Lowari Pass is the Grand Daddy of the passes
Lowari Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3,118m (10,230ft) above sea level, located in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan. It’s said to be the Grand Daddy of the passes. It is one of the most famous hairpinned roads in the world.
Can you drive to Lowari Pass?
The road to the summit is called N45 and links Dir and Chitral. It winds its way through the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. The road is known among locals as Hell's Road. It was built by the British and is a road where even the slightest error can be fatal. It is a relatively low pass, by far the lowest pass to enter Chitral, the rest all being 12,000 to 15,000 feet. Despite being shown as being paved according to some maps, it turns to very rough dirt as soon as the steep incline begins, and stays that way until Dir (pronounced deer) around 40km later. It’s beautiful but it’s like in The beauty and the beast. You never really know what’s going to happen. Truckers on the pass live life on the edge, literally.
Is Lowari Pass open?
Set high in the Hindu Raj, the pass, also known as Lawari, Lawarai, or Lowari Top, is closed by snow from late November to late May every year.
Is Lowari Pass dangerous?
This twisting turning nightmare of a road is packed with heavily loaded trucks. Driving trucks across this pass is the only way these remote villagers can make a living. It’s steep, narrow, and extremely dangerous. Some drivers turn to drugs to take the edge off the fear. It’s a narrow road with plenty of hairpin bends all the way through. It’s an extreme road with many tight turns, winding up the cliffs over 10,000 feet. There are plenty of dirt switchbacks. This is dangerous, as there are high mountains on each side of Lowari Top, and a deadly avalanche can come at any moment without warning. Every winter, a few people are killed by avalanches while crossing Lowari Top. Their bodies are buried under the snow, and it is only when summer comes and the snow melts that their bodies are found, and their fate learned. The road is muddy with snowmelt, and rocks are constantly falling from above.
How long is the Lowari Tunnel?
The most dangerous part of the road, a narrow stretch along the edge of cliffs, was replaced by a tunnel called Lowari Tunnel in 2009, constructed by a South Korean company. But the tunnel was abandoned shortly thereafter and has since fallen into disrepair. Finally, in July 2017, the tunnel was opened to bypass the most dangerous sections of the drive. The tunnel is 8.75km (5.4 mi) + 2km (1.2 mi) long and facilitates all-weather transportation, as during the long winter season, the pass is closed. All kinds of vehicular traffic can pass through the tunnels (with a width of 24 feet and height of 16 feet). It can be open 24 hours, even in the harsh winter season with a speed limit of 40 kilometers.
Pic: Taha Shabbir