The highest plateau in the world
Spread over an area of almost 3,000 square kilometers, the Deosai Plateau is considered to be the highest plateau in the world. The plateau is located almost at the boundary of the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. Deosai (Chair of a Giant - according to the Balti dialect) Plains are a backwoods country at about 30 kilometres from Skardu. It is a beautiful summer pasture with greenery and countless species of Fiona flora. The view of the Karakorum Range from the top of the 4,785 metres pass is legendary. The Deosai Plains is interlaced with streams and multitude of golden marmots. Its remarkable biodiversity has recently earned it recognition as a national wilderness park. Its brief summer brings out intense July August mosquito swarms, which are relieved by strong daytime winds. Early September frosts restore peace to the plateau making trekking pleasurable. Apart from fairies, this plateau is the habitat of the greatly threatened Himalayan Brown Bear and many other wild animals. Although few people will see a bear, quite a few are said to make their homes in the heart of the plateau. At an average elevation of 3,500 metres, Deosai officially is a National Park and protected area for wildlife.
Rare Photographs of Deosai (Killed Read Bear at Deosai - courtesy: www.hogspear.com)
The undulating meadows here have no trees or shrubs and the area is snow covered for most parts of the year. The most enchanting feature of the Deosai Plateau is its huge field of alpine flowers, the scale of which is largest in the Karakoram and the Western Himalayas. Spring comes to Deosai late when millions of wild flowers begin to bloom all over the lush green grassland. The gently rolling hills are carpeted in large part by the purple flowers of adenocaryum anchusoides, or the reddish-purple flowers of the long tube louse-word (pedicularis siphonantha).
The mauve flowers of Aster carpet a wide area, and two kinds of primroses with pink and red blooms can be found growing in large clumps. Flannel mulmein (verbascum thapsus) and pedicularis bicornuta, both yellow in colour, stand tall on the plateau. This is a time when Deosai looks like a fairies land with a landscape full of wild flowers on green rolling hills and crystal clear water streams with snow covered peaks in the background. While the plains remain frozen in the winters, spring is the time when must visit the area and get absorbed in the most beautiful landscape ever to be found elsewhere. Natives often present travelers and tourists with a goodwill bundle of Horros flowers, which produce so much aroma that will intoxicate anyone. It is an unforgettable experience to be in this colour bonanza in the full bloom. The peaceful atmosphere of the night, completely devoid of synthetic noise, being broken only by the sounds of rolling stones and falling ice.
The Frozen Deosai Plains (Picture courtesy www.extremesportphoto.com)
A jeep track crosses the Deosai between Skardu and Astor Valley. From Skardu, the road heads south up the Sadpara valley, passing Sadpara Lake and a small sleepy village. It continues west across the Deosai plateau, crossing large clear streams via bridges. As it leaves Deosai, it skirts the northern shore of another charming lake, and then crosses the Pass (4266 meters) to upper Astor Valley. There are many places suitable for summer camping: on the bed of edelweiss or at the riverside or lakeside. Chakor Pass (4,266 meters), located at the south end of the plateau, is the most impressive part of the Deosai trip. The deep blue Shaucer Lake, nestled in the pass, offers picture-book scenery. The view looking northward is of the endless series of peaks of the Karakorum Range. Another beautiful lake, Sheosar Lake in the Deosai Plains is at a height of 4,142 meters (13,589 feet). Its approximate length is reported to be 2.3 kilometres, width 1.8 kilometres and average depth 40 metres.
It would take a 4x4 jeep to go to the Deosai Plains since there is no metalled roads connecting the plains with Skardu. The tracks are not marked well and one loses way very easily. It is therefore advisable to take a local guide along. For adventure-loving tourists, there are few paradises in the world that can compare to northern Pakistan for unspoiled natural beauty: a combination of soaring mountains, shimmering glaciers, crystal clear water streams and flower bedecked alpine pastures. In addition, the gentle, warm and hospitable character of the villagers makes your trip to this part of the world a fantastic and unforgettable memory of a lifetime.
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