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Pakistan 2006

Pakistan                  

Deosai Plateau, Baltistan          This was a tailor made trip organised by Wild Frontiers following on from their Hindu Kush Expedition.

Deosai Plateau, Baltistan    October 14th to October 25th 2006

Day 1    I met my guide Taimor,  my driver Jehanghi and cook Nizan at 9.30 a.m. outside the Serena Hotel in Gilgit.  We loaded the Jeep and set off for Skardu.  Our route took us alongside the Indus River.  Sometimes we were at the same level as the river and then we would be 500ft above the river on a narrow rough track passing through a gorge.  We stopped for lunch in a tea house.  Before we reached Skardu (about another 32 km) we turned off to find our campsite at Katchura lake.  When camping I would be in a tent in the grounds while the others found a room or rooms in a very simple hostel where they could sleep and cook.  Often there was no electricity.  The hostels we used had to be opened on arrival as we were the only travelers at this time of the year.

 

 

Serena Hotel Gilgit

 

 

The road to Skardu

from Gilgit

 

The road to Skardu

from Gilgit

 

 

 

 

The road to Skardu

from Gilgit

 

Arriving at our camping

spot, Katchura Lake

 

The Indus Valley

near Skardu

 

 

Day 2    After a short walk beside the lake we left for Skardu.  Here we stayed for a few hours as the jeep needed a new shock absorber.  Then it was off to Hushe.  The road follows the Indus to start before crossing and following the Shyok River to Khapulu and Saling.  Then we were back on the rough tracks up the Hushe valley.  At Machilu there is a fine khanqah -style Mosque.  The road slowly got worse as we climbed up the valley.  Approaching Hushe we had marvelous views of Masherbrum (7821m).  From my tent I had excellent views of the mountains.

Katchura Lake

 

 

The Indus valley

 

Katchura Lake

 

 

Crossing the Shyok River at

the start of the

Hushe Valley

Driving through Saling

 

Road over the flood plain

 

 

Machilu

 

 

First sighting of

Masherbrum

 

Khangah style mosque,

Machilu

 

 

Day 3    Woke early to see the sun on Masherbrum, after overnight rain, then after breakfast started our walk up the Honboro Valley.  This walk after crossing the Hushe river was over boulders and along a rough track climbing up and up at about 40 degrees!  We walked up for over 2 hours before turning back.  This was a very hard first walk.

Bridge across the

Hushe River

 

Bridge across the

Hushe River

 

Looking back at Hushe

 

 

Carrying about 40kg of

wood down the valley

 

Looking back at Hushe

 

Rest time

 

 

Looking towards K7

 

 

Still higher up the

Honboro Valley

 

Fresh snow

 

 

An ever changing view of

the mountains,

Namika(6325m)

This was the pathway

 

The skyline

 

 

Masherbrum as the

clouds gather

 

The bridge back over

to Hushe

 

Skyline above Hushe

 

 

 

Day 4    It was time to return to Skardu.  Following the way up we made our way back to Skardu where I had lunch at the very pleasant K2 Motel (PTDC) while the jeep had a new leaf fitted to the Spring.  Late afternoon we arrived at Sadpara Lake just south of Skardu.  We camped close to this attractive lake for the night.

Masherbrum

 

 

Masherbrum

 

Hushe

 

 

Masherbrum

 

 

In the Hushe valleye

 

Village in Hushe Valley

 

 

Driving down the

Hushe Valley

 

Road across the flood plain

of the Shyok River

 

Driving down the

Hushe Valley

 

Crossing the Shyok River

 

 

Traffic holdup

 

Why hurry!

 

 

Skardu Fort

 

 

Lake Sadapara Skardu

 

The Indus River near

Skardu

 

 

Day 5   Off early for one of the highlights of the trip.  After a long drive up the valley past Sadpara village we finally reached the Deosai Plateau which is at an average height of over 4000m.  After the check post and paying the entrance fee.  The first foreigner for ten days and probably the last of the season.  The landscape is amazing.  The distance to the skyline is far and the terrain so barren and bleak (and cold!).  At one of the bridges the wooden planks were broken and it was necessary to drive the jeep a short way across, remove planks from behind the jeep, place them in the gaps ahead, drive a little further and repeat this process several times.  We stopped by beautiful Lake Sheosar for lunch and soon afterwards it began to snow.  Before dropping down to Chilam we crossed the Chhachor Pass at 4230m.  At Gurikot we turned off for Tarashing (2911m) for our next stop.

Sadpara Lake

 

 

Sadpara village

 

Looking back at our

camp site

 

The road up to the

Deosai Plateau

 

Deosai Plateau

 

Near the top of the

Sadapara Valley

 

Deosai Plateau

 

 

Driving through Ice

 

Deosai Plateau

 

 

Just waiting to be crossed,

but...

