Skardu is an ancient town in the Baltistan region of Pakistan. Tourists who rent a car or hire a guide can view some of the wonderful sights and sounds of this lovely village, nestled 2,438 meters high in the shadow of the Karakoram Range. The friendly people are a mix of Caucasian and Tibetan stock, and they speak an old Tibetan dialect called Balti.
Get Into a Car
There are many ways to view the sights of our region, but none better than hiring a driver to take you around. There are a number of excellent drivers available, and most of them drive rugged, if ancient, sport utility vehicles or Jeeps. Some might wonder, how does a local driver get hold of, say, a vintage water pump when needed? If you answer, “the Internet,” yes, even Skardu is on the information superhighway.
Most people travel to Skardu from Islamabad, either by air (on clear days) or by road. If you fly in, you should be able to see K2, the world’s second-highest peak. If you are less adventurous, you can travel by bus, although you should allow up to 36 hours for the ride. You can also catch a bus from Gilgit, which is only eight hours away.
Eat, Then Tour
The best time to visit is between April and October. Temperatures rise to a high of 27 C. If you come at harvest time, you will have access to the world’s tastiest peaches, pears, apples, and, everyone’s favorite, apricots. Seek out a delicious dessert called Sohan Halva that will be change your life.
Whether you walk or drive, you will not want to miss any of Skardu’s scenic attractions, including:
- The city center
- The K2 Museum, located near the K2 Motel
- Kharpocho, an ancient fort the overlooks the town from a hillside. It was built at the end of the 16th century by Ali Sher Khan Ancham, ruler of Baltistan. The fort is only steps away from the venerated Indus River.
- Lake Shangrila, only 20 miles from Skardu, is a crystal-clear lake surrounded by glacial mountains. You can reach the central island by rowboat. Bring your tackle, the fishing is great.
- Shigar Valley, a terraced fertile land where grain, nuts and fruit are cultivated. The Shigar Fortress Hotel offers beautiful accommodations, and you can visit the wooden mosque in the center of town.
When you visit this sociable land, be prepared to make many new friends — the folks will make you feel warm and welcome.