'Crisp mountain air rushed in through the car window as I drove past jagged
mountain landscapes. Despite summer being in full swing, massive amounts of
snowpack still clung to the 7,000m peaks. Glacial waterfalls dripped down to
feed the aquamarine river below, through Pakistan's high-altitude Hunza Valley
that was aptly termed "Shangri La" by British novelist James Hilton.
I was driving the Karakoram Highway (KKH), which cuts through some of the most
astounding rock faces on the planet. Often coined the "Eighth Wonder of the
World", it's a road trip of dreams, yet few have ever heard of it, or how it
came to be.
The KKH was once a leg of the Silk Road, with its foundations built by locals
centuries ago. However, it wasn't until 1978 – after nearly 20 years of
construction by more than 24,000 Pakistani and Chinese workers – that it was
officially inaugurated for vehicles, which brought trade, tourism and ease of
travel to this remote part of the world.
The 1,300km highway extends from the small city of Hasan Abdal near Pakistan's
capital of Islamabad to Kashgar in China's autonomous Xinjiang region via
Khunjerab, the highest paved border crossing in the world at about 4,700m. But
I was drawn to the 194km stretch of the highway that runs through the Hunza
Valley, a region surrounded by the Karakoram Mountains that give the highway
its name. This impossibly beautiful section is where you can see pristine
glaciers, alpine lakes and snow-capped peaks right from the comfort of your
ride. However, as alluring as the journey is, it's the incredible people and
traditions of the Hunza Valley that make this part of the highway so special.'
Via Future Crunch
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*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics