Written by Zoe Stephens
Afghanistan is a landlocked country lying at the heart of Asia. It borders with Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
It has been a hot topic in the media for the past three decades, but all for the wrong reasons. Due to major wars – from the Soviet invasion (1979) to the withdrawal (1989) and removal of the Taliban (2001) – Afghanistan has got the reputation of being not one of the safest places in the world and is technically still a war zone. However, the whole country is currently going through an economic rebuilding process.
With travel currently being strongly advised against, why should Afghanistan be something on your list of must-see places?
#5 Mosques Galore
Traditionally magnificent buildings but each with their own unique flair, you won’t be bored even after your 10th mosque in Afghanistan. Here are some you shouldn’t miss on your visit.
- Great Mosque of Herat is a mosque in the city of Herat, in the Herat Province of north-western Afghanistan.
- Abdul Rahman Mosque in Kabul, one of the largest mosques in Afghanistan.
- Blue Mosque – it is here that many believe the prophet Ali was buried.
- Id Gah Mosque is considered the cardinal religious mosque in the country.
- Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque is one of the most unique European influenced mosques around.
#4 The People & Their Stories
Over Afghanistan’s past 30 difficult years, there have been many people fleeing the country. No country has produced more refugees over the past three decades than Afghanistan. However, some have stayed. And many others have returned – all with incredibly inspiring, and sad stories to share.
Spend evenings here chatting with the friendly and open locals over a cup of tea, find out what life is really like in a war zone, share stories, and be inspired yourself.
Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan, and also the largest city in the country. With a population of over 4.6 million and the fact that is the fifth fastest-growing city in the world, you’ll find it difficult to get bored here.
Rich in history, its said that Kabul is over 3,500 years old.
Kabul Zoo: This a popular place of recreation for the locals. Western animal lovers, however, might find it more than a little depressing….
Qargha dam: Qargha is a dam and reservoir near Kabul where you can go out in a boat, go surfing, golfing, and much more!
Darul Aman Palace: This palace stands on the top of many people’s lists of things to see when in Afghanistan. A place of magnificence in its day, this palace was destroyed beyond repair by the Taliban. However, its magnificence still remains.
The National Museum of Afghanistan: This is a two-story building located 9 km southwest of the center of Kabul.
Forget football, basketball, cricket, volleyball… Buzkashi is the national game of Afghanistan and is definitely worth a watch. The game is fast-paced, fierce, intense, and super tough.
Players include men, horses, and a dead goat.
The rules are fairly straightforward, and are as follows: Men ride on horseback to grab the dead goat and get it on your horse. You must then drag is to the other team’s area.
#1 The Silk Road
Connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan, The Khyber Pass is a key part of the Silk Road.
“One of the oldest passes in the world”
One of the oldest passes in the world, the pass cuts through the Spin Ghar mountains in the northeast.
The Salang Pass connects Kabul with northern Afghanistan. Until 1973, it was the highest tunnel in the world, crossing the Hindu Kush at almost 4000 meters. The drive promises to be one of the most scenic adventures you’ve ever been on.
Before entering the tunnel, you’ll have unparalleled views of the Hindu Kush Mountains. You’ll then enter the Salang Tunnel, which runs through the mountains at 3,400 meters high.
Taking a ride along the Silk Road helps you to see a side of Afghanistan that you wouldn’t know existed if the only thing you heard about the country was in the media. Stunning mountains and lakes dominate the landscape, and with so few tourists around, you get them all to yourself. Indeed, there are many places in this country that no man has ever been to. You can’t get much more off the beaten track than that…
Young Pioneer Tours
YPT has been running tours to Afghanistan from 2016. There are 3-4 tours there every year, some on their own and some in conjunction with Pakistan tours. Most linking with Central Asia tours, and at least one which takes in Bamian.
For obvious reasons we do not advertise the itineraries online, and they are strictly only open to returning Pioneers – those who have been on a tour with YPT before.
Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst YPT want you to have as much freedom as possible, the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route was chosen passes through areas which considered stable, things can change and the route may be altered or sections of the trip may be canceled at short notice.
YPT can also provide visa advice and support.