Saturday, November 22, 2008

7-11 November – North on Karakorum Highway, Pakistan

We did not plan to drive the Karakorum Highway (KKH), but when we heard that the weather was still quite mild, we decided to give it a go. The road/track/path is a slightly improved version of the old Silk Road. Consequently, our average speed of 30 km/h was only slightly faster than the speed of a camel… The road follows the Indus River at first. The terrain is so tough that the road had to be cut out from the vertical rock surface. The three mightiest mountain ranges of the world meet here; the Himalaya, the Karakorum and the Hindu Kush.
If anybody with a long beard would want to find a safe hiding place in the world, this area, among the Pashtun people, is the perfect place. In fact, everybody here seems to be a cloned copy of OBL and the area is within commuting distance to Afghanistan.
Nanga Parbat, at 8126 meters, is the eighth highest mountain in the world. Here, the KKH leaves the Indus River and follows the Hunza River instead. But at Gilgit, the road ended abruptly. The bridge across the river had collapsed three months ago. The only remaining passage was a suspension bridge made of steel wires and wood planks. We were hesitating. Could this bridge, which looked very old and weak, carry our vehicle which weighs more than three tons? We observed some other vehicles driving across the bridge, and when we had seen a few vehicles of our size drive across, we decided to give it a go. The bridge moaned and wobbled, but it remained in one piece and we made it to the other side!
The Hunza Valley is very beautiful and we enjoyed our time there very much. When we woke up at our camp site in Aliabad we could see seven snow-capped mountains, all more than 7000 meters high. The most impressive was Raka Poshi at 7788 meters.
We spent a day in Karimabad, the old capital of the Baltit region. It is a lovely town at 2500 meters altitude. We looked at the old Baltit fort, talked to the village people and bought dried apricots and souvenirs.

No comments: