the karakoram highway

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to get away from it all, go to the karakoram highway – the only land connection between pakistan and china built by the army corps of engineers of both countries. the road goes through the khunjerab pass, the highest paved pass in the world. but the highway, which starts in islamabad, capital of pakistan, is really only interesting from skardu in the north east frontier province and winds  its way through gilgit parallel to the indus river. the best area along the road is hunza to the north, home of the aga khan’s ancestry, leader of the secretive islamic shiite ismaili sect, and perhaps the most delicious apricots in the world – they are everywhere and you can just reach to any tree and get a few. the aga khan architecture program (of harvard and mit) provided funds to renovate one of the twin forts in hunza, baltit. a treasure of a job that one would not imagine could exist in this part of the world. this is a trip i recommend to anyone. but make sure you have plenty of time as flights are still navigated the old fashioned way, visually – radar does not cover the area from islamabad to skardu, so at the slilghtest fog or clouds, flights are cancelled and the only alternative to a one hour flight from skardu or gilgit to islamabad, is a 17 hour drive in a van! but on the road you do get to see three great mountain ranges meet at a point, quite literally as marked by a post – the karakoram, hindu kush and the himalayas.

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2 comments

  1. A. Walli

    Thank-you for this blog entry – great pictures! It is always nice to hear of wonderful places and good people.

    A minor correction – while there are large numbers of Ismailis (followers of the Aga Khan) in this part of the world the Aga Khan’s ancestry is actually not from there.

    More information about the Aga Khan and his work, including that conducted in Pakistan such as the Baltit Fort restoration, can be found at:
    http://www.akdn.org/

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