Traveling to Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Guide

Afghanistan

We understand that it’s not conventional for a vacation to commence with a security briefing, but this is expected if you’re the type of person who opts to spend their yearly break in Afghanistan. Touring here will never be easy, because there’s zero tourist infrastructure and plans are always subject to alteration at the last minute. Nevertheless, the rewards make everything worth it in the end.This is a reputedly ancient nation, whose monuments, mosques, holy places, trenched fortresses, and Hindu Kush summit tops are scattered about. Visit the enormous Buddhas that once gazed on from alcoves in Bamiyan’s ancient citadels of Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif as part of an organized excursion. Our Afghanistan travel guide provides you with an opportunity to drink tea with herders, spend nights in the homes of local families, meet spiritual leaders and soak in natural hot springs–which are only a few of many great experiences Wakhan has to offer.

Use this  guide to get acquainted with Afghanistan.

The security and topography of the region affect how you travel in Afghanistan. The Hindu Kush extends from the far northeast of the country, cutting off several provinces, and traveling by road between cities such as Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Herat is frequently done by plane, which saves time and avoids the rocky roads while also keeping you safe. The Wakhan Valley is located remotely and only accessible via Tajikistan. The Pamir and Karakoram ranges make the valley isolated from the rest of Afghanistan. It is one of the few safe and legal entry points into Afghanistan. Most tours begin in Kabul, which can be reached by a connecting flight through Dubai.

1. Bamiyan

Bamiyan is probably most well-known for the two enormous Buddhas that were carved into its golden sandstone cliffs, only to be destroyed by the Taliban over 1,500 years later. Even though they’re gone, the valley is still stunning — its entrance guarded by Shar-e Zohak fortress’ ruins and its cliffs providing a dramatic backdrop to the fertile fields and busy bazaars beyond. If you’re in the area, swing by Band-e Amir National Park to see its network of six tranquil high altitude lakes.

2. Herat

No one knows the precise age of Afghanistan’s third largest city, Herat. What is known however, is that it was founded in a strategic location at the confluence of trade routes in a fertile river valley. A walk through Herat will make clear why it has been such an important hub throughout history. The 13th century Friday Mosque is an impressive example of Islamic architecture, almost entirely covered in glazed tiles – you can visit a factory where these tiles are still made.

3. Kabul

Kabul is a city with a rich history, and it tells its stories through its museums, monuments, and gardens. The National Museum houses a collection of artifacts that have been plundered over the years, but which are gradually being recovered. Other notable attractions include the Bala Hissar Fortress, the city walls, and Babur’s Gardens – the largest oasis in Kabul.

4. Mazar-e-Sharif

Mazar-e-Sharif was founded in the 1100s on the site where a mullah once dreamed that Prophet Mohammed’s cousin was buried. A shrine was built to mark the spot and it later became known as the Blue Mosque – today, it is a place of Shia pilgrimage. Nearby, there is evidence of Afghanistan’s Buddhist history in sites such as the Takht-e Rostam stupa and unusual rock-hewn monastery.

5. Panjshir Valley

Panjshir is a tiny, beautiful valley in eastern Afghanistan that can be visited as a day trip from Kabul. It means “Five Lions,” referring to five historical protectors, which is an appropriate name given that this is one of Afghanistan’s safest areas and has withstood the Taliban throughout history. During the 1960s and 1970s, foreigners flocked here; however, today it appeals to local Afghan families for riverside picnics and weekends away beneath the snow-capped Hindu Kush.

6. Wakhan Corridor

During the nineteenth century, Osh, in Kyrgyzstan’s Fergana Valley, was established as a Russian military base and airfield. It was created as a result of British-controlled Pakistan taking this sliver of territory from Kyrgyz herders in the 1890s to serve as a buffer zone between Russia and Brit-controlled Pakistan, cutting off Kyrgyz herders from their homeland in the process. To get there, cross into Tajikistan. In the large valley, go from village to village with local families and perhaps an Ismaili spiritual leader among the towering peaks in the foothills.

Best time to go to Afghanistan

April-May and September-October are the best months to visit Afghanistan. You’ll avoid 40°C summers, which may be unbearable to sightsee, as well as winter snows that cut off remote areas. The rainiest season is December through April, and in the spring, northern Afghanistan in particular is lush and verdant. Autumn remains warm and dry, with fruits being harvested. However, summer is the best time to visit the remote Wakhan Valley, due to access issues and because the high altitude keeps temperatures down. Do check Ramadan dates, as restaurants and other facilities may close; for the next few years it falls in spring. March 21 is Afghan New Year.

Is it safe to Travel in Afghanistan?

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to Afghanistan. Although the Taliban no longer have total control, they continue to dominate numerous regions throughout the nation, in part owing to the US-led military action that began in 2001 and has continued as of 2019.. However, this is a huge nation with various levels of risk. Our expert travel businesses collaborate closely with local people to ensure that they are kept up to date on any changes. Three months before departure, itineraries are reviewed to see whether modifications are required.

Getting around

Because of the dangers presented by travelling on roads- such as being attacked or encountering roadside bombings and false checkpoints- we have itineraries that involve flying between major destinations like Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Herat. Some shorter routes, like the one from Kabul to Bamiyan would also typically be flown.

We advise against travelling to Afghanistan without the assistance of a reliable and reputable tour company. Unqualified drivers who are not properly insured often operate public transport and privately hired vehicles, which are usually in bad condition. Established tour companies have verified the licences of their drivers, confirmed that they carry insurance, and developed positive relationships with them over time.

Travel Insurance

If you’re planning on visiting any country where travel is not advised by the FCO, you’ll need to buy specific travel insurance. We partner with Campbell Irvine Direct, who might be able to offer insurance for Afghanistan. This would cover accidents and sickness, but not events relating to the travel warnings, such as kidnappings or terrorist attacks. Find out more about the FCO and travel insurance by visiting their website. Citizens of other nations should check with their own government for guidance before traveling to the UK, and they’ll need to get appropriate coverage.

Author: admin

Michaela is a traveler at heart. She loves to explore new places and learn about different cultures. Her travel blog is a place for her to share her experiences and tips with other travelers. She hopes to inspire others to explore the world and see all that it has to offer.

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