The capital of Baltistan and a major town of Gilgit-Baltistan province, the Skardu is a well established mountain city. Skardu is about 10 kilometers wide and 40 kilometers long valley at the confluence of the Indus River and the Shigar River. At an altitude of 2,500 meters, the Skardu town is encircled by rigid brown mountains with white snow at the top for most of year.
Skardu is the commercial and administrative center of Baltistan. Both public and private facilities related to utilities, health, business, education, communication and transport are available in Skardu. Most of the commodities are being supplied to Skardu from the large business cities of Pakistan. Tourism is the base for local economic activities but agriculture, fruit farming, precious stone mining and handicrafts are other important trades of Skardu.
Skardu is one of the most appealing cities for high altitude adventurers from all over the world. From mountain climbing to family holiday outings, this mountain city offers charming options to visitors of every taste and age group.
Khapocho – Historic Fort of Skardu
The historic Kharpocho is a few minutes’ walk from the main bazaar of Skardu. It’s really worth to spare some time out of adventure to explore this unique building. A visit to Kharpocho is interesting from historical, architectural, cultural and aesthetical aspects. The whole Skardu city, sandy desert, popular trees and wide Indus River look beautiful from the heights of this fort.
Satpara Lake is a beautiful large lake about 10 KM from Skardu town. This fresh water lake offers interesting outdoor activities like trout fishing and boating.
Kachura Lake is at a distance of 18 kilometers from Skardu. Kachura Lake is a deep blue water lake surrounded by brown mountains. It is a very appealing day out at a tranquil location while boating and fishing possibilities.
The Shangrila Lake is located before the Kachura Lake and privately owned by Shangrila Resorts. This is a well maintained beautiful artificial lake.
The Shigar Fort is 30KM away from Skardu and easily accessible through a smooth road. Public and private transport is available from Skardu to Shigar town. Locally named Fong-Khar, this palace was once the residence of Raja of Shigar in 17th century’s Amacha dynasty. It can also be a delightful tea break at Shigar Fort for those heading up to Askole for extensive excursion up the Baltoro and Biafo regions.
Shaucer Lake and Deosai Plateau
This exceptionally thrilling and unique Jeep safari can be done in a long day from Skardu to Deosai plateau and back. It is an adventurous and scenic travel through the Satpara Lake, unique Deosai plateau and Shaucer Lake.
Most of the mountaineering attractions for mountain and rock climbers belong to Skardu. The Baltistan is the land of many mountain peaks over 7000 meters and rock towers over 5000 meters. To name a few, K2, Gasherbrum I, II, III, IV, V, Masherbrum, Chogolisa, Baltoro Kangri, Saltoro, Haramosh and K6-K7 are the most challenging.
For rock climbers, Trango Towers, Cathedral, Mustagh Tower, Amin Brakk and many unnamed rocks are accessible from Skardu.
High altitude trekkers also have a variety of options available. Concordia, Gondogoro La, Biafo-Hispar, Kutwal Lake, Deosai, Thalle, Masherbrum Base camp and only few from a long list.
The Skardu’s most wanted production is “Pattu” – a hand woven woolen cloth. A variety of embroidered Balti styled gowns are also a unique collection. Skardu is also good for buying of raw and refined gemstones which are drilled out from the mines of Karakoram Mountains. Another delicious item to buy is the highest quality dry fruits of Baltistan.
Where to stay
A large number of hotels and rest houses are available in Skardu to meet every budget requirement. Finding a room or two is not a problem even in tourist season; but for large expeditions, an advance booking shall be made to avoid any inconvenience.
Transport and Access
By road, Skardu is accessible from several routes among which the Giglit-Skardu Road is the major route. Gilgit-Skardu Road is linked to the Karakorum Highway at Jaglot. The other roads linking Skardu to Astore are via Deosai and suitable for Jeeps. Due to the extreme cold weather and mountain conditions in the winters, the road traveling can be challenging.
From Gilgit and Rawalpindi, several busses and vans leave for Skardu daily. The usual time from Rawalpindi to Skardu is 24 hours which usually expand upto 30 hours due to the road conditions. From Gilgit, this can take about 7 hours to reach Skardu.
For air traveling, two flights between Islamabad to Skardu are scheduled by Pakistan International Airline (PIA). The air travel is also subject to the weather conditions.