Ever been to the valley of Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan? Best known for its amazing topographical features and incredibly beautiful weather, the place is truly a heaven on earth. This alluring valley attracts all types of tourists from around the world including nature lovers, photographers, documentary filmmakers and mountaineers.
So, if you also have the valley of Skardu on your travel wishlist, then this blog is for you. In this post, we have put together a comprehensive travel guide to Skardu, detailing some of its breathtaking natural features as well as all the noteworthy facilities that this wonderful place offers to tourists.
We’ll begin our journey by knowing more about the valley itself!
More About Skardu Valley in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan
Located at a height of 7,320 feet (2231 metres), Skardu is truly a paradise for mountaineers. It is surrounded by the mighty mountains of the Karakoram Range. The valley is about 10 kilometres wide and 40 kilometres long. It is incredibly located on the confluence of Shigar and Indus rivers. This amazing natural feature makes it one of the best places to visit in Pakistan.
Presence of lush green vegetation, historical forts, panoramic mountainous views, a cold desert, freshwater rivers and lakes make the valley of Skardu an epitome of natural beauty. Now, we’ll learn more about one of the most beautiful valleys in Pakistan by discussing all these features one by one.
Historical Forts in Skardu
Upon your visit to Skardu Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, you may come across the sight of some historical landmarks, out of which the two forts are very prominent: the Skardu and Shigar forts. Let’s learn more about these historical places to visit in Skardu Valley.
Skardu Fort (Kharpocho)
Skardu Fort is also known as ‘Kharpocho’, which means the ‘King of Forts’ in the local language. The fort dates back to the sixteenth century when it was built on the orders of King Sher Ali Khan Anchan, the former ruler of the region. The fort was purposely constructed on the top of a mountain to protect the region from any potential external threats. It was to keep an eye on the route entering and leaving the valley.
To promote tourism in Skardu Valley, the name of this fort is written in big letters on one of its walls, which looks quite prominent due to its mountain-top position. One can gaze at the panoramic views of the entire valley while standing at Skardu Fort.
Shigar Fort, which means the ‘Fort on Rock’, is another wonderful historical landmark located in the town of Shigar near the valley of Skardu in Pakistan. A grand renovation project was carried out on the fort, which was completed in six years (from 1999 to 2004) at a cost of $1.4 million. It was converted into a museum and one of the most luxurious hotels in the region. The place is now run by the management of Serena Hotels, a popular chain of five star hotels in Pakistan.
If we take a look at the origin of this historical site, we come to know that the construction of Shigar Fort took place during the rule of the Amacha Dynasty of Shigar. It was ordered by Raja Hasan Ali Khan. The palace on the rock reflects the glorious past of the historic city of Shigar.
Scenic Lakes in Skardu
Skardu is home to a few extremely beautiful lakes in the region. The upper and lower Kachura Lakes are the most prominent ones among them all. Other than the Kachura Lakes, there are also other lakes known as Satpara Lake and the Blind Lake (Sheosar). We’ll now learn more about these incredible fresh-water lakes in the area.
Lower Kachura Lake (Shangrila Lake)
The very famous lower Khachura lake is popularly known as Shangrila Lake among locals as well as tourists. It is a 30 minutes drive from the main city of Skardu. One of the biggest attractions of Shangrila Lake is Shangrila Resort. The resort boasts a luxurious design, adding to the beauty of the lake, which is so pristine that it leaves an everlasting imprint of its beauty on your mind.
The lake itself plays an extremely important role in promoting tourism in the valley of Skardu. It’s a naturally formed heart-shaped lake with crystal clear water, reflecting the majestic beauty of the mighty mountains in the area.
Upper Kachura Lake (Frogh Scho)
Upper Kachura lake, locally known as Frogh Scho, is probably the second most beautiful lake in the valley of Skardu in Pakistan. With a distance of around 28 kilometres from the main city, it is easily accessible by cars. The trees surrounding the area are a part of a fruit bearing vegetation mainly apricots.
The temperature in the region can reach up to 20 degrees celsius in summers and below zero during winters. Tourists indulge in a whole lot of activities and watersports near the lake like fishing, boating, mountaineering and trekking. This makes it one of the best places to visit in Skardu Valley.