 

And we made it

 

Planks from behind the

Jeep being moved and

placed in front of it

Deosai Plateau

 

 

Lake Sheosar was our

cold picnic spot

 

Lake Sheosar

 

 

We had hot soup

 

 

Nearing Tarashing

 

Methods of storing fodder

 

 

 

Day 6    From my tent this morning I had some excellent views of the Eastern Peak of Nanga Parbat.  A lovely walk this morning took us over the lateral moraine of Tarashing Glacier before crossing the 'black glacier' and into the Rupal Valley.  the walk was gently upwards passing through the two Rupal Villages and finishing at Herligkoffer Base Camp.  While having lunch we saw an avalanche down the side of Nanga Parbat.  Nothing big but interesting.  By now the clouds were gathering and by the time we returned to Tarashing the cloud was lower.  Another walk was planned for the next day but........

Early morning from my

tent, Tarashing

 

Rupal Valley

 

Nanga Parbat,

eastern ridge

 

Rupal Valley

 

 

Snow clouds over

Nanga Parbat

 

Rupal Valley

 

 

The Herligkoffer

base camp(3656m)

 

Walking back down the

Rupal Valley

 

Herligkoffer Base Camp

 

 

Clouds gathering

 

 

Mountain range above

Tarashing

 

Walking back down the

Rupal Valley

 

 

Day 7    Yes the clouds were very low the next morning with fresh snow on the mountains.  The walk was cancelled and I decided to move on.  Our route took us through Astor and back to the Karakoram Highway and down to Chilas.  Yes Panorama Hotel and hot showers, a table to eat off and electricity.  But only one night.

Low morning cloud so

we moved on!

 

Rock art beside the road

at Chilas

 

The Indus River

 

 

 

Day 8    Off early the next morning after checking that the Pass was open and a quick look at the rock carvings beside the road we started up the Thakgah Nala to the Babusar Pass.  The 'road' quickly deteriorated as we climbed up the valley and reached the numerous zig-zags near the top of the pass.  he road over the top was slippery with mud and ice but after over 3 hours we got there.  And was it worth it, yes.  The sky line view was one of endless snowy mountain peaks.  After a quick lunch at 4175m we continued down the valley with many summer homesteads by the river, now deserted.  The skies were clear and the views tremendous.  Near Besal the road improved and we soon arrived in Naran.  The original plan was to stay at the PTDC but the rest rooms were closed!  So we moved to the Saiful Malik Hotel.  As it faced straight onto the road I refused the tent and opted for a very shabby room, the loo having no running water and because of the earthquake no electricity.  Oh and 30m from the Mosque, yes it was still Ramadan. 

Village beside the

Thakgah Nala

 

In the Babusar valley

 

The road to the

Babusar Pass

 

In the Babusar valley

 

 

The road up the

Babusar Valley

 

One more bridge to cross

 

 

Getting higher

 

 

Near the top of the pass

 

Nearing the top

 

 

At the top the road

was very slippery

 

The Babusar Pass

 

At the top

 

 

Views from the

Babusar Pass

 

Views from the

Babusar Pass

 

Views from the

Babusar Pass

 

Views from the

Babusar Pass

 

On the way down from

the pass

 

Ready to carry on?

 

 

Driving was not easy

 

 

Nearly theree

 

Lake Lulusar

 

 

 

Day 9    To-day we took the jeep up to Saiful Malik Lake (3215m).  The walk around the lake was easy with good views of Malika Parbat.

Naran

 

 

Malika Parbat from Naran

 

Hotel Saiful Malik, Naran

 

 

Malika Parbat

 

 

Saiful Malik Lake

 

 

Driving up to

Saiful Malik Lake

 

Saiful Malik Lake

 

 

Walking round the lake

 

Malika Parbat

 

 

Rob looking rather tired!

 

 

A last look at the lake

 

Saiful Malik Lake

 

 

 

Day 10    The walk up the valley from Naran was reasonably easy but entailed some steep paths.  We walked past villages affected by the earthquake, past herds of sheep, goats and cattle.  Always there were good views of the mountains and the river.

Walking up the Kunhar

Valley from Naran

 

Houses on the hillside

 

Walking up the

Kunhar Valley

 

Snowy mountains always

in view

 

Walking beside the river!

 

Sheep and Goats grazing

 

 

Village with still some

relief tents after the

earthquake

Looking down the valley

 

 

 

 

Day 11    A long drive to-day down the Kaghan valley.  Although a good road existed  just over a year ago the road now was rough with large cracks where part of the road had dropped several feet or boulders, the size of a small car had created huge holes in the road.  Landslides were common and the route of the road had been diverted.  There was some house damage from the earthquake of October 8th 2005 evidence but as we approached Balakot we saw several campsites where there were large numbers of tent shelters.  There are few pictures as I felt it improper to intrude upon other people's misfortune.  We eventually reached the KKH and continued to Islamabad.

Balakot

 

 

Leaving Balakot

 

There were many relief

tents near Balakot

 

 

Day 12    An early ride to the airport for the return flight London.

Summing up, the journey was very interesting and the scenery was very dramatic.  The road journeys were often long and mostly on rough tracks.  My tent was fine even if cold on some nights, the food very good if a bit repetitive and the accommodation very simple  

 

 

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