Breathtaking is what everyone is calling the new, open to the public, Samandar Lake. So when the Minai family decided to take a weekend trip from Islamabad to see the now-famous lake, they planned their day around it.

The Minai family at Gali’s End, Nathiagali

They stayed at Gali’s End, a renowned retreat at the end of Nathiagali. A trek up to the cottages, the view was the definition of breathtaking.

Enjoying a cup of tea on a perfect summer day

The rooms were decent, the view gorgeous. It was almost like living in a cottage in a European country and since it was a trek up, it is secluded from the rest of the small city. If anyone needs a break, its the place to go so you can get away from the world. The only con was that the bathrooms were older and had not been renovated.


View from a room in Gali’s End

A perfectly cloudy day, they took the 45 minute drive down to Barra Gali. Google Maps wasn’t as effective as expected, and they got lost, stumbling upon a beautiful stream to dip your feet in.

They asked the locals around, where is this Samundar Katha lake? Don’t go there, said the locals. Your car won’t be able to take the drive down and it’s seriously not worth it. Not worth it? PTI Official’s pictures say otherwise.

Ignoring their advice, they took their car down to the lake car park area where they were told they had to walk the rest of the way or take a Mehran to the lake. The locals were right. There wasn’t a set road so taking a normal Corolla would ruin the car. They paid a guy 1000 rupees to sit in the back of a Mehran and went to the lake that everyone was talking about and found:

Lots of cars, a small lake with boats and zip-lining. The boats didn’t make any sense. The lake was so small, you could only go round and round the lake and get seriously dizzy in the process. The zip-lining looked like fun but was such a short line, it didn’t hold much appeal either.

Zip-lining at Samundar lake

And the view? The stream they had stumbled upon was more beautiful – and free. On the way back to their car, they got stuck in a traffic jam.

Not a great time.

Bummed, they went to Nathiagali bazaar to the famous Taj Mahal restaurant for Patakha chicken. The fried whole chicken, with its perfect masala made the trip up North worth it.

Patakha chicken at Taj Mahal restaurant

So, will they go back again? To Nathiagali, yes. To Samundar Lake? Definitely not. They might have if it wasn’t so difficult to get there. The views along the way are a lot more beautiful but getting to the lake is 100 percent not worth the hassle.