Driving the Treacherous Fairy Meadows Road in Pakistan

Fairy Meadows Road is a spectacular and perilous high mountain track located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. The unpaved road is completely unmaintained, with no guardrails to protect you, and it gets so narrow that near the end, you’ll have to cover the last section by walking or biking.

Fairy Meadows Road

How long is Fairy Meadows Road?

Tucked away in Fairy Meadows National Park, the road is totally unpaved. It’s 16 km (9.94 miles) long, running north-south from the infamous Karakoram Highway to the village of Tato, near Fairy Meadows, a picturesque destination at an altitude of about 3,300 meters above sea level.

Is Fairy Meadows Road Safe?

It’s said to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Getting to Fairy Meadows is a huge risk that prevents many from enjoying the view. In 2013, the road was ranked as the second deadliest highway in the world because it's a 'treacherous high altitude, unstable, and narrow mountain road.' The most dangerous part of the road involves a narrow 6-mile ascent on an unpaved and uneven road. There are no barriers to prevent a vehicle from falling off the cliff to a fiery death. The road is no wider than a standard Jeep Wrangler, and there’s plenty of traffic passing through. One false move, and it’s a very long drop. The first part of the road can be driven by a 4x4 vehicle, but the concluding sections, all the way to Fairy Meadows, need to be traversed by foot or by a bicycle owing to the congested narrow lane. Starting high in the Himalayas near the Indus river, the steep and bumpy rocky road swirls up almost 8000 feet on its harrowing 10 km path, often referred to as the 'Road of Death.' One subtle mistake can lead you to a disastrous outcome.

When was the Fairy Meadows Road built?

The unpaved road has not undergone any repair since it was built by the ethnic villagers of the Nanga Parbat Mountain hundreds of years ago, making it one of the world’s most dangerous roads. The road was built by Brigadier M. Aslam Khan (M.C, H.J, F.K), First Commander Gilgit Scouts, and the local people, and is, therefore, a private toll road. It’s steep and just the width of the jeep, with an unstable gravel road hacked out of the barren hills.

Is the Fairy Meadows Road open?

This road is closed in winter and is accessible only in summer. It can be closed at any time when the access is not cleared of snow. June and July are the best months to visit this place.

Is the Fairy Meadows Road worth it?

It’s an unforgettable experience. Fairy Meadows is the launching point for trekkers who want to climb Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest mountain in the world and second in Pakistan after K2. This drive is only recommended for people who are serious mountain lovers and have strong nerves. This is a stunning place for photographers and nature lovers. But this road is definitely not for the faint of heart, so if you want to go there - bring a lot of courage with you!
Pic: Javed Azam