Backpacking in Afghanistan: Travel With Authentic Afghanistan

Backpacking in Afghanistan: Travel With Authentic Afghanistan

I backpacked in Afghanistan in 2016 and loved it. From my border crossing (after a night in the southernmost Soviet Union Hotel) to the tour of Masar e Sharif, it was amazing. Especially when I got to play football (and score the only “goal” of a 0-0 draw (come on VAR – it was OVER the line) – the time I lobbed the goalkeeper from 30 yards

The Day I...Lobbed the Goalkeeper From 30 Yards in Afghanistan

The Day I…Lobbed the Goalkeeper From 30 Yards in Afghanistan

On that trip I met Mohammed Reza, a local Afghan guy who had also played football in the United Arab Emirates. The good news is that Mohammed Reza now has his own cool tourism business called Authentic Afghanistan! You can contact Mohammed Reza and tour Afghanistan. I got my Afghanistan visa in Bishkek and then headed across the bridge from Termiz in Uzbekistan to Hayratan in Afghanistan. Here’s a little overview.

Mohammed Reza on the ball in Afghanistan

Mohammed Reza and I watching football at Sina Stadium in Masar e Sharif, Afghanistan

Nowadays, Tourism is booming activity all over the world, there are lot of people who want to discover the unbelievable place of the world, ethic, culture diversity, costumes, and traditions, try local food, attend in local ceremonies and be an eye witness to discover their own attitude about people and their lifestyle. for instance, what I found out personally was” people and communities are completely different for Governments” Believe or not we are Global Citizens in this world and Monika from Poland who worked 3 months in an underprivileged area as a volunteer is a real example about.

Why See Afghanistan:

One of the most interesting and astonishing destinations as tourist destination Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the tourism industry fades during the civil war and with all negative news in medial travelers are worried about the security condition. However some travelers and moviemakers reflect the reality of Afghanistan. With all its great culture and locals hospitality and unique natural landscapes, still, there is a lot of concern about Traveling to Afghanistan. This situation makes good competition for foreigners Travel company to make unfair business with offering tour packages in Afghanistan which is not useful for Afghan people and locals, like the rest of the budget will be saved for the companies not for the great tourism goals ” Give Back to Community” and support locals.

Admiring the viewpoint over Balkh Afghanistan

Admiring the viewpoint over Balkh Afghanistan

First, we established our team for our passion in the field of Traveling and we are on the optimistic point about our country’s future and it is our work and fun together. Second, although we couldn’t travel and get a visa for the rest of the countries, we can do our plan B, share our culture for our guests. Furthermore, we are a well-experienced team and our skills enable us to provide good facilities for Travelers.

Touring Balkh in Afghanistan

Touring Balkh in Afghanistan

Travel Guide in Afghanistan:

Getting to Afghanistan:

·         By land borders:

  1. From Uzbekistan to Hayratan, Mazar Sharif
  2.  From Tajikistan to Shir Khan Port in Kunduz Province and to Ishkashim port town to visit the Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan Province. Once you arrive in Ishkashim town, you need a hand-written permit in addition to your Afghan visa to get to the Wakhan Corridor.
  3.  From Turkmenistan to Tourghondi port in Herat Province and Aqina port in Faryab Province
  4. 4. From Iran to Islam Qala port in Herat Province and to Zaranje port in Nimrooz Province
  5. 5. From Pakistan to Turkham port in Nangarhar Province, Espin Boldak port in Kandahar Province and Gholam Khan port in Khost Province.
Arrival into Afghanistan at Hayratan

Arrival into Afghanistan at Hayratan

By flight:

Most flights will arrive at Kabul International Airport, with direct connections to the UAE, Turkey, India, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China and Russia.

Domestic companies are Kamair, Ariana and Safi airways.

Other airports include:

  • Herat Airport (now mainly from Iran and with Afghan and Iranian airlines)
  • Mazar-e-Sharif airport
  • Kandahar airport

Getting your Afghanistan Visa:

To get your Afghan visa, these are the documents you need to take to the embassy:

  • Visa form to fill out, you can download it from the website of the Afghan embassy you are referring to
  • Passport with validity of at least 6 months
  • Two passport-size photos taken against a white background
  • Copy of your national ID
  • Visa fee. An Afghan tourist visa usually costs $100 but prices vary depending on your nationality and country you are applying from.

