A haven for mountaineers and trekkers, Gilgit-Baltistan region is one of the must see places in Pakistan. This wonderful piece of land offers a great chance of escaping your normal life hassles, and to refresh your soul in its amazing landscape between towering mountains and unique flora and fauna. Here is our list of some of the best places you must see here:
One of the major attractions is the Skardu district that lies in the centre of Gilgit-Baltistan. Its stunning views of crystal clear lakes, deserts, picture-perfect roadways and villages make up Skardu’s fascinating yet unique beauty. The district is also the base camp for some of the world’s highest mountains such as the K2, K3 and Gasherbrum.
The Skardu Valley runs ten kilometres along Shigar River and Indus River, surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Karakoram range. Skardu district is located at the confluence of the Indus River and the Shyok River. Like the rest of mountainous areas, Skardu is almost engulfed in a white veil throughout the year, with a respite between April and September. This is the ideal season to relish the beauty of the area. The long summer hours allow you to explore the forests, view wildflowers and spot the re-emergence of wildlife. The glaciers also melt into splashing rivers at this time. The city of Skardu mesmerises visitors with its breathtaking sights that engulf the town.
Embark on a small trek to Kharpocho Fort and see the whole valley from a new perspective. It is perched above the junction of rivers and was built during the reign of King Ali Sher back in the 16th century. With River Indus flowing just beyond the hill the fort is situated on, and cloud formation above the valley creating an unbalance sunlight is just so beautiful to see. In the evening, you can watch some local football or Polo games.
Fun fact: Did you know Pakistan is home to the world’s highest Polo ground?
You can also visit the beautiful Satpara Lake. Located 20km from Skardu, Satpara Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Pakistan and supplies water for the town of Skardu. Spend some time looking at the crystal-clear waters which mirror the icy mountains that surround the lake. You can also opt for boating here.
There are many hiking and mountaineering experiences for you in Gilgit Baltistan but what better place to start than hiking the beauty that is Fairy Meadows. A beautiful grassland located near the basecamp for Nanga-Parbat’s Rakhiot Face, the meadow completely justify its name. With the unobstructed view of the 8,125 m high beast that is Nanga Parbat, one of the highest mountains in Pakistan, only second to K2, it is considered to be one of the most accessible hikes that will allow you to witness an 8,000 m high mountain without doing a multi-day trek.
In 1995, the Government of Pakistan declared Fairy Meadows a National Park. Fairy Meadows is approachable by a twelve kilometer-long jeep-able trek starting from Raikhot bridge on Karakoram Highway to the village Tato. Further from Tato, it takes about three to four hours hiking by a five kilometer trek to Fairy Meadows. The grassland is located in the Rakhiot valley, at one end of the Rakhiot Glacier which originates from the Nanga Parbat and feeds a stream that finally falls in the River Indus. The views from here are dreamlike. Tourists lodge at the camping site spread over 800 hectares (2 acres), known as “RakhiotSerai”. Sleeping under the stars in the fresh mountain air is something you can’t miss on. The six-month tourist season at Fairy Meadows starts in April and continues until the end of September.
A plethora of villages line the way from Shandur Pass to Gilgit, but none are so picturesque as Phander (pronounced “fun-der”), a small village in the eponymous Phander Valley. Phander is for the slow traveller in you. It is not a place where you rush through a bucket list of things to do. It is the kind of place where you sit and watch the world go by. You can borrow a fishing rod and go trout fishing, or you can spend some time beside the dancing river.
Just strolling around the villages and waterways is pleasant, and you’re sure to meet some friendly folks. If you want to push yourself a bit harder, you can follow some of the shepherd tracks up the surrounding mountains. Teru is another beautiful village in the mountains, a bit higher in elevation than Phander. You can easily spend a day wandering through its fields and simple houses. The locals here are very hospitable and will invite you to their homes for a cup of chai. You can also seek out some local honey from the beekeepers of the region.
Visit the famous Shandur Pass, about 2-3 hours from Phander. The pass is more remote and all natural and can be visited as a day trip. Imagine riding a bike through the gorgeous mountains.
Deosai is literally enchanted, and you will only believe it for a fact when you are present there. The never-ending sea of lush green grass and flowers will make you take snaps at every foot. Deosai is now a national park and a protected home to endangered Himalayan Brown Bears along with some other wild animals. You can go for bear sighting with park rangers. You can also visit explore the campsite and Shigar River flowing through Deosai, as well as go for an evening trip to Sheosar Lake on the edge of the park.
Sheosar in local language means blind. This lake is one of the highest lakes in the world. There is something special about the high mountain lakes. The deep blue water, with snow-covered mountains in backdrop, and greenery with wild flowers in foreground offer a breathtaking view. The weather in quite unpredictable here. Sometimes it starts snowing in summer. Sunlight and clouds seem to play hide and seek here, with the sun shining one minute, and overcast in next.If the weather is clear, you will see the mighty Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest peak in the world and 2nd highest in Pakistan. The spectacular scenery is covered with snow for almost 8 months a year so the best time to visit Deosai and its surroundings is July to September.
Saving the best for the last, we have Hunza valley – a place jaw-dropping sceneries of mountainous peaks, magnificent forts, a colourful medley of flora and amazing local cuisines. If you have a limited time at your hand and can visit just one place then this is it.
The much renowned Hunza valley is often referred to as heaven on earth, enveloped in the grand Himalayas and the Karakoram mountain ranges. From the town of Karimabad, you can see some of the world’s highest mountain peaks – Bublimotin or Ladyfinger Peak (7,400m), Ultar Sar (7,500m), and the stunning Rakaposhi (7,788m). Wake up a clear to catch a spectacular sunrise with the towering white form of Rakaposhi forming the backdrop and looking down on the entire Hunza valley.
Climb the beautiful Baltit Fort. Once the ruling seat of the Hunza Kingdom, it has been standing overlooking the valley for over 700 years. This is one of the best places for an entire view of both Karimabad and the Hunza Valley. You will also find one of the world’s most dangerous bridge, the Hussaini Bridge. This suspended bridge, hung many meters above a relatively powerful river scares many by its precarious look. But don’t worry, you’ll see the locals crossing it so casually that you can’t wait to pass through it yourself.
You can’t miss the stunning beauty of Attabad Lake. This turquoise blue lake is one of the main attractions of Hunza Valley, and surely one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan. However, the origin story of the lake is sad. The lake was formed as a result of a landslide, which happened in 2010 and flooded the whole region. As a consequence of the natural disaster, thousands of people were made homeless and another thousand was completely disconnected to the rest of the country, as the flood affected the only way of access to Hunza. Today, the lake attracts a lot of people and is known for its beauty throughout the country.
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