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18

SHIGAR: A SIZEABLE SURPRISE

Just when we think we have seen everything worth seeing, we enter the

Shigar region. A first piece of genuine natural art is

Upper Kachura Lake

.

The sun is situated at a perfect angle so that the trees with their golden

yellow leaves are reflected in perfect symmetry in the emerald green

waters. Afzel knows that the apotheosis is approaching and motions to

us with conspiratorial gestures to follow him. We pass robust olive trees

and navigate along the edge of a fen between variegated grasses. We

climb a dune hill. At the top, we come to a halt, completely perplexed.

In front of us shimmers the white sandy carpet of a gigantic desert. It

is the

Katpana

, the highest desert in the world. The wind has created

regular structures in the sand so that the upper layer of the cold desert

looks like a giant meringue. Again, Pakistan leaves us astounded. Four

totally different ecosystems coming together just like this: a mountain

lake, a Mediterranean forest, a cold desert and a high mountain range.

Can you think of anything more crazy? We sink into the soft sand and let

the beauty create its magic. It is a completely unreal, but very beautiful

panorama.

The Katpana or 'Cold Desert' in Skardu