We stayed in Gilgit for four nights. It was an uneventful stay. On the third day we received a visit from the police, who wanted to escort us when we left to head north again. Having received the word of the army Major from Chilas that we wouldn’t require and escort, and entirely fed up with dealing with the police at this stage, we tried to explain that this was not necessary. When they couldn’t or wouldn’t back down on the escort we resolved to get what we wanted by the only means you ever get anything done in Pakistan, by doing it ourselves – so the next morning, before the police arrived, we left.
Taking a smaller road out of the city (and asking at a checkpoint for directions, they didn’t ask us about an escort) brought us to the opposite side of the river than that along which the KKH progressed. Riding on this quiet road, with the view of the mountains spread out in front and most importantly freedom from the ever present police at last we felt rejuvenated and sped off down along the road.
The road followed the sand, stoney bank of the Hunza River, the closest to the river we’ve ridden so far as the route tends to stay well above the banks. Being so low down made the tall mountains in either side feel ginormous. At a bridge 10km out of Giglit we crossed the river and climbed uphill through a rural farming village along rutted mud tracks, just about wide enough for the bikes. After climbing for some time through this village and startling all the inhabitants we merged back in the KKH and continued along the valley.
The road followed the river from a higher vantage point now, dipping and climbing as it navigated tributaries feeding the river which carved out small gorges of their own. We passed by a couple of check posts but they all agreed not to escort us after they saw we were travelling without one already.
We entered the Hunza Valley Park and as always the views were fantastic. We stopped an hour after entering the park to camp and set up at a bend in the river on a stoney shore, with a sheer cliff of the opposite mountain facing us. We had our tents set up and we were about to crawl into them on account of the rain when some police found us. As always they wanted us to come with them but eventually we persuaded them to let us stay.