World Most Beautiful Places for Travel

Shangrila Lake (Upper Kachura Lake) Skardu




ShangriLa Lake

Nestled amidst the majestic peaks of the Karakoram mountain range in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, lies Shangri-La Lake, a shimmering jewel known for its serene beauty and rich cultural heritage. Often referred to as Upper Kachura Lake, this captivating lake offers a tranquil escape for nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone yearning for a glimpse into a simpler way of life. Unlike its more well-trodden counterparts, Shangri-La Lake provides a peaceful retreat, untouched by the hustle and bustle of modern life.

A Journey Through Time

The adventure to Shangri-La Lake begins with a journey back in time. Nestled roughly 30 kilometers from Skardu city, the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, the lake unfolds after a scenic, albeit bumpy, jeep ride. The initial leg on the Karakoram Highway offers a taste of the region’s grandeur with colossal mountains flanking the roadway. As you delve deeper, the landscape transforms, revealing quaint villages, lush green meadows, and the Indus River carving its path through the valley. This journey itself becomes an experience, offering a glimpse into the lives of the local people and the raw, untamed beauty of the region.

A Paradise of Serenity

Upon arrival at Shangri-La Lake, visitors are greeted by a symphony of sights and sounds. Crystal-clear waters, reflecting the snow-capped peaks that rise majestically in the distance, create a picture-perfect postcard scene. Lush green meadows dotted with wildflowers unfurl around the lake’s perimeter, offering a haven for relaxation and reflection. The air, crisp and clean, carries the gentle murmur of the water, creating a sense of tranquility that washes away the stresses of daily life.

A Haven for Nature Lovers


Shangri-La Lake is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Keen observers might be lucky enough to spot elusive wildlife like marmots and golden eagles soaring overhead. The vibrant tapestry of wildflowers in the summer months is a photographer’s dream, offering endless opportunities to capture the lake’s splendor. Birdwatchers will find a haven here, with a diverse range of avian species adding their melodies to the symphony of nature.

Exploring the Environs

Shangri-La Lake offers more than just stunning scenery. Explore the surrounding areas to uncover hidden gems:

  • Upper Kachura Lake: Embark on a short hike to Upper Kachura Lake, a secluded sister lake nestled amidst towering mountains. This pristine lake, with its clear waters and serene atmosphere, offers a true escape from the crowds.

  • Hiking Trails: Lace up your hiking boots and explore the network of trails that wind their way through the surrounding hills. These trails offer breathtaking views of the lake, the valley, and the distant peaks of the Karakoram range.

  • Skardu Fort: For a historical dose, visit Skardu Fort, a majestic structure perched on a hilltop overlooking the city. Explore its ancient chambers, learn about its rich history, and gain a deeper appreciation for the region’s cultural heritage.

A Glimpse into Local Life

A Glimpse into Local Life

The Shangri-La Lake experience extends beyond the stunning scenery. The Balti people, known for their warm hospitality and rich cultural traditions, call this region home. Witness shepherds tending their flocks on the lush meadows, experience the simplicity of village life, and even learn a few basic phrases in the local language. Immerse yourself in their vibrant culture, and gain a deeper appreciation for the harmony between people and nature that defines life in the valley.

A Haven for Adventure Seekers (Light Version)

While Shangri-La Lake caters more towards relaxation and nature appreciation, there are still opportunities for light adventure:

  • Horseback Riding: Explore the surrounding meadows and soak in the breathtaking scenery from the back of a gentle horse. This unique experience offers a different perspective of the lake and its environs.

  • Trout Fishing: The crystal-clear waters of Shangri-La Lake are home to a healthy population of trout. For fishing enthusiasts, casting a line and trying to catch your dinner can be a rewarding experience. However, ensure you obtain the necessary permits before indulging in this activity.

  • Boating: Take a leisurely boat ride on the lake to appreciate its beauty from a different vantage point. Glide across the calm waters, surrounded by mountains and meadows, and soak in the tranquility of the surroundings.

Planning Your Shangri-La Lake Escape

The ideal time to visit Shangri-La Lake depends on your preferences:

  • Spring (April-May): Witness the valley come alive with wildflowers and experience pleasant weather before the summer crowds arrive.

  • Summer (June-September): Enjoy the most comfortable weather conditions for exploring the lake and surrounding areas. However, keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds.
  • Autumn (October-November): The crowds start to thin out, and the landscape transforms into a photographer’s paradise with golden hues. Weather conditions can be unpredictable, so be prepared for cooler temperatures and occasional rain.

Here are some additional factors to consider when planning your trip:

  • Accessibility: Reaching Shangri-La Lake requires a jeep ride from Skardu city. The road can be bumpy, so a four-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance is recommended. Public jeeps operate regularly during peak season, or you can hire a private jeep for more flexibility.

  • Accommodation: Skardu offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences, from comfortable hotels with modern amenities to cozy guesthouses offering a glimpse into local life.

  • Activities: Beyond relaxation, nature walks, and light adventures, Shangri-La Lake serves as a base for exploring nearby attractions like the Katpana Desert, known for its unique sand formations, and Shangri-La Resort, a historical resort offering stunning views of the Lower Kachura Lake.

  • Packing Essentials: Pack comfortable walking shoes for exploring the surroundings, light to moderate layers of clothing depending on the season, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and insect repellent.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Respect the Environment: Shangri-La Lake is a pristine environment. Practice responsible tourism by minimizing your impact on the surroundings. Pack out all trash and avoid disturbing wildlife.

  • Limited Amenities: While basic amenities are available in Skardu, options near the lake itself are limited. Consider stocking up on essentials like snacks and drinks before venturing to the lake.

  • Cultural Sensitivity: Dress modestly, especially when visiting local villages, to respect local customs and traditions.

A Timeless Enchantment Awaits

Shangri-La Lake, with its serene beauty, rich cultural heritage, and opportunities for gentle exploration, offers an unforgettable escape from the everyday. Whether you seek a tranquil retreat amidst breathtaking scenery, a glimpse into the lives of the Balti people, or a chance to reconnect with nature, Shangri-La Lake has something to offer everyone. So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of exploration, and embark on a journey to this timeless jewel nestled in the heart of the Karakoram.

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