The Braldu Valley Road is a very steep zig-zag trail located in the Skardu District of Gilgit Baltistan in northeastern Pakistan.
Located in the upper Braldu valley, the road is really challenging and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns with wheels sometimes hanging above the precipice. The road runs through the Braldu Gorge to Askole and Korphe, two small villages. Askole is the last settlement of Shigar district, and from there, mountaineers begin their campaign to scale K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth, and Broad Peak (K3). Drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves and dangerous dropoffs.
Situated at the foot of the Karakoram mountain, drivers must remain cautious as the pass has been known to claim the lives of careless drivers. Take a tip from the tortoise: slow and steady wins the race. This hard drive is an extremely spectacular and fascinating journey through little changed traditional villages and orchards. The drive is notorious for landslides and falling rock. It’s 50.5 km long, ending at Askole, at 3.048m above the sea level. The sickeningly narrow gravel road sometimes slants dangerously towards the Braldu River. You have to withstand being scared constantly for two hours with your life clearly in your driver’s eyes, hands and feet.
The road runs along the banks of the Braldu River. It’s is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. Once within the sheer valley of the Braldu, it is necessary to cross the river several times by wooden suspension bridges. The condition of the bridges is hair raising. The area is the source of some extraordinary aquamarine and topaz specimens, mostly on feldspar. Stay away if you're scared of heights. It is recommended that beginner riders avoid this road.
It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. The most challenging and exciting part of the journey is passing through the narrow and winding Braldu gorge, which is surrounded by dangerous peaks. This road is used by mountaineers approaching the north face of K2. At the Braldu Gorge, the road is carved out to Askole. It’s blasted out of the rocks next to the roaring Braldu River. The narrow gravel road sometimes slants dangerously towards the Braldu River. A 4WD vehicle and an experienced driver are recommended. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point.
This precarious dirt road passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. There is no cell phone coverage in the area. If you dare to take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. The road squeezes by the fast flowing river, passing an exposed pegmatite so closely that it can be easily touched from inside the vehicle.
Road suggested by: Hugh Wilson
Pic: Aslam Shigri