And we drive off to Skardu, June 26th
by Khalid Omar
The day dawned bright and clear, and after hearing so much about how often the flights to Skardu got canceled, we were relieved at the almost cloudless day. Rolled up to the airport, got boarding passes, and sat about in the lounge, staring at the Skardu bound plane being prepared right outside the waiting room window. Murphy (or was it the weather) struck at the last minute - the flight got canceled, and there we were, stuck without an alternative!
After debating for a while about what to do, made a few phone calls and rented a Hiace van to Skardu, and set off at 12:30pm from Rawalpindi on the Motorway - very little traffic, fast going. The towns along the way:
- 1:22pm: Reached Durhan Toll plaza
- 1:26 turned onto GT Road
- 1:32 crossed Hasan Abdal
- 1:36 70 km from Abbotabad
- 2 Haripur
- 2:30 Havelian Cantt
- 2:48 Abbotabad - lot of rush here in the market
- 3p stopped in front of Rahat bakery to go buy some hunter beef, biryani and assorted food items.
- 3:38 finally done with a not very nice lunch - quite bad really, and set off once again.
- 3:45 Starts drizzling, twisty roads
- 5:35 Chattar
- 5:40 Buttgram
- 6:05 stopped for Namaz, 3580 feet, N34,39.596, E73,03.110
- 6:26 Stopped in Batgram market for a diet coke, mango juice
- 7 Thakot - first sight of the Indus
- 8:05 Besham
- 8:15 fuel stop
- 8:30 Kohistan
- 10:30 Dasu
- 11:30 Reached Sombul Nalla, stopped at truck hotel for dinner. Ate 7 plates Daal mash and 6 egged ommelete. Decided to spend the night on the roof of the hotel, apread out sleeping bags and off to sleep about 12:30am
- 4:10am Woke up, got down by 4:30ish and had Karack chai (not tea, chai).
- 5am back in the van, and off we go once again!
- 5:23am Shatial
- 5:46 Bhasha Diamer Dam is being constructed here, about 45 km from Chilas. It's not a immpressive sight at all, had expected more for the 8-10 billion USD being spent on it.
- 6:25am Chilla
- 7 Gunnar farm
- 7:30 Raikot bridge
- 8am Jaglot. Stopped at gateway hotel for breakfast of tea and parathas, in sight of Nanaga Parbat, which is clearly visible from the hotel's charpais. Expected time to Skardu is noow 5 hours!
- 8:30 Off we go, after the driver tightens the lugnuts
- 9am Turn for Skardu is approx 42 km from Gilgit
- 9:50am Stopped the car, once again the driver is tightening the wheel lugnuts. Always slightly worrying when the driver claims the car is wobbling all over a road 8 feet wide at best!
- 11:45am Dumadas
- 11:55 60km to Skardu! It's getting closer, the road is getting narrower, and the river faster now that we're off the KKH
- 1:15pm Reached the outskirts of Skardu, they're much cleaner than the regular Pakistani town.
- 1:25 Reached the Indus Motel, from the outside it didn't look like much, but inside it's very nice - the place is super clean, and the rooms and bathrooms are tiny, but nice and clean. Finally met Mhd. Nazir, after so many talks on the phone!
We potter around for a bit, than our guide Baqar arrives, and we settle down to a long talk with him. We still have to buy the food, and various kitchen items, as well as deal with porters and what not, so that took up the entire day.
The next day spent buying various supplies, sleeping mats, finalizing the porters - all the nitty gritties. There is a Comsats internet cafe in Skardu with decent internet access.
Posted in K2 Base Camp Hike, May 2, 2008, by Khalid Omar