About 35km above Skardu, the Indus – locally called the Sind – is joined by the Shyok River (pronounced as one syllable, roughly ‘shok’). The Shyok is the axis of Khaplu, the biggest and richest of Baltistan’s ancient kingdoms, and the scenery is superb.
The Shyok and Indus basins above their junction (embracing ancient Khaplu, sometimes spelled Khapalu, and the four smaller principalities of Keris, Parkutta, Tolti and Kharmang) comprise Ghanche district, with Khaplu village as headquarters.
Khaplu’s Nurbakhshi Muslims are open-hearted but they’re shy of foreigners and can be touchy about being photographed. Little English is spoken and even Urdu is a foreign language.
Allow at least a full day around Khaplu village, even if you’re not a walker, and be prepared for cooler weather than Skardu’s.