Hussaini Bridge: Hanging by a thread in northern Pakistan
Near the village of Hussaini in northern Pakistan is the famed ‘Hussaini Bridge”. Easily missed from the main road, this suspended footbridge sits about 100 metres down the hill from the southern entrance to the town, on a walk lined with apricot and cherry trees, and at least one cheeky cow.
The bridge is known for two things; firstly, the breathtaking backdrop across the Hunza River towards the Cathedral Range near Passu. The view from here is perhaps even better than the one up close in Passu – the sky and the steely water seem to frame the peaks perfectly.
The other thing that makes the Hussaini Bridge notable is its construction; with planks set far enough apart that any pedestrian is afforded a clear view of the icy waters raging below, a most inhospitable landing threatens anyone who puts a step wrong.
Add to this the windy mountain air swaying the bridge back and forth, rocking and rolling like a ship on rough seas, and you have one very precarious river crossing. Broken and buckled cables strung across the river to the north are apparently the remains of the original bridge which (rumour has it) collapsed when someone tried to drive across it in their car. The laws of physics make this an impossibility, but the rusted steel line is ominous nonetheless.
When I visited Hussaini Bridge with Moazam earlier this year, we both hesitated on our first attempt. On a second attempt cooler heads prevailed and we made it across (and back) in one piece each!
On the other side of the bridge lies the village of Zar Abad, and atop the rock face is a desolate camping ground. We didn’t make it that far, but we’re already planning for next time! Beyond Zar Abad begins the stunningly remote Shimshal Valley – and plenty more adventures to be had.
Travellers, both foreign and Pakistani, cross this bridge once, maybe twice in a lifetime and tell the world about their daring. Meanwhile the locals of Hussaini and Zar Abad seem nonplussed, at most slightly bemused by all the attention. After all, for them it’s just a daily route to go to the shops, visit neighbours or access the bus stop. The locals cover the 150 metre span much quicker too – in just a few minutes they’ll be on the opposite side, looking back at the tourists taking selfies, and wobbling about on the first few planks.