Beautiful Pakistan

An isolated haven of sheer beauty,
Naltar lies tucked away from the
hustle bustle of Gilgit-Baltistan’s
town and cities. Nestled among
snow-topped peaks and towering
forests, the valley is home to what
are referred to as the tastiest
potatoes in the world.
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.

Naltar’s valley floor is covered by lush
green forests.
Reaching NaltarBala, 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
The ski slope during the summers
Naltar is home to three magnificent
lakes known collectively as the Bashkiri

Lakes. Located at a distance of 13km
from NaltarBala, it takes about an hour
of travelling on unmetalled 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.
The cattle of nomad families have a feast
on the green riversides
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

September 2019 33

Satrangi Lake. I was left awestruck.
Satrangi Lake in all its multi-hued glory
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.
Pari Lake is fed by natural springs and glacial melts
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.
Boating on a locally-engineered float, I was informed
by the navigator that the water enters the lake from
underground and as such there is no stream or river
above the lake which feeds water into it. It was
interesting to see that a camp site was established with
numerous colourful tents lined up along the shores of
the lake.
Pari Lake
While the two of these lakes were accessible via a jeep,
the third one was not. We were told that we would
need to trek for about 45 minutes to reach the third
one. Determined to reach it, having heard the locals
recommend it over the other two lakes, we soldiered
on.Beyond the Pari Lake, we started our trek along
the mountain, walking over massive rocks. After 10
minutes of negotiating these rocks, we reached what
appeared to be a massive maidan (plain area).
Suddenly our surroundings were completely different.
The lush green carpet of summer grass could be seen
stretching far and wide with a river flowing in between
and streams coming down from the mountain slopes
on either side.
A snow-capped peak
Here, the snow-capped peaks were far more evident. As
we passed by a nomad family residing in tents along the
river, the guide told us that if we keep on going in the
direction we were, we would head towards Chitral. But
of course that was not our intention, some other time
Climbing gradually again, higher up from the maidan
down to our right, we arrived at the most beautiful lake
I had ever seen!

Firoza Lake
Spending another 15 minutes, we
sat at a point above the Firoza Lake,
obtaining a magnificent panoramic
view consisting of the lake, maidan,
the river and the cerulean sky with
giant, fluffy clouds.
The lake on the left, with the river
flowing to its right
Trekking back down the same route,
I managed to spot multiple goats
grazing near the river. These were
owned by the nomads who were living
Along the river
On the decline back to the second
lake, I managed to capture another
wonderful view of its blue waters.

Another view of Pari Lake
Tired from our adventure, we stopped
along the Pari Lake for a break
where we had lunch and tea and the
mesmerising sight of the lake. Soon
enough, it was time to say goodbye
to these wonderful lakes as we
proceeded back towards NaltarBala.
Visiting Naltar was 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.

The Milky Way stretched
over Naltar Valley — can
you spot the shooting
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.

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