Karombar Lake and Broghil Valley

Broghil Valley is located in the Chitral district of KPK province. The broghil valley neighbours Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan on one side, Yarkhun, Yasin & Ishkoman Valleys on the other sides. Karombar Lake with an altitude of around 4,300 meters above sea level (ASL) is one of the highest biologically active lakes in the world and is technically located in the Ishkoman Valley in Ghizer district of Gilgit Baltistan. The easiest way to reach the lake is from Broghil valley.Karombar Lake and Broghil Valley a

Broghil Valley starts just after Kishmanja village in Yarkhun Valley and ends before Karombar pass. The last permanent settlement in the valley is Lashkargaz, which is a small village with only 21 houses at an altitude of around 3,640 meters ASL. Lashkargaz is probably Pakistan’s highest permanent settlement and is around 440 meters higher than Shimshal.

Karombar Lake and Broghil Valley
If you are planning to trek to the magnificent Karombar Lake, lashkargaz is the point, from where you would start your trek.

Our Guide, Porter, Friend or whatever you wanna call loading our backpacks on to the horse.
Saifullah made this part of our journey the best by comforting us alot during the next two days.
Also, if you happen to meet this amazing horse someday, just remember his name is “Badal” and pay my regards to him as I learned Horse Riding on this beast in next two days.

It takes around 4 hours on jeep to reach Mastuj from Chitral and further around 20 hours to reach Lashkargaz from Mastuj on a 4×4 jeep. It would take you around two days to travel from Chitral to Lashkargaz. The path is just a dirt jeep track with some dangerous patches and one had to cross the river before Lashkargaz during the summer to reach the final destination.

Traveling on rooftops is always a satisfying experience for me

Local jeeps runs regularly between Chitral and Yarkhun Lasht, which is the main village of Yarkhun Valley. While local jeeps from Chitral to Lashkargaz runs occasionally once in two weeks with no fixed departure or arrivals. It costs PKR 1000 per person on the local jeep from Chitral jeep stand to the Lashkargaz village. There is no local transportation between Yarkhun and Broghil Valleys.

Traveling on rooftops is always a satisfying experience for me

Loader jeeps and mazda transporting mostly the construction items run regularly from Chitral to different villages in the broghil valley, they would happily take you on a ride with them for a small fees. And the drivers would often ask for a night stay at their homes free of cost.

Prince of Wakhan crossing the Irshad Meadows right after leaving Lashkargaz for the Karombar Lake.
Prince of Wakhan crossing the Irshad Meadows right after leaving Lashkargaz for the Karombar Lake.

Another option for reaching Lashkargaz is to book a jeep from Chitral or from Mastuj. It usually costs around PKR 25,000 for a one way trip from Mastuj till Lashkargaz. Last Security checkpost in the area is at Ishkarwaz, with the soldiers from Chitral Scouts posted at the site. At this checkpost, you have to submit your CNIC and the tea from the soldiers is mandatory for everyone coming to explore the valley.

A bridge on the way to Ishkarwaz

From Ishkarwaz, it would take you around 2 hours on jeep to reach Lashkargaz.

Their is only one guest house at Lashkargaz “Karombar Inn Guest House” and is managed by Sultan King and his father. They would cost PKR 1500 for a room with a maximum capacity for three persons and PKR 3000 for a hall with a maximum capacity of accomodating around 8 persons. They only have two rooms and one hall. They can provide you with solar powered batteries to switch the bulb in your room and for charging of your phone. Their is no electricity after this point onward till the lake so better charge everything from here before leaving. The guest house is not good at all but you don’t have any other option besides camping in the village. The kitchen and toilet are just minimal and would only serve the purpose and aren’t good at all. Their is only ONE toilet for all the rooms and is located outside the main building in the open area.

Sultan King is good with the words but not trustworthy. His father is especially cunning and would try to take every penny out of your pocket, so beware of the guys. The tea they serve is not tea at all and isn’t recommended for anyone. I would recommend you to consume your own food and tea from here onwards till the lake.

You can ask for horses, Guides or Porters to carry your luggage and guide you till the lake. The porter would usually cost you around PKR 2000 and would carry around 20KG of your weight. While the horse would carry around 60KG of your weight and would cost PKR 7000. If you are doing it solo, you can make it without any guide or porter as the path towards the lake is carved on the grass but is not recommended.

I would recommend Saifullah who is the cousin of Sultan King as your guide. He also owns a horse and is very polite and trust worthy. He would take PKR 7000 for the traveling with his horse. The expedition led by Mobeen Mazhar bhai back in 2016 hired Sher Amin who turned out to be a looter than a guide and isn’t recommended by him at all.

Karombar Lake is at a distance of around 27 KM from Lashkargaz. If you are good at walking, you can easily reach the lake in 9 to 10 hours. On your way towards the lake, at Shwar-sher, there is a temporary settlement of local shepherd. It would take you around 3 hours at normal speed to reach Shwar-sher from Lashkargaz. The shepherd at Shwar-sher would happily offer you Yak milk, Yak Tea, Yak cream, and Yak yogurt for free as you are the guest in the area. Yak cream is really good and tea was just fantastic. After leaving Shwar-sher you would reach another milestone in probably the next 2 hours and it is the Laal-e-ribaat area, which was once the camp site for the treks when trekkers had to start the trek from Ishkarwaz. Your guide can perhaps make you an amazing coffee or milk tea while you take some rest in the area. The views from here are good and the Karombar Lake is another 10KM or some 2 hours away. The landscape is amazing and the river stream lost its path into the lush green grass here.

 

After leaving the Laal-e-ribaat area, you would reach the Karombar Lake in another 2 hours or so, just after crossing Karombar Pass and officially entering into Gilgit Baltistan region.

Karombar Lake is an amazing lake and seems out of this world spot. Surrounded by sky high-snow clad peaks and lush green meadows, it’s just magnificent. You can camp anywhere you like but remember to not leave your traces behind and take all your trash back atleast to the Lashkargaz village.

The next morning, you can take a stroll till the other end of the lake, where the spill way towards Ishkoman valley is a great sighting. The area near the spillway is guarded by some great numbers of Yaks during the summers and is an amazing sight to behold.
Here are some pictures from our journey towards the Karombar Lake. Also, please feel free to ask me any questions regarding your tour to the Karombar Lake or to the Broghil Valley.
Keep up the good work and happy traveling everyone.

Writer: Muhammad Shuaib

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