There is an old Balti saying, “Only fools go to Deosai.”
The adage is well-earned and holds true even today. Nestled in the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan, the Deosai plateau is still inaccessible and physically demanding for most tourists.
From the Karakoram highway it is an eight-hour, not too comfortable, drive to the breathtaking terrain. However, the route is dotted with gems that are worth a stop. On the drive up, a traveller will cross the Sadpara Lake, a voluptuous body of clear waters and Sadpara Dam, which supplies water to Skardu.
Past the Dam, the road is muddy, barely carpeted and dotted with potholes. But once the destination arrives all the worries of the travel will wash away. Spread over 3,000 square kilometres, Deosai is a stunning wonder with gently rolling hills, bubbling brooks and a riot of wildflowers. If you are lucky, you might even spot a Golden Marmot, which resembles a furry squirrel, some sleek red foxes or even the magnificent brown bear. These rarely seen animals are endangered, which is why authorities in Deosai have designated the area as a national park to enforce a strict ban on hunting.
Bara Pani, on the banks of the river Shangoshar, is a popular spot for camping. Though you will be provided with a mattress and a tent to ward off the cold, at night as the temperatures dip to below zero, the dew in the grass could dampen your sleeping arrangement. But a sleepless night is a small price to pay for the wondrous journey ahead.
Next morning, head over to Lake Sheosar, one hour away from Bara Pani. Prepare to be mesmerized here. Icy blue waters, surrounded by flowers of all colours and sizes, swarming with butterflies, with Nanga Parbat’s peak towering in the distance, this place is almost surreal.
A word of advice: pack your warmest jackets and sweaters, and a tube of the best sunscreen you can find. Sunlight here can be searing.
When leaving, be sure to remind yourself of how lucky you are to be one of the fools who travelled to Deosai.