Things To Do in Skardu, Baltistan

Skardu, Baltistan is one of the most captivating tourist spots in northern Pakistan. With its stunning Balti culture and picturesque landscape, Skardu should definitely be on your bucket list for a trip.

Skardu Valley lies at the center of the beautiful Karakoram Mountains and boasts breathtaking natural beauty as well as rich cultural significance.

Skardu is an adventure destination ripe with natural wonder and cultural interest, so a visit here should not be missed by travelers seeking adventure or cultural enrichment! 

Skardu is an exquisite part of Gilgit Baltistan and one of the top attractions in Pakistan, making a visit worthwhile if you have time. Make the most of your stay by planning a day trip and seeing some of its main sites.

Asides from its majestic lakes, there are other attractions that make this destination worth your while - from mountain climbing to wildlife! Don't miss it - you will have an awesome time here!

Moreover, PIA operates two flights daily between Islamabad and Skardu, making it an accessible and hassle-free way to explore this charming city.

Skardu offers many interesting activities for visitors. From discovering hidden architectural treasures to hiking some of Pakistan's most beloved mountains, there's plenty to see and do in Skardu. Here are some of the top things to do there.

1. Visit the Shigar Fort


Shigar Fort


Shigar Fort, situated along the legendary route to K-2, the world's second-highest mountain, stands in an idyllic setting irrigated by waters from Baltistan's glaciers. Its stunning natural splendor and cultural richness make it a must-visit for travelers.

In the 17th century, the Raja of the Amacha Dynasty of Shigar constructed this fort which remains one of the region's most significant historic sites. After being abandoned for many years, Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP-P) restored it in 1999 and it is currently managed by Serena Hotel.

Shigar Fort is a must-see destination for history buffs, offering guests an intriguing look into the valley's past. Plus, it makes an excellent location to take pictures with stunning mountain landscapes and panoramic views.

Traveling to the fort can be arranged through either a local tour operator or directly through your hotel. Guided tours offer an insightful look into the fort's history and culture, perfect for anyone interested in discovering more of its secrets.

The Fort also features the stunning Hashupi Bagh Garden, which is a popular tourist destination in the area. These gardens are beautifully kept with vibrant flowers and lush green landscapes - an ideal spot for visitors to unwind after their sightseeing adventures.

Another must-see attraction in the Shigar Valley is Blind Lake. Whether you're looking to swim or boat, this tranquil freshwater lake has become a popular tourist destination for locals and visitors alike.

Shigar is home to an array of gemstones and minerals, such as beryl, aquamarine, chalcedony, tourmaline, and garnet. As a popular tourist destination, there are plenty of hotels and resorts for visitors to choose from in the area.

2. Take A Hike to Marsur Rock


Marsur Rock


Skardu is a picturesque mountain town, making it an ideal starting point to explore the surrounding area. Attractions such as Kharpocho Fort and Upper Kachura Lake make Skardu an especially appealing destination.

One of the most popular activities to do in Skardu is taking a hike up Marsur Rock, situated in Hussainabad Valley. Climbing this rock provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape and allows you to appreciate its mountainous terrain in its natural state.

Masrur Temples are some of the most impressive monuments in the region and represent architectural styles popular during the Balti kingdom in the 17th century. There have been efforts made to have them listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

It is also an ideal option for those wanting to experience Skardu's culture and history. The hike takes approximately an hour, providing plenty of exercises while having a peaceful day outdoors.

When hiking, be mindful to exercise caution and wear sturdy footwear. The terrain may be challenging or uneven, so you'll want to be prepared for anything that comes your way.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for the journey. A general guideline is to carry at least three liters of water when hiking.

Once you reach the summit of a rock, take time to sit back and take in the views. Not only will the scenery be breathtakingly beautiful, but it's also an excellent spot for lunch if you're feeling peckish!

In the summer months, Marsur Rock offers breathtaking views over Skardu and its surrounding mountains. Resembling Norway's Trolltunga but smaller in scale, Marsur Rock is highly popular with both residents and visitors.

