Karakoram Highway, 8th Wonder of the World

The Karakoram Highway connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram Mountains. At its highest point, the Khunjerab Pass reaches an elevation of 4,693 meters / 15,397 feet at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E. It has become a popular adventure destination for off-road drivers, motocross specialists, cyclists and even backpackers willing to attempt the approximately 1,300 kilometres / 800 miles.

Karakoram Highway: Karokaram, Pakistan
Karokaram, Pakistan

Pausing Place on Karakoram Highway

The roadway was built to celebrate a Pakistani / Chinese friendship treaty in 1959, and follows an ancient trade route. Its condition varies across its length, and it is in better shape where it connects cities within individual countries. It crosses the point where the Eurasian and Indian plates touch, and where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan are all within 250 kilometres / 160 miles of each other. Earthquakes and other disturbances are common.

Karakoram Highway: Massive landslide in Hunza River Valley
Massive landslide in Hunza River Valley

In 2010, a massive landslide blocked the Pakistani side of the road 15 kilometres / 9 miles north of Karimabad in the Hunza Valley, creating the potentially unstable Attabad Lake that is 21 kilometres / 13 miles long and reaches a depth of 110 metres / 350 feet. A track bypasses this high up on a mountainside that is unsuitable for people with fear of heights.

Backpackers can avoid the detour by negotiating with local boatmen. A variety of accommodation are available to help them overnight.

Karakoram Highway : Landslide Lake
Landslide Lake

Innovation Karakoram Highway Style

There is much of interest along the Karakoram Highway for those with time to look. Several previously inaccessible rivers and lakes create pleasant diversions in the otherwise arid, rocky landscape. There are more than 50,000 rock engravings marking the passage of invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the trade route. The earliest of these dating from 5000 BC depict single animals, triangular men, and hunting scenes in which animals are larger than their hunters.

Karakoram Highway: Ancient Rock Engraving
Ancient Rock Engraving

Ancient Beliefs Meet Modern Traffic Problems

The best time to take on the Karakoram Highway is in early Autumn before heavy winter snowfalls, or in spring when the melt creates a thousand waterfalls and cataracts. Sumner is also best avoided for this is when monsoons arrive, causing landslides than can engulf anybody passing, and block the road until help arrives.

Karakoram Highway: Clearing a landslide in Pakistan
Clearing a landslide in Pakistan

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar for Richard Farrell


    WOW, what a beautiful article about the most beautiful and enjoyable place on earth. A really superb place for adventure. I have visited and loved this place. InshaALLAH I will visit here again.

  2. Avatar for Richard Farrell

    Askari Cars

    Hi, Very nice blog post. I’m pleased to read this. This post is helpful for tourists as well. I hope to get more stuff from you in future as well. Visiting northern areas of Pakistan with any Rent a Car company is also a good move.

  3. Avatar for Richard Farrell


    Really amazing place to visit especially for hikers. I love the beauty of Pakistan like Swat Valley and Gilgit. Do you??


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