Skardu

Discover Skardu Valley

 

In the north of Pakistan lies the paradisiacal Skardu Valley. A region of landscapes like no other, Skardu waits to inspire visitors with picture-perfect lakes, towering mountains, and enchanting meadows.

 

     Enjoy true hospitality and the heartwarming company of cheerful locals.
     Uncover some of Skardu’s history at Shigar Fort and Khaplu Palace.
     Breathe in the serenity of Satpara Lake and Upper Kachura Lake.
     Get lost in the awe of some of the world’s highest mountain peaks.

 

Skardu’s natural beauty abounds all around. It’s a perfect patchwork of landscapes: desert, mountains, meadows, and forests, all woven together side by side. Visit rejuvenating lakes that perfectly reflect the lines of the surrounding mountain peaks. Follow babbling streams that run through quaint towns and carve their way through lush green meadows. Hike across the cold desert sand dunes, with patches of green flora sprouting from the dusty ground.

Behind its breathtaking landscapes, the tales of Skardu’s rich history are told throughout the region. Landmarks of Baltistan’s history wait to be explored, like Khaplu Palace and Shigar Fort. Once the homes of Skardu’s royals, these monuments of a foregone era now house hotels and museums that shine a light on stories of the past.

Skardu Valley: A Land of Adventure

Known as the gateway to some of the world’s tallest mountains, Skardu welcomes hikers and explorers with open arms. At the foot of countless white-dusted peaks, the Indus River carves its distinct line here between the Karakoram Mountains and the Himalayas. Among the wonders that call the Skardu region home are K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, awe-inspiring Baltoro Glacier, and Trango Tower Peaks, renowned for their challenging cliff climbing terrain.

Discover Skardu for Yourself

Skardu Tour Packages

Browse our Skardu tour packages below, each specially designed and led by expert guides to help you discover the wonder of Skardu.  

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Relax at Shangrila Resort

The enchanting Shangrila Resort is situated just a 30 minutes’ drive from Skardu city. The resort is famous for its unique architecture and iconic curving red roofs. It also encompasses a natural pristine lake where you can take a boat ride and admire the matching red-roofed cottages that dot its shores. Shangrila resort offers some of the best hospitality in Baltistan. Book a few nights to experience the resort’s magic or take a day trip and enjoy the captivating surroundings.

Hike to Kharpocho Fort

Lace up your walking shoes and head to the ancient Kharpocho Fort. From the fort, you can see the whole city of Skardu, as well as the Indus River and surrounding valley. Built on a mountain, the fort was once home to the rulers of Skardu. Today, it's the perfect place to see Skardu from above and get a real sense of the region’s stunning landscape.

Deosai National Park

Translated, Deosai means ‘the land of giants’. Visit this breathtaking national park and the true meaning of its name becomes immediately clear. 4,112m above sea level, Deosai National Park stretches across over a thousand square miles of remote wilderness. It’s one of the highest plateaus in the world and protects the area’s incredible biodiversity. The stunning flora and diverse wildlife, including the grey wolf and Himalayan Ibex, make Deosai National Park one of the best places to visit in Skardu Valley. 30km from the city of Skardu, the park is inaccessible in winter. The main route opens up between June and September but the best time to visit is between July and mid-August.

Hike through Basho Valley

Cradled by the Karakoram mountains, Basho Valley is a 20km journey from Skardu city. It’s a mesmerising valley of lush green meadows, evergreen pines and luxurious hot springs. Take a trip to this natural wonder and explore by foot.

Enjoy unparalleled adventure

Skurdu has a reputation for its towering mountains and the reality does not disappoint. Home to some of the world's highest mountains and glaciers, Skardu is the gateway to enter a mountainous paradise. From the Trango Towers to K-2, the region offers a bounty of scenic hikes and adrenaline-pumping mountain climbing routes.

Wander the Katpana Cold Desert

This hidden gem offers equal helpings of serenity and wonder. High up in the mountains, the Katpana Desert is one of only a few cold deserts across the globe. In the colder months, the desert’s large sand dunes are often topped with snow. The warmer months, on the other hand, are perfect for exploring the dunes and marvelling at the high altitude chill.