3. Visit the Buddha Rock


Buddha Rock


If you're visiting Skardu, make sure to stop by Buddha Rock - an iconic monument shaped like Buddha's head that sits atop a pagoda on top of a mountain.

Not only that: this site also displays an ancient Buddhist inscription written in Sanskrit by local historian Muhammad Abbas Kazmi that instructs Buddhist followers to keep the rocks clean and bright so as to preserve its unique carving - something local historian Muhammad Abbas Kazmi feels strongly about. 

This script instructs followers of this religion to maintain its rock carving by keeping its edges bright and smooth - this instruction is especially pertinent since the carving itself is unique worldwide.

At Skardu, one of the must-see sights is the Secret Buddha Garden: an idyllic oasis filled with stunning local flora and captivating waterfalls. Booking a tour to explore it thoroughly is strongly suggested!

The walls are decorated with intricate carvings depicting stories about Buddha and Buddhist myths such as serpents and sea demons, while a golden statue of him greets all who enter.

It has attracted pilgrims for centuries, and you cannot fail to be taken in by its stunning beauty. The staircase leading up to its summit is lined with vibrantly painted and mosaic-studded nagas (Thai mythological sea serpents) that guard its ascent, providing stunning sea views as you go up or down each step.

Skardu offers plenty of exciting activities, from visiting its fort to strolling along its ice-covered lakes. However, April to July is considered to be the ideal time for travelers interested in visiting this northern Pakistani town because this period provides comfortable temperatures without too many crowds.

4. Visit the Organic Forest


Organic Forest


If you're traveling to Skardu and seeking something more off the beaten path, the Organic Forest is a great option. Situated just across Kharpocho Fort from Skardu city center, this tranquil stretch of woods provides an oasis from the often-loud Skardu surrounding you.

If you have some extra time on hand, a day trip to Balti culture and nature is sure to please. Enjoy some peace and serenity as you soak in its beauty!

The Organic Forest is a popular destination for locals and travelers alike. Just a short hike from town, you can spend an hour or two admiring its serene natural landscape.

Along the man-made canals, there are plenty of places to stop and admire the natural scenery. Be sure to pack some food for a picnic or snack when you're finished exploring the forest.

In addition to its stunning natural environment, the Organic Forest is also home to some stunning animals. Deer, wolves, and various bird species that migrate from Siberia come here in search of food.

Enjoy the beauty of wildflowers during the spring season. These blooming beauties provide a captivating sight.

After your exploration of the Organic Forest is complete, you can continue your adventure by visiting the Organic Valley. This serene area offers an idyllic backdrop for an afternoon stroll or day trip.

Shop for some locally mined gems while in town. Mountain jade and garnet are particularly renowned in this region, so be sure to bring home some of each for your collection.

5. Go Off-Road Driving to The Dunes


Off-Road Driving to The Dunes


If you're searching for some off-road adventure, Skardu has several excellent destinations to visit. The Shigar Valley is approximately 45 minutes away and the Sarfaranga Desert lies only 20 kilometers from town.

Though many are fearful of driving in the sand, it can be an exhilarating experience. Before you try it out, however, here are a few things you should know:

First, remember that sand can be highly slippery. This makes it challenging to maintain control of your car and vision for what lies ahead.

Be mindful of animals and plants that could get tangled up in your car, as well as rocks that could get lodged in the engine and cause your vehicle to malfunction.

Another essential thing to be mindful of is the changing consistency of sand during different times of the day. This could make it difficult to drive on and you could end up getting stuck in the sand.

Finally, be cautious not to get caught in a storm and always wear warm clothes while driving through the desert - particularly at night when temperatures can drop significantly.

When driving in sand, one of the most essential rules to follow is driving perpendicular to its slope. Doing this will prevent your vehicle from rolling sideways and damaging its front end.

Though it's only a short drive, you'll need a 4x4 to reach the dunes. As this stop is popular among travelers heading towards Shigar Valley, expect to see plenty of other vehicles there as well.

6. Take A Trek to The Organic Valley


Organic Valley Trek


The Organic Valley in Skardu is a peaceful and picturesque destination to visit. Situated near Kharpocho Fort, it's an accessible trek along wooden bridges that offers stunning views of both the city and the River Indus.

