The Skardu Valley located at the confluence of the Indus and Shigar rivers is at an altitude of nearly 8202 ft. A trip to Skardu can be the best summer weekend getaway for those of us getting roasted in Lahori heat or enveloped in Karachi’s dry spells. Deosai PlainsIt is a high-altitude alpine plain and a national park. Deosai is the blend of two words ‘Deo’ (giant) and ‘Sai’ (shadow). According to alegend, it is believed that this place is haunted by giants. The Deosai Plains are situated at an average elevation of 13,497 ft above sea level, making it the world’s second highest plateau. Despite Deosai not being a recreational area, it leaves the tourist with a feeling of awe. Deosai Plains are filled with wild flower fields that consist of beautiful flowers in every color.Manthoka Falls It is a waterfall located in Kharmang Valley that is approximately 180 feet high from the ground, and located 78 kilometers away ( or a three hour long bumpy car ride) from downtown Skardu.The descent of the crystal clear water fills you with a sense of peace, as you watch the water crash on the rocks and join the fresh streams below.Shigar FortThe Shigar Fort is an old fort of Baltistan, located inthe town of Shigar. The ancient fort has now been converted to a museum and hotel.The traditional rooms have been renovated with a modern essence to them and have facilities like Wi-Fi and continental food.These pictures of its intricate architecture and enchanting forests do not do justice to its actual beauty.Upper Kachura LakeThe Upper Kachura Lake has a depth of 230 ft and in winter the surface is frozen solid. The beauty of the Upper Kachura Lake is untapped yet breathtaking.It caters to tourists interested in boating, swimming, trout fishing and hiking. This area is well known for is wild apricots which are picked by women and left to dry on large rocks out in the open sun.Published in Daily Times, October 15th 2018.