Discover Blind Lake: A Picturesque Oasis in Shigar Valley, Pakistan
Blind Lake, also known as Xarba Tso in the local Balti Language, is an enchanting freshwater lake nestled near the Shigar Valley in the heart of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Unlike most lakes, Blind Lake doesn’t rely on any external water supply or discharge source. Its serene waters remain still and unmoving, earning it the intriguing name “Blind Lake.”
A Visual Feast of Nature
This mesmerizing lake offers panoramic views of its surroundings, with a particular focus on the riverside and the majestic mountains that serve as its backdrop. The trail leading to Blind Lake is a unique journey through lush greenery, arid deserts, and rugged rocky hills.
Discovering Blind Lake’s Location
To reach Blind Lake, take a scenic drive from Skardu town towards Shigar Valley, passing through picturesque mountainous terrain and the Sarfaranga Desert. The lake is approximately 28 kilometers from Skardu town and can be reached in around 45 minutes. While the journey to the lake from the main Shigar road is an adventure in itself, it’s undoubtedly worth the effort.
A Hidden Gem in Nature’s Embrace
Blind Lake is a hidden gem nestled amidst the awe-inspiring mountains surrounding the renowned Sarfaranga Desert. Bounded by the Indus River on one side and the Shigar River on the other, it’s now easily accessible via a newly constructed bridge on the Indus River. However, for those seeking to savor the journey truly, the drive through the Sarfaranga Desert is an experience filled with charm.
Accessing the Pristine Beauty of Blind Lake
Travelers can embark on a remarkable journey from Islamabad to Skardu, covering approximately 770 kilometers via the legendary Karakoram Highway (N35). This unforgettable 15-18 hour drive offers breathtaking views, ranging from lush green hills to barren peaks and snow-covered mountains.
Alternatively, you can take a direct flight to Skardu from Islamabad, Karachi, or Lahore. During peak tourist seasons, PIA operates flights from Karachi and Lahore once or twice a week, alongside daily flights from Islamabad. The aerial views during this journey are simply mesmerizing, with a network of mighty mountains beneath and a breathtaking glide through snow-capped peaks before landing at Skardu airport.
For a unique experience, you can also fly to Gilgit from Islamabad or Lahore and continue your journey to Skardu by road, enjoying a scenic one-hour flight and a 3-4 hour drive through the Jaglot-Skardu road (S1).
The Final Leg to Blind Lake
Upon reaching Skardu, your destination, Blind Lake, is a mere 45 kilometers away. Accessible only by 4-wheel vehicles, you can get to the lake in about an hour and a half. The journey includes 35 minutes of driving on paved roads, followed by 35 minutes on bumpy terrain, and finally, a 30-minute walk that rewards you with the first glimpse of Blind Lake.
Enchanting Lake Surroundings
While the hike to the lake may pose some challenges, the surrounding beauty more than compensates for any exhaustion. The lush green trees adorning the lake enhance its natural splendor. The tranquil atmosphere, coupled with the captivating stillness and breathtaking scenery, leaves a lasting impression on every beholder.
Embrace the Wonders of Blind Lake
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Blind Lake. Its clear blue waters, lush greenery, and mesmerizing circular waves created by the wind will rejuvenate your senses.
Camping near Blind Lake is a remarkable experience. The ideal spot is next to the lake, where you can witness a spectacular sunset followed by a night sky filled with stars. Be sure to check the weather forecast, as conditions can change rapidly. Pack lightly but include warm clothing for your camping adventure.
The crystal-clear waters of Blind Lake beckon swimmers. Whether you prefer shallow or warmer areas, the lake offers an excellent opportunity to explore its beauty while swimming.
Enjoy daytime activities by leisurely boating on the calm, cool waters of the lake. It’s an exciting way to explore the lake up close.
Fishing enthusiasts will delight in the opportunities presented by Blind Lake. The Pakistani government has established a small fish farm here, providing ample chances for trout fishing.
Nearby Tourist Attractions
Often referred to as the “Queen of the Alps,” Skardu offers a captivating blend of snow-capped mountains, pristine rivers, lush forests, and historic monuments. While Blind Lake is a sight to behold, there are other attractions to explore. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this scenic oasis in Shigar Valley, Pakistan. Other key attractions in the surroundings include:
- Shigar Fort Palace
- Amburiq Mosque
- Hashupi Garden
- Shigar Riverside
- Sarfaranga Desert
- Nansoq Organic Village
- Masrur Rock (Trolltunga of Pakistan)
- Kharpocho Fort
- Katpana Desert
- Katpana Lake
- Satpara Lake
- Lower Kachura Lake
- Upper Kachura Lake
- Deosai National Park
- Chunda Valley
- Soq Valley
- Basho Valley
Seasons at Blind Lake
While Blind Lake’s beauty is captivating year-round, spring stands out as the ideal time to visit. During this season, the area bursts with colorful flowers and butterflies, creating a visual masterpiece.
Expect temperatures ranging from 8 degrees Celsius to 3 degrees Celsius, with snowfall from January to March. The frozen lake’s beauty during winter is awe-inspiring, although January is the coldest, with nighttime temperatures plummeting to -25 degrees Celsius.
Summer temperatures at Blind Lake range from 24 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius. The clear waters reflect various colors during this season, making it a magnet for visitors. The best time to visit is from June to September but be prepared for occasional rain if traveling during summer.
Accommodation Near Blind Lake
While there are a few huts and snack shops in the vicinity, there are no hotels or guesthouses directly near Blind Lake. Many visitors opt for camping near the lake or explore alternative accommodations in Shigar Valley or Shigar Town. Serena Shigar Palace, Concordia Hotel in Skardu, and Kallisto in Skardu are the well-recommended accommodation facilities. However, there is a range of options for accommodation and eateries in Skardu and Shigar.