10 Days~Ultimate Astore-Deosai-Skardu~natural splendour and historical gems of Baltistan

Come with us off the beaten mountain track to explore some of the most remote pockets of human life on earth! Our route takes us through Astore Valley, a hidden paradise nestled on the backside of the killer mountain Nanga Parbat, where few outsiders have ventured. From there, we will explore Deosai National Park, one of the highest plateaus on the planet. Deosai means “land of the giants” and is home to brown bears, golden eagles, diverse wild flowers and butterflies. Summer is the only season to cross this glorious grassy expanse, which is covered in snow the rest of the months. From there we visit Skardu, once a gateway between Central Asia and Kashmir where Buddhists traveled for learning. Its wild rugged beauty is matched with the incredible tenacity of its people, who speak Balti, an ancient form of Tibetan, and share similar culture and lifestyles with Tibet. Our journey through these natural and cultural wonders on the roof of the world will definitely quench your thirst for high adventure!

Day 1

Our journey begins after one night’s stay in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. Depending on your flight arrival/departure time, we will tour Islamabad at the beginning or end of this trip. The excursion includes Faisal mosque, one of the largest mosques in Pakistan and the Islamabad Monument on the hills with breathtaking views overlooking the city.

Day 2

We embark on our bus journey up the renowned Karakoram Highway, along the deep gorge carved out by the Indus River. To ease the arduous journey, we will rest half-way at either Besham or Naran (depending on the road situation). Start experiencing the change in altitude and atmosphere, as life slows down into the mountain pace.

Day 3

From Besham/Naran we will head straight to Astore, a lush green valley surrounded by juniper trees and clear streams. We will relax at the cottage inn for the night and adjust to the altitude of 3000+ meters.

Day 4

Day 4
We rise early to hike up to the serene high-altitude Rama Lake (approx. 1.5 hrs), which is surrounded by snow most of the year. After we return and take lunch, we will hit the road in the other direction for Deosai National Park, 4000m above sea level. We will stop by the sparkling blue Sheosar Lake nestled between the vast ground and sky, and camp for the night at Kala Pani, the crossing point over a river that runs through the Deosai plains.

Day 5

We will soak in the beauty of Deosai in the morning before heading down to Skardu, via Satpara Lake on the way. We will visit a 2000 year old Buddha rock carving at Manthal village near the lake. In the evening, we can relax and roam the charming bazaars of Skardu town.

Day 6

In the morning, we will explore Shangrila Lake on the outskirts of Skardu. After lunch, we will hike up to the Kharpocho Fort–meaning the king of forts in Balti language–built at the end of the 16th century, which used to house the Rajas of Skardu. Perched at a height overlooking the river and Skardu town, the fort is also a great place for views.

Day 7

From center Skardu, we head out toward Shigar Valley, gateway to the mighty K2. We will visit the  beautifully preserved 17th century Shigar Fort, and the 14th century wooden-structured Amburiq Mosque, the oldest mosque in Baltistan. After this, we will hike up to the Shigar viewpoint, for a magnificent view of the Shigar Valley.

Day 8

We will explore the crystal clear Blind Lake of Shigar, and the Cold Desert, known as the highest desert in the world. The desert has recently become the venue for the Sarfaranga Desert Rally, held in the summers. In the afternoon, we will head back to Khaplu, old seat of the second largest kingdom in Baltistan, often known as “Little Tibet.” We will visit the Khaplu Palace, and the Khanaq-e-Mullah Noorbakshia, one of the oldest Sufi lodges in Baltistan.

Day 9

You have two options for return to Islamabad, by flight or by road.

Option one: by flight. We drive back to Skardu to take the flight in the morning, and spend the night in Islamabad.

Option two: by road. We drive back to Besham and rest for the night there. Then we complete the remaining KKH journey on the next day, reaching Islamabad by evening.

Day 10

Optional excursion in Islamabad, or road travel Besham-Islamabad.  Disperse home with beautiful memories.

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Tour at a glance:

Day-01:          welcome in Islamabad and check in to Hotel and overnight stay

Day-02:          Drive up KKH to Besham/naran (Approx 6 hours) and make over night stay

Day-03:          Drive to Astore valley 5-6 hours check in to guest house

Day-04:          Excursion of Rama lake and drive to Deosai and overnight tent

Day-05:          Drive to skardu excursion of Sarpara lake visit Buddhist site

Day-06:          Hike to kharpocho fort and visit of shangrilla lake 

Day-07:          Drive to shigar valley visit shigar fort and shigar view point

Day-08:          Drive to khapulu visit khapulu fort overnight stay

Day-09:          Drive to skardu

Day-10:          Fly to Islamabad or Drive to Chilas and Drive to Islamabad

Day-11:          Tours ends with airport Transfer for Flight home

Notes:

  1. We will provide clean drinking water throughout the trip. However, to conserve the environment, we will not provide plastic water bottles, so please bring your own water flask.
  2. Road conditions vary in this part of the mountains. This may result in longer travel times. In case of unavoidable road blockage that prevents travel, we will be responsible for managing your lodging and food during this extra time. However, you will need to cover the expenses for the extra days.
  3. Weather conditions vary in the mountains, be prepared with layers of short and long sleeve tops and trousers
  4. Seasonal fruits: mulberries and cherries are ripe mid-June to July; apricots are ripe end-July; apples are ripe in August

Booking:

  1. We can arrange trips for 2-14 persons per group (can be multiple groups), costs will vary depending on the number of person per transport, dates, and exchange rates. Please contact us directly for the price quote and discuss possible tour dates (see cost below for groups of 7-14 people). 
  2. We can customize and combine itineraries according to your interests, please contact us to discuss feasibility.
  3. Operating season: 1st June to 31st August
  4. After signing up, booking will be complete with payment of 50% advance fee, to be paid 30 days before start of trip.  

Cost [for groups of 7-14 person]

[$1350 USD/per person]

Services

Includes:

  • All road transportation by mini-bus
  • All night stays in hotels (will have wifi, hot water from tap, plush rooms, room service, restaurants in hotel), 2 persons per room (additional charges if you want to stay in your own room)
  • Professional tour guide accompanying throughout your trip
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinking water, fresh local fruits depending on season
  • Shared tent, sleeping bag, food for camping
  • Tickets to historical monuments listed in the itinerary
  • Option of flight from Islamabad to Gilgit instead of by road (additional charges apply, flight is subject to weather conditions)

Does not include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa to Pakistan (we will help provide supporting documents)
  • Tips for guides

Refund policy:

  1. For cancellations 15 days or more prior to start of trip, you will be refunded half of the advance payment.
  2. No refunds if you cancel within 2 weeks of tour start date.