This path is suitable for beginners and takes about an hour to complete. Although initially steep, the gradient soon eases off once you become accustomed to it. Along the way, you can stop to take photos or enjoy a picnic - whatever suits you best!

There are various routes to the Organic Valley. The quickest option begins from Market Road, passing the soccer stadium and polo ground along the way. Expect a strenuous trek of almost an hour through a mountainous landscape with stunning views of both city and the River Indus as you pass.

An alternative route is a trail that winds around Zowar Singh's fortress and offers breathtaking views of the Indus River as it meanders across silvery sands beneath you.

Skardu offers some beautiful mountains to view while staying at an affordable price point. Additionally, it provides a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the local culture and customs.

Be prepared to haggle when purchasing souvenirs and foods in the markets around Skardu. Ask what price they have in mind, then offer a fair amount in order to avoid getting taken advantage of.

Nansoq, Skardu's first organic village, was developed with that in mind. This serene and tranquil spot will leave you with plenty of memories. It makes an ideal destination for families as well as those seeking a peaceful haven to rest and unwind.

7. See Wildlife in Deosai National Park


Deosai National Park


Deosai National Park lies between Gultari and Kharmang Valleys in the south, Astore, and Skardu Valleys in the west, and Skardu City in the north, covering an expanse of over 3,000 sq km of stunning flora and fauna spanning three regions - Himalayan Ibex, Red Fox, Tibetan Blue Bears, Brown Bears, Ladakh Urals, and Snow Leopards reside here, in addition to over 124 different local and migratory bird species!

Deosai National Park draws visitors for its lush landscape, beautiful scenery, and vibrant wildflower displays that blossom each spring. Additionally, Deosai is home to an extraordinary community that lives completely organically within the national park itself.

One of the most thrilling activities you can experience while visiting Deosai National Park is fishing for snow trout! These freshwater fish serve as sustenance for wildlife in the area and are especially important food sources for bears that often reside there.

As well as fishing, Deosai Park provides ample opportunity for exploration via walks across its vast plains and spectacular views. At night time, its breathtaking night sky gives visitors an excellent view of the Milky Way galaxy.

Deosai National Park is best visited from June to July. Expect variable weather, from cloudy days followed by sunny ones to sudden downpours that bring them all the way back around again.

Sheosar Lake is another must-see attraction in this region and can be found within Deosai National Park. Offering picturesque views of its surrounding mountains, Sheosar Lake attracts numerous tourists as a tourist destination.

8. Enjoy Fishing at The Satpara Lake


Satpara Lake


Satpara Lake in Skardu is one of the most picturesque natural lakes, situated at an elevation of 2,636 meters and covering an area of 2.5 kilometers. This spectacular body of water boasts a beautiful island in its center that adds further charm. This source of freshwater supplies freshwater for boating and trout fishing activities.

The Satpara Dam Project began construction in 2003 and is expected to increase lake size. As a multipurpose project, it can produce 13 megawatts of hydro generation while simultaneously irrigating 15,000 acres and providing 13 cusecs of daily water supply to Skardu City.

Skardu offers many other attractions beyond its lake that should not be missed, including Manthal Buddha Rock, Katpana Cold Desert, and Shigar Fort.

Kachura Lakes are another must-see attraction, known for their deep blue waters and brown trout fish species. Perfect for picnics!

Row boating and trout fishing enthusiasts will find this the ideal spot to visit, with local boatmen offering rental options at reasonable rates.

9. Visit the Kharpocho Fort


Kharpocho Fort


History buffs will love learning about the region by visiting Kharpocho Fort in Skardu. Commonly referred to as the King of Forts, this fort was constructed by the Maqpon dynasty rulers of Baltistan during the 17th century and remains a popular tourist attraction today.

The Fort is situated above the meeting of rivers, providing spectacular views of Skardu Rock. According to Australian mountaineer and filmmaker Greg Child, this fortress stands as "one of the best-preserved fortresses" throughout all of the Himalayas.

Kharpocho Fort should be on your itinerary when visiting Skardu. Not only is it beautiful to explore but hiking through this challenging yet unforgettable path will leave a memorable impression in your memory.

