What a day. After 5 days relaxing in Srinagar I was more than ready for a good days riding in the mountains, it was only 200km to Kargil but I knew it would take all day as we had to cross a high mountain pass on a dirt road.
It was congested getting out of Srinagar and all the way to Sonamarg up in the mountain where the people are starting to change and look more Tibetan and cars are being replaced by horses. Another 20 minutes and we’re half way to Kargil and starting to climb up from about 2,500 metres. The road deteriorated to the point where it was no more than dirt which was full of pot holes and rocks made all the more interesting as on one side of us was the mountain and the other a sheer drop to the valley below. At times the road was very narrow and the adrenalin kicked in on occasions.
We continued upwards to 3,300 metres where the army stopped all traffic as there had been a landslide which blocked the road. 3 hours we waited with what ended up being many people with traffic backed up in both directions. When they opened the road it was chaos with maybe a few hundred cars, 4WD’s, lorries and small buses all trying to pass the narrow road. It took ages and the dust was so dense at times I could hardly see the dirt road, once we passed the mayhem we ride for another 40 km still on dirt before the last 60 km was perfect Tarmac so we raced into Kargil and found a hotel.
Before I got inside the hotel I saw Steph’s sticker on the back of the hotel owners car – look out Steph I’m catching you up:)
A walk around the town and a meal in the evening confirmed that everything is different here, the people are changing and with shanty shops selling warm clothes as it gets very cold here in the winter.
I looked on the map and the Pakistan border is only 5 – 10 km to my north and the Karakorum Highway only 200 km to the NorthWest but due to governments, power & politics the road between the two has been closed for decades which is why to get here I had to ride over 1,000 km south to Lahore, cross the border into India at Wagha and then north here!
Kashmiri people have a strong positive feeling for their kin in Northern Pakistan and would like to be reunited them.