Shandur Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.700m (12,200ft) above the sea level, located in Chitral, Pakistan. The road to the pass is extreme. Expect a rough gravel road and driving only in 1st and 2nd gear. Very steep climbs/descents with narrow hairpins in one of the most beautiful, but isolated and rugged landscapes on Earth.
The road to the top, called Gilgit-Shandur road, is gravel and very narrow. The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, and in many places bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. Shandur is often called the 'Roof of the World'. The top is flat, a plateau and can be crossed between late April and early November. The Shandur Pass is the main route along which traffic travels from Pakistan’s Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa province to the Karakoram Highway. The route is in fact no road worthy of the name; every day in the warmer months two NATCO buses, one in each direction, rattle along the track which links Gilgit to Mastuj and Chitral.
The road to the top is a rocky and at times dangerous jeep track that leads high into the mountains. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. Any barriers along the edge afford little more than token protection. The greatest and most infamous Polo tournament takes places annually on this pass, the highest polo ground in the world.
Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime and can sometimes block some sections of the road, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. From the AK-47 Arms Dealers, to the bakers and cobblers, these valleys were home to some of the worlds most resilient but generous people, who offered the traveler nothing but great hospitality.
Due its unique location and the climb in elevation over thousands of feet, and passing through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. Traffic on the Gilgit to Shandur road is infrequent at the best of times, and the route is only driven by a series of 4WD jeeps, that ferry supplies to some of the more remote villages.