London to Sydney 2005 travel blog

On our way to the border

Mountain scene

Kunjerab Pass 4715m altitude

China mountains

Picnic stop

Local ladies

Today we crossed the Khunjerab pass. The weather was perfect - a beautiful blue sky and medium temperatures. The climb was gradual - only a few wide hairpins - enabling us and the car to acclimatise. The car did not appreciate the altitude but, with a small adjustment, managed very well.

The scenery was all it should be. The mountains are very steep in Pakistan. They are over 7000m in some cases. We could see Rakaposhi as we drove out of Gulmit and they just kept coming. The valleys to the side were often the most attractive views with streams, waterfalls and cascades. Near us there were scree slopes which looked as if they might slide at any moment.

The scenery changed in China. There were mopuntains to the sides but we were driving across a wide plain, cultivated in some places. We spotted golden marmots and yaks. In Pakistan at a control point we saw a pet snow leopard cub.

The roads also changed in China. Here they do not do roadworks a bit at a time, they take the surface off 130km and then dig holes for culverts. Where that happens there is a by-pass. We encountered gravel, rocks and sand as well as ruts and bumps. They were the worst roads yet. At one point the road was finished and the tarmac was being laid but would be too hot for 2 hours. We drove off on to a sandy track. Robin realised straight away that we couldn't get through and we spotted an alternative track onto which he was able to divert just in time. One of our friends got stuck and was pulled out by another. In the meantime, we had continued and found that there was no sensible way back onto the road as a truck had made large ruts in the track and another truck got stuck on its belly getting off the road - no way out at either end. Robin used his best hand gestures and diplomacy to persuade the road workers to build a ramp back onto the road for us. They then pushed (where necessary) us back up the ramp onto the road. Quite an incident. We left witrh handshakes and thanks.

The Pakistani controls were very quick. The Chinese ones were longer but not too bad. We all had our temperatures checked! All luggage was x-rayed and the cars were searched. We eventually reached the hotel in Taxkorgan where we served a delicious supper. The hotel was basic but perfectly alright. We had been told that it would be awful so were pleasantly surprised.

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