We left Peshawar with the idea to go to the Swat Valley. Halfway there, we found out that the main bridge had been washed away a few days earlier. Instead of backtracking to take a long detour, we decided to press on to the Karakorum Highway (KKH) by way of the pass via Sar Banda. It was only 60 kilometres or so to cross the pass and get to Besham, which is on the KKH.
Normally the monsoon season tailors off quite dramatically at the end of August, but we found out that this year the rains had been particularly heavy. On a number of occasions I had to pull over and put on my rain gear.
The pass to Besham proved to be the hardest part on my ride so far. It took us 8 hours to cross 60 kilometers over some of the worst surfaces any of us had encountered. Anything from deep mud, gaping holes and roads mostly washed away into the abyss below. Rahul and I would rather ride the 700-odd kilometer Taftan- Quetta route again versus this pass. Since it is not really known as a bad road, I decided to skip the notorious northern Dir - Chitral - Gilgit crossing, having been warned about the Dir to Chitral section in particular.
Given the slow progress, we camped out by the side of the road. We had no shortage of visitors in the morning.
The scenery on day 2 made up for the hard going.
We made it to Besham in the afternoon of the second day and ended up about 40 kilometres further on the KKH, in a fully-booked guesthouse near the Indus river. Sara and Rahul slept in their van and I made use of a UNHCR earthquake relief tent that was set up in the parking lot.