Shimshal Valley Road

Driving the lethal Shimshal Valley Road in Pakistan

Shimshal Valley Road is a terrifying mountain drive, which rarely permit speeds over 10km/h, located in Pakistan.

Where does Shimshal Valley Road start and end?

The road is located in Gojal, Hunza–Nagar District, in the Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly known as Northern Areas) of Pakistan. It is 35 miles (56km) long and links the Karakoram Highway at Passu (at an elevation of 2.485m) and Shimshal, a beautiful village located in Gojal, Hunza-Nagar District, at an altitude of 3.113m (10,213ft) above sea level. It’s the highest settlement in Hunza Valley of Pakistan. It is the bordering village that connects Gilgit-Baltistan province of Pakistan with China.

When was the Shimshal Valley Road built?

This is some serious driving and the journey is extremely dangerous. The road runs along the fearsome gorges of the Shimshal River, a gigantic canyon at a height of more than 2000 m. The road is hindered by the elevation and rugged terrain. The village was inaccessible by motor road until October 2003, when this road was constructed. The construction of non-metallic Jeep-able road started in 1985 and completed in 2003. Eighteen years (1985-2003) of handwork finally become successful because of hard work, dedication and self-help. Up to that time it was very difficult to go there. You had to cross 3 high passes (about 5.000 m) and it was a 3-day hard and dangerous trip. 

Is the Shimshal Valley Road dangerous?

The road is pretty steep. A 4WD vehicle and an experienced driver are recommended. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. The road remains covered by snow seven to eight months of the year. For half of the way, the road is on a man-made ledge hundreds & hundreds of feet above the river, on the near vertical side of the gorge. You will have to cross some scary wooden bridges. The drivers moving passengers and luggage everyday from Passu to Shimshal, covering a distance of 60 kilometers, are highly skilled, but still they drive very carefully, to avoid any calamity. If the vehicle goes off the road, deaths are imminent.
Pic: Francesco Corbisiero