Hiking & Trekking in Naran Kaghan Valley
You could not have chosen a better place for your trekking/hiking adventure when it comes to the wild organic beauty of the lakes, mountains and passes in this valley, and also the comfort of being relatively closer to the capital considering drive time.
Naran-Kaghan valley is ideal for solo travellers, groups and even families. Hike or take a bone-jarring ride to the mythical lake Saif ul Maluk, a subject of much folklore and Sufi poetry, see non commercialized lakes hidden among mountains as relished jewels and get all your thrill-seeking adventure needs met as well. Naran-Kaghan Valley is also famous for its fish and has several fishing spots that close in the breeding season in the autumn.
Despite the main Naran city getting considerably commercialized, you will mostly be in a signal and wifi free zone here. Make the most of the unplugged life and soulful night skies! You can always visit the Naran Bazar for signals, food and some shopping.
Visiting Lake Saif Ul Maluk
Located 10,578 feet above sea level, Lake Saif ul Maluk is rich in beauty as well as myth and mystery. The locals believe that fairies from the Russian mountains bathed in the waters of this lake before it became a popular tourist destination. An Iranian prince of the time fell in love with a fairy and they eloped together. The lake gets its name from the prince’s name Saif. The lake is a bowl of icy cold water surrounded by lush snow-capped peaks including the famous Malika Parbat. There are several colourful boats here that charge around 2000-2500 for a round trip with the capacity of 6 to 7 people.
Jeep track is available for this landmark, however, trekking is also an option- cutting across the mountain up close and personal with streams and glaciers. The trek takes about 2 to 3 hours depending upon your speed from the foot of the track to the top. Jeeps cost 2000-2500 PKR (6 o 7 persons) for off-roading to the top. There are various small stands for eatable. The best combination is tea and spiced deep-fried potato pakora an alternate to which is boiled egg pakoras. Don’t forget to sample the special kahwa (green tea) sold by a kettle wielding old resident, you cannot miss him!
Ansoo Lake (13, 927 feet)
Serious trekking enthusiasts can also take the trek further to Ansoo Lake (Teardrop Lake) located behind Malika Parbat peak. Named for its teardrop shape, and famed for having been a tear shed by a giant upon hearing that the fairy he loved had eloped with a human prince, thus continues the tale of Lake Saif ul Maluk!
Horses and ponies can be rented for this trek, however, you can also go there for a 6 to 7 hours trek. The way is frozen over in the winter months hence, summer to just before fall is the best time to visit.
Lalazar (10,455 feet)
Lalazar is dubbed the paradise of Naran/Kaghan valley. It’s a flower-laden lush green meadow, located in Mansehra, KPK. It is near the scenic Babusar Pass. The road that leads to Lalazar is 4 kilometres ride of danger and thrill. Make sure you hire a local driver for the job.
Trekkers can also go on foot for 6 to 7 hours of tiring but rewarding views via Hans Gali near Lake Saif ul Maluk.
Jalkand and Babusar Pass
Jalkhand and Babusar Pass are two of the beautiful places in Naran- Kaghan Valley that absolutely must not be missed. Even though they do not involve trekking, they are sights to be experienced! Babusar Pass is closed due to snow during the winter months and often during autumn as well.
Shogran (7749 feet)
Shogran is a favourite stop for the people living in the hotter plains of Pakistan. It is a slope station with many options for comfortable staying for families. It is mostly used as a base for hikers to summit the famous Makra Peak or the majestic Musa ka Musallah Peak.
Trekkers usually go so far as the Siri Lake and the Payee meadows.
Dudipatsar Lake (12,500 feet)
Dudipatsar lake, known to be one of the most scenic lakes of Pakistan, is a haven for lake trekkers. The rather long trek is of moderate difficulty and heavenly views. The first stop is Besal which serves as the base camp for the lake. You have to trek almost 15 km of rolling valleys, myriad streams and sometimes narrow, sometimes rough trek to Mullah Ki Basti. You will cross many streams and many glaciers on your way. Most people camp out in Mullah ki Basti overnight to visit the lake in the morning and then return all the way back. This trek is exclusively above the treeline and can get tricky for asthma patients.
It gets mighty chilly at night, hence insulated camps work best. Porters and horses are also available to carry luggage and people. If you do not carry a camp you can also spend a night at a rest house. There are also small food stands here.
Dudipatsar Lake is a jewel of a water body ensconced by mighty snow-capped peaks. A little east of the lake is the Saral Pass that crosses you over in Kashmir. 2 days of trekking will take you to the beautiful Ratti Gali Lake in Kashmir, named and famed for the beautiful red/pink flowers that give the surrounding hills its particular colour.
Adventure Sports in Northern Pakistan
Many adventure sports can be enjoyed in the beautiful lush mountains and valleys of Naran – Khagan. But for this external adventure planners have to be consulted. You can walk up a rugged cliff with nothing but a rope and trust in yourself as a company, and rappel your way down.
You can zip line across the lush green carpet of grass and river raft along the wild Kunhar River! The best time to experience this valley is between summer and autumn as many of the places are totally closed down in winters due to heavy snow.