Karakoram Highway

On To Pakistan

On To Pakistan

One of the most anticipated parts of my journey is the Karakoram Highway (KKH), the highest paved international road in the world. It crests the Khunjerab Pass 4,877 km on the border between China and Pakistan and marks the a section of the Silk Road that descends into the riches of India. The KKH claimed at least 892 lives in the making.

Karakoram Highway Map

Karakoram Highway Map

China and Pakistan maintain sturdy relations. China has provided a lot of funding and workers for the road and its subsequent upkeep. Even today, China has just undertaken a huge upgrade of many parts of the highway to double its width in many parts. Chinese workers and their camps can been seen all along the road working very hard.

From Kashgar I met an Italian traveler, Eddy, heading the same way so we joined forces. The journey is a two day bus ride, but we opted to take a taxi with two others to Karakul Lake for the first night and meet the bus before it leaves in the morning.

About 200 km out of Kashgar, we have fully entered the Parim Mountians when we reached Karakul. The lake is 3,600 meters in altitude and has several mountains in reflection when it’s waters are still including Muztagh Ata (7546m).

Karakul Lake

Karakul Lake

Unfortunately, I took ill and missed much of the benefit of taking a taxi the first night. I think the altitude put me over the edge and I got a fever and spent most of the time sleeping at the Kirgiz settlement we stayed at, though I did walk by the lake for an hour. It was cloudy anyway. Accommodation consisted of round cement gers and my favorite: yak dung fires.

The next day we hit Stone City and jumped on the bus into Pakistan in Tashkurgan. Immigration was quite easy; Chinese side at Tashkurgan and Pakistani in Sost.

I received my visa on the border at Sost, getting a taste of the kind of bureaucracy awaiting on the Indian Subcontinent. I had to wait while the officer made a handwritten form for me to fill out before issuing a visa. Pakistan here I come.