Shimshal Valley Road
Shimshal Valley Road in Gilgit-Baltistan, northern Pakistan truly is one of the most spectacular and dangerous balcony roads in the world. The road leads to Shimshal Valley located at some 3100 meters altitude. The road starts from Passu (2500m) and was completed as a jeep-able road only 2003 after eighteen years of more-or-less manual handwork carving the road in the mountain side.
Until then the route to Shimshal valley was a 3-day trip crossing three high (5000m) passes. The new mountain balcony road leads from Shimshal valley to Karakoram Highway, which connects Pakistan with China and in large part made this road feasible.
Even now the road is snow-covered most of the year, seven to eight months. The Shimshal valley road runs relatively near the Khunjerab pass Pakistan – China border station, which also is closed for the winter.
The road is a true balcony gravel road and is very high indeed in sections. It is also so narrow, that usually only one car can fit on the road and does not leave much room on either side.
At the bottom of high gorges runs Shimshal river. Scary wooden bridges are a given, but also some stretches of moon-like scenery. Rocks have rolled down the mountains and are now decorating the valley areas on the road.
I was told that earlier, instead of prison, the authorities in Hunza sent people who had committed a crime to Shimshal as punishment.
The mountains hide the actual Shimshal Valley, a miraculous green oasis in the middle of the barren landscape. While the valley seems that time has forgotten it, new, more modern houses are being built.
The Shimshal Valley Road will stay in my mind forever. An unbelievable ride and something to cherish.