Pakistan has many splendid lakes, but there is one that stands out form the rest “Saral Lake“. It is a lake which is so magnificent that if someone was to call it the princess of lakes, he will not be far from the truth. This magnificent lake is named as Saral Lake which is situated in the Neelam Valley of Azad Kashmir. The lake has been carved into the heart of a mountain by flowing water so it does not have a specific valley that it is a part of. Rather, the entire area has become a bowl like lake which flows into the river once the melting snow feeds it in the summer months. During the end of the summer the snow has melted completely and the lake does not flow anymore.
The Saral Lake is unique in the respect that it is not fed by any glaciers in the mountains as is usual for other lakes in Pakistan. The water of the lake is quite clean and does have the aquamarine hue which is common for lakes that are fed by melting snow.
Saral Lake’s Geography
Saral Lake is situated in the heart of the mountains near the Gumut National Park. The nearest top is the Noorisar top which is one of the highest points of the entire park. The elevation of the lake itself is 13,600 feet above the sea level. The lake is unique in this respect as well because many other lakes that exist in low lying valleys have a vast height difference from the mountains that form the valley around the lake. But, as the Saral lake has been carved out of the mountain by constantly flowing melted ice, it is not that much lower than the tops that surround it. The lake itself covers much of the area at the base of the mountain and the rest of the area is covered by lush green vegetation during the times of summer and deep snow in the time of winter.
Best Time To Visit Saral Lake
The best time to visit Saral Lake is during the last days of June, the entire month of July and the first week of August. This is the time when the snow will have melted creating the lake and the water will be flowing. If the party is taken to the lake before the start of June, the lake will not be accessible due to the high amount of snow on the peaks, and even if somehow a person accesses the lake, there will be no water to see.
The opposite is true for any trips that take up hiking to the lake after the month of august. When the summer has melted all the snow, the lake does not flow anymore and the water stagnates and then eventually dries up a lot. Therefore, hiking should not be done after the month of August.
Saral Lake Trekking Guide
The trip to the lake can take up to five days so the party should be well-prepared and well-motivated. The hiking is usually done uphill and on very high altitudes, therefore, it is important that the hikers take into consideration that they will not be able to traverse long distances as possible on many other lakes.
The trip will usually take four days and will require communication with a jeep driver.
On the first day the travelling party will reach Sharda from Narran. The road will be metaled but the route is mountainous so if the party starts its journey at around 9-10 AM they will not be able to reach the town of Sharda before 2-3 PM. This route is usually covered via hired jeeps but if a person is driving his own car this he should have enough experience to deal with the tricky routes. The roads are in good condition as Pak-Army uses them for its equipment transfer. But they’re quite winding and can be dangerous. After reaching Sharda, the party will rest and spend the rest of the day there.
The second day starts with the trek to Noorisar top. This trek is along the jeep track. Some hikers may wish to take the road via jeep so it is the choice of the group. If they want to get to the top quickly they can use the jeep but if they want to hike the jeep track is there to be used.
When the Hikers reach Noorisar top, they rest and spend the night near the top in their camps. It is recommended that the camping is not done on the top as there will be very high winds that may disrupt the camps. During the third day the hikers will have to traverse the so called “naala” trail which takes them up into the mountains surrounding the Saral Lake and then down onto the lake. It is recommended that a full day should be allocated for this hike as it can be very demanding and very steep, both on the uphill and the downhill.
On the third day the hikers reach and camp at the Lake and on the fourth they head back to the Noorisar top where the jeep they have previously asked to take them back should have arrived. However, some campers and hikers want to take full advantage of the hike and these hikers trek back to Sharda instead of going back by jeep. Then it is the same drive back to Narran.
Saral Lake Trekking Equipments and Kit
The equipment needed for this tour is the same as with all special hiking trips. All hikers will need special hiking rucksacks and night equipment like mattresses and sleeping bags as well as all-weather camps and fly sheets. The tents/camps will require metal pegs so that they can be firmly attached to the ground as the wind in the area will be quite strong. As far as victuals are concerned, the hikers will have to take prepared food items and a stove to heat them. Personal equipment will include warm clothes, waterproof and windproof upper jackets, very good and sturdy boots, gloves and sun scream along with hats or caps. Emergency equipment should include ropes, flashlights, whistles and a first aid kit with the medicines that treat height sickness and nausea.
Precautions And Survival Tips
There are some precautions that should be taken on a trip like this
- Make sure that the trip is pre-planned in detail.
- Make sure all the equipment is sound and ready.
- Travel together and never travel too much in one day.
- Never fight with the locals or engage in any other illegal activity while on the trip.
- Never drive a jeep or any other vehicle unless you have experience of driving it in the mountains.
Saral Lake Nature Reserves
Saral Lake is in the Gumut National park so it has a lot of flora and fauna. The typical animals are the marmots and the horses that graze on the plain areas near the lake. Other animals include the snowcock that may come on the lake in the first part of summer and some migratory birds may also visit the lake.
Vegetation grows near and around the lake supported by the melting snow and ice. It includes wildflowers and other shrubs that are local to the area.