A Unique Desert Surrounded by Glaciers


Written by Irfan Amin

Deserts are usually famous for their extremely hot weathers. The world’s best-known deserts in Middle East and Africa are extremely hot. People can’t think of permanently residing in the wilderness of Sahara, and other deserts, but wait..! Have you ever heard about a cold desert? Nooo..? okay let me take you to one of the coldest desert on earth.

Yeah..!! you heard it right, today, I am going to tell you about one of the world’s coldest desert, which is extremely cold. The temperature goes down to –25C and the average temperature between -10C to -12C in winters, isn’t is too cold? but that is not all, what about the summers here? Summers are also not so hot here, in summers, the weather becomes too pleasant, maximum temperature rises up to 30C and average temperature, in summers, remains between 20-25C, quite surprising na?

Where it is?

Where does this unique cold desert exist? Somewhere in Europe ??? noo, somewhere in Africa or America?? Nooo, somewhere in Russia or Australia? Nooo, okay let me tell you, this unique desert is situated in between the high mountains of Himalayas and Karakoram in northern Pakistan. Yes, you heard right, it is in PAKISTAN…!!!!! Shocked or surprised? Whenever people think about Pakistan, first thing comes to mind, is the extremely hot deserts of Southern part and highly mountainous northern region. But no one or very rare people know about the cold desert, which is unique in nature, also exists there.  Let me share some more details about this unique blessing of God bestowed to this country.

Magical View of Cold Desert
Katpana Cold Desert skardu

This unique cold desert is situated in Skardu, city of Gilgit-Baltistan which is federally administered region in Pakistan. The Katpana Cold desert and the Sarfaranga Cold desert are two unique deserts situated in the middle of the Skardu city. The deserts are surrounded by high snow-capped mountains and sandwiched between the Himalayas and Karakoram mountains regions. The cold deserts of Skardu receives 2 to 3 feet snow in winter season annually, which makes it a white snow desert in winters. You can witness world’s biggest glaciers all over 360 degree, while standing on the sand dunes of the cold desert.

The wilderness of this magical desert will make you fall in love with Skardu and of course with nature too, I bet…!! The Government of Gilgit-Baltistan organize Jeep rally and bike rally in the Cold desert of skardu every year in summers which attracts huge number of tourists from all over Pakistan and world. So, isn’t it unique and worth seeing? Just visit here to witness this amazing nature’s art.

Deosai Plains Skardu

Let me tell you little more about skardu, other than this unique desert skardu offers a lot more. Skardu offers beautiful naturally decorated valleys, immense nature beauty, beautiful blue water lakes, historical places, world’s largest glaciers and highest mountain ranges i.e Karakoram and Himalayas, are also worth of seeing things in skardu. 5 of 14 world’s highest mountains including K-2, are situated in the region.Skardu is heaven for trekkers and climbers as thousands of people come to Skardu to scale the untouched parts of the earth.

Moreover, World’s largest glaciers outside the polar regions are also found in Skardu. Similarly, the 2nd highest Plateau on the Earth i.e Deosai is also located in the area. In short, Skardu offers green meadows, waterfalls, freshwater lakes, deserts, high mountains, glaciers and much more for nature lovers and it is not less than a heaven on earth for discoverers, trekkers and nature lovers. God has bestowed Skardu with immense unending beauty. Skardu is waiting to explore it and inviting nature lovers to come and witness the heaven on earth. So, you want to explore the untouched part of the world…??? Let me tell how to reach there..

How to reach skardu?

So, you want to visit skardu and the cold desert, but you have no idea about how to reach there then wait I will guide you….!!!

There are two ways to reach Skardu, by road via Karakorum Highway and by air. If you want to visit skardu by road than you should have strong nerve because the journey will gonna be too long, it takes approximately 24 hours from Islamabad, the Capital of Pakistan.  You can travel to skardu from Islamabad through the famous Karakoram Highway, it will going to be a long journey with rough, narrow and bumpy roads along with the Indus river at one side and Karakoram mountains on the other side. But the scenery along the road throughout the journey will be worth seeing.

The valleys of kaghan , Naran, chilas and the famous babusar top along the route helps you to reduce your tiredness. After Juglot near chilas valley you will left Karakoram Highway and will step up to the rough and bumpy skardu Road, there wouldn’t be any hotel, washroom, mobile service etc, for next 3 hours until you reached to a small valley called Rundu near Skardu. You can only hear the hideous noise of River Sindh in the wilderness of that mountains during this tiresome but adventurous journey. And once you reach to skardu, you will forget the tiredness of the journey and the worth seeing sights will work as a medicine for your tiredness. Yes, you have reached to the heaven on earth.

The 2nd way to reach Skardu and the Cold desert is that you can take a flight from Islamabad International Airport in Islamabad, Pakistan to Skardu. There is only one flight operates between Islamabad and Skardu in a day, but it is always depends upon the weather conditions because it has to fly above the world highest mountains including the Nanga Parbat, 9th highest mountain in the world. So, by taking Flight from Islamabad, you will end up your journey at Skardu airport in just 45 Minutes.

PIA flight flying over Skardu City

So, guys it is all about the Cold Desert and Skardu valley in Pakistan. Just visit this beautiful country which offers a lot for nature lovers, the people here are very hospitable and warm welcoming. What media portrays about Pakistan is not true. The country is very safe to travel. I will end up with one interesting but surprising information about skardu, you know skardu has almost zero percent crime rate and almost 95% literacy rate it means 95% of the people here are educated, and are very modern and fashionable. Isn’t it surprising for you?

Come and visit skardu, visit Cold desert, visit Pakistan.

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