Snorkeling in Lakes in Pakistan may seem a very alien topic for many reader from Pakistan but snorkeling a very mature and fun adventurous sport all over the world. Pakistan has a huge number of glacial lakes in the North. Most of these lakes are frozen in winters. It’s difficult to tell which one is more mesmerizing than the other. There is however a list of my personal favorite 5 lakes in the North that you can see here:
What is Snorkeling?
Snorkeling (British and Commonwealth English spelling: Snorkelling) is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped breathing tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn.
Lake diving is now a mature extreme sport and is popular in the west among many adventure lovers. The lakes in Pakistan however have not be explored in this way. There are very few records of anyone attempting to dive or snorkel in these lakes. Depth, lake bed and the knowledge about the aquatic life in these lakes hence remains a mystery. Every lake has a myth attached to it which adds fun for some tourists and a chill in the spine for others.
I have been dreaming about snorkeling across these lakes since 2014. Work and financial situation was not in favor and I didn’t have enough data to form an educated opinion about the risks involved while doing this adventure. Next year (2017), when the summer arrives, I am planning to snorkel across these lakes in September with the minimum possible expense without compromising the safety.
The biggest challenge comes from very cold water. The glacial lakes are filled with melted ice and glaciers. Water temperature is freezing cold even in the peak summers – less than 5 °C. Dipping your body in such cold water even for few minutes results in hypothermia. Hypothermia is a serious medical condition when your body temperature goes below 35 °C (37 °C is normal). This could result in vital organ failure and eventually death if left untreated.
The solution is to keep you body warm and dry. A good quality dry suit with proper insulation is the answer.
Dry Suit/Swimwear – Keeping the body warm and dry
There are many dry suits available in the market ranging from $500 – $5000. Different quality, material and brand defines the price of the suit. One important thing here is to note that Dry Suit DOES NOT keep you warm, it only keep the water out. Proper inner-wear aka swimwear should be worn that keeps your body warm. The cheapest combination of Dry suit and inner-wear I found so far costs $1500 ($1000 for the suit and $500 for the inner-wear).
Depth measurement and record keeping
Second challenge is to measure and record the depth. Measurement is easy. The challenge is to keep an electronic time and location based record of the data. There are industrial solutions that keep historical record of depth and sense the depth at user specified time intervals but such sensors are expensive.
The cheapest solution I found is to buy a water proof fish finder and the SONAR (less than $100). Hook a water proof camera in front of the screen display and it should do the job. Fish finders measure the water depth, temperature and presence of any fish. The screen also reports the lake bed features.
Recording the video
Third major challenge is recording the video. I am planning to take 3 underwater cameras with me. One camera will be hooked up with the fish finder. Second one with my face mask recording whatever I’m seeing and 3rd camera in my hand that I can point anywhere if I wish to record something interesting. GoPro is one solution which is expensive because I need three cameras. There are alternate cheap solution that cost less than half of what the GoPro would cost without any significant compromise on the video quality.
Waterproof gloves, hoodie, warm socks, water proof boots, fins and face mask with snorkel is required.
Total cost of this adventure is projected to be between $1700 – $2000. I’m trying to minimize it as much as I can.
The ideal time seems to be the month of September, 2017 when the temperature is maximum. Any suggestion regarding a better time? feel free to comment below.
This lake is going to be the first in the serious of lakes I would like to snorkel across this summer. It has many myths surrounding its depth. I am planning to start from the south bank which makes it easy to swim with the flow minimizing my physical effort. Approximate swim distance is around 850 meters.
Dudipat lake is second on the list. I am expecting very clear water with high visibility in this lake. I will be camping there for a night and hope for a sunny warm day when I attempt to swim some 650 meter across the lake. The plan is to walk to the east bank and swim with the flow but I have never been to this lake before so I am not sure if the North-east bank is flat enough to allow crossing by foot. This is something I have to decide once I’m on the site.
Lulusar lake, though not very appealing yet is on the way to Gilgat so I am planning to cross this lake as well in the same trip. I expect low visibility and surprising depth.
This lake is at an altitude of 4000+ meters. Clear water with high visibility is expected. I personally believe, based on my experience, that this is going to be one of the deepest lake due to the flat surroundings. It is also going to be the most challenging lake to swim across. Swim distance is around 1.25 kilometers from east to west bank.
Ratti Gali Lake
One of my favorite lake. Clear water and surrounded by steep hills. Good visibility is expected. This lake has a unique challenge that there is no way to walk across the east bank. The only approach is from the west and I have to swim from west to east around 660 meters and then back to west another 660 meters. This lake has many myths and locals always stop you from camping near the lake.
I request all readers to please leave a comment and suggest any possible way to make this adventure more fun and safe.