Just around 24 km away from Tehsil Havelian, in the Hazara region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, lies the charming village of Sajikot. The narrow but well-constructed road to the top, where the Sajikot Waterfall is located, has several sharp turns. Since the road is lined with tall trees, the drive through this forest is aesthetically very pleasing.
At the top, to one side of the valley, is the 3-step waterfall, forming a large pool at the bottom. The sight of the waterfall made me feel excited, yet nervous since this was the first time I’d be taking part in a water-based activity. The colour of the waterfall is bluish, though it is camouflaged with green vegetation and the algae growing in its habitat.
The participants descended from the road onto a hill, with narrow crevices shaped like steps. After coming down, we found ourselves standing beside a chilly, freshwater pool. Luckily for the group, the bright sun put us in a great mood, and encouraged us to jump into the water.
However, our guides informed us that the water was deep enough for drowning, and that anyone who cannot swim should not go near the water without a lifejacket. The group was to rappel to the larger pool at the bottom, one by one, after listening to the instructions and wearing the equipment. Rappelling is the controlled descent of a person, from the top of a cliff using a rope. Those who couldn’t gather courage to volunteer for rappelling, decided to swim in the upper pool.
When my turn arrived, the guide asked me to tighten my lifejacket, take off my shoes and wear a helmet. Then, he tied a rope to my stomach, and instructed me on how to use the abseiling technique to descend. When I understood what I was required to do to keep myself safe, I attempted rappelling.
The initial part comprised of working through a few steps of slippery rocks, while keeping the body parallel to the ground, such that your feet touch the hill and the vertical rope helps secure you from a fall. A few meters down, I found the water falling right onto my face, causing a few seconds of panic, as it made breathing impossible. I had not been informed about this by our guide, and thought it was best to descend quickly, but to my surprise, the cliff that I had my feet on kept bending inwards, until I found myself swinging mid-air. The rest of the distance had to be covered by using the ropes; at long last I reached the ground safely. The rest of the day was spent cheering on others as they took up the challenge.
After a night's stay at a hotel in Balakot, the group was geared up for rafting activity at the Kunhar River. The participants were to perform rafting in 3 groups of 8 people, from Balakot to Gari Habibullah. Our coaster took us from our hotel to where our guides were waiting for us.
We were given strict instructions, and we listened to them carefully, because anyone could fall into the river from the raft. In such a case, we were told to remain calm, and to not lose control as the guides would jump in to save us. Everyone was given a lifejacket and a helmet, and our guides made sure we wore the safety equipment properly.
Each group carried their rafts from the bank of the river into the water, and when all participants were in their rafts, we began moving. There was one experienced guide on each of the rafts, who called on us to use the oars in either the forward or backward motion. The guides kept us out of the deep, rough waters, by directing the raft from the back, and also prevented us from going near the rocks, because the raft could get stuck or capsize. Being seated in the front row of the raft was quite delightful, because of the clear view of the river, the waves splashing in front of us, which added to our adventure.
After covering half the distance, our guides stopped us and asked us to carry our rafts back to the bank. Here the river was very narrow, and was flowing quite fast. Hence none of us were experienced enough to raft through it safely. Skipping the dangerous parts of the river, the group resumed water rafting till Gari Habibullah. After enjoying well-earned plates of chicken pulao, we began our journey back to Lahore. It was a challenging trip filled with adrenaline pumping adventures, which won’t be easily forgotten.
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