Best Time to Visit Hunza & Skardu

Best Time to Visit Hunza and Skardu

Despite Hunza Skardu size, weather patterns are largely the same across the Northern areas of Pakistan with defined seasons similar to those in Kel, Sharda, Toabutt, Kalam and Murree. While there are variations – mountain ranges attract higher rainfall and snow in some areas than others – it’s cold everywhere in winter and warm in most locations in summer. The summer months are most popular, offering sunny days and pleasant temperatures. Springtime starts in late April through to early June and can be a delightful time of year to visit, with gradual snow melt revealing forests and wildflowers and a re-emergence of Karakorum’s wildlife from the long winter hibernation. September’s considered the peak of the salmon run, attracting large numbers of bears. It also marks the start of autumn, with spectacular fall foliage lasting into October.

Month-by-Month guide to travelling in Hunza & Skardu

Visiting Hunza & Skardu in January – March

The weather is unquestionably cold at the start of the year, but if you’re prepared and have packed appropriately you can enjoy the many activities and festivals that take place during the Hunza & Skardu winter. There are popular cultural and sporting events and some incredible wildlife experiences, but perhaps best of all is the amazing phenomenon illuminating the dark winter skies known of course as the Northern Lights.

Visiting Hunza & Skardu in April

A good time to travel to Hunza & Skardu, with improving weather and longer days. The west coast in particular feel more pleasant. High up in the Rockies, the ski season is at its best with sunny days and blue skies. Elsewhere in the country, the chill of winter starts to disappear but weather can be unpredictable – be prepared for a variety of conditions.

Visiting Hunza & Skardu in May

Warmer weather, fewer crowds and lower costs make May a good time to visit Northern areas of Pakistan. There’s still some chill in the air, but with the snow largely gone and spring flowers blooming many lodges start to reopen and national parks become more accessible, allowing visitors a chance to explore in relative solitude before the peak season starts. This time of year is also perfect for Snow Peaks sightseeing and spring blooming.

Visiting Hunza & Skardu in June

June is, for many, the ideal time to visit Hunza & Skardu. The full peak summer season hasn’t quite started, but the days are warm and long. Hiking trails are open, the lakes and rivers have thawed and wildlife is increasingly active. In the north of the country, parts of the Naltar, Deosai and Northwest Territories that have previously been inaccessible because of snow open up to uncover mountain ranges, forest valleys, lakes and glaciers waiting to be explored.

Visiting Hunza Skardu in July – August

The long summer days offer opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors through the wonderful hiking, boating, camping and fishing opportunities available across the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Summer festivals, including Cultural Day of Hunza and the Sports event, take place, and outdoor dining is popular in towns and cities.

Visiting Hunza & Skardu in September – October

The weather is comfortable in autumn, and the changing colors of the fall foliage are spectacular. Most outdoor activities can be enjoyed and temperatures, though cooler, are still pleasant. It is a great time to visit Altit Fort in particular; with fewer crowds and the stunning autumn colors along the Baltit and Shigar Fort. September also sees the start of the salmon run and is consequently a good month to witness bears fishing for migrating salmon at Deosai National Park. October starts to get colder still, but offers the chance to spot polar bears as they make their way back from their summertime habitat.

Visiting Skardu & Hunza in November – December

The days are darker, snow may have started falling and the temperatures drop with the onset of winter. Despite this, November and December are still lively months, with holiday season festivals.

Road Conditions of Hunza & Skardu 

From January to March snowfall expected in most parts of Gilgit Baltistan so do check weather forecast before leaving for Hunza & Skardu. Babusar Top opens at end of June or in Mid of July so you required to travel through KKH which could be tiring Journey if you not enthusiast of long roadside travels.

Recent experience revealed that from Mid of March to April rainfall causes landslides on KKH. Pak-China Govt. is working on construction of KKH so in year or two.

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Top TEN PLACES TO VISIT IN SKARDU

Skardu is set strategically between desert and mountains. It lies in the 10 Km wide and 40 KM long oval basin at the confluence of the Indus and the Shigar River. At an altitude of 25,00 meters (8200 feet), the town is surrounded by grey-brown colored mountains, which hide the 8,000-meter peaks of the nearby Karakoram Range.

