Travel in Pre - Revolution & Invasion Afghanistan
Afghanistan was not always a place so associated with war and strife. In a world of pre- revolution Iran and pre – Soviet invasion Afghanistan, the middle east was once thriving with foreign visitors.
Throughout the 1960s & 70s Afghanistan suddenly found itself at the centre of the alternative travel trade. Thousands of westerners would pass through it’s borders on the famed “Hippie Trail”. In fact Afghanistan was somewhat of a favourite destination on the route due to its accessible supplies of opium and cannabis. The world was a different place then but is Afghanistan safe to travel to now?
Today Afghanistan is slowly on the mend. A peace deal between the United States and the Taliban was signed but remains months away from fruition. It has stalled most recently over a prisoner swap deal. The fact that they are even at the negotiating table edging closer to results has to be a positive.
The fact remains however that many governments maintain strict travel advisories when it comes to Afghanistan.
The Canadian government advises to “Avoid all travel to Afghanistan due to the unstable security situation, ongoing insurgency, terrorist attacks, risk of kidnapping and high crime rate. If you choose to travel to Afghanistan despite this warning, you’re taking a serious risk”.
These travel warnings are for good reason. In 2016 a western tour group was targeted on a road between Ghor and Herat in the west of the country. Herat is considered safe but travelling long distance by road in Afghanistan is not considered safe. The best way to get around is by flight. Most of the country is not safe but several pockets of relative calm do exist.
Having a knowledgeable guide/fixer is worth his weight in gold. It’s essential to have a local who constantly is aware of the changing security situation.
On our Afghanistan Tours we only travel to places that are considered safe and we use the most experienced and well connected guides and security personal on the ground.
Places considered safe are Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Bamiyan, Panjshir province and certain areas of Kabul. There is enough incredible landscapes, colourful markets and welcoming smiles in these areas to give you an incredible Afghan experience.
Guidlines to follow when visiting Afghanistan
- Always travel with a pre-arranged and experienced local fixer. Ideally one that is well connected locally. Always travel by private vehicle, never on public transport. Your fixer / guide will know what areas are currently safe to visit.
- Dress like the locals. On our first day we always visit a local garment shop. Women should wear a full hijab and men a full length shalwar kimiz. Blending in and not drawing attention to yourself is key here.
- Do not photograph local Afghani women. This will cause serious issues for you and your guide. It’s less of a problem when women photograph other women.
- Have a back up plan in place as the situation on the ground is quite fluid. Flights can get cancelled or roads can become unsafe at the drop of a hat so we will always have plan B, C & D in mind.
Plan your visit thoroughly
If you are planning to travel then you are in for the most rewarding and fascinating travel experience of your life. Just make sure you are travelling for the right reasons and to plan well in advance.
Rocky Road Travel offers group tours to Afghanistan that are not currently advertised online. We can also facilitate your private trip. Get in touch for dates and more information.