A breathtaking view of the Manthoka Waterfalls located in Khrmang valley, some 50km from Skardu city. The musical waterfall surrounded by lush green pastures, rocky mountains and fresh water streams with crystal clear water, has a mystic quality. The 180 feet-high stunning waterfall is very popular amongst tourists as it is one of the best natural attractions in Skardu. Image Credit: Ashfaq Ahmed/Gulf News

Dubai: If you’re seeking a thrilling adventure, travel to magical Skardu, a famous tourist destination in Pakistan.

Dubai recently became the only international destination connected to Skadru with a direct flight operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). With this international flight, Skardu is now easily accessible to the world - via Dubai only.

You need at least three to seven days if you want to go on a short cultural and relaxing tour to visit lakes, the cold desert, waterfalls and valleys in the mountains of Skardu.

Skardu, located some 570km north of Islamabad, is a mountain town in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Mountaineers and trekkers will require a much longer stay to complete their expeditions on some of the world’s tallest peaks, including K-2, the second-highest mountain in world.

Where is Skardu?

Skardu, located some 570km north of Islamabad, is a mountain town in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. It is the capital of the Baltistan region in the Karakoram mountain range, at an altitude of nearly 2,430 metres (almost 8,000 feet) above sea level.

Fruit laden orchards with apples, apricots, grapes, mulberries, walnuts and many more are a common sight in Skardu and other districts of Gilgit Baltistan. Ashfaq Ahmed/Gulf News

It is located at the confluence of the Indus and Shigar Rivers and is surrounded by several famous mountain peaks, such as Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I-II and K2.

The town has a rich cultural heritage and is home to several historic landmarks, such as the Bhudha Rock and the Kharpocho Fort, a 16th-century fortress that overlooks Skardu town from a hilltop. Skardu is known for its traditional handicrafts, particularly its intricate woodcarvings and embroidery.

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The history of Skardu and this region can be traced back to ancient times. The area has been inhabited for thousands of years and has been part of various empires and kingdoms throughout history.

Major attractions

Satpara Lake

Satpara Lake is above Skardu town on the way to the Deosai plains. It is a beautiful clear water lake and is the major source of drinking water for Skardu town. The lake is under the shadow of the majestic Karakoram mountains and is a popular destination for boating, picnic and fishing.

Skardu has many attractions, from lakes and mountains to valleys and desert terrain. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Kharpocho Fort

Built in the 16th century, Kharpocho Fort is a major landmark in the town. The fort is situated on a hilltop and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

Deosai National Park

This national park is the second-highest plateau on earth, located at the height of 4,114m above sea level and about 28km from Skardu. It takes about five hours to reach the top on a rough road winding through the mountains. The place is known for its stunning scenery and diverse wildlife, including brown bears and snow leopards.

Shigar Fort

The fort is a restored palace from the 17th century. It is now Serena Hotel and museum and is known for its beautiful architecture and historic significance.

Tourists travelling to Skardu are treated to a breath-taking view of the valleys as their flight approaches the Skadru International Airport. Thrilling landing by highly skilled PIA pilots, through the mountains with a view of valleys and snow-capped peaks, is a unique experience. Make sure to get a window seat while flying to and from Skardu to enjoy the landing and take-off experience. Photo: Ashfaq Ahmed/Gulf News

Sarfaranga Cold Desert

The Sarfaranga Desert, also known as Skardu Cold Desert, is a unique natural wonder. It is a cold desert that is covered with snow in the winter.

K2 Base Camp

Skardu is the starting point for many treks, including the K2 Base Camp, located at the foot of the world’s second-highest mountain. K2 base camp trek is one of the top adventure holidays in the world.

This signboard says it all about the strategic location of Skardu. Tourists to Skardu in Gilgit Baltistan region can go to various famous destinations after landing in Skardu. Photo: Ashfaq Ahmed/Gulf News

Upper Kachura Lake

Also known as Kachura Lake, this is a beautiful high-altitude lake located about 18km from the town. The lake is under snow-capped mountains and is known for its crystal-clear water. Tourists can enjoy boating, picnicking, and fishing in the lake and camping nearby.

The view of Shangrila Resort on the lower Kachura Lake, popularly known as Shangrila Lake. The resort encircles the heart shaped Kachura Lake, surrounded mountains, fruit laden orchards and flower filled gardens. It is a must see destination during Skardu visit as ‘heaven on earth’ is a life time experience at a height of 25000 meters (8000 feet). You need to book months in advance to reserve a room at his magical resort. Photo: Ashfaq Ahmed/Gulf News

Lower Kachura Lake

Also known as Shangrila Lake, this is another beautiful lake located about 16km from Skardu. Surrounded by green meadows and mountains, the areas is also known for majestic Shangrila Resort, which is a must-visit spot for picnics and stunning scenery.

The Blind Lake and Manthokha Waterfalls are also must-visit places during a visit to Skardu.

A mesmerizing view of the Upper Kachura Lake in Skardu located at an elevation of 2,500 metres and is more than 70-metre deep. The natural lake with clear water is surrounded by mountains and pine trees. The average temperature on a sunny summer around 15 Celsius while the surface freezes during winter creating a magical atmosphere. Photo: Ashfaq Ahmed

When to visit

The best time to visit Skardu is from May to September, when the weather is pleasant, and roads and trekking trails are accessible.

The winter season starts in November and lasts until March. During this season, many roads and trekking trails are closed, but it can be an excellent time to visit if you enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.

How to travel to Skadru

Passengers flying on the PIA’s inaugural flight from Dubai to Skardu were given a warm welcome upon landing. Keeping up the region’s tradition to honour guests, traditional Gilgit caps were presented to every passenger by the officials gathered at the Skardu International Airport Photo: Ashfaq Ahmed/Gulf News

The best was to travel to Skardu is by air as it takes only three hours by flight from Dubai. It is also possible to go by road from Islamabad, but more than 16 hours driving on Karakoram Highway through mountainous terrain can challenging.

Local residents in the surrounding mountain valleys in Skardu use powerful SUVs as public transport. They also come to Skardu to buy necessary household items and groceries. Ashfaq Ahmed/Gulf News

Tallest mountain peaks

On a clear day of flying, passengers are treated to a ‘one of a kind’ experience — a thrilling view of the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush ranges, which include eight out of 14 tallest peaks in the world with height of more than 8,000 metres. Famous Nanga Parbat (8,125m), Rakaposhi (7,788m), Diran Peak, Spantik, Haramosh Peak, and above all, the spectacular K-2 (the second highest peak in the world) towering above all others at 8,611 meters are accessible from Skardu.