Khaplu

Sitting at the confluence of the Indus and Shyok Rivers, the town of Khaplu captivates visitors with its old charm and valley views. The town is a 3 hour drive from Skardu city and well worth the journey. With its historic buildings, paths lined with ancient willow trees and friendly locals, Khaplu is one of the best places to visit near Skardu. Khaplu boasts many old buildings ready to be explored, one of which is Chaqchan Mosque. Believed to have been built in 1307, Chaqchan Mosque is one of the oldest in the region. It’s intricate wooden carvings and architecture echoes traditional Kashmiri style. Another important part of the town is its former royal residence: Khaplu Palace. A remnant of the Baltistan region’s old Maqpon Dynasty, the palace was built in the mid 19th century. It once served as the home of the Raja of Khaplu. The building fell into disrepair until Aga Khan Trust for Culture took it over, renovating it into a luxury hotel and museum.

Shigar

The town of Shigar is a 1 hour and 40 minute drive from Skardu city. Like many things in Pakistan, the journey there is a breathtaking experience in and of itself. The road leading to Shigar Valley is one of the most beautiful in the region, weaving its way through the landscape. The town is home to many historic curiosities, including Amburiq mosque. Built from mud and wood, the mosque is thought to be one of the oldest in South Asia. It started its life as a Buddhist place of worship but was converted into a mosque in the 16th century when Islam spread across the region. Another of Shigar’s most captivating treasures is its fort. Built on a rock from mud and wood, the fort was home to the Amacha Dynasty of Shigar in the 17th century. Like Khaplu Palace, Shigar Fort’s condition deteriorated after its royal inhabitants left. It was restored by Aga Khan Trust for Culture and opened up to the public in 2004 as a museum and hotel. It's the perfect spot to discover some of Pakistan’s rich history and, on sunny days, the fort’s beautiful garden is a paradise of fruit trees where visitors can enjoy some fresh food.

Upper Kachura Lake

Also known as Frogh Scho, Upper Kachura Lake sits 28km from Skardu city. Less explored than Lower Kachura Lake, it’s not hard to find peace here. Whether you take a boat ride across the perfectly blue water, fish for trout or hike through the mountains and poplar trees that surround it, visiting Upper Kachura Lake is an enchanting experience.

How To Reach

There are a few ways to reach Skardu.You could fly into Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city. From there, you can travel along the renowned Karakoram Highway. From June to October, you could also take the National Highway 15 through the breathtaking Babusar Top mountain pass. After travelling through Babusar Top, you'll reconnect with the Karakoram Highway and continue on to Skardu. If you’d rather avoid a long journey by road, another option is to fly to Skardu from Islamabad. Flights between the cities are operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) daily. The flights do depend on the weather but only take around an hour. Though you won’t get as up-close to the region’s landscape as you would travelling by road, the flight still has plenty of views to take in of northern Pakistan’s majestic mountains.

Novroz - 21st of March

Navroz is a celebration acknowledged by many countries across Central Asia. Occurring on the 21st of March each year, Navroz celebrates the start of spring according to the Persian calendar. The Baltistan region is filled with Central Asian influence so Navroz is just as much of a joyous occasion in Skardu. It honours the rejuvenation of living beings. As part of the festivities, prayers are offered to God for His bounties and locals pray for a year full of crops and fruits.

Mayfang - 21st December

The Mayfang Festival dates back centuries and commemorates the death of the last Buddhist Cannibal Raja of Gilgit. Festivities play out across the Baltistan region on the 21st of December each year, with a huge bonfire in the evening. Locals spend the evening dancing around the fire and singing chants.

Marzan

Marzan is often prepared for special occasions and enjoyed as part of the festivities. The dish consists of wheat grains that are soaked in water for about two weeks until they sprout. The grains are then ground up into flour before being mixed with water to form a dough. The dough is sweet to taste and, served with local organic apricot oil, is a delicious treat fit for special celebrations.

Kesir

Most often made for special events, Kesir is a round, flat bread made across Baltistan. It’s made from wheat flour, water, milk and eggs, all mixed together and baked. Once cooked, the Kesir is drenched in oil before it's ready to be enjoyed.

