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Every tourist’s journey to Naltar begins by leaving behind the Karakoram Highway at Gilgit for an adventurous two-hour jeep ride. The fact that cars can’t be driven from Gilgit to Naltar is testament to the bumpy and somewhat arduous track. However, for those with the slightest clue of what beauty lies in the valley, the journey is simply part of the experience and is most certainly worth taking.
Reaching Naltar Bala, the center of the valley, one is absolutely spell-bound by the beauty of the area. What makes Naltar particularly unique is also that its forest cover is vaster than other areas of the country. The entire landscape is truly delightful to the eyes.
In the evening as the sunlight gradually disappears, the few residents of the valley return to their homes after working the fields during the day. Stars begin to emerge, which combined with the silence of the night, make for an exquisitely serene atmosphere. Further into the night, aided by the lack of light pollution, the Milky Way emerges from behind the mountains. The view leaves you absolutely speechless.
During the winters, Naltar offers a wonderful experience of skiing on its famous slopes that attract tourists by the droves. The ski resort is run by the Pakistan Air Force, along with the recently installed ski lifts that take skiers to the top of the slope.
Naltar is home to three magnificent lakes known collectively as the Bashkiri Lakes. Located at a distance of 13km from Naltar Bala, it takes about an hour of travelling on unpaved roads to reach them. All along the route, which is a dirt track, glacial streams can be seen flowing across the verdant valley floor. Due to the ample vegetation, these are ideal grazing grounds, attracting Gujjar nomads who travel here with their cattle.
At two points in particular, the river and a large glacial stream cut across the track and as a result, the local jeep drivers are required to utilise their experience and skills in order to navigate them. During the winters however, these lakes remain inaccessible as the route is blocked by up to 15 feet of snow.
As the jeep made its way to the first lake on our way, I tried to picture the lakes I had seen in photographs before. But nothing prepared me for my first sight of Satrangi Lake. I was left awestruck.
After all, it was hard to believe that a lake could reflect as many colours as this one from having seen just a couple of pictures. True to its name which means seven coloured, the most prominent colours were blue, green and surprisingly, yellow, a colour I had never seen before in a lake. The calm, peaceful water lay still as the underwater plants particularly algae provided more colour from under the pristine water surface.
After spending a good 20 minutes just relaxing and admiring this marvel of nature, we moved on to the second lake, a 10-minute drive away.
The Pari Lake was completely different, however. Significantly larger than the Satrangi lake, this gorgeous alpine lake contained deep blue water sourced from natural springs and glacial melts.
Visiting Naltar is an exquisite experience to say the least. The beauty of the region must be experienced in person to fully appreciate it. The only obstacle remains the tough road but that’s tolerable considering the invaluable experience that awaits. Over the years, the place has developed to a certain extent, having a couple of hotels to accommodate tourists as compared to none in the recent past, providing an ideal opportunity to visit this region. Pakistan Zindabad!
Islamabad International Airport
Day 01 RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: ✈ Arrival at Islamabad International airport and transferred to comfortable centrally located hotel. Reminder of the day is free for you to relax and recovered from long flight to Pakistan. In the after noon, for those who desire there will be a tour of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and bustling bazaar of Rawalpindi. In the evening we have a welcome dinner where you will have the opportunity to meet your guide and other member of group. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 02: ISLAMABAD – BESHAM: (Drive & Hotel). Morning after break fast leave for Besham. En route we will stop for photography, toilet break and lunch at Chatar. O/N stay in hotel.
Day 03: BESHAM – GILGIT: (Drive & Hotel). After Break fast drive 9-10 hrs to Gilgit, en route stop at “Junction Point of World great Mountain Ranges” Himalaya, Karakorum & Hindukush and view point of Killer mountain “Nanga Parbat”. O/N Stay in hotel.
Day 04: GILGIT – NALTAR: sightseeing and shopping in the morning. In the afternoon leave for Naltar, 2 hrs jeep drive along the Hunza river up to its confluence with Naltar River at Nomal village. From here to Naltar, this is forested hill station known for its wildlife and magnificent mountain scenery. The Rakaposhi chain is visible from the campsite. O/N stay in camp/hotel.
Day 05: NALTAR – NALTAR LAKE: The first trekking day. An easy and enjoyable walk along the Naltar River. The pine trees provide shade to trekkers and shelter if it rains. The 4 hrs walk will take us to Naltar Lake, which will be our campsite. The lake is full of trout fish. O/N stay in camp.
Day 06: NALTAR LAKE – LOWER SHANI: A tiring day but no difficult. Today we will start our ascent gradually towards to the Naltar Pass. After 6-8 hrs walk we will reach the campsite, Lower Shani. The Naltar glacier lies just below our scenic campsite and the majestic Hindukush peaks dominate the horizon. O/N stay in camp.
Day 07: LOWER SHANI – UPPER SHANI: Just 2 hrs walk to the Upper Shani situated at the outskirt of Naltar Lake. The Naltar peak lies just beyond the camp itself. One can see the Ibex grazing on the beautiful slopes of Upper Shani. O/N stay in camp.
Day 08: UPPER SHANI – JUT/UTZ: The most tiring day of the trek. This trail is a bit difficult in some parts. The climb from the campsite is going to be over 3000 ft. to the Naltar Pass (15500-ft) through some rocky terrain and glacier, down to Kori Bort. The view from the pass is magnificent. Rakaposhi, Dobani and Nanga Parbat peaks are visible.
Day 09: JUT/UTZ – PAKORE – GILGIT: This easy down hill trek take us to the village Pakore in the Ishkoman Valley, where jeep will meet to take us Gilgit. We will reach in the evening 3 hrs drive by jeep/van through the fruit rich valley of Ishkoman and Punial. O/N in camp.
Day 10- 12: ✈ return journey via same route to Islamabad. In the evening transfer to airport for onward journey to sweet home. End of services.
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