Shimshal Valley Road

Shimshal Valley Road, an extremely dangerous journey

Shimshal Valley Road is a spectacular and terrific curvy mountainous road which rarely permit speeds over 10km/h. Located in Gojal, Hunza–Nagar District in the Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan formerly known as Northern Areas of Pakistan, the journey is extremely dangerous.

The road is 35 mi (56km long). This is some serious driving. This insane road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. The road 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.

It’s incredibly disorienting to look over the edge, or even just to see the valleys a couple thousand feet below you. It’s a mind numbing vertical drop of hundreds of meters so you might want to give it a miss on a windy day. The road is hindered by the elevation and rugged terrain. The village was inaccessible by motor road until October 2003, when this new 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. The journey runs along the fearsome gorges of the Shimshal River, a gigantic canyon at a height of more than 2000 m.
In many places the road is bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails.

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


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