Dublin to Nepal, On Tour, Pakistan

Day 142: Kunjerab National Park to Dihh

We awoke with a fresh and eager vigour to tackle the big avalanche and proceed on to China. We started hauling the luggage and bikes across the snowfield, and partway through this endeavour (it took a good five minutes to walk over the snow without carrying any luggage, so it was taking some time to carry everything over but by bit) we saw some Pakistani guys coming down from the other direction. 

getting ready to cross the avalanche

 
They had come from another police checkpost at a place called Dihh, where the police yesterday had expected us to arrive the night before. When we didn’t arrive yesterday they came out and started looking for us. After giving out to us initially about being on the road when it was blocked they then seemed to take a shine to us and didn’t really mention it again. Two of them even stayed behind to help us get our gear over the next couple of blockages in the road.

 

clear road at last

 
After the huge avalanche that blocked us yesterday there were three more that we had to cross before we arrived at the checkpoint at Dihh. It took about three hours to get over all the blockages but with each one we were getting to closer to the border. Finally we arrived at Dihh, not a town or village but a pair of checkposts. One for the national park run by civilians where you pay to enter the Kunjerab Park, and one checkpoint run by the KSF, or Karakorum security forces. We pulled into the wildlife checkpost and had lunch.
We were now 40km from the China border. We still had to climb the Kunjerab pass but we were so close now. The KSF wanted to see us about the exit stamps in our passports (which we didn’t have) and we were a little bit apprehensive about what they might say. Surely, we reasoned with ourselves, they would understand about the flight Richie had to catch and the rush that put us in. surely they could take into account that the region had gone through the worst landslides in 20 years and if we wanted to get to China climbing over all these landslides was our only option.
Well in the end they didn’t understand, consider or take into account any if the extraordinary factors that had led us to this position. We had a meeting with the KSF chief and without the stamps in our passports we wouldn’t be given permission to continue. We argued for about an hour over this, and in the end agreed to walk back down to Sost the following day and get the stamp if he radioed ahead and told them we were coming and if they would give us the stamp when we arrived. He said that he would, and that the people is Sost had agreed.
We were all frustrated and angry by the end of it all. To have come so far, to be so close to leaving, only to be blocked by such an obtuse man enforcing some minute piece of bureaucracy despite everything that had happened was infuriating. We spent the rest of the afternoon bitching and moaning and complaining about the KSF and then went to sleep back at the wildlife checkpost.

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4 thoughts on “Day 142: Kunjerab National Park to Dihh

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey there. Thanks for sharing your adventure! Two Canadians here looking to cycle along the same route as you beginning in July (although we may start in kashgar). Do you have any advice, recommendations or contacts that we should be aware/knowledgable of? Did you feel safe around the chilas area? From reading your posts, it seems as though the police are a bit overbearing. How would you deal with them if you had to do it all again?

    Thanks a lot and keep pushing. Hopefully you can get over the border soon!

    Matt

    • Hey Matt, great to hear you’re planning on doing the route, looking back it is all worth it in the end. if you’re interested we can go through it all on a Skype call (hugo.fitzpatrick) and we can answer all the queries you might have.
      To answer your questions you asked here, yes the police can be a bit overbearing. I don’t think there’s any getting around them honestly, if you push the issues you can get rid of them north of Gilgit, maybe earlier but there’s no getting around them in KPK region. I think the best approach is to embrace it, you are getting to meet with some friendly locals who oftentimes are interested in what you’re doing. Not being able to camp is the worst part, if we really pushed it they would let us camp by the station but you need to really make a fuss. If you’re not a purist you can dump your panniers in their trucks for a few load-free riding days.
      Around Chilas, north of the city is safe as house and South, the area between the city and the border with KPK Region is apparently dangerous. I’m not so sure how bad it really is but we didn’t get to cycle that 50km, that was when we camped in the mountains and got raided by the army.
      I’ll put together some contacts for you too, everyone in Pakistan will be more than happy to help you of course.

  2. Hey there. Thanks for sharing your adventure! Two Canadians here looking to cycle along the same route as you beginning in July (although we may start in kashgar). Do you have any advice, recommendations or contacts that we should be aware/knowledgable of? Did you feel safe around the chilas area? From reading your posts, it seems as though the police are a bit overbearing. How would you deal with them if you had to do it all again?

    Thanks a lot and keep pushing. Hopefully you can get over the border soon!

    Matt

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