We left Astore the next morning but before continuing on our way we made a small stop in Gorikot. While I was waiting (less than 5 minutes) at least 20 people gathered at the store where Jesper bought cookies and drinks for the next few hours looking curious about what that guy was doing around. We filled the tank and continued on our way hoping that the mountain pass was really open as announced on the motorbike groups online.
Unfortunately, there is no public transport crossing Deosai National Park, or not at least during our stay in the country. If you do not have your own wheels the only way to go through is to do it by hiring a Jeep at exorbitant prices for about 12000 rupees (if you have the budget, do it, it is VERY worth it).
Deosai National Park was in our plans almost from the beginning, but when we found out that the road was closed most of the year, we imagined we would not have the luck to cross it, once we got the news that the mountain pass had just opened for motorcycles and 4x4s we decided to give it a try.
Deosai is the second-highest plateau in the world, only after the Uyuni Salt Flat, it is 4100 meters high and during 8-9 months it is completely covered with snow being only accessible during the summer months. During summer the surface it flourishes turning its green soil into dazzling colours, this is possible to see during august, sadly we were too early for the flower season. Deosai National Park It is also the home of a good population of Himalayan bears, one of the few sanctuaries that still exist for this species.
Our Beast brought us without much trouble to the entrance of the park, and we were advised to do the cross in that direction (From Astore to Skardu) since the climb in the opposite direction is much more pronounced. Once there the cold and our concerns began to increase. Although we had camping equipment, we were not prepared to have less than 7 degrees overnight and during the day it was already that temperature so most likely at night would get under 0. (Celcius)
Along the way we became experts in crossing streams that came down from the frozen snow on the road, at some point we were comfortable doing it so we stopped caring a little and on one of them the backpack fell to the right side and ended up touching the water while we both fell panic as all our equipment was inside it, luckily the rain cover did its job, at least enough to isolate both laptops from disaster.
We arrived at the registration area and paid the 800 rupees per person as foreigners, before going ahead we inquired about the situation of the two campsites within the park. Having opened the pass just 2 days ago it was possible that neither of them was open yet and we arrived at a completely deserted area, just like we did in Rakaposhi. The guards assured us that there was someone in the area whit some equipment and that the “construction” had already begun. We decided to continue and hope for the best.
The path inside the park, although flat, became an ordeal, when it was not mudded it was plain stones and moving faster than 10-20 km per hour was almost impossible. Jesper’s arms were numb and we still had a lot of the way ahead of us. Our intention was to reach Barapani, the most advanced camping in Deosai, also the highest one at more than 4200 meters of altitude before the night.
Hours passed flying between our attempts to advance faster, a couple of Jeeps crossed us in the opposite direction but in general, was quite a solitary road. In the distance we could see some nomad camps, they bring up the cattle to graze in the area during the summer months and move their “house” there until the snow pushes them back down.
The landscape is spectacular without a doubt, along the almost existing “road” we were accompanied by dozens of golden “groundhogs” that crossed the fields while it was getting colder and colder. Our clothes were wet from the several river crossings along the way, our concern increased when we saw the sun started going down and we had a few hours of daylight left.
We made it to Barapani at around 7 pm and a small group of “inhabitants” welcomed us. The camp was not yet standing, but work had already started, the common kitchen tents and the workers’ own tents were already set up. They invited us to tea in the kitchen tent where we laughed for a while. Finally they offered us a couple of extra sleeping bags as ours were a joke for that weather.
We prepared the tent as soon as possible and then we prepared the food. We had brought some quick pasta, bread and some drinks, we ate by the light of the lantern and after another small talk, totally exhausted, we went to sleep.
We slept with all our thermal clothes on, our sleeping bag and he ones the boys from the camp lent us. Taking a piece of the body out of it was painful. We managed to maintain the temperature and fall asleep. At around 3 in the morning, I woke up with a full bladder. I tried to control it for about 10 minutes, just thinking about how little I wanted to go out into total darkness and with such cold weather was a pain. I couldn’t hold it much longer, I got out of the covers and went out as fast as possible.
I was squatting, it was extremely cold for mid-June, I was just minding my business and looking to the ground when suddenly I looked up and my jaw dropped, I have not seen so many stars together in all my life. The cold and sleep prevented me from enjoying it as it should have, but during the minute that I set my eyes on the sky I felt in outer space observing the entire universe in front of me. I do not have a photo, because neither the camera had a battery and because sometimes, life is the things that we keep in the retina and that sky, that sky will remain engraved on mine for life. I hurried into the tent again and closed my eyes. Tomorrow we had another long day in front of us.
Information about Deosai National Park:
- The mountain passes that cross the Deosai park are only open from June to September (a little more, a little less) it is important to always be up to date with the state of the mountain passes before making the crossing.
- There are two camping areas where you can also buy food, but as far as we understand it is necessary to bring a tent.
- The best month to visit is August, where the plains are covered in colourful flowers and butterflies, it must be amazing. We were not that lucky, but it is still impressive and totally worth the trip.
- The road is hard and long, go prepared.
- It’s cold, no matter the time of year, in June we were at -5 degrees at night.
- If you have additional information or a question, don’t hesitate to leave it in the comment system.