How to ski in Afghanistan
Original post: Another World Adventures
At Another World Adventures base camp we’re often asked by adventure seekers and journalists for alternative ideas to the classic winter ski trip. Well, we have a few up our sleeves but this is probably the most unusual – a trip to ski in Afghanistan.
Here’s how to ski in Afghanistan on a 10 day trip.
Tired of Tignes? Bored of Bansko? Ready to ski somewhere really new and very much off the beaten path? Then you might want to consider a trip to ski in Afghanistan – Bamian to be precise – for your next ski trip.
This region in Central Afghanistan is home to slopes that are suitable for all levels and by joining a unique ski tour you’ll benefit from expert international guides (internationally certified) along with local Afghan ski guides.
Don’t want to haul all your kit out with you? No worries – Bamian even has a little rental shop that’s been set up by an enterprising local entrepreneur.
It may not be news to you, but Afghanistan is one of the least visited regions of the world. In our mind this makes it perfect for adventurers.
Ski in Afghanistan
Day 1: Fly into Kabul. Depending on time of arrival your local guide may be able to arrange a city tour to some of Kabul’s more interesting sights such as the OMAR landmine museum, the ruins of Darulaman Palace and the Kabul Museum.
Day 2: Fly from Kabul to the Koh e Baba mountain range in Bamian. This is home to the Hazara people, a Shia minority who are ethnically related to the Mongols of Genghis Khan. You’ll get to know local Hazara people and listen to their stories. They have suffered a great deal of persecution under a number of Afghan governments and only now have the opportunity to build schools and hospitals in their mountain homeland, the Hazarajat.
Day 3 – 8: Ski time! The organisers of this trip will have you following the paths and routes they’ve explored during the winters of 2011 – 2014 in the slopes of the Koh e Baba mountain range. Prepare yourself for the sheer joy of acres of powder on virgin routes. Beginners can take on the fairly simple runs with local guides but for more experienced skiers you’ll have a chance to seek out slopes deep in the Hindu Kush – perhaps taking on runs never skied before.
The Afghan ski experience means you should be ready to make new friends fast – local men are likely to ask to join you skiing on home-made skis or invite you to their villages for tea.
On rest days or before/after a day on the slopes make the most of your chance to explore the Bamian region with a visit to the lively Bamian bazaar and the remains of the giant Buddhas of Bamian. The giant Buddhas of Bamian were completed in the 6th century AD and stood 55 and 37m high respectively making them, for nearly 1,500 years, the highest standing Buddha statues in the world.
In the 11th century, Buddhism was replaced by Islam in the region, Bamian became less important and the Buddhas fell into disrepair. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the legs of the largest Buddha in the 17th century and the Persian, Nadir Shah fired canon at them in the 18th century. Despite this the statues retained their world renowned status until March 2001 when the Taliban used artillery, anti-tank mines and finally dynamite to destroy the Buddhas over a month long period.
Even without the Buddhas themselves, the valley of Bamian is still striking, the ruins of 2 forts guard the entrance to the valley and at sunset the rock takes on a beautiful hue. It is also possible to climb into the caves and view the valley from where the largest Buddha’s head would have been.
If you like a good hike then take off to explore Dragon Valley or summit summit Shah e Golghola – the eerily named ‘City of Screams’ which has been left in the same state as when Genghis Khan sacked it over 800 years ago.
Day 9: Head back to Kabul by air and see any sights you missed out on the first day including locally famous ‘Chicken Street’ and Babur’s Gardens.
Day 10: Time to head home and tell all your friends about the ancient history, rugged landscape, and the tough but beautifully hospitable people that made Afghanistan such an incredible place for a visit. You’ll be an advocate for spreading the word about this complex country that is slowly recovering from years of neglect and violence. Be among the few who take the time to understand the challenges and blaze a new trail (down the slopes!)
Find out more about joining a small group to ski in Afghanistan between 21st Feb – 1st March 2016, or for details on a private departure or any questions drop us an email.
Worried about a trip to Afghanistan?
We worked hard to find a suitable tour provider for trips to this region. The outfit you’d travel with are specialists in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus. They aim 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.