At an altitude of 4,694 meters (15,400 ft) the Rush Lake in the Nagar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, is one of the highest alpine lakes. The high-altitude lake is located on a ridge in the mighty Karakorams, surrounded by majestic snow-crowned mountain peaks. Rush Lake is accessible through a moderate yet demanding trek starting from the Hoper village of the Nagar valley, called the “Rush Lake trek”.
The lake is known as “Rush Phari” by locals where the word “Rush” signifies “shine” while the name “Phari” actually referred to a “water reservoir” or a pond. Thus the term “Rush Phari” suggests the name “Shining Lake”. An obvious reason for calling it Rush Phari might be that most time of the year the lake is crusted with crystal clear ice and the sun rays directly hitting the ice crust produce shine and shades. However, even on a clear day in the summer when the ice-covered lake is melting, one can see the beautiful shadows of the surrounding mountain peaks as a reflection in the clear water of the lake. The shadow of the mountains formed in the lake also refers to the term “Rush”. During the peak summers, the surroundings of the lake go green and present an imposing view.
The lake is located on a fairly high-altitude ridge extending to the Junction of Barpu Glacier and Bualtar Glacier bordering the Hoper Valley making a divide between the Hisper valley and Barpu Glacier. The 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains from the ridge is simply gorgeous. One can have magnificent views of Spantik (Golden Peak 7027m), Mair peak (6824m), and the summit of Diran (7257m) and Rakaposhi (7788m) in the Nagar Region as well as Lady Finger, Ultar peak (7388m), and Batura series in Hunza valley. On a clear day, it is easy to sight the summit of K-2 (8611 m; the second-highest mountain located in Skardu), Broad Peak, and Hidden Peak, from the lake.
There stands a nearby prominent peak called “Rush Peak”, and obviously, the name is linked to the lake itself. Rush Peak is located at an altitude of 5,098 m (16,726 ft) on a ridge with easy access from the lake. A short visit to the peak is usually part of this beautiful trek and can be done in a couple of hours from the campsite near the lake.
The Rush Lake trek is a beautiful moderate trek customarily famous among international trekkers. The trek begins from the Hoper village in the Nagar valley, located right across the Hunza Valley, accessible by a metalled road. The launching point of the trek is the eastern end of the village which provides magnificent views of the entire trekking route and the surrounding mountains.
Rush Lake can be reached via a trekking route running parallel to the Hopar Glacier (Boaltar Glacier) and Miar Glacier, which rise from Miar and Phuparash peaks. Starting from the Hoper valley with a downhill trail to the Hoper Glacier and then crossing Barpu Glacier through the junction of the two leads to a smooth pasture trail. Most section of the trail is smooth and enchanting with stunning views of Baricho Kor, an overnight campsite. The uphill trek of about 3 to 4 hours from Baricho Kor to Chidin Harai tests the determination of trekkers and stands tough for those who are not well-acclimatized. During this uphill hike, one can enjoy the scenic views of the glacier and the overshadowing mountains of the majestic Nagar Valley. Another short hike of an hour will further lead to the lake.
International tourists and Pakistani tourists traveling from down cities can take a car/bus to Gilgit by the Karakoram Highway or by Naran-Gilgit road. There is a 55 min flight from Islamabad but all flights to Gilgit are subject to weather conditions. From Gilgit, it is about 100 km (2.5 hrs journey) to Hunza valley and then another 2 hrs jeep ride takes to Hoper valley.
Best time to Visit:
The best time to visit the lake is the summer season from June to September. One can still see the patches of ice in June while in late summer the plants have already flowered and withered. The ice crust usually melts in July and August while the alpine vegetation is filled along the route and around the lake to provide the ultimate beauty.
If you plan a trip to Rush lake, you need to be well-planned and well-prepared. Following guidelines may help you in preplanning.
- A personal backpack to pack belongings and a stick
- Warm layers of clothing and a raincoat
- Trekking trousers or tracksuit with an extra t-shirt/sweatshirt
- Trekking shoes/Joggers up to ankle-high, a pair of flippers, and worm pairs of gloves & socks
- Sun-block, Sunglasses, and cap
- Camera if you are into photography
- Rechargeable flashlight/torches
- Personal medications
- Towel handkerchief and shampoo/soap
- Sleeping tent, sleeping bag, and mattress (optional)
International and Pakistani tourists wishing to do Rush Lake must seek the services of a licensed tour operator who can provide the necessary staff, food, equipment, tour guide, and support during unforeseen emergency services.