Hunza Valley, Pakistan: Our Trip 4

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Lady Finger and Hunza Peak, Karimabad, Hunza, KKH, Pakistan 1995

Featured Image: Lady Finger or Bublimating (6000 metres) and Hunza Peak (6270 m) above Karimabad, Hunza Valley, Pakistan. Ultar Peak (7388 m), Bojahagur Duanasir II (7329 m) are within 5 km. Rakaposhi (7788 m) and Diran Peak (7266 m) although around 27 kilometres away dominate the horizon across the river and the Karakorum Highway, KKH, May 1995.

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 18 January 2022

The Hunza Valley, Karakorum Highway, Pakistan: Our Trip 4


In my first article about the Karakorum Highway I said that I’d been always fascinated by the Hunza and Nagar Kingdoms since I first heard about them in obscure books about South Asia and 19th century British India many of them out of print.

However, there are still many terrific books available about the Karakorum Highway and associated areas referenced in my articles, which are either still available in print, or historical books available as downloads on the Internet.

This is the fifth article in travelling the Karakorum Highway series. The others are: 1 The Karakorum Highway (KKH), 2 The Lower Karakorum Highway, 3 Besham to Gilgit, the Terrain, 4 Extreme Polo in Gilgit.

I found Hunza a magic place from my reading and had wanted to go there from quite a young age, before I persuaded Denise to make her first trip to Asia in 1995. The actuality of Hunza was not disappointing. It met expectations and fantasises.

The magic of Hunza, the beauty of Hunza and the idea of Hunza have inspired many since the late 19th century. Books on Hunzakuts longevity, health, happiness and pure way of life have continued — sometimes I think (perhaps mostly) — by people who have never been there.

Rakiposhi, Baltit Fort, Hunza and Nagar from above, Karimabad Pakistan
Rakiposhi, Baltit Fort, Hunza and Nagar from above, Karimabad Pakistan

In the Karakorum Highway I posed the question, why write about an obscure trip up and back down the Karakorum Highway in 1995, when some of my readers weren’t even born? I answered the question briefly then, but will answer it again about Hunza and Nagar. Hunza and Nagar now are no longer the same!

As I said about the Kashgar Sunday market, these places no longer exist the way they did. Quick research on the Internet shows that the towns have grown rapidly and they are no longer difficult of access. I’m not bemoaning this, as Wilfred Thesiger did of the Empty Quarter in Arabia, I’m sure that the encroach of civilisation has improved the lives of the inhabitants of the Northern Areas of Pakistan immeasurably.

With Hunza and Nagar, as well as growth and the increasing sophistication of the KKH, the physical environment is also no longer the same:

In 2010 a massive landslide closed the KKH 15 km above Karimabad creating a 22 km potentially unstable Attabad Lake. For a time the KKH was closed except for goods and people transfer on small boats. From 2012 a revised higher route began with five new tunnels and two new bridges. It was completed in 2015. (Karakorum Highway)

The photos of Attabad Lake are amazing as are the tunnels but they are not the Hunza that I remember.

Population growth world-wide and the massive increase in travel and tourism are responsible. They have made the most obscure places on Earth accessible to anyone with money and have made some places crowded that should be hard to get to. We’ve seen this in many places in the past twenty-five years. There are both positives and negatives.

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posted in Canberra during the Omicron surge


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