Located in the Gilgit district, Northern Areas, in northern Pakistan, the Khaltaro Valley Road is one of the scariest roads ever. Imagine a narrow gravel road, very steep (up to 15%) with horrendous drops on both sides. Welcome to hell! Only the suicidal, the insane, or the paid-to-do-this should ever drive down.
Located within the Khaltaro Valley, 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 towns of Sassi, Dache (Dassu) and Khaltaro. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. The journey is 14.1km (8.7 mi) long. 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.
Expect hundreds of turns (with several hairpin turns). Your wheels will be astounded at the wonderful views of the mountains spread out before you! They are terrible for drivers who are prone to vertigo. The journey runs along the Darchan River. Khaltaro is known for its emeralds, aquamarines and fluorite crystals. It’s one of the scariest roads on Earth.
The road winds its way to the north-western part of the Haramosh massif, a subrange of the Karakoram mountains. In many places the road is bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. The road remains covered by snow seven to eight months of the year. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice.
The road is pretty steep. It starts from the small town of Sassi, at 1.401m above the sea level, and ends in Khaltaro, at 2.577m above the sea level. The elevation gain is 1.176m and the average gradient is 8.34%, with sections up to 15%. A 4WD vehicle and an experienced driver are recommended. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. Stay away if you're scared of heights. It is recommended that beginner riders avoid this road.
Road suggested by: Hugh Wilson
Pic: Adnan Alam Awan