The Karakoram Highway (often abbreviated to KKH and sometimes transliterated as Karakorum) is the highest paved international road in the world; it connects Western China and Pakistan. It is one of the very few routes that cross the Himalayas and the most westerly of them. Historically, this was a caravan trail, one branch of the ancient Silk Road. From 1959 to 1979, the Chinese and Pakistani governments built a highway. The highway, connecting the Gilgit–Baltistan region to the ancient Silk Road, runs approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) from Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, to Abbottabad, of Pakistan. An extension of the highway southwest from Abbottabad, in the form of the N-35 highway, meets the Grand Trunk Road, N-5, at Hasan Abdal, Pakistan. The name is derived from the Mongolian for Black Range, when the Mongols had their great empire, and was adopted later by their descendants, the Mughal Empire, who ruled India for many centuries.

The highway has become an adventure tourism destination and ranked as the third best tourist destination in Pakistan by The Guardian newspaper. It is the highest border crossing in the world, at an elevation of over 4,800 metres (roughly 16,000 feet) in the Khunjerab Pass at the border. For comparison, Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, is 4810 m and Mount Whitney, the highest point in the 48 contiguous US states, is 4421 m.


It may be the ultimate challenge for the devoted cyclist. There are organised bicycle tours, and several books about bicycling this route. Although as travel to Pakistan has declined because of terrorist attacks, the number of tours has fallen. It is a trip that is possible to undertake independently, although consideration should be given to the heat and altitude if travelling unsupported. The border is not open for cyclists. Instead, you can board the bus in either Tashkurgan (China) or Sost (Pakistan). From the Pakistani side you can cycle up to the pass, but not over it. You will have to return to Sost to take the bus! Its construction was started as a joint project of the two governments in 1959 and completed in 1979; the highway was opened to the general public in 1986. About 800 Pakistanis and 200 Chinese workers lost their lives, mostly in landslides and falls, while building the highway. In China, the KKH is known as the "Friendship Highway". Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it has also been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World". Some say it is one of the scariest roads in the world because of the potential steep falls of hundreds of metres off the unprotected road edge on one side with unstable mountains on the other side that are likely to cause landslides during harsh weather. Sometimes the road gets so narrow in some places that only one vehicle can pass at a time, while the other waits on the very narrow edge of the road. You'll see lots of wrecked heavy vehicles. Most of the treks are located on the Pakistani side.

Mind carefully that in Pakistan, they drive on the left, but in China on the right.




Edit by: Olivia


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