This, a long day return trek is a fantastic moderate to difficult excursion for lakes lovers. Kandol Lake can also be an exciting camping with proper gear. Located in the thickly forested Utror valley, neighboring to Kalam in Swat, this lake is an awe-inspiring place to visit in summer season. It takes about an hour from Kalam to Utror by a privately hired jeep.
The Utror valley itself gives serene feelings due to the heavily forested mountains, quite environment and the fast flowing river. It is a simple and small town with small bazaar, closely built houses and fertile fields. We did not found any family accommodation for tourists in Utror. A small and mud made hotel was there which offered us tea and lunch.
From the Utror bazaar, the road along the river takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the crossing bridge on the river. Alternatively, you may ask your jeep driver to drop you at the bridge. A badly destroyed hotel building is the conjunction point from where two paths divide for Laddu Lake and Kandol Lake.
The path towards the Kandol Lake continues along the river on sandy and stony path. It can be a 3 to 4 hours’ trek from the river bridge to the Kandol Lake. For a comparatively easy hike, it is recommended to start as early as possible in the morning to avoid sun. The water availability is fair along the trek but it’s better to keep water bottles with you. Any suitable quantity of food may also be required as there is no availability of eatables throughout the way and on the lake. If you are planning for camping and cooking too, carry the burning fuel as well.
An easy walk initially on the river side sands takes you to a bunch of trees with grassy land and water streams. A noisy stream restricts your access to wide and fertile potato cropped hamlet. Look for a small wooden bridge on the stream to get across easily. This is a splendid hamlet with very few mud cottages, surrounded by lush green slopes of mountains. A very narrow path between the crops leads till the end of cropped land where a deep and dangerous tributary appears. A number of men and women working in the potato fields may provide the hints of the right path in case the guidance is required.
In the early and mid of the season there is a solid ice and snow bridge on the tributary which can be used very carefully for crossing. The alternative is a fallen tree trunk over the tributary which requires all the balance and courage to step on. Those with rucksacks and camping may find it enough challenging. Be creative to derive the safest crossing.
The rest of the path till the lake is mostly a climbing on the mountain ridge. After first half an hour of muddy and narrow zigzag trek is the most difficult phase. Once this phase is over, it’s a thick forest over a comparatively better path to walk on. The forest ends at a wide and very deep gully impassible from this edge. Continue to the further right, passing through a wide and leveled land on a visible path. Upon your approach to the gully again, there is a small glacier for most of the year which bridges the gully. Carefully walking on the glacier, it’s the final 10 minutes to the Kandol Lake.
Kandol is a large green shaded lake, surrounded by snow covered mountains with green slopes merging in the water. The cold clear water with reflection of mountains is a breathtaking view. The cool breeze and the pleasant temperature make this magnificent place ideal for camping and rest. If you have enough time, a walk around the lake with extended exploration of nature and isolation is also possible.
There is a cave shaped room made with wooden pillars and mud which can be used for cooking and shelter in bad weather conditions.