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Discover Rural Afghanistan
Rural Afghanistan in spring is a lush green blossom-filled paradise and this adventure aims to show you the best of it. Spend 15 days travelling through Afghanistan to discover its unique culture and history. Travel along parts of the old Silk Road, see the wonderful valleys and lakes at Band e Amir, stand in awe at the remains of the Buddhas of Bamain, and fly into the heart of the Hindu Kush.
- Explore the lakes at Band e Amir
- Visit the remains of the Buddhas of Bamian
- Discover Herat in the heart of the Hindu Kush
- See the Shrine of Ali in Mazar e Sharif
- Visit Kjoja Parsa, the country’s oldest mosque
- Visit the OMAR landmine museum, Shah0e Doh Shamshira
- Walk through friendly Hazara villages in Bamian
- Visit Chicken Street in Kabul for fun souvenirs for friends and family back home
Begin with a tour of Kabul, the capital city, where you can visit the remains of Darulaman Palace, the hills of Bibi Mahur, the British cemetery, Babur’s Gardens, and the Kabul Museum. Once in Mazar e Sharif you’ll see the magnificent blue tiled tomb of Hazrat Ali. This is Afghanistan’s most important religious site. This is also your first look at the old Silk Route as you explore the stretch that runs through Balkh. Known as Bactria to the Greeks, this is the home of Zoroaster and Rumi.
Next up is the Buddhist monastery in Samangan. This 1500 year old complex has a large stupa carved right from the bedrock and a series of caves used during Buddhist rituals. In the Panjshir Valley you’ll visit the tomb of Ahmed Shah Massoud, also known as the Lion of the Panjshir. This valley is considered by many to be the most beautiful place in all of Afghanistan.
One of the unique aspects of this adventure is the chance to learn more about how Islam and Buddhism co-exist. For example, you’ll first visit Kjoja Parsa, the country’s oldest mosque, then in Bamian you’ll visit the hills containing caves of Buddhist carvings. It’s an eye opening experience to learn about these religious and historic areas.
Lastly are the lapis lazuli waters of Band e Amir, the lovely landscapes surrounding the Dragon Valley, the ruins of Shah e Golghola (The City of Screams), and Shah e Zohak (the Red Fort).
This is your opportunity to see a different side of Afghanistan in the hands of safe and professional guides familiar with the country and the people. There is so much culture and history to discover in this awesome place. Enquire today.
Day 1 Kabul – Sunday 30th April 2017
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 hills of Bibi Mahru, the remains of Darulaman Palace and a visit to the Kabul Museum.
Day 2 Kabul – Mazar e Sharif – Monday 1st May 2017
A morning in Kabul to visit places such as the British cemetery, the bush bazaar and Babur’s Gardens.
Then fly to Mazar e Sharif.
Overnight in Mazar e Sharif.
Day 3 Mazar e Sharif – visit Balkh – Tuesday 2nd May 2017
Full day in Mazar & Balkh
You will have time to visit the majestic blue tiled tomb of Hazrat Ali, Afghanistan’s most important religious site. You will spend part of the day visiting the ancient silk road city of Balkh, called Bactria to the 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 at the entrance to the town, at the blue tiled shrine of Khoja Parsa and at the oldest mosque in Afghanistan, the 9th century No Gombad mosque.
Overnight in Mazar
Day 4 Mazar e Sharif – Samangan – Mazar e Sharif – Wednesday 3rd May 2017
A day trip to the Buddhist monastery remains at Samangan, two hours drive south of Mazar e Sharif. The 1500 year old complex contains a huge stupa carved out of the bedrock as well as a number of caves used as places of worship.
En route you will also be able to visit Tashkurgan and the old king’s hunting lodge.
Overnight in Mazar e Sharif
Day 5 Mazar e Sharif – Kabul – Thursday 4th May 2017
Early morning flight from Mazar e Sharif to Kabul.
Day in Kabul to visit the sobering OMAR landmine museum, Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque and the Murad Khane district of Kabul.
Overnight in Kabul
Day 6 Kabul – Panjshir – Friday 5th May 2017
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 7 Kabul – Bamian – Saturday 6th May 2017
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 8-10 Bamian and around – Sunday 7th – Tuesday 9th May 2017
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 11 Bamian – Kabul – Wednesday 10th May 2017
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 12 Kabul – Herat – Thursday 11th May 2017
Fly from Kabul to Herat. The flight is early in the morning leaving us the afternoon to enjoy Herat.
Day 13 Herat – Friday 12th May 2017
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 14 Herat – Kabul – Saturday 13th May 2017
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 15 Fly home – Sunday 14th May 2017
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.
You will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from the tour operator for the entire length of this trip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On this trip you will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from the tour 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.
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
Dates: 16- 30 April 2018.
Price: US$4,450 per person
- All accommodation
- 6 internal flights within Afghanistan (Kabul-Mazar/Mazar-Kabul, Kabul-Herat/Herat-Kabul & Kabul-Bamian/Bamian-Kabul)
- Any necessary visas
- Flights to Afghanistan
- Entrance fees
- Any additional flights needed in Afghanistan that may be necessary due to security concerns.
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 goose 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.
Discover Rural Afghanistan
- Trip Code: AWA366
- Dates: 16-30 April 2018
- Price: 4,450 USD
- Depart: Kabul, Afghanistan
- Arrive: Kabul, Afghanistan
- Length: 15 days
- Adventure: 15 days travelling through Afghanistan in spring – an inspirational opportunity to experience what life is all about in this country.