The official advice here is DO NOT GO to Afghanistan. While most visitors to Afghanistan are typically going to visit family or have work-related reasons for going, surprisingly, Afghanistan does receive some tourism in a few places. Not surprising is why people would find themselves curious about this country. Afghanistan has a certain allure for those interested in history, culture, and the beautiful scenery which can be found throughout the country, and especially in those areas that have not been affected by war.
It should be noted that the U.S. State Department and other governments advise not to go to Afghanistan at all. Kabul is an extremely dangerous place and you should not consider it, but if you do find yourself curious, Kabul should be avoided except as a jumping-off point at the airport to get somewhere else. Herat, Bamiyan or Mazar-e Sharif, are the only places that some people deem as somewhat safe. The area in the Wakhan Corridor is considered to be safe as it was not affected by the war. Of course, as with any travels, don't take our word for it and do your homework before traveling anywhere.
Many people consider the Wakhan Corridor area the safest in Afghanistan. It is a narrow strip of land lying between the Pamir Mountains to the north and the Karakoram range to the south. Its borders reach out to China while separating Pakistan from Tajikistan. The nature refuge here is truly an adventure for the active and intrepid traveler. The spectacular landscapes in this very rugged, mountainous area promise incredible payoffs to those interested in extreme trekking and learning more about the semi-nomadic Wakhi and Kyrgyz people. Transportation is non-existent and trekking would be the only way to arrive to the remote villages. Experts in the area can certainly make travels easier and are necessary. Recent travelers have reported welcoming locals and had no issues at all. That said, there are also reports that the Taliban have been moving closer into the area; let's hope the terrain is a deterrent.
On the Silk Road, Bamiyan is famous for the monumental Gautam Buddha statues that were carved into the sandstone cliff sides during the 6th-century. A complete tragedy, the Taliban blew them up in 2001. There are plans to attempt a re-building of the statues, though even with the severe damage; they have remained a tourist attraction.
The Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif is located in the city center, and is a stunning example of 17th-century architecture.
In Herat, the Friday Mosque and the over 2,000-year-old Citadel are both incredible examples of ancient architecture and come with an intriguing history.
The Wakhan Corridor Nature Refuge and trekking in the Pamir Mountains to visit the Pamiri Kyrgyz and Wakhi villages is an epic adventure. It is also a culturally rewarding experience for those extremely intrepid travelers who can withstand the punishing treks to reach these remote villages. Not your typical vacation, this experience requires an expedition. Camping is the accomodation and transporting your provisions is executed by trusty yaks. The Kyrgyz typically live in the high mountain valley areas while the Wakhi, or Guhjali people, are found in lower-altitude valleys of the Wakhan Corridor.
If you find yourself curious and up to the challenge, we would love to assist you with your journey.
When To Go
Unless you are headed to the Pamir Mountains region in the Wakhan Corridor and arriving from Tajikistan, you should not at all consider Afghanistan, even under the best climate conditions. The Wakhan corridor is best enjoyed during the summer months and with a qualified tour group.
** Current US State Department Threat Level 4 with a K
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