Shounter Valley in Upper Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. From Shounter Valley you can cross the Shounter Pass to get to Ratto's Astore. The best time to visit this place is from May to August. Accessible via jeep truck from Kel, which is only open for a few months of the year. It's mostly camping site due to limited accommodations there, so it's a great place for camping lovers.
The Shounter valley lies on the outskirts of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. It is only accessible in summer. The harsh winter season and heavy snowfall will not get you there, so you need to check the temperature and season before visiting this place. The valley is located at an elevation of 10,200 feet above sea level.
On 23rd May, 2022, I reached there through Kel, by a Jeep track. The locals told me that this jeep track remains open in four or five months in the summers; otherwise, trekking was the only option to get there. The marvellous landscape, utmost scenic beauty, panoramic view, sky scraping hills occupied both sides of the meandering River Neelum. The whole valley had beautiful lakes. The landscape and scenery of the valley was really enchanting and breath-taking. Lush green thick forests, enchanting streams and attractive surroundings made the valley a dream place for me and I spent some time in leisure.
It magnificently stretched as a jewel in the Heaven on the Earth. There were many sub-valleys in the beautiful Neelum valley; hence they were equally majestic and superb. The crystal-clear streams running downstream and the trails passing through the wooded places gave my soul a refreshment. I couldn’t keep my gaze off of this stunning location. Shounter lake is a small but very beautiful lake in the Shounter Valley.
Shounter Valley Jeep Trek
Shanter village route starts from Kel village. Jeep fare or rate from Kel to Shounter Valley is around Rs. 5000 to Rs. 6000.
Spoon Lake, also known as Shounter Lake, is a spectacular natural lake in the shape of a spoon in the Shounter Valley of AJK Neelum. Located just below Hari Parbat, it takes about three hours from Kel bazaar to reach there by 4x4 vehicle. There are no hotels or good restaurants in this entire valley. For longer stays/overnights, visitors are required to bring camping gear and food items. For some time, we spiralled up this Nangi Mali mountain. At one point,
I could see the town of Upper Dommel. Further beyond Upper Dommel, the Shounter Pass is also at an elevation above Shounter Lake with the Ratu Valley of Gilgit Astor. A trail emerges from the top of Dommel leading to Sharwali Peak Base Camp.
Shounter Lake is the jewel of the Shounter Valley and one of the higher elevation lakes in the region. It rises upto 10,200 feet (3,100 meters) above sea level. The main source of lake are surrounding glacial water in streams that flow from nearby snow-capped peaks.
Chitta Katta Lake
From Shouter Valley, I went to Sarveli peak base camp, Chitta Katta Lake or cross the Shounter pass into Astore. Shounter was very beautiful and worth seeing place. It tooks me two hours to reach Chitta Katta. It is called Chitta Katta due to its crystal-clear water streams. It was one of the most hectic and adventurous tour of my life.
You can visit the Astore valley via the Shounter Pass. The pass reaches 14,500 feet above sea level and connects Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. This pass will take you to the Astore Valley. I prefer Shounter Valley over Shounter Pass. The level of this pass I must say is very difficult and requires proper training and technical passes. The last two kilometres of the summit are very difficult and the descent is even more difficult to cover.