Skardu is the base town of the famous K2 Concordia trek and the Biafo Hispar trek, also known as Snow Lake trek. The 67 km long Biafo Glacier meets the 49 km long Hispar Glacier at an altitude of 5128 m ( 16,824 ft ) at Hispar La ( Pass) to create the world’s longest glacial system outside the polar regions. This highway of ice connects two ancient mountain kingdoms, Nagar (immediately south of Hunza ) in the west with Baltistan in the east. At the base of Hispar Pass on its eastern flank rests Snow Lake, a basin of ice (16 km wide) surrounded by granite pinnacles yet to be climbed. PakistanTravelGuide is offering Pakistan Tour Packages to domestic and international travelers in Pakistan, also you can book Skardu Tour Packages for our tour lists

Top 10 Places to Visit in Skardu

1. Khaplu

Khaplu Valley of the Shyok River is 103 Kilometres ( 64 miles ) from Skardu to the east. Khaplu was the largest kingdom in old Baltistan, guarding the trade route to Ladakh along the Shyok River. At 2600 meters (8400 feet), Khaplu is the cooler than Skardu, which combined with the friendly character of the people and the superb walks along the irrigation channels, makes Khaplu the nicest place to stay in Baltistan. The tiny village with its apricot and apple orchards, and lush green fields set by rugged mountains, homes set on mountain slopes, and thrilling views of Masherbrum, K-2, and K-7, is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Dominating the Valley from the top end of the alluvial fan, the imposing Palace of the ex-raja gazes down the kingdom. Its whitewashed façade, punctuated by irregularly placed little windows, supports and extravagant carved wooden balcony up its center. Built about 150 years ago, it has a faintly Tibetan style, like Baltit fort in Hunza. Also worth seeing in Khaplu and the old wooden mosques on the way up through the village. The beautiful Chaqchan Mosque is around 700 years old, founded by Mir Sayyed Ali Hamadani, the first Islam preacher in this area.

Traditions are still very much alive in Khaplu. The annual Spring Festival is held on the polo ground just below the old palace and goes on for three days. Polo competitions between local teams from Khaplu and neighboring villages are part of the festivities.  

Khaplu Village Skardu

2. SHIGAR

on 30 minutes drive from Skardu city after crossing the check point and Shyok River entering from Shigar Door ( Babe-Shigar) on Safranga Cold desert you will find different terrain of mountains as feel like that you are on Mars then a beautiful Valley appear along Shigar River.

Shigar is famous for Shigar fort runs under Serena Pakistan and small walnut wood crafted mosques and of freshwater streams. It is dominated by the Tibetan-styled Baltit Fort which stands guard over the entire valley. The exact origins of the Shigar fort are unclear, although the foundations date back to 700 years ago, with rebuilds and alterations over the centuries. Shigar is the base for a number of short walks and excursions, as well as being a popular place with visitors to relax and unwind. The local bazaar is full of colorful shops with local dry fruits, handicrafts, and a number of souvenir shops.

Shigar Skardu

3. Upper Kachura Lake

Beautiful Lake of all time with no seen source of water but always remains full, no source of water coming and leaving from the lake, the water looks very fresh surrounded by mountains, it’s 20 minutes walk from the parking lot to the Upper Kachura Lake. Speed boating is the real fascination and a Chinar tree standing in front of the lake. Trout fish is easily available in small restaurants with the pristine beauty of Upper Kachura Lake Skardu.

Best Season to Visit the Lake is June – November

Upper Kachura Lake Skardu

4. Shangrilla Lake and Resort

Shangri-la is located just 35 minutes away from Skardu. The resort is built along a beautiful lake, which is surrounded by the most enchanting and splendid scenic beauty. One may stay here, take a boat ride, or trekking to the hills nearby. It offers perfect peace to visitors especially in summers amidst a comfortable cool climate and a fresh breeze blowing across the tiny retreat.

Shangrilla Resort and Lake

5. Kharpucho Fort

There are many archaeological sites found in the Northern Areas, particularly in Skardu and Kharpocho Fort is one of them. It is built by Maqpon Bugha (1490-1515 A.D) but the Mughal historians refer it to the great Ali Sher Khan Anchan (1560-1625 A.D). The fort stands on the bank of River Indus in the Skardu and the city can be viewed from the fort. The fort is illuminated at night and it seems as if the olden days get revived. Some observations about this fort have been found in the Imperial Gazetteer of British India, which state that this was one of the most famous of the Gralpos (Monarchs of Skardu), Ali Sher Khan, who ruled over the region till the end of the 16th century, conquered Ladakh and Skardu; and he built a fort at Skardu.

