Saif UL Malook Lake (Jheel) Travel Guide

Saif UL Malook Lake (Jheel) Travel Guide

Saif-ul-Malook Lake, also known as Jheel Saif-ul-Malook, is one of Pakistan's most picturesque and captivating natural wonders. Nestled in the Kaghan Valley near the town of Naran, this high-altitude lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lush greenery, creating a scene straight out of a fairy tale. Named after the legendary Persian prince, Saif-ul-Malook, the lake has inspired countless stories, poems, and dreams. This comprehensive travel guide will cover everything you need to know about visiting Saif-ul-Malook Lake, including how to get there, what to expect, and tips for making the most of your trip.

Table Of Content

History and Legend of Saif-ul-Malook

The beauty of Saif-ul-Malook is not only in its stunning natural setting but also in the rich tapestry of legends that surround it. According to local folklore, the lake is named after Prince Saif-ul-Malook, a Persian prince who fell in love with a fairy princess named Badi-ul-Jamal. The story, popularized by the Sufi saint and poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, tells of the prince's quest to find his beloved, overcoming numerous challenges along the way. This enchanting legend adds a mystical aura to the lake, attracting not just nature lovers but also those fascinated by the cultural and spiritual heritage of the region.

Getting to Saif-ul-Malook Lake

By Road

The journey to Saif-ul-Malook Lake typically starts from the bustling city of Islamabad. From Islamabad, travelers can take the Karakoram Highway towards Abbottabad, then continue to Mansehra and Balakot. The road from Balakot leads to Naran, which serves as the main gateway to Saif-ul-Malook. The total distance from Islamabad to Naran is approximately 270 kilometers (168 miles), and the drive takes around 7-8 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic.

By Public Transport

For those preferring public transport, there are regular bus services and shared vans that operate from Islamabad to Naran. These can be found at various bus terminals in Islamabad, such as Pir Wadhai and Faizabad. The journey by public transport might take a bit longer due to frequent stops, but it is an affordable and convenient option for budget travelers.

From Naran to Saif-ul-Malook

The final leg of the journey from Naran to Saif-ul-Malook Lake is a thrilling adventure in itself. The distance is about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles), and the terrain is rugged and steep. Due to the challenging nature of the road, it is advisable to hire a local jeep driver who is experienced in navigating the rocky paths. The jeep ride takes approximately 1-2 hours, depending on weather and road conditions. Alternatively, adventurous travelers can opt for a trek to the lake, which typically takes around 3-4 hours.

Best Time to Visit Saif-ul-Malook Lake

The best time to visit Saif-ul-Malook Lake is during the summer months, from May to September, when the weather is relatively mild and the lake is accessible. During this period, the snow has melted, revealing the stunning turquoise waters of the lake and the lush meadows surrounding it.

Spring (April to June)

Spring is a beautiful time to visit Saif-ul-Malook, with blooming wildflowers and fresh greenery creating a vibrant landscape. The weather is pleasant, with daytime temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). However, the road to the lake might still be partially covered in snow, so it's important to check local conditions before planning your trip.

Summer (July to September)

Summer is the peak tourist season, with the lake fully accessible and temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The clear skies and warm weather make it an ideal time for camping, picnicking, and photography. However, the monsoon season can bring occasional rain showers, so be prepared for sudden changes in weather.

Autumn (October to November)

Autumn offers a quieter and more serene experience, with fewer tourists and cooler temperatures. The fall colors add a different charm to the landscape, making it a great time for nature walks and reflection. Daytime temperatures range from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F), but it can get quite cold at night.

Winter (December to March)

Winter at Saif-ul-Malook is a wonderland of snow, but the lake is largely inaccessible due to heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. The road to the lake is typically closed, and the area is best left to experienced mountaineers and winter sports enthusiasts.

What to Expect at Saif-ul-Malook Lake

Scenic Beauty

The first thing that strikes visitors to Saif-ul-Malook is its sheer beauty. The lake, set against a backdrop of majestic mountains including the towering Malika Parbat, is a sight to behold. The crystal-clear waters of the lake reflect the surrounding peaks, creating a mirror-like surface that changes color with the light, from deep blue to emerald green.


The area around Saif-ul-Malook Lake is rich in wildlife. Visitors might spot various species of birds, including the Himalayan monal and the snow partridge. The meadows surrounding the lake are also home to marmots, which can often be seen scurrying around.



One of the most popular activities at Saif-ul-Malook is boating. Rowboats are available for rent, allowing visitors to explore the lake and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings from the water. Boating offers a unique perspective of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Trekking and Hiking

For adventure enthusiasts, there are several trekking and hiking opportunities around Saif-ul-Malook. The most popular trek is the one leading to Ansoo Lake, a high-altitude lake shaped like a teardrop. The trek is challenging and requires good physical fitness, but the breathtaking views along the way make it worthwhile.


Camping by the lake is an unforgettable experience. There are designated camping areas where visitors can set up tents and spend the night under the starry sky. The serene environment and the sound of the water create a perfect setting for relaxation and reflection.


Saif-ul-Malook is a paradise for photographers. The ever-changing light, the stunning reflections in the water, and the dramatic mountain scenery provide endless opportunities for capturing beautiful images. Whether you're a professional photographer or just enjoy taking pictures, you'll find plenty of inspiration here.

