The five day Skardu trip on our way back from Hunza valley was a hectic and wild decision I must say, but we had to take this decision, because we had gone too far on the Karakoram Highway and because Talal wanted to touch his driving limits. So, we went for it and drove ourselves on the ancient road from KKH to Skardu.
The road condition was compromised.If anybody asks me, I would not recommend driving on that track. It is advised to take a flight from Gilgit to Skardu that would have been a wiser move. Well Talal and I are not known for our wisdom so we can’t be blamed for it.
Google Map, our best friend, was telling us that it is 188KM from Gilgit to Skardu and that we can cover in 4 hours and 24 minutes. This is not true, because the condition of the track that takes you off from KKH and direct towards Skardu parallel to Indus River is not as good as Google might perceive. So, it took us almost 9 hours to reach Skardu.
We reached there at night and I do not want to sound unfair but we were a little disappointed by the first image of that place because the main market was closed at that time of night and the first hotel that we checked was not as good as we wanted it to be. Exhausted and tired, we kept on looking other options to stay and ended up staying at Concordia Hotel.
The hotel had a nice view of Indus River and Himalayas. We could even head the famous burbling of Indus River that was somewhat daunting at that time of the night.
The next day, we realized that it was too early to make our minds last night. In the morning the place had such magical feel that it just captivated us in no time. The days were not as cold as the nights; it was the second week of May. The sun was showing its tantrums in the noon but the nights were surprisingly very cold.
We asked around for the places to go that were open at that time of the year because there were a few places like Deosai which were still frozen.
The first day route was from White Desert to Shigar Fort covering one or two ancient mosques on the way. We fell in love with White Desert so stayed there twice on our way to and back from the Shighar Fort. Because of this blind love we forgot to go to the Manthoka Waterfall, which I am going to regret till the next time I go to Skardu.
The following day we went to Sadpara lake.It was huge!And we bought fishing equipment.
We went down from the road to the bank of the lake and sat there for two hours. We waited for the fishes – they never came to us, as if they knew our intentions. Then on our way back to hotel we felt there was a storm in the White Desert, so we went there one more time and tried to go to Buddha’s Rock but couldn’t go there, neither of us wanted to trek.
After that we saw the Katpana Desert. This was just another place on the list. But once we reach there it was worth it. We could see all the possible colors of the nature, from the warm tones of the desert and the green trees on the boundary of the Katpana Lake to the Snowy peaks of the gigantic mountains.
The next day we went to see upper Kachura Lake and on our way back we went to see the famous Shangrila Resort. Kacura Lake seemed a little empty and when we asked around they said that since the snowy peaks have not melted yet so the lake is not completely filled. But it was good enough to boat in it and to sit on the bank and relax.
Shangrila’s splendor made us selfish and we extended our trip to another two days and reserved a room because once we went there we did not want to leave. We went to the reception and asked to book a room for us. They gave us the day after next day that meant we had an unplanned day to spend in Skardu.
For the extended unplanned day, we tried our luck and went to Deosai National Park. We drove up till the official entrance of the Deosai National Park and after a few meters the road was blocked. The snow slip was too harsh to cross on the car. We parked our car on the side of the road because no one could come from the other side. We started hiking and after 2 hours of walking, we still could not reach to the roof of the world.
It was a little heart breaking that we came this far and could not make it to the end, but the avalanche was too big and too dangerous to cross without backup. The evening was approaching swiftly and we had to keep in mind that we need to go back in daylight as well. So, came back with a heavy heart.
The next day we spent at Shangrila to keep our misery away, checked in first thing in the morning, had our room set up, had tea by the lake. In the noon we went for a little hike in the resort, met with the owner of the place. He was walking with his beloved dog, it was so adorable, and he told us that his dog is so used to him that it flies with him everywhere. So, wherever he needs to go, he always takes the dog with him.
Well Talal and I had a very peaceful end to our ten-day journey, first to Hunza and then Skardu. The drive back from Skardu to Islamabad is a different story altogether.