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Grand Afghan Tour TOP 030_2

  • Summary
  • Itinerary
  • Dates & Rates
  • Operator
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Afghanistan in Autumn – A Grand Tour

This is an adventure that takes you deep into the culture and history of Afghanistan and allows you to develop first hand knowledge about its land and people.  The adventure takes place in autumn when the fruit is being harvested.  You’ll be astonished how a land that would appear to be made of nothing but barren rock produces beach ball sized melons and grapes bursting with juice.  It’s a mystery that could maybe only be found in Afghanistan.

This is a journey that will reveal to you the best that the country has to offer with all the delicious fruit you can eat.

Beginning in Kabul, you will cross the spine of the Hindu Kush to Mazar e Sharif.  Here you’ll see the remains of the once great Silk Road as well as the blue tiled shrine of Hazrat Ali.  From there you’ll spend three days exploring the valleys around Bamian, the lakes of Band e Amir, and the many Buddha niches which dot the land.

This is an area that allows you to sink in and experience what life is truly like in rural Afghanistan.   You’ll be amazed at the stories you hear and the sights you see.

The adventure ends with a short flight over the Hindu Kush into Herat – known for being the most architecturally complete city within Afghanistan.

Trip hightlights:

  • Explore Kabul and Herat in depth
  • Visit Ali’s Shrine in Mazar e Shari
  • Visit the remains of the Buddhas of Bamian
  • Take in Darulaman Palace and the Kabul Museum
  • Spend time in Balkh, known as Bactria by the ancient Greeks and birthplace to both Zoroaster and the Sufi poet Rumi
  • Soak in the striking natural beauty of Bamian
  • Walk freely and safely through rural villages learning of their ancient past and their current daily lives
  • See the Lapis Lazuli blue waters of Band-e-Amir
  • Explore the remains of Shah e Golghola – The City of Screams

You’ll fall in love with this complex and mysterious land during your 15 day adventure.  From viewing the sobering OMAR land mine museum to dining on the banks of the Panjshir River and feasting on local fish dishes, Afghanistan is a country with many sides and challenges.  Those who take the time to get to know the area are deeply rewarded and changed.

Enquire today.

Itinerary

Day 1 Kabul

Arrival and briefing. For those who arrive early we will have time to take an afternoon tour of the city. This will include a visit to the Old City, the remains of Darulaman Palace and a visit to the Kabul Museum.

Day 2 Kabul – Samangan – Mazar e Sharif

The journey to Mazar e Sharif will travel through the Salang Pass. A series of tunnels built by the Russians make this an exciting way to cross the Hindu Kush. Once on the north side we will make a stop at the remains of the Buddhist Samangan Monastery before a quick trip to the majestic blue tiled tomb of Hazrat Ali, Afghanistan’s most important religious site.

Day 3 Mazar e Sharif/Balkh

We will spend a day in and around Mazar e Sharif. Taking time to visit the ancient Silk Road city of Balkh, known as Bactria by the Ancient Greeks. Bactria was the birthplace of Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism as well as Rumi the legendary Persian poet. Legacy of its Islamic and Buddhist past can be found in the stupas and mosques in and around the city. We will also have time to visit and photograph the tomb of Hazrat Ali in the afternoon.

Day 4 Mazar e Sharif – Kabul

A drive back through the Salang Pass to Kabul.

Day 5 Kabul – Bamian

We will fly between Kabul and Bamian, the capital of the Hazarajat – home of the Hazaras and one of the most peaceful places in Afghanistan. When we arrive in Bamian we will have time to look at the hillsides containing many caves in which monasteries and Buddhist carvings were once situated.

Days 6-8 Bamian and around

We will spend 3 days in and around Bamian, an area of striking natural beauty. The mountains and valleys are dotted with ruins from Afghanistan’s past as well as friendly Hazara villages. It is one of the few places in Afghanistan where we can walk freely and safely in a rural environment.

The Lapis Lazuli blue waters of Band-e-Amir are often the highlight of any trip to Afghanistan. Legend has it that the dams that separate the 5 lakes were made by Ali, the prophet Mohamed’s cousin and son in law. However geologists insist they are natural dams made from mineral deposits. The lakes contrast to the stark landscape surrounding them only adds to the beauty of this area.

