Katpana Desert – The Famous Cold Desert in Pakistan

The word desert will remind you of the hot sandy deserts where it isn’t possible to stand for a minute in the sunlight. But, what if you know there is a desert called the ‘desert of stars’ and the cold desert? You’ll be getting some chills down your spine. So the answer is yes, such a desert exists in Pakistan and is known as the Katpana Desert. 

Katpana Desert is a high-altitude desert located near Skardu in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. It is one of the world’s cold deserts and the highest cold desert. The average elevation of this desert is about 2226 meters above sea level. 

This desert can be your favorite spot if you are an adventure lover. You can experience the thrill of camping under a blanket of stars because no one dislikes a desert with strong winds, blue skies, and white granules. So, it’s sure that you will fall in love with this place. 

If you plan to visit this mesmerizing desert, you must carry some warm clothes and camping essentials as the temperature can drop below freezing at night.

This place is famous for its large dunes, Blackish grey giant mountains, and a flowing water stream through the middle of the desert. You will be mesmerized by the view of this desert at night. So don’t forget to capture some beautiful moments with your camera! 

Visit the Katpana Desert Skardu to best experience nature’s beauty! Let’s read further to explore what you can do at this heaven-like place.

Katpana Desert Skardu Attractions, Timings & Locations

Katpana Desert is one of the most beautiful places in Skardu. It is situated at a distance of about 20 kilometers from the central city. The best time to visit this place is between June and September as the weather is quite pleasant.

Katpana Desert

This desert is famous for its large dunes, Black giant mountains, and beautiful lake. It is also known as the “Cold Desert” because of its freezing temperatures. The temperature in this desert can drop down to -5 degrees Celsius.

What are the local names of the Katpana Desert?

Most people know this desert by the name Cold desert because of its freezing temperature. But the other name used for this desert is Katpana Desert. Therefore, the Government of Pakistan has given this place the status of a desert. 

Another local name for the Katpana desert is Biana Nakpo or Katpana Biana, which means in the local language the black sand. All these names represent the beauty of this place in their ways. 

When is the best time to visit the Katpana Desert?

There’s no right time to visit such a heaven-on-earth place, but some say that the best time to witness the true beauty of the desert is in the summer, from June to September. As in this season, the temperature remains nearly 8 degrees during nighttime. During the day, it’s a bit more than 8, but sometimes it even rises to 27 degrees. 

Katpana Desert

Summers are perfect for exploring this place as the weather is quite pleasant during the day. Most of the time, you’ll be walking on the dunes so that a bit of heat won’t harm you. Just make sure to carry enough water with you and take a rest. 

During winter, the temperature falls to -25, entirely freezing for tourists to explore this wonderland. 

Weather at Katpana Desert

Just like this desert is unique, so are its temperature and weather conditions. The beautiful cold desert has slightly cold nights during the summer, and the days are perfect for exploring a massive desert like this. The temperature is mostly between 8-10 degrees. 

In winters, however, the temperature plummets to a bone-chilling -25 degrees Celsius, and in less cold months, it’s nearly -10 degrees. 

That is one of the reasons why most tourists visit this place during summer, as it is pretty challenging to explore an area in such low temperatures. 

The Highest Cold Desert In World

The spectacular Katpana desert has the honor of being the highest cold desert in the world. And that is one of the many reasons this desert is quite popular among tourists. 

The Katpana Desert is located at a very high altitude, making it the world’s highest cold desert. The average elevation of this place is around 2226 meters which is pretty high compared to other deserts around the globe. 

Katpana Desert

So don’t miss out on the chance to have the prestige of visiting the world’s highest cold desert, the Katpana desert. 

Recommended Gear

·        Warm Clothes

·        Camping Essentials

·        Water Bottles

Attractions at Katpana Desert

You won’t be short of places and attractions to enjoy in the world-famous cold desert in Skardu. There is a truckload of interest in the Katpana Desert that will surely make your visit worth it. However, before deciding which one to visit first, let’s take a detailed look at each. 

Large Sand Dunes

The cold desert is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful attractions in Pakistan. The first and most obvious thing that will catch your attention in this desert is the giant dunes surrounding the area. The granules of this sand are white instead of yellow, which is no less than a wonder. 

Katpana Desert

These dunes are perfect for fun activities like sandboarding and sledding. You can even sit back and relax while enjoying the breathtaking views.

Blackish Grey Giant Mountains

The black and grey mountains surrounding these mesmerizing dunes make it look like another world. These mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the desert and add to its beauty. 

Make sure to trek up these mountains and get a glimpse of their stunning views. And even if you can’t, don’t forget to capture the picture with your camera.

Water Stream

One of the unique things about this desert is that it has a water stream called Katpana lake. This stream provides fresh water to the desert and is a great spot to cool off in the heat during the summer season. 

This lake, surrounded by snowy mountains, sandy dunes, and lush green grass, is a significant tourist spot in this desert. 

