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Islamabad to Ratti Gali Lake Kashmir

Ratti Gali Lake

The Plan

It all started with a plan(unlike most other things). The plan was to go somewhere scenic, be close to nature, break the office rut, do some short trek, enjoy the weather, the landscape and come back safe and sound. Too many wants I know but Alhumdolillah it went as planned(unlike most other things).

There were alternate options including Dudipatsar Lake and Aanso Lake. We decided to go ahead with Ratti Gali Lake. We had 3 days to spare and wanted to make every hour count. And boy we are so glad we chose Ratti Gali.

Ratti Gali in Azad Kashmir is approximately 16 hours away from Islamabad. Which depends on the road conditions, the time of the day and year you travel.

Trip Itinerary

Islamabad to Muzaffarabad:  3-4 hour journey
Muzaffarabad to Doarian: ~6 hour journey depending on traffic and road conditions
Doarian to Lake base camp: 2.5 hour jeep drive
Base camp to Lake: 1 hour easy trek

Islamabad to Muzaffarabad:

8th September Friday Morning, 3:00AM 

We got picked up from our office in blue area Islamabad in a coaster. Since none of us wanted to make arrangements for the trip we decided to go with a touring company called Traverse Pakistan. It was a very good idea because travelling in north can be tricky on your own. These guys managed it well.

Travelling late in night is fun. You get some sleep and the driver makes use of the empty roads. We were in Muzaffarabad in 3 hours which has to be some sort of record. There are a lot of army check points once you cross the Kohala bridge so remember to keep your ID cards with you. You can get in trouble if you don't have a valid ID.
Islamabad to ratti gali map
After crossing Muzaffarabad the road gets battered and rough patches start to come frequently. The road is narrow and twisty and demands careful driving. Our driver wasn't (un)fortunately not in a mood for care or misinterpreted the 'slow' sign for 'challenge accepted?' sign.

The landscape starts to get pretty, if you get lucky and the weather turns cloudy you are in for a treat. Mountains surrounded by clouds and lush green valleys make a real eye candy. Somewhere before Athmuqam you loose cellular coverage. Which brings a great feeling of freedom mixed with anxiety. I would definitely recommend to experience this once in a while.


Stopover at Keran for Lunch 11:30 PM

Keran has a few hotels where you can get reasonable food. We stopped over, ordered biryani which was way too spicy. Made phone calls from a PCO using a calling card(hell yeah). That is the last spot where you can communicate with the world. We moved on towards Doarian on coaster.

Doarian to Ratti Gali Base camp:

At Doarian you change your ride and take a jeep. The main road forks here and you start the jeep trek while the main road goes towards Kel, Sharda and Toabat. If you are lucky and late in the season this trek goes all the way to the base camp. If you are early in the season like April/May, the jeep will only go till deep snow starts to make it impossible to go further. We were lucky there was no snow and landslides.

The track is beautiful, there is a stream of clear blue water which goes along the track. It's bumpy and there are some narrow and twisty bends which make your heart skip a beat or two but that's the part of adventure. We got to the base camp in 2.30 hours.

On the way to Ratti Gali Lake

After getting to the camp site we started setting up camp. It was 5 in the evening and it was getting dark and cold fast. After the sun sat down we got a chance to see the amazing night sky.
Bon fires and the night sky

9th September Saturday Morning, Trek to the Lake:

We got ready for trekking around 8:00 AM next morning. It was a sunny day yet the air was chilly. We had a whole day to spend at the lake so we took some supplies. There are no shops or dhabas where you can eat at the lake. The trek is hmm how do I put it, beautiful. The mountains are covered by flowers which give them a shade of red which looks unreal. The greenery and the vastness of the place is worth all the travel.
A small pond on the way to the lake

The Lake

After an hour's trekking from the base camp we got to the lake. The trek ends after an ascend and just as you climb the last ridge you get to see the lake. Seeing the lake is an experience. It's like opening up a wrapped up gift and finding something you always wanted. It's a great feeling of accomplishment and its well worth it. The lake is textbook beauty. Its something you always expected to be like this and yet you find it fulfilling. Green blue water surrounded by vibrant mountains on one side and lush green grass on the other. There is a therapeutic calmness in the whole scene. 
At the end of the trek you get to see this beautiful lake

Ratti Gali Lake

Ratti Gali Lake

Ratti Gali lake with its baby pond on its further far right is the camping area where you start the trek.

We spent the whole day at the lake and headed back to the camp sites. Camped for the night and next morning we headed back. Left the camp site in a jeep around 8:00 AM. Got back to Islamabad around 10PM. Concluding the trip.


Shanza Khan said…
Reading it kind of made me experience it. Beautifully narrated.