Silk Route Pakistan & China

China
truck
Chitral
Greatwall

 

An epic journey through Karakoram Highway
Since 1986 with the opening of the spectacular Karakoram Highway, famous  for  ‘Silk Route’ has literally been paved for world travelers to cross the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Himalayas by modem means of communications. Let’s be assured that the “Lost Horizon” is no more lost and the legendary ‘Shangrila’ of James Hilton is exposed throughout to the naked eye.

Adventure and land route travelers responded with keen passion and the travel writers all over the world wrote articles tracing the history of the area, recalling the legends of travel literature and the great men of yore. Fa Hsien in 4th century, silk trade caravans, Alexander the great, early pilgrims taking Buddhism to China, Al-Baruni, the 11th century Arab geographer and Marco Polo the 13th century Italian adventurer and mysterious explorer-cum-spies of the ‘Great Game' had all traveled this renowned Silk Route, the Karakoram Highway. So, the contemporary tourist is just the latest in a long file of visitors passing this way with not only the weight of history that makes the Silk Road pleasantly puzzling, but also embellished with vicissitude scenery and ethnic mosaics stretching along the Karakoram Highway.

The Silk Rout existed long ago through the majestic mountain range, which is known to everyone not as a legend but as a fact of history. The portion of Silk Route connecting Central Asia passes through Pakistan covering a distance of 806 kilometers now popularly known as Karakoram Highway, one of the most spectacular roads in the world. Following one of the ancient silk routs at the western edge of the Taklamakan Desert, literally, ‘If you go in you don’t come out’, it pierces through four great mountain ranges and hugging the banks of the Indus for 310 km. This highways runs under the shadows of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world, Rakaposhi, the prettiest peak in the world and many others.

The Silk Rout introduced by Marco Polo in the thirteenth century is existing now in reality, indeed, at a cost of a heavy toll of 400 men among the workforces of 25,000 Chinese and Pakistanis. It took these builders almost 20 years of blasting and bulldozing of vertical gorges of the Indus River through large glaciers and some of the world's highest peaks to hack a pathway to be transformed into a modem highway carpeted with concrete and asphalt. Winging through the rugged mountain ranges of the Himalayas, Hindukush, Karakoram and Pamir, the highway links china at Khunjerab.

On its way from Islamabad, ‘The Beautiful’ capital of Pakistan to Kashgar, the central Asian market town in western China, the KKH divulges some of the most dramatic mountain scenery and cultural variances in the world. One can witness remote villages where little has changed in hundreds of years, where farmers still practices the primitive methods of agriculture to grow livelihoods in the tiny terraces rippling down the mountainside. The most alluring section of this tour is the Hunza valley for that Eric Shipton called ‘the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur. Indeed, It is a fairytale land.This exceptional journey through the land of beauty and splendor leads us high on the top of the, world, as we venture on the carved pathway on the highest mountains.

Following the Indus, Hunza and Khunjerab rivers through green, barren and narrowest gorges, captivating oases, spying stunning peaks guarding the valley on all sides, touching two glaciers’ s snouts that come right down to the road side, experiencing the ancient world of forts, rock carvings, passing through small villages that continue to change the landscape throughout primitive civilization and enjoying the famous flora and fauna typical to this region we will cross the 4733m Khunjerab Pass, the highest metalled border crossing in the world, to enter into Chines territory.

The colors change with destination to destinations. The Chines side is wide, open, grassy, high attitude plateau, with herds of yaks, sheep and goats tended by Tajik herders who live in yurts. The road traverses the high steppes to the Taghdumbash Pamir, rolling country that leads to the fabled city of Tashkurgan, first described by the Greek geographer Ptolemy in AD 150. A few miles beyond Tashkurgan the terrain changes abruptly into what Marco Polo called “the best pasturage in the world, with grass so lush that a lean beast will fatten to your heart’s content in 10 days”.

Passing through many attractions the journey ends in Kashgar, a city dominated by Islamic religion and culture. Kashgar is absolutely different from the rest of China that it seems to have been transplanted from somewhere in the Middle East. A Sunday bazaar attracts tens of thousands of people who sell and trade their wares in timeworn fashion.Call it twentieth century miracle or the eighth wonder of the world, the fact remains that Karakoram Highway is a marvel of modem engineering skill. And, at the same time a living example of man's triumph over the terrain.

Itinerary

Day 1       Islamabad
Day 2       Peshawar
Day 3       Peshawar
Day 4       Swat
Day 5       Swat
Day 6       Chilas
Day 7       Hunza
Day 8       Hunza
Day 9       Taxkorgan
Day 10     Kashgar
Day 11     Kashgar
Day 12     Aksu
Day 13     Kuka
Day 14     Korla
 Day 15    Turfan
Day 16     Turfan
Day 17     Uromqi
Day 18     Beijing
Day 19     Onward