TLFMagazine -Have you thought about travelling to Afghanistan?

Have you thought about travelling to Afghanistan

Have you thought about travelling to Afghanistan

By Shivendra Saxena

In talks about countries that are worst when it comes to women rights, Afghanistan ranks last. Yet, according to tour operators, half the people who dare to visit this dangerous paradise are women! 

Rashid Khan, a sensation that’s taking over the world in the recent times has put Afghanistan in news again but this time for good. The way he performed in IPL 2018 carrying his team to the finale singlehandedly and the recent white wash of Bangladesh by Afghanistan has received applauds. This 19 year old rising to fame, has used every opportunity to speak about his country and how it’s moving towards sanity and success. How the youth is motivated to make it a better place and how the pool of talent is gradually growing.
Here we take a look at what we are missing because of the distress and an ongoing three decade war that has put the country’s economy to rags. From the Soviet invasion of 1979 to their withdrawal in 1989 and from warlordism to the removal of Taliban in 2001 and the ensuing American and NATO invasion. The chaos and distress has been too high to take notice of beauty that this piece of land holds.

In talks about countries that are worst when it comes to women rights, Afghanistan ranks last. Yet, according to tour operators, half the people who dare to visit this dangerous paradise are women! 

Visiting Afghanistan can be extremely dangerous, as the country is technically a war zone. While it has much to offer to the intrepid traveller, caution is advised!
Follow rules and don’t try to bribe officials to let you pass in order to stay safe.

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China.

In accordance with the law, citizens of all countries require a visa to visit Afghanistan. Visas are often easier to obtain than you might expect. You can visit here for more on visas and their application process.

How to reach?
You can reach Afghanistan by a flight, bus or a drive through. The Kabul Airport (Hamid Karzai International) is the main entry point to the country. Flights from almost every part of the world arrive and depart as Kabul operates as field for international flights across countries. The flights can be looked for here
The bus facilities are available from neighbouring countries. Buses run regularly between Jalalabad and Peshawar, Pakistan. Also, between Herat and Mashad, Iran. Buses of both countries are checked by border police for possible drugs or weapons, so expect delays.

There are many way to drive in to the country. It’s risky! 
From Peshawar, Pakistan via the Khyber Pass to Jalalabad, in the East. The Torkham Gate serves as the border crossing, there is heavy presence of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) on the Afghan side. Travel by car is discouraged and you may find the pass closed for tourist/outsiders.
The other ways include Quetta, Pakistan to Kandhar in south, Mashad, Iran to Herat in west, Uzbekistan to Mazar-e-Sharif in North and Tajikistan to Kundus in northwest.

Currency Used
AfghanAfghani– AFN
1 AFN=  0.94 INR 

How to travel around the country?
In order to travel around in the country one can book buses as well as hire a local guide.
The local buses can be booked here but mostly the locals will help you out with it. One can book a guide from here. They have significant presence and knowledge about the country. A guide can help you with the stay as well. The best places to lodge yourself are paying guest accommodations. There are hotels but living with local people is the best way to feel Afghani culture and immerse in its culture.
The hotels can be booked here

Places to visit
Afghanistan was ranked among one of the most toured country in the early 1970’s. Over 90,000 tourists visited Afghanistan from all over world to see unique beauty of the country and experience the treat of one of the most hospitable group of people. The country has a history of 6000 years with many historical sights and attractions.

The places never to miss while on a tour in the country are:

Buddhas of Bamiyan

No Entry Fee
Open for 24hrs

The Taliban destroyed one of the world's wonder but the Buddhas shine again in the towering cutouts of the mountain. All thanks to the 3D light projection which is a great spectacle to remember.

Band-e Amir National Park

Shared Mini-Van- 150 AFN (INR 141 approx.)
Pvt Mini-Van- 2000-2500 AFN (INR 1800- 2300 approx.)
Best time to visit is (Mar-Nov)
Take a dip in one of the six deep blue lakes underneath spectacular limestone cliffs at Band-e-Amir National Park, a complex of lakes separated by a travertine, a natural dam made of mineral limestone deposits. Standing at about 3,000 m (9,842 ft) in the Hindu Kush mountain range close to the ancient city of Bamyan, the park stands out as the most popular tourist spot in Afghanistan. Pedal the duck boats across lapis-blue lakes and enjoy the fabulous scenery and wildlife around you. Carry lots of water.

Gardens of Babur

Price- 100 AFN (INR 95 approx.)
Timings 24/7 – 7AM to Sunset
Laid out by the Mughal ruler Babur in the early 16th century, and the site of his tomb, these gardens are the loveliest spot in Kabul. At 11 hectares, they are also the largest public green space in the city. Left to ruins during the war, they have been spectacularly restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Darul Aman Palace

No entry fee
Visit Before Sunset
Located at the edge of Kabul, the palace is very often described as "the wounded soul" of the nation. The battle-scarred structure is probably the country's most iconic but also tragic building, and just one look at it exposes one hundred years of the country's history.

National Museum of Afghanistan

Entry Fee- 20 (INR 18 approx.) AFN CAMERA- 100 AFN (INR 95 approx.)
Afghanistan’s culture that abides in the country was much ruined and deserted. Its new museum hopes to catch up the lost richness and its cultural asset is necessitated to give hope and inspire people in that region.

Herat Citadel

Open 24hrs
Entry Fee- 250 AFN ( INR 235 approx.)
A rather extraordinary exhibition opened in Herat on 2 December 2017: reproductions of one hundred miniatures, treasures of Islamic civilisation, went on display in the historic Citadel. The paintings largely date from the fifteenth century when Herat was the seat of the powerful Timurid court.

Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve

Best Time- 9AM to 10AM
The reserve has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports significant numbers of the populations of various bird species, either as residents, or as overwintering, breeding or passage migrants. These include red-crested pochards, pygmy cormorants, saker falcons, common coots, common cranes, pale-backed pigeons, pallid scops-owls, Egyptian nightjars, white-winged woodpeckers, brown-necked ravens, great tits, desert larks, streaked scrub-warblers, Sykes's warblers, Asian desert warblers, saxaul sparrows and desert finches.
"Afganistan has it's fair share of health issues...... "  and it would be wise to consult a travel doctor ahead of your trip about vaccinations and health risks. Respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and food related illness are common, and malaria is a risk in many parts of the country.Showing the bottom of the foot is considered rude. Hiring an armed escort or travelling with an experienced guide are ways to decrease the risks although outside of Waristan, Kabul, and the Khyber Pass they are not necessary. You should also check with your embassy, and be clear on what they can and cannot do for you in an emergency.

No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and the rare potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against US and other Western nationals at any time. However, most areas are now very safe.