Are you looking for a way to escape your stressful daily routine? Do you want to freshen up and feel the nature around you calming down your nerves?
If this sounds like you, then you should plan a visit to the stunning areas of Gilgit-Baltistan! The scenic mountains, glaciers, greenland, waterfalls and beautiful resorts there will have you stunned! Keep reading to find out more about this place!
How to Get There
There are two ways to get to Gilgit, from the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad:
Gilgit contains a small domestic airport. PIA flights connect Gilgit to the International Airport of Islamabad. However, flights operate only if the weather is stable enough. Since the weather in the area can be pretty unpredictable for most of the year, many flights may be subject to a delay or cancellation. It takes one hour to get to the Gilgit Airport from Islamabad and the average fare is PKR 12,500 for one-way travel.
The NATCO bus service operates from Islamabad to Gilgit on a daily basis and can provide you with the transport to reach Gilgit. The Karakoram Highway will take you to Gilgit from Islamabad and the journey will take approximately 19 hours! The bus fare is approximately PKR 2000-3000!
Apart from that, you can also book your own private van from Islamabad as well! However, they will charge you a lot more than the bus, but it’s going to be a lot more convenient to go in a van.
Best time to Visit Gilgit-Baltistan
The best time to visit this area is in the months of June, July and August. Since most of the tourists from all over the country visit this area in July and August, it’s best to visit in June because you’ll find that it’s less populated during this time of the year.
Do I Need a Visa to Visit Gilgit-Baltistan?
Yes, you need a Pakistani visa to visit the area! However, the visa can be very easily obtained from the Pakistan Embassy in your locality. It’s very easy to obtain a tourist visa to visit Gilgit Baltistan. You can also apply online to get a Pakistani visa! Many countries are also offered visa on arrival. For more details on the visa, you can visit here.
Places to Visit
Gilgit-Baltistan is paradise on Earth, especially for all the mountain-climbing enthusiasts out there! The beautiful glaciers, rich culture and cuisine, stunning mountains and adventurous trekking paths are truly worth a visit and no picture of the place can actually do justice to the actual paradise that the place is!
Here are a few of the places you NEED to visit:
The Hunza Valley is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region! The valley contains many different tourist attractions, some of which are listed below:
The Attabad Lake is a stunning lake in Hunza, Gilgit. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Gilgit and offers many activities to the tourists that visit this lake, including jet skiing, fishing and boating.
The lake is just a decade old and was created as a result of a landslide that occurred in the Attabad village. Boating in this lake will take away all of your stress!
Altit and Baltit Forts
The Altit Fort is about a thousand years old, whereas the Baltit Fort is about 700 years old. They’re stunning sights to visit, especially if you’re into historical buildings! The views are truly amazing.
The Passu cones are a set of cones located near the Passu Village. They’re stunning cones that can be seen from a distance! They’re known for the multiple number of cone structures that project from the mountain.
This bridge is one of the most dangerous bridges in the world! Going from one side to the other is a horror story for those with acrophobia. The wooden planks do not cover the entire floor of the bridge and it’s practically incomplete. One wrong step and boom! You fall into the water beneath you.
The Barpu Glacier is one of the most popular glaciers in this valley! The stunning glacier stretches over a length of 40 km! The best time to visit is from mid-June to September!
Skardu is another stunning and mesmerizing place to visit with lots of nearby tourist attractions! Being the Capital of the Baltistan District, it also has many facilities and is relatively more developed than its neighbouring areas. You can also visit Skardu directly from Islamabad because there’s a domestic airport in Skardu. If you want to visit the Karakoram Mountains, then this should be your starting point:
This historical fort is of great significance owing to its role in the First Kashmir War in 1947, during which the forces of Jammu and Kashmir state stayed inside the fort. It’s located inside Skardu and it’s a great place to visit.
The Sartpara Dam is supplied by water from the Deosai Plains. You can see different shades of blue in the water that flows in the Dam and the scene is very picturesque! Before the dam was built, the Sartpara Lake was situated here!
Lower Kachura Lake
The Lower Kachura Lake, also known as the Shangrila Lake, is a beautiful lake situated about twenty minutes away from Skardu. It’s a heart-shaped lake and there’s also a beautiful Shangrila Resort near the lake where you can stay. There’s also a restaurant in the area that’s built on an aircraft that crashed! Imagine how wonderful it would be to dine in the relics of an aircraft that crashed years ago. It’s a great way to commemorate the loss of those who passed away in the crash.
The Fairy Meadows
The Fairy Meadows, also known as Joot in the local language, is a beautiful sight to visit. It’s a grassland located in the Diamer District of Gilgit-Baltistan. To access this area, you need to start from the Raikhot Bridge that’s located on the Karakoram Highway. From the Raikhot Bridge, you need to trek to the Tato village. It’s a 12-km long trek, so it will definitely take some time! You can then stay at the Tato village overnight or continue your trek to the Fairy Meadows, which is another 5 km long and will take about three to four hours!
You can visit the Fairy Meadows from April to September.
The Shandur Pass is an interesting place to visit if you’re going in the month of July because that’s when the Shandur Polo Festival takes place each year!
The Kharmang Valley is a scenic valley located in Baltistan, about a hundred kilometers away from Skardu. This Valley holds many scenic tourist attractions, some of which are listed below:
This mesmerizing waterfall is located in the Kharmang Valley. You’ll get to eat lots of trout fish over here since it’s available in every other restaurant! The lush green fields combined with the waterfall give this place a mystical hint to it. The height of the fall here is about 180 feet!
The Khamosh waterfall is a beautiful waterfall that’s located between two mountainous rocks!
Trekking Areas in Gilgit Baltistan
Like I’ve said earlier, this place is heaven for trekkers! There are many different trekking areas available here, some of which are listed below:
- Nanga Parbat Basecamp trekking
- K2 Basecamp Trekking – this is a long trekking route and takes about 18 days, including the way back!
- Hoper Valley Camping
- Trek to Shimsal Pass from Shimsal Village
Accommodation isn’t a problem in this region. Everywhere you go, there will be multiple hotels and resorts available to welcome you! However, it gets a bit crowded during the peak tourism season so make sure you book in advance. There are many online websites where you can book hotels in advance, including booking.com!
Do’s and Don’ts:
- The women visiting this area should try their best to dress conservatively! Their clothes should cover their body properly.
- Be respectful to the locals over there.
- Don’t forget to try Gilgit’s famous food: Mamtu!
- Don’t forget to carry extra cash with you, just in case!
- Tip generously to the locals there.
- Take extra water supplies wherever you go, especially if you’re going for a trek.
- Make sure your shoes are of a high quality and have a good grip! Take appropriate shoes that will allow you to trek and make sure you take an extra pair with you!
- Never forget your first aid kit when you go traveling
- Take extra clothes because it can get pretty cold up there!
- Be very careful while driving on the highway and try not to take a weak car. Try to go with an experienced driver instead of driving yourself.
Money Saving Tips:
- Don’t go during the peak season!
- Try to go by yourself rather than going through an agency.
That being said, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to this wonderful place today and enjoy the scenic views while you’re there!