The Deosai Plains are a National Park established to protect the Himalayan Brown Bear. The second highest plateau in the world, it is only open in the summer, linking Skardu and Astore for a few months a year via a rough 4WD track.
Covering 3000km square they are vast and are carefully managed by Park Rangers with the help of a park fee of $8USD. There are also snow leopards, and programmes in place to protect both.
The Park sits 3500m to 4500m. It is surrounded by the Karakoram, Ladakh, Zansker and Himalaya mountain ranges. Given its geography it was a surprise to see how lush and green the landscape is and dotted by 340 different plant species in places it is quite colourful with flowers.
Everyone knows someone here and despite the isolation many people from both Astore and Skardu know each other or have family ties. Kabluie seems to be saying hello to someone by the hour.
The journey through it was long – it would have been easy to have spotted a brown bear if there were any around as we went soooo slowly. Kabluie is a self confessed slow driver, with the rough track and the Jeep lacking power we covered 72km in over 5 hours of bumping around (that’s around 14kmph). It was hard going. We spotted a couple of sunbathing marmots.
On the occasional 10 minute stop we were under strict instruction again of no selfies, Kabluie this time adamant saying it is ‘a security risk’. It seems it’s less about being protective and more about concern around their distribution.
As we left the park there opened up a fantastic view of Nanga Parbat, we were so lucky as it was really clear. It’s nickname is killer mountain, it’s 8125m peak is considered to be one of the dangerous in the world to climb.
Here’s a bit of a video of the trip through with Nanga Parbat coming into view near the end:
When we eventually left the national park Kabluie decided at 2:45pm it was time for a lunch stop. Hot and having been bounced around and Marie having a particularly hard time in the front seat which turned out not only to be in the sun constantly and also very springy we declined lunch and perched outside in some shade. A man with 3 women and 6 children turn up in this tiny white Jeep with the registration ‘Chairman’. He confidently jumped out and with family in tow and came over to say hello and asked how we were. Genuinely curious and checking why these two foreign women, were perched out roadside on a rock. He promptly invited us to join him and his family for lunch. As much as the interaction would have been interesting we had to decline.
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