The Chitta Katha Lake, located in the Shounter Valley of Azad Kashmir, is a stunning destination at an altitude of 13,500 feet (4,115 meters) above sea level. Chitta Katha Lake – Neelum Valley is a lake, named after the white stream that flows from Mount Harri Parbat, and offers a captivating and supernatural charm to mesmerize tourists. However, reaching the lake requires embarking on a rough yet beautiful trek.
The trek to Chitta Katha Lake is considered challenging due to the rough terrain and the duration of the hike. It involves a combination of a jeep track and a hiking trail. The jeep track from Kel to Domail Bala spans 20 kilometers (12 miles) and is a rough shingle road. The subsequent hiking trek is around 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) long, passing through lush green patches. Above all the trek requires endurance, physical fitness, and stamina.
The distance covered during the Chitta Katha Lake trek includes a 20-kilometer (12 mi) jeep track from Kel to Domail Bala, followed by a 5-kilometer (3.1 mi) hiking trek. The total trekking distance is approximately 16 to 18 kilometers (10 to 11 miles).
The trek to Chitta Katha Lake is best undertaken between July and September when the weather is relatively favorable. During this time, the lake offers breathtaking views, and hikers can witness the abundance of wildflowers along the route. However, it is essential to be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions and be equipped with appropriate gear.
Things to Consider:
Before embarking on the Chitta Katha Lake trek, several factors should be taken into consideration:
- Physical Fitness: The trek requires a good level of physical fitness and endurance due to the challenging terrain and long duration.
- Equipment: Proper trekking gear such as warm clothes, raincoats, trekking joggers, sunblock, shades, essential medicines, a basic first aid kit, energy boosters, a torch with extra batteries, and a Swiss knife are essential.
- Accommodation: Camping is the only option for accommodation during the trek. It is necessary to bring tents, sleeping bags, basic toiletries, baby wipes, hiking or trekking sticks, and water bottles. Alternatively, local nomad families or communities can provide food and cooking facilities.
Camps and Itinerary:
The trekking itinerary for Chitta Katha Lake can be planned as follows:
- Leave Islamabad at 1 am and reach Muzaffarabad for breakfast.
- Continue the journey to Keran and have lunch there.
- Arrive at Kel, which serves as the base camp for the lake.
- Dinner and overnight stay in camps at Upper Domail.
- Breakfast at Upper Domail.
- Take something with you for lunch.
- Dinner and overnight stay in camps at Dak-1/Dak-2.
- Breakfast at Dak-1/Dak-2.
- Begin hiking towards Chitta Katha Lake.
- Take something light with you for lunch.
- Dinner and overnight stay in camps at the lakeside.
- Breakfast at Chitta Katha Lake.
- Trek back to Upper Domail.
- Lunch at Upper Domail.
- Return to Kel by jeep.
- Dinner and overnight stay in a hotel at Kel.
- Breakfast at Kel.
- Start the return journey to Islamabad.
- Lunch at Keran/Muzaffarabad.
- Arrive in Islamabad.
Who Should Not Go:
The trek to Chitta Katha Lake is physically demanding and not suitable for everyone. Individuals with health conditions, inadequate physical fitness, or difficulties with prolonged hikes should refrain from attempting this trek. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before undertaking such a challenging journey.
In conclusion, the Chitta Katha Lake trek offers a rewarding experience for adventure enthusiasts who seek to explore the pristine beauty of Azad Kashmir. While the trek is physically demanding, the breathtaking landscapes, the allure of the lake, and the tranquility of the surroundings make it a memorable adventure. Proper preparation, including necessary equipment and physical fitness, is crucial for a safe and enjoyable trekking experience.