Skardu Fort

6. Buddha Rock

This is the only remaining Buddhist Rock, with rock carvings, located on the Satpara road in the Skardu. The rock carvings and images of Buddha are dated back to the period of the Great Tibetan Empire when the people migrated from Tibet to present-day Northern Areas of Pakistan. They settled here temporarily and carved drawings of Stupas, scenes of their experiences, and images of Buddha with Kharoshti language transcript. There were a number of such Buddhist rock carvings in the Skardu Valley. The sculpture of Buddha and his disciples are 2000 years old. It was a place of worship for Buddhists till the mid of 14th century A.D. There are scriptures of Buddha o the Rock.

Buddha Rock Skardu

7. Nasdoq / Organic Village

Nansoq Village is located behind the famous Kharpocho Fort. It has been developed into an Organic Village through the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP). The village is visited by many famous personalities including Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and His Highness Aga Khan.

Organic Village Skardu

8. Sadpara Lake

Sadpara (Satpara) Lake is located 8 kilometers (5 miles), in the South of Skardu, and takes just 20 minutes by jeep to get there. It is surrounded by high mountains. The lake has an island in the mid of its clear water, which can be reached by boat. The lake is ideal for fishing and home of wild birds migrated from Siberia. Sadpara Dam is also a source of hydroelectricity and freshwaters supply to adjacent areas.

Sadpara Lake Skardu

9. Deosai Plains

The roof ground of the world, an astonishingly different world, immense grassland, and moraine surrounded by the world’s largest plains with brown bears, here bigness is a trademark. Here each day’s travel brings constant revelation the magic of incomparable vistas, breathtaking views of snow, jade lakes, murmuring streams, dancing waterfalls, dynamic and colorful cultures, and rare wildlife.

Deosai Plains Skardu

10. Manthoka Waterfall

Beautiful waterfall attracted in both seasons, Summers and Winters, In winters due to minus temperatures waterfall completely frozen down.

Manthoka Waterfall

 List of Top 10 Places to visit in Skardu

  1. Khaplu
  2. Shigar
  3. Upper Kachura
  4. Shangrilla Lake and Resort
  5. Kharpuchu Fort
  6. Buddha Rock
  7. Nasdoq/Organic Village
  8. Sadpara Lake
  9. Deosai Plains
  10. Manthoka Waterfalls

 

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DEOSAI NATIONAL PARK SKARDU

brown bears of deasai
The Deosai National Park is located between Skardu, Gultari, Kharmang and Astore Valley, in Gilgit-Baltistan Region of Northern Areas of Pakistan. In Urdu language Deosai means ‘the Land of Giants’. Balti people called it ‘Ghabiarsa’ because it is accessible only in summer.

Geography:

Deosai National Park lies in Skardu, Baltistan, at an average elevation of 4,114 metres (13,497 feet) above sea level. The Deosai Plains are one of the highest plateaus in the world. The park stretches on an area of 3,000 square kilometres (1,200 square miles). It is well known for its rich flora and fauna of the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe eco-region. In the spring season, it is covered by wildflowers and a vast variety of butterflies.

Geology and Soil:

The soil of this area is coarser in nature and mixed with gravel and stones different size. In flat areas between mountains,the soil is deep with marshy vegetation.

How to reach there:

Deosai is accessible by Skardu District from the North, Gultari Kharmang District from the South-East and the Astore District from the West. Deosai is located 30 kilometres away from Skardu city and it is the shortest route to reach Deosai. Most of the foreigners visit Deosai from Skardu and it takes an hour to reach on the top through Sadpara Skardu. The other route is from Astore valley throgh Chilim. It is also accessible from Shila Valley. The people of Gultari travel through Deosai. There is another route called Burgi-la through Tsoq Kachura Valley Skardu.

Sheosar Lake:
Deosai Lake or Sheosar Lake, meaning “Blind lake” (Sheo means Blind, Sar means lake) located in the park. The lake, at an elevation of 4,142 metres (13,589 feet), is one of the highest lakes in the world. Its length is 2.3 kilometres (7,500 feet), width 1.8 kilometres (5,900 feet) and average depth 40 metres (130 feet).

