss of habitat.