The serenity. Deosai plains in Skardu district of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, the land of giants is a flat, green prairie at 14000ft with mountains on its edges and freshwater streams flowing through it.
On a clear day, you can even sight the 8000-meter peaks. Low-level clouds float through the landscape leaving shadows running across the vast plain. Floats of Snow are scattered all over the place at the beginning of spring.
The best time to visit the plains is in June when the snow melts on the jeep tracks.
Surprisingly, this park is clean.
The only available jeep track runs through ‘Chota Deosai’, the real Deosai plains are accessible on foot only.
The Lakes. Deosai plains have many lakes around the park. I visited Sheosar Lake, the only one close to the jeep track. It was still partially frozen over.
Around Sheosar are hot springs that release steam into the early morning air, making it magical.
Kala Pani and Bara Pani are freshwater streams that have wild trout that attract brown bears, especially after their winter slumber.
You can also see the depleted Satpara lake on the way back.
The scent of flowers.
The fresh scent of flowers and herbs greets you the minute you roll down your windows. It is very unusual for a city slicker like me who has gotten used to dusty, stinky city life. Deep breathing, yoga-style gives you an unbelievable rush. These flower varieties I have never seen anywhere else in Pakistan. The colorful flowers dance to the breeze blowing across the plain.
The wildlife. We only saw the golden marmots scrambling across the flats. I would have loved to see the Himalayan brown bear, the snow leopard, the foxes and wolves, ibex, and Markhor. The park ranger told me these animals have left for higher plains and the ravines to avoid the tourists. Apparently, there is a plain higher than Deosai plains itself. That’s a good thing for these vulnerable animals.
Some of the birds I saw there had bright yellow colors. The high-altitude raven had a black a white coat. All the birds were brightly colored.
I guess that is Mother Nature’s way to amplify her beauty in the small summer window available.
The roads leading to the Deosai plains are well developed. It’s only when you get into the park that the track breaks up. I would only recommend a 4×4 vehicle to traverse Chota Deosai.
The best route would be to start from Chillum chowki in the morning and cross over into Skardu close to Satpara Lake. This would take about 5 hours.
The hotels at chillum are very basic. You might have to sleep in your car. It is a two hours drive from Astore to Chillum Chowk. Astore is 5 hours from Chilas. Chilas ( Chilas has amazing rock carvings and if interested you can go to this link) is 12 hours from Islamabad.
Some important points regarding the trip:-
- Hire a park ranger to take you for a bear or ibex sighting.
- Take your tents and cooking appliances with you in case you want to camp there.
- It gets really cold after rains even during the summer months, so cover-up
- The park is very clean; people take their junk with them in plastic bags.
- The downwards journey from Deosai to Skardu is very steep. Do learn braking with gears to avoid screwing up your brakes.
- The chillum side of Deosai is a lot prettier than the Skardu Side.
- You can live on wild salmon abundantly found there but do bring you food with you just in case.
Do enjoy the video.