Practical Tips for Visiting Saif-ul-Malook Lake

Clothing and Gear

  • Layered Clothing: The weather at Saif-ul-Malook can be unpredictable, with temperatures dropping significantly in the evening. Wear layers that can be easily added or removed.
  • Waterproof Gear: Sudden rain showers are common, so bring a waterproof jacket and sturdy shoes.
  • Sun Protection: At high altitudes, the sun's rays can be intense. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from sunburn.
  • Warm Clothing: Even in summer, nights can be cold. Pack warm clothing, especially if you plan to camp overnight.

Food and Supplies

There are a few food stalls near the lake where you can buy snacks and drinks. However, it's advisable to bring your own food and water, especially if you have specific dietary requirements. Make sure to carry enough supplies for your entire stay, as the availability of provisions can be limited.

Health and Safety

  • Altitude Sickness: Saif-ul-Malook is at a high altitude, and some visitors may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath. To minimize the risk, take it slow, stay hydrated, and acclimatize gradually.
  • Emergency Supplies: Carry a basic first aid kit, including any personal medications. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of altitude sickness and know how to respond.
  • Respect Nature: Saif-ul-Malook is a pristine natural environment. Help preserve its beauty by not littering and following Leave No Trace principles. Dispose of waste properly and respect local wildlife.

Local Customs and Etiquette

  • Respect the Local Culture: The area around Saif-ul-Malook is home to various ethnic communities with their own customs and traditions. Be respectful of local culture and dress modestly.
  • Interacting with Locals: The people in the Kaghan Valley are known for their hospitality. Engage with locals respectfully and enjoy learning about their way of life.

Nearby Attractions

Lulusar Lake

Lulusar Lake, another stunning high-altitude lake, is located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Naran. The lake is known for its serene waters and picturesque surroundings, making it a great spot for a day trip from Saif-ul-Malook.

Ansoo Lake

Ansoo Lake, named for its teardrop shape, is a challenging yet rewarding trek from Saif-ul-Malook. The journey takes around 6-8 hours, but the breathtaking views and the unique shape of the lake make it a must-visit for avid trekkers.

Fairy Meadows

Fairy Meadows, located near Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest mountain in the world, offers stunning views and excellent trekking opportunities. The lush green meadows and panoramic mountain vistas create a magical setting that is well worth the visit.

Naran Town

Naran, the main town near Saif-ul-Malook, offers various amenities for travelers, including hotels, restaurants, and shops. It's a great place to rest and resupply before heading to the lake.

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Saif-ul-Malook Lake is a jewel in the crown of Pakistan's natural beauty. With its stunning scenery, rich legends, and myriad of activities, it offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers. Whether you're drawn by the mystical stories, the adventure of trekking, or simply the serene beauty of the lake, Saif-ul-Malook has something to offer everyone. By planning your trip carefully and respecting the local environment and culture, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to this enchanting destination.

Saif-ul-Malook Lake Travel Guide FAQs

Where is Saif-ul-Malook Lake located?

Saif-ul-Malook Lake, also known as Jheel Saif-ul-Malook, is located in the northern Kaghan Valley of Pakistan, near the town of Naran.

What is the altitude of Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Saif-ul-Malook Lake is situated at an altitude of approximately 3,224 meters (10,577 feet) above sea level.

What is the best time to visit Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

The best time to visit Saif-ul-Malook Lake is from late spring to early autumn, roughly from May to October. During these months, the weather is generally pleasant, and the lake is accessible.

How can I reach Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Saif-ul-Malook Lake can be reached by a jeep track from Naran, which is connected to Mansehra via a well-maintained road. The journey involves traveling through the picturesque Kaghan Valley.

What are the temperatures like at Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

During the summer months, temperatures at Saif-ul-Malook Lake range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F) during the day, with cooler nights. In winter, temperatures can drop well below freezing, and the lake may freeze over.

Are there accommodations near Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Accommodation options near Saif-ul-Malook Lake are limited. Visitors often stay in Naran, where there are various hotels, guesthouses, and campsites available.

What are the nearby attractions to Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Nearby attractions include Malika Parbat, a prominent mountain peak in the area, Lalazar Plateau known for its lush greenery and scenic views, and Ansoo Lake, a small high-altitude lake known for its tear-like shape.

Can altitude sickness be a concern at Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Yes, altitude sickness can affect visitors due to the high altitude of Saif-ul-Malook Lake. It's advisable to acclimatize gradually, stay hydrated, and avoid overexertion.

What activities can I enjoy at Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Visitors can enjoy activities such as boating on the lake, horse riding, hiking, and photography amidst the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Is it safe to visit Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Yes, it is generally safe to visit Saif-ul-Malook Lake. However, visitors should follow safety guidelines, travel with a guide if possible, and be cautious of changing weather conditions.

What should I pack for a trip to Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Essential items to pack include warm clothing, sturdy shoes for hiking, sunscreen, sunglasses, a first aid kit, and sufficient water and snacks.

Are there dining options near Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

There are limited dining options near the lake itself. Visitors often dine in Naran, where various restaurants offer local and traditional cuisine.

Can I visit Saif-ul-Malook Lake in winter?

Visiting Saif-ul-Malook Lake in winter is possible but challenging due to heavy snowfall and cold temperatures. The lake freezes over, and access may be restricted.

Is photography allowed at Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Yes, photography is allowed at Saif-ul-Malook Lake. The lake and its surroundings offer stunning opportunities for landscape and nature photography.

Is there mobile network coverage near Saif-ul-Malook Lake?

Mobile network coverage can be limited near Saif-ul-Malook Lake and in the surrounding mountains. It's advisable to inform someone about your travel plans beforehand.

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