Balay

A traditional noodle and meat soup, this warming dish is a favourite in the mountainous region of Skardu. The soup is made with homemade wheat flour noodles and some sort of meat (usually mutton) and seasoned with local herbs and spices. Balay is very thick in consistency and undeniably wholesome – a perfect dish to warm up or to refuel after a day of adventure.

Rsap Khor

Rsap Khor is somewhat similar in appearance to crepes, but ia actually made with buckwheat flour and water. Baked on a flat pan, usually over a fire, these little buckwheat cakes have a slightly bitter taste alone but are usually served with apricot and walnut oils. These oils enhance the taste and soften the cakes, resulting in a hearty and wholesome dish that’s best enjoyed alongside a hot cup of tea.

Payo Cha

Payo Cha is a special type of tea. Far from a typical cup of tea, it’s an entirely unique Baltistan speciality. Payo Cha combines green tea (usually thyme leaves are used), milk, butter, salt, nut oil and wheat flour. The ingredients are all mixed together and brought to a boil. Best enjoyed freshly brewed and still hot from the pan, Payo Cha is a favourite in winter. It’s often drunk on snowy days to subdue hunger and fight the cold, and makes a healthy and wholesome substitute for breakfast or lunch.

Parpu

Parpu is a delicious noodle dish made with homemade wheat noodles and walnut paste. A delicacy most often enjoyed in the cold Pakistan winters, Parpu is a comforting and indulgent dish. First, the noodles are made from scratch from wheat flour, then boiled until soft. It’s then covered in a thick flavourful paste, made from ground walnuts and apricot kernel seeds. After the noodles and paste are mixed together with local herbs, the Parpu is topped with apricot oil and ready to be enjoyed.

Good to know

     Time Zone: Pakistan Standard Time.

     Language: The main language spoken in Skardu is Balti. Urdu is also widely understood.

     Religion: Muslim. The majority of the local population are Asna Ashri Shia and Noor bakhshi Muslims.

The best time to visit Skardu Valley

If you’re looking for a relaxing break and to explore some of the best places the region has to offer, the best time to visit Skardu is between June and October. For mountaineers that want to take on some of Skardu’s incredible peaks, the mountaineering season is at its prime from June to August. Skardu winters are unforgivingly cold, with heavy snowfalls, gusty winds, roads blocked and flights cancelled. On the other hand, summer and autumn in Skardu open up a paradise of fresh produce and inviting landscapes. Summer sees the harvest of incredible homegrown fruits ready for sampling, like apricots, mulberries and cherries. In autumn, the leaves change colour, blanketing the region in shades of green, yellow, orange and red, and apples, pears, grapes and nuts are picked fresh, ready to be devoured.

Skardu FAQs

 

Where is Skardu Valley located?

Skardu sits in the north of Pakistan, in the beautiful Gilgit-Baltistan region near the Chinese border. It’s about a 17-hour drive northeast of the capital city of Islamabad via Karakoram highway and one hour flight from capital city of Islamabad.

What is Skardu famous for?

Skardu is well known for its incredible mountains. The region is home to some breathtaking peaks, including the second tallest in the world, K-2. Aside from its mountains, Skardu is beloved for its diverse landscapes, delicious homegrown fruits, and warm, hospitable locals.

What are the top attractions to visit in Skardu?

The region boasts many stunning attractions. Some of the best places to visit in Skardu Valley include Shangrila Lake, Upper Kachura Lake, Shigar Fort, Kharpocho Fort and Khaplu Fort.

What are the best outdoor activities in Skardu?

Skardu is an adventurer’s paradise, with a landscape made for outdoor adventure. Mountaineers flock to Skardu to tackle some of its towering mountain peaks, climb sheer rock faces and walk across glaciers. If you prefer something a little more relaxing, Skardu has plenty for you too. Why not wander across the Cold Desert, try your hand at fishing, or take a boat ride across one of the region’s beautiful lakes?

What is the best company to book a Skardu Tour with?

Most tourism businesses in Pakistan don’t have the ability to offer guests an easy way to book and secure their spot on a tour. At Pak Voyager, we’ve used our platform to bring together the best tours available and made booking them straightforward for you. Not only do we offer exceptional tours, but we also pride ourselves on our warm and helpful customer service, so you always know you’re in good hands and well taken care of. Have a browse of our Skardu tour packages here.

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