Satpara lake is one of the best fishing spots in the region. It is one of the most scenic lakes in Skardu Valley surrounded by high glacial mountains. Satpara Lake is also best known for trout fishing and row boating. It was among the largest freshwater lakes and one of the most beautiful places to visit in Pakistan.
One of the main highlights of Satpara Lake is Satpara Dam. It was constructed at a cost of billions of rupees. Completed in 2011, Satpara Dam has become the primary source of potable water to the city of Skardu. It also features four independent powerhouse units for electricity production.
Blind Lake (Sheosar Lake)
Surrounded by the flow of Indus River on one side and Shigar River on the other, Blind Lake is locally known as Sheosar. In the local language ‘Sheo’ means ‘blind’ and ‘Sar’ means ‘Lake’. If you want to enjoy the views of this lake upon your trip to Skardu, you can access this place using two ways.
You can either visit the place on a 4X4 jeep, which can take you a few hours, or you can go trekking, through which it will take at least a couple of days for you to reach your destination from Skardu.
Weather of Skardu Valley
Featuring a semi-arid cold climate, Skardu is one of the coldest valleys in Pakistan. Even in summers, the weather of Skardu stays moderate with an average temperature of around 28 degrees celsius during the peak summer season.
On the other hand, the temperatures during the winter season may get bitter cold. The recorded average temperatures in the area during the peak winter season may go as low as -8 degrees celsius.
Quick Fact: One of the most unique features of Skardu is the cold desert. During the height of winters, you’ll see the sand dunes in Skardu’s cold desert covered in snow, which is an incredible sight to see.
How to Get to Skardu
Well, if you have already started packing your stuff for your trip to Skardu, we would like to tell you more about the best routes and modes of transportation you can use for your trip. If you’re travelling from the capital city of Islamabad, it will be a 13-hour-long journey (around 630 kilometres) by road. The best route you can take to get to Skardu is Skardu road via N-15 National Highway. There are also many private travel agencies offering Skardu tour packages these days starting for as low as around PKR 20,000.
If you’re travelling by air, you’ll land at Skardu Airport. It will be an hour-long flight. The cost of a round trip between Islamabad and Skardu is around PKR 32,000 ($190). The only airline operating on the route is Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). On a side note, if you want to learn more about the national flag carrier of Pakistan, read our detailed blog on Pakistan International Airlines.
Top Hotels in Skardu Valley
Skardu has become a hotspot for tourism in Pakistan. Owing to this reason many resorts and hotels have popped up in the area in recent years. So, if you are looking for some of the best places to stay in Skardu Valley, we have listed down a few suitable options for you. Take a look:
- Shangrila Resort Skardu
- Hotel One Skardu
- Mountain Lodge Holiday Home
- Hotel Himalaya Skardu
- Hotel Reego
These places to stay in Skardu Valley offer many state-of-the-art facilities to the visitors. Some of the most prominent ones among them include complimentary breakfast buffets, car rental services, free internet access, boating facilities, fishing facilities, jogging tracks, barbeque facilities.
Corporate meetings and training sessions can also be organised in these places as they have designated business centres and meeting rooms as well. Different types of rooms may be available in these hotels in Skardu such as Single-bed, Double-bed, Presidential Suites, Executive Suites, and Lakeside Cottages.
The charges of per night stay in hotels start as low as PKR 6,000. The hotel room charges and availability in Skardu may vary from season to season. We have also written a comprehensive post on some of the best hotels to stay in Skardu to provide you complete details in this regard.
Here we’ll wrap our detailed travel guide to Skardu Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan. We hope this blog has provided you with all the useful information that may help you with your trip. If you already have visited Skardu, feel free to share your experience with us at email@example.com.
In the meantime, if you are a fan of tourism in Pakistan, you may be interested in taking a look at our detailed tourism pieces on Swat Valley, Broghil Valley, Ziarat Valley and Gilgit-Baltistan. Don’t forget to read about the highest mountain peaks in Pakistan to learn more about the amazing topography of our homeland.
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