Fauna and Flora:
The Deosai National Park was established in 1993 to protect the Himalayan brown bear and its habitat. After banning poachers and hunters, the number of bears has significantly increased from 19 bears in 1993 to 40 in 2005. In 1993 Himalayan Wildlife Project was launched with a substantial financial support from International Environmental Organizations. But the brown bear is still in danger.
The Deosai National Park is home to the Himalayan ibex, red fox, golden marmot (locally called Phia), gray wolf, the Ladakh urial, the snow leopard, and over 124 species of local and migratory birds. Birds in the park include the golden eagle, lammergeier, griffon vulture, laggar falcon, peregrine falcon, kestrel, sparrow-hawk and snow-cock.
The following species are also found in Deosai Artemisia maritima, Polygonum affine, Thalictrum alpinum, Bromus oxyodon, Saxifraga flagellaris, Androsace mucronifolia, Aster flaccidus, Barbarea vulgaris, Artemisia maritima, Agropyron longearistatum, Nepeta connate, Carex cruenta, Ranaculyus laetus, Arenaria neelgerrensis, Astrogalus leucophylla, Polygonum amplexinade, Echinop nivetus, Seria chrysanthenoides, Artemisia maritima, Dracocephalum nutsus, Anapalas contorta, Chrysopogon echinulatus, and Dianthus crinitus. There were also observed some medicinal plants which are localy famous i.e Thymu linearis (Reetumburuk), Saussures lappa (kuth), Ephedra intimedia (Say), Viola canescens (Skora-mindoq), Dracocephalum muristanicum (Shamdun) and Artemisia maritima (Bursay) etc. which are used in traditional drugs.

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KATPANA (COLD DESERT) SKARDU

katpana Desert Skardu

Skardu:
Skardu is a town and Capital of Skardu District, in Gilgit-Baltistan. Skardu is a 10 kilometres (6 miles) wide and 40 kilometres (25 miles) long Valley, located at the confluence of the Indus and the Shigar Rivers. Skardu is at an altitude of about 2,226 metres (7,303 feet). The town is surrounded by greyish-brown mountains.

Katpana Desert:
There are sand deserts in Skardu and Shigar Valleys, on the banks of Indus and Shigar rivers. Katpana Desert stretches from the Khaplu Valley to Nubra, Ladakh and Shigar, Skardu Valley to Zanskar in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The largest area of Katpana Desert is found in Skardu and Shigar Valleys. It is called Biana Naqpo and Katpana Biana, in local language. Katpana Desert is located near Skardu city while Shigar Desert is located on the way to Shigar Valley. Katpana Desert is situated at an elevation of 2,226 metres above sea level. This is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions of Northern Areas in Pakistan. It is called Cold Desert of Skardu Region. Its mesmerizing cold nights and magnificent sandy view makes it a majestic place to visit. There are large sand dunes in Katpana Desert, which presents a spectacular sight. It is located at an elevation of more than 7, 303 feet. It is one of the highest deserts in the world.

Means of Travelling:
By Air:
Skardu is connected to Islamabad via Pakistan International Airlines. The flights are regular; however it is possible only on a clear day.
By road:
Skardu can be reached by road from Islamabad, via four routes:
Islamabad>Mansehra>Basham>Dasoo>Chilas>Jaglot>Skardu
Islamabad>Mansehra>Basham>Dasoo>Chilas> Deosai>Skardu
Islamabad>Mansehra>Balakot>Naran>Babusar Top>Chilas>Jaglot>Skardu
Islamabad>Mansehra>Balakot>Naran>Babusar Top>Chilas>Deosai>Skardu
It is also possible to reach Skardu from Gilgit. It is a 256 kilometres long route.

Hotels and Resorts:
Tourists can get an easy access to the accommodation facilities here in Skardu. Hotels, Motels and Restaurants provide all the modern amenities and comforts to the tourists. Some places to stay are as follows:
Hotel One Skardu
Karakoram Inn Hotel & Restaurant Skardu
Concordia – II, Near K-2 Motel, Skardu
Hunza Inn, Naya Bazar, Skardu
Baltistan Tourist Cottage, Chowk Yadgar, Skardu
Baltoro Rest House, Satellite Town, Skardu
Northern Areas PWD Rest House, Hamid Garh, Skardu
Yak N Yurt Sarai, Satellite Town, Skardu
Skardu Inn, Main Bazar, Skardu
Indus Hotel
Karakoram Hotel Main Bazar
Hotel & Restaurant Dewan-E-Khas
Shangrila Resort
Shigar Fort Residence
K-2 Motel is a PTDC Motel in Skardu

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