Driving 2 hours towards East from the Skardu Town center is the Shangrila Resort. It once had clear blue water fed from mountains, now it is a big pond with boats and motels on the banks. The passenger aircraft parked on its ground and used as a guest room is very interesting to see.
The Lake of Shangrila Resort is also called the Lower Kachura Lake
Phone Contact of Shangrila Resort is (058155) 54942
Guest Room charges Range from Rs 35000 per night to Rs 80,000 per night
Climbing the mountain behind Shangrila Resort, with your car and after 30 minutes you reach the beautiful upper Kachura Lake. The real beauty is the Upper Kachura Lake which is a further half an hour from the lower Kachura Lake.
People usually swim in the cold water during summers.
Coming back to the town center, we drive up the mountain again towards the Buddha Image Carving on rock, at Manthal. It is located within the Skardu City.
Drive to Shigar Fort has to be left for the next day because it is at least one hour from Skardu. Shigar fort has recently been renovated in its original architecture and it also has expensive guest house.
Phone number (+92) (058154) 67108
Per night charges are upwards of Rs 45000
- Katpana and
- Safranga Deserts
On the way to Shigar you can stop by the Katpana and Safranga Deserts. The Sunset, Sunrise and Night time Sky is gorgeous if you camp out here.
Amburik Mosque is a short drive from the Shigar Fort. This old mosque was built when the Muslims arrived here first in the 14th Century, bringing with them Noor Bakshi Sect of Islam.
Buddha Carvings are images of Lord Buddha on rock faces just besides the highway between Skardu and Shigar. The road to get there is a dirt road and you’d need a tougher car.
These carvings come first then comes the Blind Lake which is a natural open fresh water spring that is not fed from the river.
K-2 Base Camp
If you keep driving ahead, after about 4 hours you reach the village of Askole that is the starting point of a 10 days hike to K-2 Base Camp. Hikers and Climbers usually camp out the night here, because you can get running water here.
Concordia is where you can either go towards K-2 base camp for a day’s hike or turn right to go over Gondogoro La (5700m). You can also chill out here and see 8000 m peaks from here and turn back the next day.
You can also turn right after the 7th day over the Vigne Glacier and cross over Gondogoro La Pass and walk across the Hushe Valley to complete a loop.
· K2 (8611m),
· Broad Peak (8047m),
· Gasherbrum peaks (8000m) and
· Masherbrum (7821m).
Nanga Parbat is in Diamer District.
All these are for professional climbers, if you are an amateur like me then try Khusar Gang Peak (Kosar Gunge 6400 m) Shigar
· Baltoro Glacier
· Trango Towers
· Muztagh Towers
· Biafo Glacier and Snow Lake – I can write a book on why everyone must go there.
One of my pals died due to hypothermia on the Biafo Glacier, so don’t forget warm clothing and plenty of proteins.
· Basho Valley
· Sok Valley
· Chunda Valleys
Each one of these have their unique beauty. Along the way you’d find several Buddhist Rock Carvings from the Tibetan Times. The drive is a bit lengthy. Each Valley needs to be explored on separate days. You’d have to book accommodation there to spend the night.
Climb to any of the peak around the city, and you get to see the Passenger and sometimes fighter aircraft take off and land in crystal clear 4K image
Coming back from Askole Village to Skardu, Khaplu requires one full day. It is 5 hours’ drive from Skardu on the Skardu-Siachen road. The river runs besides you while you drive and you get to see beautiful pristine villages with eucalyptus leaves turning yellow in autumn. Khaplu Town itself is very welcoming. You can pitch a tent by requesting the locals.
Serena Khaplu Palace Hotel
Khaplu has an expensive guest room restored by Agha Khan Foundation.
Phone(+92) 346 8101033
Room Charges per night starting from Rs 41000.
There is plenty to eat and drink here. Don’t miss the Buddha rock carvings hike and the Rear Guard Palace along with the graves of old princes of the area, high on the mountain.
