Our team takes you on a magical journey as we experience the greatness the Northern Areas have to offer
Whoever plans to visit Hunza, could not consider their trip as complete if they do not visit the very intriguing and somewhat mystifying ‘Khunjerab Pass’. Located at 4,600 meters above sea level, the China-Pakistan border crossing, which goes over the Karakoram Highway, is the highest and, consequently, one of the most beautiful borders in the world. Why beautiful- because you get the chance to actually soak in the sights while you drive on a road which is so beautifully smooth, it’s almost like a runway. It is a completely awakening experience, and Social Diary had the pleasure to get those elevated sights marvelled into right before the winter season kicked in. The drive from Hunza to Khunjerab Pass now literally just takes 3 hours to complete. Much of this comes to the greatness of how the ride has become even smoother due to that wide and highly impressive lineup
of tunnels. These tunnels are China’s major contribution towards making this drive so much better and convenient. It is definitely a major boost to tourism for it used to be quite a hassle to actually go forth in such sharp mountainous ranges before. This is probably why the majority of the Northern regions near the Hunza Valley remained unexplored.
The ride is one which comes with its own set of scenic detours. You will not be able to stop gazing through your car window even for a second. It is through this very ride as you leave the Hunza strip, you will be able to enjoy the sheer, clear waters of the Attabad Lake. This lake is located in the Gojal region of Hunza Valley. It was created in January 2010 as the result of a major landslide in Attabad. The lake has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Gilgit−Baltistan, offering activities like boating, fishing and other recreational activities. It is always thriving and has a huge surge of tourists, especially during the peak Summer season. You can also opt to buy yourself some souvenirs at a range of shops. It is always crowded and has plenty to offer visitors. A major refreshing point, enjoying the lake with some coffee and jet skiing, really sets you up for the major drive ahead.
We were soon speeding by the dramatic Passu cones or as people now call them “cathedral peaks”. This is such an exciting sight on its own. Standing tall, as you first cross the Pass village, and come across the gleaming Passu glacier right above the KKH, which periodically floods the road with its melting waters thanks to the warming effects of climate change. This is probably the most scenic part of the drive in the area known as Hussaini. You would also be coming across a point which takes you to where the dramatic, yet exciting Hussaini Suspension Bridge exists. Known as the most dangerous bridge in the world, the Hussaini Hanging Bridge is only one of many precarious rope bridges in Northern Pakistan. Crossing Borit Lake in the Upper Hunza. This rope bridge is both long and very intriguing. Many planks are missing, and strong winds shake the bridge as you cross it. Despite its dangerous looks, however, the Hussaini is a relatively safe bridge and has become one of the most sought after tourist attractions, with hikers testing their nerves as they carefully work their way across. It is definitely not for the faint- hearted to actually make it across, but you don’t need to walk across to make the most of your experience.
It can all come down to actually walking down to where the bridge is, while communicating and having some light-hearted conversations with village residents along the way. Also to ensure you have your strength as you walk back up, it is best if you take in some of the organic and extremely refreshing apricot juice, which locals rightfully describe as being the ‘desi Red Bull’. It depicts how the locals do not depend on artificial flavorings and ingredients for keeping themselves fit and active. This is probably the reason why the Hunza tribe is considered to have a life expectancy of 80 years and above.
They adapt the organic lifestyle and even tourists are treated to local, flavorsome treats and snacks which includes their pancakes with apricot oil and Hunza’s tasteful homemade jam.It was yet another extremely interesting stop over. Also this is where you get the advice to start chewing on some dried apricots, for as you continue to drive upwards, the air continues to get thinner. This means there is less oxygen and the major fluctuation may cause you to feel nauseated and even light-headed.
Continuing forward, the drive is one which allows you to soak in all the goodness of what God is capable of.
This may just be a peak but its grandeur is one which stays on with you, allowing you to fathom the greatness of mountain ranges, coming in various shapes but all are equally impressive. The world is indeed beautiful, and while driving to the Pakistan-China border, you marvel into it every sight you soak at every turn made. Continuing forth, you will start to feel the cold breeze touching your face- the elevation is increasing and we were in sheer delight to come across yet another majestic creature at this point- yaks! A pair was nestled near Sost- these large but gentle beasts of the wilderness are known to graze the highest of the peaks of Khunjerab Valley. However locals were able to tame a pair and brought them to their village as means of giving tourists rides and having their pictures taken with such magnificent beasts.
They are definitely the guardians of the North and it was an absolute treat to have gotten such an up-close experience with them. The Sost is the last stop before you make way towards the elevated slopes, reaching towards the very top of the Khunjerab Park. By this time, it becomes an extremely sensational experience. You feel you have completely disconnected from the world now as you continue to climb towards the earth’s sky. As you are completely taken over the sensation of the air becoming eerily thin, you are now communicating with the silence. This completely takes your breath away. The mountains and their mighty structures welcome you- its their territory now. This drive in itself is nothing like you experienced before. Savor it completely. Immerse yourself in this majestic setting as it is a completely rare sight. Coming closer to the peak, you will now notice the flora and fauna in its absolute majestic state. The yaks can be found grazing across the major fields. You will also be able to notice a variation of bird species including the breathtaking falcon.
The Khunjerab National Park is Pakistan’s third largest national park.
The primary purpose of this park was to provide protection to the endangered Marco Polo sheep, which is only found in this area in Pakistan. According to the Mir of Hunza, the population of sheep was around 400 but had dropped to below 180 by the time of the completion of the Karakoram Highway. The park is also famous for its snow leopards. Some reports say that it might contain the highest density of these beautiful cats in the total Himalayan ecosystem, which is the natural habitat of these cats. Over 2,000 Siberian ibex, widely distributed and abundant in the park but absent from neighboring China, are also present here. Feral or semi-feral animals, especially domestic yaks can be seen roaming in the park. You might want to keep your binoculars with you as you never know the kind of sightings you will be treated to while you’re there. Once you have made it to the top, you will be in awe of how you are now standing at one of the highest points in the world which is connecting two nations.
Unfortunately due to tightened security, we couldn’t get a closer view of the border check-post which is a gleaming metal structure, as there have been certain barriers placed in between. However even from afar, the sight is absolutely intriguing. A large blue signboard pointed out the distance to Kashgar and Urumqi, cities in Xinjiang, while the distance to Pakistan’s Gilgit and Islamabad was noted on the other side . The air at 4,700 metres is rather thin and too much exertion can cause headaches. But this is where you need to take it slow. Look around you and gaze at how man has made it so far. It is the perfect intertwining of nature and manmade marvel. You are completely mystified by how far we have come and why it is now absolutely essential to preserve these iconic locations and the wilderness that comes with it. It is as though you have made it to the edge of the world. A wanderlust’s haven, Social Diary’s drive to Khunjerab Pass is one which will linger on forever.