Sometimes they ask for an invitation letter (depending on the embassy you apply from). Recently only invitations from organizations were accepted in some embassies. From the date of the visa issue, you have 3 months to enter the country with the visa.

Getting an Afghanistan Visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Getting an Afghanistan Visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

In Afghanistan, the currency used in Afghani. Currently $1 ~ 78 Afs

Afghanistan banknotes

There are ATMs in big cities, though it’s not recommended to use ones located on the streets (for security reasons). You will also be charged a withdrawal fee of around $4. You can withdraw both US dollars and Afghani. You can also bring dollars into the country and then change them into local currency on the streets (there are many places to do that; you can tell by seeing the guy with a thick wad of bills).

SIM cards and the Internet:

You can purchase a SIM card from one of the few available providers (i.e. Roshan, Etisalat, MTM), top it up for a minimum of 50 Afs and if you need Internet too, it would cost 300-1000 Afs depending on the quantity (from 1 GB to 10 GB, valid for one month).

Time to visit Afghanistan:

Afghanistan is a dry and arid country; most of its area is mountainous. Winters are very cold and harsh and summers hot and dry. In winter there is no heating in the villages except for a stove located in the middle of the room. In the cities, people may have electric heaters. The best time to visit the country would be spring, early summer or early autumn. The temperatures vary depending on the location and altitude. Because of the Hindu Kush Mountains which cover the big part of the country, the average altitude is quite high. Kabul itself is located nearly 2000 meters above the sea level. Hence the high regions will be colder during winter.

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

Tips for travelling to Afghanistan:

  1. If you are not confident to be by yourself, you don’t speak Farsi or Pashto, or for any other reason, get yourself a reliable tour guide. This will reduce the stress and hassle with logistics and organizing your trip. The guide will not only show you around but also introduce to the local culture and make sure you are in a safe place (situation in every region my change from day to day, so updates are necessary)
  2. Bargain: every time you buy stuff at the local market/bazaar, be sure to bargain. Try to suggest 50-70% of the offered price (or even less if you are sure the item is worth much less than you are asked for).
  3. Take off your shoes before entering houses, offices, and mosques.

Takht e-Rostam, Samangan, Afghanistan

  1. Dress in local clothes, both man and woman. You can buy them at the local bazaar or get them tailor-made. It will not just show respect for the culture but also help to blend into the crowd to avoid unwanted attention. Many Westerners wearing local clothes will be easily taken for locals, although if you have blond hair and blue eyes even Afghan clothes won’t save you from being recognized as a foreigner.
  2. Make a photocopy of your passport and other important documents. When traveling on a local inter-city bus you may want to put your documents in a bag that goes to the bus locker, not the one you carry with yourself. That way you have no ID to prove your identity.
  3. Don’t shake hands with people of the opposite sex. Two-man can shake hands or touch their heads in a form of respect. Two women also shake hands (lightly, not the strong Western-style handshake), or kind of kiss 3 times on the cheek/side of the head. To greet a person of an opposite-sex simply put your right hand on your heart and say “Salam”.
Backpacking in Afghanistan: Visiting Hazrat Ali's Tomb and Blue Mosque in Masar e Sharif

Backpacking in Afghanistan: Visiting Hazrat Ali’s Tomb and Blue Mosque in Masar e Sharif

  1. Don’t take photos of people without asking for permission. This should go without saying. Also, don’t photograph army units and soldiers, unless they approve (or ask for a photo themselves).
  2. Carry a bunch of small denomination notes when shopping. If you buy something worth 20 Afs giving 500 Afs note is not a good idea (sometimes they wouldn’t have changed).
  3. Never be too trustful with people. Don’t tell everybody where you are staying or where going. Don’t tell anyone that you work for an international organization, government or any high ranked position. In Afghanistan or abroad. If you live in the same place for a longer time, change your daily routes in and out of your house/office and your daily routine.
  4. Learn some basic Farsi/Pashto words. That will help not only in daily communication but also make local people respect/like you more for your efforts in adapting to their culture.

Safe and happy travels – Afghanistan is great!

 

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