Monday, July 18, 2011

Tourism, trekking and mountain expedition base

Tourism, trekking and mountain expedition base

Skardu, along with Gilgit, are the two major tourism, trekking and expedition hubs in the Northern Areas. It is the mountainous terrain of the region, including four of the world's fourteen Eight-thousander peaks (8,000m and above), which attracts the attention of tourists, trekkers and mountaineers from around the world. The main tourist season is from April to October—outside this time, the area can be cut off for extended periods by the snowy, freezing winter weather.

Accessible from Skardu by road, the nearby Askole and Hushe Valleys are the main gateways to the snow covered 8,000 m peaks including K2, the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak and the Trango Towers, and also to the huge glaciers of Baltoro, Biafo and Trango. This makes Skardu the main tourist and mountaineering base in the area, which has led to the development of a reasonably extensive tourist infrastructure including shops and hotels. However, the popularity of the region results in high prices, especially during the main trekking season.

Treks to the Deosai Plains, the second highest in the world (at 4,100 m or 13,500 feet) after the Chang Tang in Tibet, either start from or end at Skardu. In local Balti language, Deosai is called Byarsa, meaning 'summer place'. With an area of approximately 3,000 square kilometres, the plains extend all the way to Ladakh and provide habitat for snow leopards, ibex, Tibetan brown bears and wild horses.

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