Not only can you visit the fort, but there are other attractions nearby as well. One such is Manthoka Falls; an exquisite waterfall found in Kharmang Valley just a short drive away. A day trip is recommended here to fully experience all it has to offer!

Fort Skardu boasts an apricot and cherry orchard that serves as a key food source in Skardu. Both varieties offer delectable fruit that can be eaten directly or used to craft jams, jellies, and other treats.

10. Visit the Khaplu Palace


Khaplu Palace


Khaplu Palace in Skardu stands out as an attraction unlike any other in the region, boasting a luxurious hotel within a historic castle. Furthermore, it's home to scenic spots like Upper Kachura Lake and Marsur Rock (a precariously perched rock popular among hikers). 

One of the top attractions in Skardu is exploring its bustling bazaar, filled with local goods. Additionally, tour Shigar Fort and Khaplu Palace - recently converted into museums and hotels respectively. Both feature gorgeous architecture combining regional styles with foreign influences; similarly, Shigar Fort houses ancient religious sites and artifacts that may surprise you!

Hike to Mosque Sofia Noorbakhsia Gharbochong for breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and an exquisite wooden work and carving display depicting images from local mythology and folklore.

Mosque Sofia Noorbakhsia Gharbochong in Khaplu Valley stands out as an unusual tourist destination, offering breathtaking views despite being located atop a rocky mountain and not very large in size. Reaching it will require some perseverance but is well worth the journey to experience its beauty!

11. Fishing in The Upper Kachura Lake


Upper Kachura Lake


Skardu offers many unique attractions, but visiting a fish farm should be on the itinerary. Not only can locals provide great insight into life in Skardu; fresh local fish is divine when grilled or spiced up with Pakistani masala!

Upper Kachura Lake in Pakistan's northern region is an exciting tourist attraction that lures adventure enthusiasts. Boasting beautiful mountainous backdrops and home to pristine azure waters of its lake, its surroundings boast abundant flora including wild apricot (Prunus armeniaca) orchards as well as hiking and trout fishing opportunities.

Skardu offers plenty to see and do, including visiting Lower Kachura Lake - an idyllic natural lake featuring an idyllic island in its center and surrounded by small hotels that's one of the top activities to do here.

If you want to experience this breathtaking scenery, summer, and spring are the best seasons for visiting this destination. When sunlight combines with fresh blooms to highlight its natural charms. However, winter should be avoided since lake water freezes up, rendering boating unsafe.

12. Watch the Manthokha Kharmang Waterfall


Manthokha Kharmang Waterfall


Kharmang Valley is home to numerous small villages that showcase local culture and traditions, such as Manthokha, Mehdi Abad Village, and Tolti Valley. Furthermore, this region is famous for its trout fish farms where visitors can watch trout being raised or purchase some for themselves!

Manthokha Kharmang Waterfall is an impressive sight, cascading 180 feet down from a cliff edge and into a nearby gorge. This stunning sight makes it an even better attraction among its unique Balti landscape surroundings.

The Manthoka Waterfall in Skardu, featuring lush vegetation and breathtaking scenery, is a popular tourist destination in this part of Pakistan. Visitors to this breathtaking waterfall will surely be charmed. There's even the option of enjoying a leisurely picnic near its bank! Finally, its proximity to Karakoram Mountains adds even more awe-inspiring splendor!

13. Visit the Trango Towers


Trango Towers


The Trango Towers are an international mountain climbing magnet located north of Baltoro Glacier in Chile and known for their challenging climbing routes. Joe Brown, Mo Anthoine, Martin Boysen, and Malcolm Howells became the first climbers to ascend via their southwest face back in 1976.

Mountain climbing can be an extremely hazardous sport that requires immense skill and experience to navigate safely. For optimal mountain climbing experiences, the summer months of June-September offer lush green surroundings; winter conditions present more complex obstacles that necessitate advanced technical proficiency as well as physical fitness levels.

Skardu is not only popular for climbing but it is also home to its historic bazaar and textile and craft markets - perfect for haggling down souvenir prices at these markets. 

Aliya Imtiaz

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