Introducing Satpara Lake & Buddha
Nine kilometres south of Skardu is beautiful Satpara Lake, brilliant blue and stocked with rainbow trout, but no longer pristine. The construction of two power stations as well as a dam that will raise the level of the lake was still very much under way at the time of research. It is expected that most of the vegetated foreshore and the picturesque island will be submerged. The hotels have already moved up the hill. The walk to the lake is a dry, moderately steep three-hour (8km to 9km) climb up Hargisar Nala from the bazaar. Or you can take the road which is currently choked with trucks and construction vehicles. Ultimately, there will be a paved road to the lake and continuing to the Deosai Plains.
Across Hargisar Nala from the track is a Buddha relief carved on a rock in about the 7th century. About 200m beyond the Baltoro resthouse turning and a cluster of government offices, and just past an Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) office, turn right on a small path. Near the end of this is a footbridge across the nala, and a track up to the Buddha. There and back is a detour of about an hour.
A road, parts of it already paved, runs past the lake and 6km to 8km on to Satpara village. Roughly 25km beyond the village, the track crosses the Ali Malik Mar pass onto the Deosai Plains. The most popular trekking route goes from Skardu up Burji Nala, to the west of Hargisar; see Lonely Planet’s Trekking in the Karakoram & Hindukush for further details on these and other treks.