Length: ~55km (~35mi)
Duration: ~2 to 3 hours one way
Start: The road starts a little bit north of Passu in the Gilgit Baltistan region.
Difficulty: The road conditions can change all the time and most of the time it is a single dirt road, means you have to share the road with traffic coming the other direction. It is rocky but usually not too bad to enjoy riding. However the track is narrow and a big part is extremely exposed and has no guardrails, of course. You need extremely good head of heights and you must be able to have control of your bike all the time. In many sections coming off the road means that you are quite honestly dead!
Special preparations: Shimshal Valley is a dead end road, so you have to return. Make sure to have good weather, because you definitely shouldn’t ride this track with high wind. 2018 there were two little mountaineer hostels, but only one was open. They served good food and water.
How was it?
This fantastic road starts right below the spectacular base of the Passu Cones. We couldn’t instantly find the entrance to the track, because there were no road signs. You have to cross the Shimshal river to the other side. There is a bridge, but it is confusing to find a road leading to it.
After you have followed the little dirt track on the other side for a few kilometers, you ride into a narrow gorge that has been formed by the Shimshal river for thousands of years. In the beginning you have quite rugged terrain, but it is not that exposed yet.
However this will change after a while and you’ll find yourself on a little winding track close to a vertical drop of hundreds of meters. You have to cross several spectacular swinging bridges to make your way to Shimshal. It is for sure one of the most breathtaking roads in this world. We haven’t seen a single vehicle on the whole road, so it was easy to stop everywhere and enjoy the fantastic scenery.
In Shimshal we slept in Minglig guest house and the owner was a really nice guy. They made a campfire at night and we sat together with some locals and had really interesting conversations. The villagers in Shimshal are famous to be great mountaineers all over the country. Since these people are very modest, we needed a while to notice, that we were chatting to people that had been on a couple of 8000+ peaks yet.
Shimshal is also a fantastic place for hiking, but due to its elevation (~3100m) the season is very short. Unfortunately we were a little bit late, but it was one of our absolute highlights on our RTW trip.