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Astola Island

Island of the Seven Hills, Balochistan, Pakistan.

Astola Island

Astola Island, is a group of associated islands of the Pakistani coastline along the Arabian Sea. also known as Jezira Haft Talar Satadip or 'Island of the Seven Hills', is a small uninhabited Pakistani island in the Arabian Sea approximately 25 km (16 mi) south of the nearest part of the coast and 39 km (24 mi) southeast of the fishing port of Pasni.

Astola is Pakistan's largest offshore island at approximately 6.7 km (4.2 mi) long with a maximum width of 2.3 km (1.4 mi) and an area of approximately 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi). The highest point is 246 ft (75 m) above sea level.

Administratively, the island is part of the Pasni subdistrict of Gwadar District in Balochistan province.

Astola Island, also known as "Jezira Haft Talar" or "Island of the Seven Hills", is a small uninhabited island in the Arabian Sea approximately 25 km (16 mi) south of the nearest part of the coast and 39 km (24 mi) southeast of the fishing port of Pasni in Balochistan Province of Pakistan.

Evening At Astola Island Balochistan

Evening At Astola Island Balochistan

Astola is Pakistan's largest offshore island and is a popular and unique destination for eco-tourism.

Geography

  • The Island is located in Arabian sea 39km southeast of the fishing port of Pasni, Gwadar District, Balochistan.

  • The island consists of a large tilted plateau and a series of seven small hillocks (hence the local name "Haft Talar" or "Seven Hills"), with deep chasms and crevices, which are several feet wide.

  • There are several natural caves and coves on the island.

  • The south face of the island slopes off gradually whereas the north face is cliff-like with a sharp vertical drop.

Ecology

  • Isolation has helped maintain several endemic life forms on Astola. The endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbracata) nest on the beach at the foot of the cliffs. The island is also an important area for endemic reptiles such as the Astola viper (Echis carinatus astolae).

  • The island is reported to support a large number of breeding water birds including coursers, curlews, godwit, gulls, plovers and sanderling.

  • Feral cats, originally introduced by fishermen to control the endemic rodent population, pose an increasing threat to wildlife breeding sites. E.g. the sooty gull (Larus hemprichii) had a major breeding colony on the island, now extirpated because of introduced rats.

  • Vegetation on the island is sparse and largely consists of scrubs and large bushes. There are no trees on the island. The largest shrub on the island is Prosopis juliflora, which was introduced into South Asia in 1877 from South America.

  • There is no source of fresh water on the island and the vegetation depends on occasional rainfall and soil moisture for survival. Astola is also home to coral reef.

Man-made Features

  • In 1982, the Government of Pakistan installed a lighthouse on the island for the safety of passing vessels, which was replaced by a solar-powered one in 1987.

  • There is a small mosque dedicated to the Muslim saint, Pir Khawaja Khizr, which is used by the mainland fishermen during the fishing season.

  • The remains of an ancient Hindu temple of the Goddess Kali are also located at the Island, and is known to Hindus as Satadip.

  • Camping near Astola Island Mosque

    Astola Island Mosque

Tourism

  • Astola island is a popular but "hard" destination for eco-tourism.

  • There are no lodging facilities on the island, Tourists who are willing to stay overnight must bring their own provisions and camp on the island.

  • There are many private Tour operators who provide tourism facilities with complete guidance.

  • There are plenty of opportunities for Scuba diving, Yachting, Pedal boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming and Snorkeling.

Accessibility

  • The island can be accessed by motorized boats from Pasni, with a journey time of about 5 hours to reach the island.

  • You can reach Pasni by road either from Gwadar or Karachi via the Makran Coastal Highway.

  • On the island, You can trek, or hire a bicycle.