We will also visit the natural landscape of Dragon Valley, see the ruins of Shah e Zohak (Red Fort) and the remains of Shah e Golghola (The City of Screams).

Day 9 Bamian – Kabul

We will fly back to Kabul, taking the opportunity to visit any sights we may have missed on the first day in the Afghan capital.

Day 10 Kabul

We have a full day in Kabul to visit the sobering OMAR landmine museum, Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque, Babur’s Gardens – the final resting place of the first Mughal Emperor, the hills of Bibi Mahru and a view of the Bala Hissar.

Day 11 Kabul – Herat

Fly from Kabul to Herat. The flight is early in the morning leaving us the afternoon to enjoy Herat.

Day 12 Herat

Herat has the largest collection of ancient buildings in Afghanistan and we will take a full day to explore the city and its surroundings including the Friday Mosque, the Tomb of Gowar Shad, the Masullah Complex and the atmospheric shrine of Khoja Ansari at Gazar Gah.

Day 13 Herat – Kabul

We will fly back to Kabul and ensure that you get to see anything you may have missed on our earlier visits as well as ensuring we take a trip to Chicken Street to pick up any last souvenirs.

Day 14 Kabul – Panjshir

We will visit the Panjshir Valley, described as the most beautiful place in Afghanistan by locals. We will stop to view the tomb of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir and Afghanistan’s most universally revered Mujahedin commander, as well as stopping off at a local fish restaurant on the banks of the Panjshir River.

Day 15 Fly home

We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.

You will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from the trip operator for the entire length of this trip.

More Details

Visas:

We do not arrange Afghanistan visas directly. We will provide visa support in the form of letters of invitation to assist in your Afghanistan visa application.

Food:

With the exception of breakfast, meals are not included as part of the trip. In our experience people sometimes want to eat different things in different places at different times. We know some great places and will also happily show you some of our favourite restaurants and tea houses. Some are luxurious, some are earthier, but all have character. However, we do not pretend to be the arbiters of good taste and are equally happy for you to go off and find your own favourites.

Accommodation:

We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing.

Transport:

In Afghanistan we take at least 2 vehicles when driving between towns if there is a big group, for safety reasons. If there is a breakdown we will not be left stranded. When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel (not a laughing matter in a country that should be the setting for a live action version of the Wacky races). Your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:

On this trip you will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from the trip operator. This allows for greater security and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you even if the other team leader is busy arranging something.
Sometimes we also hire local guides. If we are a large group, we may wish to split into smaller groups for city tours to allow greater flexibility and keep a lower profile. An extra local guide allows us to do that.

Security:

Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider to be stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.
If there is an extra expense incurred due to the change of itinerary then you may be asked to bear part of that cost. For example, if we have to fly between cities rather than drive.

Dates & Rates:

Date of next trip: 24th September – 8th October 2016

Price: 2,550 GBP

Start Point: Kabul, Afghanistan

End Point: Kabul, Afghanistan

Number of people: 8

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

  • All accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • Transport/transfers
  • Guiding
  • 4 internal flights within Afghanistan (Kabul-Herat/Herat-Kabul & Kabul-Bamian/Bamian-Kabul)

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED?

  • Any necessary visas
  • Insurance
  • Flights to Afghanistan
  • Entrance fees
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • Any additional flights needed in Afghanistan that may be necessary due to security concerns.

Operator

“Specialists in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, this operator aims to add positive benefit to the areas visited by ensuring that whenever possible, the money goes directly to the people of the region. In their words “small scale tourism might not change the world but every path starts with a single step’.

The founders met as intrepid travel guides in the mountains of Afghanistan and bonded over a shared passion to enable other people to experience the beauty of of Pakistan and Afghanistan, lands that are often described as dangerous and inhospitable.

Working with small groups of maximum 12 people and using specialist local guides throughout, their aim is to provide authentic and original experiences for all guests. This small number allows for greater security, flexibility and access to local people and places. Each set itinerary trip is individually designed to coincide with local events or to visit the area at the best time of year.”

Enquiry Form

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