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Basha Valley Shigar Gilgit Baltistan

The Basha Valley, with its hot springs, is one of favorite places to visit. It receives very few foreign visitors each year, with a handful of trekkers and climbers crossing the Haramosh while traversing up the Chomo Lungma (glacier).

A 3 hour drive up from Skardu brings travelers to upper Shigar ValIey’s, Basha Valley. At this point, the Shigar Valley is perhaps 10 or more kilometers across. In the fall, sometimes nomadic gold miners working the rivulets. They submerge their hands in the I-degree Celsius water and manually pan for gold. Traversing the valley, at the south bank of the Basha River is the extended village Tisar. There is a police check-point just before entering Tisar. Only very few foreigners travel up this valley. About 6 kilometers to the northwest and up the river is the small village of Chutran. The name literally means “hot water” in the local Balti tongue. In Chutran, there is a medicinal hot springs. Over the decades, the spa has become popular  with the local people, who are even coming from beyond Hunza (15 hours by road) to soak in the 40-plus degree Celsius water. Nestled at the base of the northeast side of the Haramosh Range, Chutron is partially shaded and thereby relatively cool. Its scalloped terraced wheat fields are intercrossed by footpaths and stone field boundaries, all of which conspire to provide beautifully pastoral views and retains a primitive charm, seemingly stuck in in the 19th century.
The village of Hemaesil is about 35 to 45 minutes by Jeep up the Basha River, just across a gushing stream from Chutron. On the opposite side of the river is Dogoro. Just upriver from Niaslo is Doko, where an ancient bridge that is some times impassable.

After Doko, the road climbs steeply above the Basha River, providing superb views of the isolated villages of Zil and Sesko, on the north bank of the Braldu. These villages are hemmed in by the over 6,000 meter peaks that sit behind them. Zil and Sesko are so primitive that entering them seems like entering the Middle Ages. Both viIlages are accessible only by either riding a suspended cart on a cable or by crossing the woven vine bridge. The Jeep trail is often blocked above Doko. At its highest point, the trail clings tenaciously to a steep cliff. Driving down that trail is a heart-pounding, gut-wrenching ordeal. Continuing up the south bank of the Basha River, the river gradually veers southward. The village of Bisil sits on the opposite side of the river; a cable cart connects the village to the Jeep trail.

Bisil also has a hot spring, with the small pool emitting strong smells of sulfur. Locals rarely see foreigners and are quite welcoming. After Bisil, the trail moves into the base of the narrowing valley where swampy thickets of seabuck thorn bushes and numerous stream crossings make travel slow and tedious. Traveling is particularly difficult if there has been a heavy snowmelt. At about 3,000 meters, the trail ends at the village of Arindo.

Basha valley is an extension of  Shigar Valley reachable via Skardu, which is accessible by 22 hour drive along the Karakoram Highway from the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad; Or a 6 hours drive from Gilgit or alternatively by an easy 45 minutes plane flight from Islamabad to Skardu.

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