A Visit to Deosai National Park
Discover the beauty of Deosai National Park in Skardu.
At an altitude of approximately 13,500 feet above sea level, Deosai National Park is recognized as the second-highest plateau in the world. Situated in the Skardu District, it is renowned as one of the top tourist destinations in Gilgit Baltistan. If you are considering a trip to Deosai National Park before the winter makes it inaccessible, here is everything you need to know about the area and how to reach there.
Introduction to Deosai National Park
Experience the Scenic Beauty of Deosai National Park while exploring Skardu.
Deosai National Park, founded in 1993, serves as the native home of the Himalayan Brown Bear. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the threatened species residing in this area from illegal activities such as hunting and poaching. Located at a high altitude, this vast expanse is aptly named ‘Deosai’ which means ‘The Land of Giants’. The park spans across approximately 3,000 square kilometres and is a diverse landscape consisting of hills, mountains, plains, plateaus, streams, rivers, and lakes.
Discovering Deosai National Park
In the summer, Sheosar Lake is enveloped by wildflowers.
Surrounded by Astore Valley to the west, Gultari and Kharmang Valleys to the southeast, and Skardu Valley to the north, Deosai can only be accessed by 4×4 jeeps. The ideal months to explore this region are June and July, although the tourist season runs until October. From November to May, the park is covered in snow and inaccessible for approximately half the year.
For those planning to visit Deosai National Park, the most direct way is through Skardu city, which is approximately 30 kilometres away. After a one-hour drive from Skardu, you will reach the top of the plains. Another commonly used route is through Chilam in Astore Valley. Although there are a few other routes that lead to the park, they are mostly utilized by locals and not recommended for tourists unless they have a good understanding of the local geography and routes.
Activities to Experience at Deosai National Park
The distinctive plants and animals make Deosai National Park a renowned destination. During spring, the fields are covered in colorful flowers and buzzing with butterflies, but in winter, the area becomes concealed by a heavy layer of snow. When conditions are suitable, these are some of the best activities to partake in at Deosai National Park:
- Explore Sheosar Lake
- Traverse the bridge at Bara Pani
- Catch trout
- Hike on established paths
- Set up camp under the night sky
- Engage with the indigenous animals
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Explore Sheosar Lake
The serene waters of the lake perfectly mirror the stunning mountain landscape behind it.
The park is home to multiple bodies of water, with Sheosar Lake being the most prominent. Not only is it the biggest lake in the park, but it is also one of the highest in the world, reaching an altitude of approximately 13,600 feet. Surrounded by a vibrant field of wildflowers, on a clear day, one can admire the stunning backdrop of Nanga Parbat behind the lake.
Traverse the Bara Pani Bridge
The Bara Pani River flows through the park.
In Deosai, there are multiple water bodies, including Bara Pani and Kaala Pani, which need to be crossed in order to reach the lake. While Kaala Pani can be easily crossed with a jeep due to its shallow depth, Bara Pani requires the use of a wooden bridge. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that the bridge has a weight limit, so the jeep must pass without any passengers on board. This means that you have to walk across the bridge, swaying to the sound of the powerful river below.
Deosai is home to numerous varieties of trout in its water bodies.
In this area, there are various types of trout, including a high population of snow trout. Those who are interested in fishing for trout can obtain a license from the park officials for a fee. The most ideal spot for fishing is Bara Pani.
Explore Familiar Paths
Deosai National Park is a famous trekking destination, with the nearest town being a 4 to 6 day journey away.
Deosai National Park offers a variety of trails for visitors to explore. With the help of a guide, one can venture into the park on foot. However, it is recommended not to trek alone as the trails are not clearly marked, and some areas have restricted entry to safeguard the local wildlife.
Spend a Night in the Open Sky
Stargazing is just one of the many activities that can be enjoyed in Deosai National Park.
For those intending to establish a camp upon arrival at Deosai National Park, the ideal locations would be Bara Pani or Sheosar Lake, where one can enjoy the verdant surroundings for a perfect camping experience. The sky at night is crystal clear, providing a delightful opportunity for stargazing, particularly for those coming from heavily populated cities in Pakistan.
Engage with the Native Animals
The Himalayan Brown Bear, an endangered species, finds its home in Deosai National Park.
The Deosai region is a natural habitat for various local animals, notably the Himalayan Brown Bear. The diverse wildlife population includes the Himalayan ibex, grey wolf, red fox, snow leopard, Ladakh urial, and golden marmot. The park also boasts approximately 125 bird species, such as the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, griffon vulture, Eurasian sparrowhawk, as well as various snowcocks, kestrels, and pheasants. While it is recommended to maintain a safe distance from the wildlife when visiting Deosai, the charming scenery and its inhabitants offer a picturesque opportunity for photography. The local terrain is also home to numerous plant species, many of which have traditional medicinal purposes.
Here are some activities to consider during your visit to Deosai National Park. Keep in mind that the high altitude means the weather will be cold all year round and there may even be snow in the park during the summer. Therefore, it’s essential to dress warmly and pack enough food and water if you intend to stay overnight, as the nearest village is at least a one-hour drive away.
It is crucial to remember, while visiting Deosai National Park, to maintain the area in the same condition as when you arrived. As a responsible tourist, it is important to clean up after yourself so that the next visitor can also appreciate the natural beauty of the park.
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