Green Meadows & Trees

The first thing that might come to your mind after listening to the word desert is the scarcity of vegetation and greenery. Well, not in the case of Cold desert, which has a great plantation and greenery. 

Katpana Desert

The green meadows and trees in the desert are a sight to behold. These areas are great spots to relax and take in the beauty of the desert. 

Green will help you cool off your eyes in this cold desert and have a relaxing vacation. 

Mesmerizing View at Night

The desert’s night sky is a sight you will never forget. The stars seem so close that you can reach out and touch them. 

The best time to experience this is during the summer when the skies are clear and the air is crisp. The Milky Way is also visible on clear nights, making for an unforgettable experience.

Things to Do at Katpana Desert

So many exciting activities are waiting for you to spend a day or a night in this miraculous desert. You’ll be walking on the soft sand, and watching the starry nights can be a dream for those who haven’t had the chance to experience it.

Camping in the middle of nature surrounded by the cold desert, what else can one ask for? It would be a different and an unforgettable experience for you and your family or friends. 

Walking on Sand

One of the most exciting activities in a desert is walking on the sand; if you don’t do this, you won’t experience a desert in the best way.

Katpana Desert

The right way to do this is to take off your shoes and socks and feel the sand between your toes. That will help you to relax and feel the natural energy of the desert.


Glamping is the new trend of experiencing camping elegantly. You can set up your camp in the cold desert under the right weather and light up the lights or fire nearby to make it look more beautiful.

Adding all the luxuries of your daily life to this camp will help you get refuge in nature.

Star Gazing

Katpana Desert is one of the best places in the world for stargazing because of its high altitude and lack of light pollution. You can lie down on the sand and look at the clear night sky. The blanket of stars will make you feel small and insignificant in the vastness of the universe.

Cherry Picking

You’ll come across plenty of cherry trees on your way to Skardu; if the cherries are ripe, you can have the fun of picking these.

Katpana Desert

And if you’re traveling with a local, they’ll help you pick the cherries the right way. So eat these juicy cherries while you reach the desert. 

How to Reach The Katpana Desert?

Reaching the Katpana desert isn’t that difficult if you’ve arrived at Skardu; one must go to Skardu first. Depending on your choice, you can arrive at Skardu via a flight or on your conveyance. 

To reach the desert, you’ll have to travel by road, either on your conveyance or by public transport. 

If you’ve landed at the airport via a flight, it’s just a 30 minutes distance left to reach the desert, so that’s a much easier way. 

If you travel by road, you’ll have to take the route from Islamabad to Mansehra, Basham to Dasoo, and Chilas to Deosai to reach Skardu. From Skardu, it takes almost 30 minutes to reach the Katpana desert. 

Facilities at Katpana Desert

The facilities available at Katpana Desert are essential, but they’re enough to make your stay comfortable. You can find nice spots to stay and places to buy food or necessities during your visit. Let’s take a look at what other facilities are available here. 


You can find a restaurant near the Katpana desert name Katpana hotel and restaurant. The food here is pretty good and reasonably priced. In addition, you get an excellent chance to munch on some local food from Skardu. 

Glamp Pakistan

This luxury camping service offers safari tents, wooden huts, and camps for those who want to stay in style. The tents have all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay.

Wooden Hut

Some wooden huts are also available for rent if you don’t want to stay in a hotel or camp. Glamp Pakistan also provides these as its second service. These huts have large windows which offer panoramic views of the desert at night. 

How much is The Distance between the Katpana Desert from Islamabad?

The distance from Islamabad to Skardu is (630 km) about 14 hours by car. It is a bit further if you are coming from Lahore. It might take almost half an hour from Skardu to reach the desert. The drive is very scenic, though you will cross some beautiful mountain passes. 

Charges for Camping at Katpana Desert

There are no separate charges for camping in the Katpana Desert. However, if you are availing of the services of Glamp Pakistan, they might charge you a bit extra for renting out their tents and huts. 

They’ve different packages for families, friends, and couples. All packages charge between 115000 Pkr to 150000 for four nights. 

Location of Katpana Desert Skardu

The Katpana Desert is located in the Skardu district of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. It is situated at a distance of about 20 kilometers from the central city of Skardu. 

To reach the Katpana Desert, you can take a private taxi or a local bus from Skardu. The journey will take approximately half an hour. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is The Coldest Desert In Pakistan?

The coldest desert in Pakistan is the Katpana Desert. This desert is about 2226 meters above sea level and experiences freezing temperatures. The best time to visit the Katpana Desert is from June to September. During this time, the temperature is more moderate, and you can enjoy various activities such as camping and exploring the area. 

How much is The Height of The Katpana Desert?

The height of the Katpana Desert is 2226 meters above sea level. That makes it the highest cold desert in the world. The temperatures in this desert can be freezing, so it is important to pack warm clothes and essentials if you plan on visiting. 

The Katpana Desert is a beautiful and unique place to visit in Pakistan. It is the highest cold desert in the world and offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors. If you plan to visit the area, pack warm clothes and essential camping gear. And don’t forget to enjoy the stunning views!