Longest Glaciers in Pakistan:
Some of the longest glaciers outside polar region flow in the karakorams. The Siachin glacier is 75 km long. The Hisper, (52km) joins the one of longest glaciers , Biafo at the Hisper La (5154m) to form a 116 km longest ice corridor. The Batura is 58 km in length. But the most outstanding of these rivers of ice is the Baltoro (62km). This mighty glacier, fed by some 30 tributaries, constitutes a surface area of 1,219 sq km. Seen from a distance, Baltoro appears smooth & beautiful but in fact it is a chaotic tumbling mass of rock & ice, troughs & hillocks & the debris of centuries. It is a unique, remote corner of earth. For here, in a frozen wilderness of crags, cornices & crevasses raise lowering spires of granite, great snowy peaks with fluted icy ridges & pinnacles that pierce the sky.
Silk Route & the Karakoram Highway Pakistan:
For many centuries, caravans have braved these tortuous mountains treading precariously along paths providing shortcuts between the great towns of Central Asia & the rich markets of South Asia. However, the trails were hazardous, angry rivers horrifying to contemplate, & the nature’s storms caused even the most intrepid to quall on the high passes & in the desolate gorges. In 1947, travel in & out of the Northern Pakistan could have been described almost as it had been 15 centuries earlier by the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien, in 400 AD , The way is difficult & rugged, running alone a bank exceedingly precipitous, When one approaches the edge of it, his eyes become unsteady, & if wishes to go forward in the same direction, there is no place on which he can place his foot, & beneath are the waters of the river called the Indus, Thus the traders of yore had travelled over this route for centuries & carried silk, tea & porcelain from China to be bartered for gold, ivory, jewels & spices from South Asia.
It is against this backdrop that Pakistan & China joined hands in 1967 to construct a 900 km, Karakoram Highway on the alignment of the ancient Silk Route, for its sheer mountain grandeur 7 breath- taking panorama of beauty, few places on earth can match the superb landscape through which the karakoram highway snakes. A fantastic & unforgettable spectacle is the passage of the highway along the Batura glacier, rated as the World’s seventh largest glacier, The Khunjerab Pass which the highway crosses, & the nearby Mintaka Pass, lie astride the fabulous ancient Silk Route that led from Europe to Asia & over which history’s most famous tourists once travelled. These include the Ventian Marcopolo, after whom has been named the wild Marcoplo Sheep, in the 13th century, the Chinese Monk Fa Hien in the in the 4th century & the Central Asian historian, Abu Rehan Al- Beruni in the 11th Century.
Today, the Karakoram Highway Connects Islamabad with Kashgar (China). Via Abbottabad, Mansehra, Thakot, Besham, Pattan, Chilas, Gilgit & Hunza across the 4733 meters high Khunjerab Pass. The Highway, built by the Pakistani & Chinese engineers, has been described as a marvel of civil engineering & even as ‘ The Eight Wounder of the World; Qaafila Adventures s Pakistan can book Bus tickets from Sost( Pakistan) to Taxkurgan ( China), for overland traffic betweenPakistan & China, Open from 1st May till 31st December every year.