The trip to Manthoka waterfall can be combined with the Khaplu palace visit, but then you’d have to come back towards Skardu the same day to see Mathoka waterfall, that is another Valley the leads to notorious Kargil-Drass of the Kargil War between India and Pakistan.
Further ahead are even more beautiful waterfalls but it is administratively difficult to arrange food and shelter along the way, because of tis remoteness.
6 hours’ drive further ahead is the Ganche Valley which means “Snow”. This Chaqchan mosque is a hand crafted wood structure that was built with the first Muslim preachers that reached here from Iraq.
The local fish farm is quite interesting too.
The mosque was built in 1370 AD is the oldest in the region. It has the most exquisite designs
This mosque even has a Star of David on its door. This is because of the Persian Preachers that were influenced by the Law of God.
There is even evidence of a solid rock beam in the basement that is said to be of a Buddhist temple.
I love the serenity of Chaqchan Mosque.
Deosai Plains visit requires a full day to drive from Skardu to Satpara Lake then on to the Skardu side of Deosai.
There is nothing to eat here except maybe raw fish, so bring your own stuff along.
This once emerald green lake now has a greyish look due to global warming and receding glaciers.
Sheosar Lake is right at the beginning of the Skardu side Gate of Deosai Planes. You’d have to drive back to Skardu which is 85 km and 2.5 hours, so decide whether you want to explore further to see
Kaala Paani Suspension bridge has the best sights of Deosai Planes and you might be able to see a brown bear feed on the fish in the stream.
If you hike 2 days from here, you will be able to see a snow leopard too. From here you must drive back to Skardu, unless you want to spend the night in Gilgit.
Kharpocho Fort is visible from your guest house in the city centre and the climb takes a few hours, so people usually avoid it. This is the fort that was first taken over by the pro-Pakistani forces from the Hindu Dogra forces of Kashmir in 1947.
There is the Skardu Fort as well, but not many people visit it.
This 3 hours hike to Skardu Organic village passes a narrow wooden path that bends along the mountain face and overlooks the river down below
Pakistani government has recently opened up the touring opportunity to visit the massive Siachen Glacier starting point.
There isn’t much to see there as the snow just starts from there, but it has immense bragging value.
· Tomoro Kehwa leaves
· Chinese products
· Camping / Climbing gear
· Local Handicrafts
· Dawdo Soup of Yak meat
See the K2 Killer Mountain museum at PTDC motel Skardu
After a grueling 14 hours’ drive from Islamabad, you’d want to rest the first day.
- Try PTDC motel or
- Himalaya Hotel Skardu Phone +92 314 4440014
Both are equally fine and reasonable in price
The view from Masherbrum mountain range (height 7831m) at midnight and early in the morning from the roof top, is divine.
The temperature and weather of Skardu in summers is on the hotter side and the range is usually -4 to 35 0 Centigrade, all year round.
Islamabad to Skardu distance
When there is no snow on the Babusar Pass, then drive to Skardu takes 15 hours to cover the 635 km on a perfect road, from Islamabad
It is Islamabad – Hazara Motorway- Mansehra – Raikot – Babusar Top – Jaglot (turn right here on the Karakorum Highway) – Skardu
It is always a better idea to fly to Skardu, to avoid the lengthy drive of 15 hours from Islamabad.
From Lahore it would be 20 hours to Skardu, on road
The flights leave for Skardu from Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi too and price starts from Rs 25000 one way.
What is the cost of a standard 7 days trip to Skardu Gilgit Baltistan Pakistan?
Under normal circumstances, a 7 day trip to Skardu would cost around Rs 90,000 per person.
Is Hunza better or Skardu?
Skardu has a wider variety of things to do, like mountain climbing, trekking, and site seeing. But then it is more expensive as compared to Hunza. Hunza on the other hand is to relax and chill and absorb the landscape and people.
The Skardu city is now open for tourists who can drive 15 hours in one day to get there and pay for the stay for a week, because of the brand new highway. It is just a stop over to see all the wonderful places around Skardu.
Also see, Top 225 places to see in Pakistan