Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deosai Plains and its extinct brown bears


Pakistan is a God gifted country that abounds in natural treasures and breathtaking landscapes. Of these are the Deosai Plains – spread over an area of some 3,000 kilometres, the Deosai Plateau is the second highest plateau after Tibet in the world. The endless and awesome Deosai Plains are located at the boundary of the Karakorum and West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe. Located in the Gilgit Baltistan region of Pakistan, the plains at an average height of 4,114 metres above mean sea level are rich in flora and fauna of its very own kind.

Deosai in local Balti language means the Chair of a Giant. Located some 30 kilometers from the city of Skardu, the Plains are a big tourist attraction. The entire plains blossom with countless and colourful natural flowers that equates the area with an earthly heaven. The spring and summer seasons are the best time to visit the plains when a wide variety of multi colour butterflies swarm the areas. The rolling grassland here supports no trees or shrubs and the area is snow covered for seven months of the year.

Rare Photographs of Deosai (Killed Read Bear at Deosai - courtesy: www.hogspear.com)

Something that attracts wild life lovers to Deosai is the extinct brown Himalayan bears of Deosai. In order to preserve this fast deteriorating species of beautiful heavy brown fur coated bears, the Deosai National Park was established in 1993 for better management of the brown bears and protect these from the hunters. The photo above shows hunters’ pride in the British rule days. The efforts have been rewarded and once a few dozen bears as early as 1990 have now grown in numbers to over 50.

Besides the bears, the wildlife at Deosai includes the extinct Snow Leopard, Golden Marmot, Red Fox, the Himalayan Ibex and  the Laddakh Urial. As for birds, one can see Sparrow Hawk, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Laggar Falcon and Snow Cock.


Sadpara Lake (left) - Sheosar Lake (right)

Those wishing to go to this earthly heaven can chose one of the two routes. The most usual and oft adopted route is from Skardu. Since Skardu is connected to Islamabad and Gilgit through both air and land link, most travelers and tourists prefer this route. An unpaved road takes a few hours from Skardu in hired jeeps. The other route is from Astore, commencing from area called Chilum. There is a paved road till the climb to Deosai  commences. In fact the track from Skardu ultimately ends up at Astore through Deosai. The unpaved road from Skardu head southwards to Sadpara Valley, the home to beautiful Sadpara Lake. Heading west from Sadpara one moves towards Deosai. From Deosai northwards one reaches Upper Astore Valley through Chakor Pass located at 4,266 meters. This is the most impressive part of the Deosai, with deep blue Sheosar Lake, nestled in the pass, that offers picture-book scenery.

Those seeking more adventure can trek out to Deosai from Skardu – an arduous and laborious trek though. For still more fun, there is an adventure bike tour offered by local tour operators. The adventure bike tour will take you right across the beautiful mountains ranges of Himalaya and Karakoram. Traveling on KKH, you will enjoy most spectacular scenery on earth. Before reaching Deosai, you will also witness the magical views of Nanga Parbat (8125m), the ninth highest peak of the world, from different angles at Deosai, our first stop will be at Sheosar Lake. This place offer beautiful views of south face of Nanga Parbat and panoramic views of Deosai Plains. At Bara Pani, you can spend one day and visit the core zone of National Park for Bear Watching or you may enjoy fishing in the cold water of Barwai stream. From Deosai, you can drive back via Skardu and Gilgit and have a chance to enjoy the most thrilling drive along the River Indus.

For adventure lovers, Deosai offers a lifetime memory with its crystal clear water streams and flower bedecked alpine pastures, besides the gentle, warm and hospitable character of the villagers.

Related Links:
Deosai Plains (Pakistanpaedia)

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