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Thrills, Twists, and Swollen Feet

Tales from a Daring Adventure in Pakistan’s Natural Paradise
Muhammad Suhail

Muhammad Suhail

Gather ’round, fellow adventurers, as I share the tale of an epic journey through Swat, Kalam Valley, Naran, and Murree with a few friends. It was a rollercoaster of exhilarating experiences that included a few hilarious misadventures along the way!

Our odyssey commenced with a grueling 16-hour journey to reach Swat, a small but fertile plateau nestled in the Kalam Valley above the Swat River. We arrived weary but fueled by the promise of extraordinary adventures that awaited us.  Here, at about 6,500 feet above sea level, our trekking expedition unfolded amidst towering mountains and the captivating beauty of Kalam Forest.

We weren’t seasoned climbers, but we embraced the challenge, even without proper gear, making our way through the treacherous slopes with sheer determination.

For three unforgettable days, we immersed ourselves in the wonders of Kalam Valley.

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We traversed rugged terrains, conquering one summit after another, relishing the adrenaline coursing through our veins. One memorable day was spent exploring the legendary Mahodand Lake, a three-hour drive from Kalam Valley.

But this wasn’t a leisurely road trip – even the ride was an adventure, thanks to the jolts and bumps on those rocky roads! It was a test of endurance, but the majestic beauty of the lake made every bone-rattling moment worthwhile.

From Kalam, our journey led us to Naran, another arduous stretch that tested our resilience.

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A night’s rest recharged our spirits, preparing us for the crown jewel of our expedition — Saif-ul-Malook, a picturesque lake located a breathtaking 10,000-odd feet above sea level. The next morning, we arrived at the epic lake, but this wasn’t the end of our journey; our adventure had just begun.

After enjoying the ethereal beauty of Saif-ul-Malook, some of us made a bold decision to descend on foot. Oh, what a daring choice it was!

We soon discovered that walking was not an option on those steep slopes. Instead, we found ourselves running. In total, we ran for at least 45 minutes, the adrenaline pumping as we hurtled down the mountainside.

Alas, the price of bravery came at a cost — I twisted my ankle, a painful reminder of our audacious feat.

Undeterred by my swollen foot, I pressed on, determined to make the trip back to Naran on foot. The pain may have slowed me down, but it couldn’t extinguish the fire of adventure in my soul. Despite my throbbing ankle, every step was a testament to my unwavering spirit.

Saif-ul-Malook: A Poet’s Vision

Amidst our exhilarating expedition, we unraveled the legendary tale of Saif-ul-Malook — a mesmerizing story woven by the Sufi poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh.

It chronicled the epic journey of an Egyptian Prince, Saif-ul-Malook, who fell deeply in love with the enchanting fairy, Badi-u-Jamal. Intrigued by his dreams of her, the prince embarked on a quest, guided by a wise Saint, to seek his beloved amidst the unearthly attraction of Lake Saif-ul-Malook.

His path unfolded with unwavering determination and spiritual explorations, leading him to the shimmering waters where the prince’s dreams met reality, forever etching their love story in the annals of time.

The next day, we went to Lalazar, located in the upper Kaghan Valley.

Its lush green meadows beckoned us from the height of 10,500 feet (yes, that means we traveled up about 4,000 feet, then scampered back down 4,000 feet, and then ventured back up another 4,000 feet in a few days’ time).

The journey to this scenic paradise was not for the faint-hearted. The narrow, dirt-filled road tested our nerves as we maneuvered cautiously, only one Jeep passing at a time. It was a heart-pounding ride, but the reward of reaching Lalazar made it all worthwhile.

Our expedition culminated in the charming town of Murree, with a pit stop in Muzaffarabad for a night’s rest.

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The memories we had etched into our hearts were priceless, a testament to the resilience of friendship and the exhilaration of exploring nature’s wonders together.

So, my fellow adventurers, as you traverse life’s winding roads, embrace the challenges, cherish the mishaps, and relish the laughter that echoes through your journeys. In the midst of thrilling escapades, we discover the true essence of life itself.

Let the mountains be your guide, the valleys your sanctuary, and the adventures your muse.

Onward, my friends, for the allure of the unknown awaits!

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