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Passu Cones, Hunza Valley, Pakistan. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.
Passu Cones, Hunza Valley, Pakistan. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

Karakoram Highway: the highest paved frontier pass in the world

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The Karakoram Highway (Karakoram Highway) is an international road linking the city of Kashgar in China, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, with Pakistan. Terminal city in Pakistan is considered to be the town of Havelian in the environs of Abbottabad.

The road has a length of 1300 kilometers and due to its high altitude and the difficult conditions in which it was built, it is sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. Karakoram Highway, is also known as Friendship Highway between China and Pakistan.

Travel in the mountains of Central Asia. Mount Muztagh Ata and Lake Karakul, Xinjiang, China. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini
Travel in the mountains of Central Asia. Mount Muztagh Ata and Lake Karakul, Xinjiang, China. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

This road passes through beautiful landscapes between China and Pakistan. In China after Kashgar it passes through the Sarykol Valley west of the Tarim Basin. The road begins to climb and reaches the fascinating Pamir plateau with the wonderful Karakul lake (3,645 meters above sea level) dominated by the peak of Muztagh Ata (7,546 meters).

Tashkurgan Fortress, China. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini
Tashkurgan Fortress, China. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

KHUNJERAB PASS

The route continues in this high-altitude landscape until it reaches Tashkurgan (3,094 meters above sea level), a Chinese town a short distance from the borders with Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. After Tashkurgan the road ascends towards the Khunjerab pass. This pass with its 4,693 meters of altitude is the highest frontier pass on a paved road in the world and is also the highest point reached on the Karakoram Highway.

Mount Rakaposhi, Karakoram, Pakistan. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini
Mount Rakaposhi, Karakoram, Pakistan. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

On the Pakistani side, after the Khunjerab Pass, the road descends steeply between the splendid mountains of the Karakoram, Hindukush and Himalayas. Pass along the spectacular Hunza and Nagar valleys. It crosses the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Along the road you can admire the jagged peaks of Passu Cones, some glaciers, Attabad Lake, Mount Rakaposhi (7,788 meters) and even the ninth highest peak in the world, Nanga Parbat, is visible from the road. The road meets the Indus River at its confluence with the Gilgit.

View of the Hunza valley from the Eagle's Nest, Pakistan. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini
View of the Hunza valley from the Eagle’s Nest, Pakistan. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

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