Kevin Swains
Travel Website
This is Kev's Travel Blog


Left Karimabad up the KKH for Passu. I had a late start as I only had 55km to travel but I didn't quite feel right yet again.
I peddled up the slight climb of the KKH and steadily felt worse and worse. I just kept my head down and peddled ignoring the surrounding scenery. It was a gloomy and cold day anyway.
After 5hrs I only managed to do 40km and crashed out in the Tourist Inn in Gulmit. Fabrice the French had just had nasty (but as always very amusing:) Giardia in Karimabad and since we'd been together for 1 week and I was also showing Giardia symtoms I took yet more big yellow Smarties and hit the sack.
They did the job and the next day I felt fit enough to ride to Passu.

Heading north on the KKH just before Passu.
Passu is situated just around to the left.

Karimibad might be the centrepiece of northern areas tourism but Passu has the better mountainous setting with many awesome, easy day treks to nearby peaks and glaciers.
The town lies between the Passu and Batura glaciers and is flanked by rough brown mountains. While the setting is impressive the actual road where the guesthoses are set is rather miserable.
Because Passu is wedged between the glaciers and trapped by the mountains it is a lot colder than nearby towns. I stay in the run down Batura Inn and here the sun dissapears behind the hills around 1pm. From then on the mercury falls slowly till sunrise.
It's hard to believe that in scenery like this that there are only around 5 tourists in town. If Passu was in Nepal the streets would be heaving. Shops would stretch from end to end of the valley selling everything from carpet to cakes and at night time woofers would belt out the latest tunes in the neon lit thankful I am to be in Pakistan instead!
Must admit I could do with a beer though:)

"Indianakev on the bridge of doom" a few km from Passu.

One of the most amusing things to do in the Northern Areas is to walk the two bridges trek from Passu which takes about 5-6hrs, longer if you don't get a lift back to Passu!
The first bridge (above) is the longest and also the most impressive. I remember watching a local walk across here no hands at warp speed while holding a load on her head. We white folk talk cross half terrified grasping the side ropes as if our life depends on it. It most really piss the locals off if they're waiting at the other side for us to cross.
While the wooden stepping pieces are spread far apart it's atually impossible to fall through as the span wires below are very close together. But this doesn't help ones head to grasp this concept and we cross looking down at the timber and getting motion sickness from the rushing water below.
It took 5 minutes of quick walking to cross the second bridge which is shorter than the first one!

Borit Lake near Passu.

One hour from the first bridge we reach the second one near the village of Hussaini. There are actually two bridges here. One is a foot bridge much the same as the first but the other is or at least was a cattle bridge. The cattle bridge was built to allow the locals access across the river during high water with their flock and had a closely boarded walkway to allow for this. Unfortunately the winter winds rip up the valley and shake and lift the bridge around soo much that it falls to pieces. Now the locals take their cattle across only during low water or on snow bridges in the early season.

The impressive Passu glacier.

After crossing the second bridge we make our way through the one-pen-one -sweet-one-rupee begging chilren of Hussaini village after which we walk the 2km up a steep jeep track to Borit Lake where we tuck into good old chips and egg:) and of course admire the mountain views.

Today we set off the second must do day trip while in Passu, the Yunz valley/two glacier trek. This one can be a toughie especially since it's easy to get lost (and one tourist got lost spent the night on the glacier two days after I was there).
First it's a walk to the Passu glacier which takes only around half an hour before more clamboring over rocks to the splending viewpoint on it's lateral morrain (above).
However from here things get difficult and it's a strenous haul upto the Yunz Valley.
The Yunz Valley is a perfect smooth u-shaped valley that stretches out for around 3km and leads upto the Batura glacier. It looks quite easy but turns out to be quite a slog in the suntrap of the valley.

The KKH near Passu.

We take a right and climb for 1hr and head upto a viewpoint overlooking Passu. The views are good but are nothing compared to the views of the Batura glacier and the lump of 7000m mountains nearby.
The Batura glacier is around 56km long and is one of five glaciers in Pakistan over 50km. The longest is the Saichen glacier and is around 75km in length but is unfortunately situated right on the line of control with India. Pakistan in fact has the longest glaciers outside the Polar region.
Unfortunately by the time Batura glacier reaches Passu it's a tad dirty from all the glacial rubble it's picked up on it's 53km travel to reach this point. The rubble though is impressive in itself with massive rocks lifted and moved around as though they were marbles.
We head down from the valley and climb the steep lateral morrain. Here we push 50kg rocks down the morrain and onto the glacier causing huuge rockfalls as they plummet downwards sending plumes of dust into the air....boys will be boys!

Batura Glacier viewed from the Yunz Valley, a popular day hike from Passu.
Batura Glacier is 56km long and is one of four glaciers in Pakistan over 50km long.

Trekked to Borit Sar located 2hrs above Borit Lake. Me and Fabrice spotted it when we were visiting Borit Lake a few days earlier and it looked awesome from the distance so we decided to come back.
Under normal circumstances once at Borit Sar one would be graced with near 360 degree shear mountain views and yet another powerful glacier wallowing it's way down the mountain, throwing aside huge amounts of debri on its way. But today is cloudy and the trip has hardly been worthwhile and I don't even bother snapping any photos!

The suspension bridges at Hussaini