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Himalaya

Day 7: Peshawar to the Kalash Valleys

Michael Palin - HimalayaA bad road becomes atrocious as we wind up to the 10,000-foot Lowari Pass. Closed by snow for six months of the year, this lifeline to the Chitral Valley has only just reopened and the soft-top track has wilted badly under the weight of over-loaded trucks struggling to restock the valley after the long winter.

The rapidly decomposing track climbs tortuously up above the snow line, slicing through sheer ice walls at the end of dirty brown glaciers, negotiating fast flowing streams of melt-water that tumble across the road before being flung into waterfalls below. The sun is blotted out by drifting grey clouds and hailstones scatter across the windscreen. With much blasting of horns and squeezing past trucks stalled on perilous precipices, we eventually obtain the top of the pass, marked by a small stone hut and a low wall of plastic-wrapped soft drinks.

Our drivers can't celebrate yet, for the road on the other side is even worse, a sheer plunge, which we ease down with the help of 47 sweaty-palmed hairpin bends. Tree trunks stripped bare by avalanche dot the route like tombstones.

Thirteen and a half hours after leaving Peshawar, we are down into the valley and gliding onto tarmacked road again.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 7: Peshawar to the Kalash Valleys
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: The Kalash Valleys
  • Book page no: 25

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