We walk down the Karakoram highway, and soon reach a viewpoint from where we have a view over Hussaini suspension bridge. It is longer than I had imagined: it spans the Hunza river which is pretty wide here. In the distance, we see the Passu cones, a jagged set of mountains defining the horizon. We eagerly descend the trail, to find a small shop at the end of it. But there is also someone telling us we cannot cross: it turns out there is a dispute of the villagers using this bridge every day, and they have decided that visitors will not be allowed on the bridge util that dispute is solved. No matter how hard our guides try to talk to him, even a local guy from a nearby village, the villager is adamant. We take some pictures of the bridge, and leave it behind with mixed feelings. Apart from the disappointment, I also realize that it is another sign of how little tourism there is here: villagers just closing their bridge.
Our guides have a plan though: a few days later, we wake up early, drive to the bridge, and indeed, find no one. The sun is still on its way over the mountain peaks, and it is cold, but we are now free to walk across. Actually, walking is more like stepping cautiously from plank to plank. They are in various states of decay; an older bridge has collapsed not too long ago. Below us, we hear the Hunza river on its speedy downhill voyage; when I look down, i realize how high we are over the raging water. Concentration is key. For a long time, I manage to walk without using the handrails, but when more people behind me start crossing, the bridge starts to swing, and I have to grab a cable, just to be sure. Our local guide just walks across with his hands in his pocket: apparently, it is a question of getting used to this bridge which some consider the most dangerous in the world: people have been injured or even died crossing it. What makes it a little easier is that there is no wind: crossing can be all but impossible when winds make the bridge sway.
Once on the other side, I walk down to the river, where I see the remains of the previous bridge. From this angle, I have a better idea of the height of the bridge, and I see the others crossing with their hands on the cable. Meanwhile, the sun has started to shine on the majestic peaks of the Karakoram mountains around us. We hike up the rocky trail for some sweeping views of the Hunza river, the Passu cones, and the Batura Muztagh mountain range in the west. The peaks are bathing in sunlight, the valley is still mostly dark. We walk back over the bridge, and there still is no one on the other side to scold us. Here, too, I descend to the Hunza river, and hang over the water for some spectacular views of this peculiar bridge linking a small village to the rest of the world.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Hussaini suspension bridge (Pakistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Hussaini suspension bridge. Read more about this site.