Afghanistan – Practical Information

 

A harsh life - Kizkut, Afghanistan

A harsh life – Kizkut, Afghanistan

Before you go: Obtaining a visa is necessary for all visitors prior to entering Afghanistan, and it is likely that you will need a Letter of Introduction from an accredited travel provider.  Visa requirements can differ with the embassy or consulate.  In Khorog, Tajikistan, visas are provided in 30 minutes, whereas in Dubai the process took four hours. In Western countries the process can take weeks and is more expensive, so try to obtain your visa when you get closer to Afghanistan.

In the north-east of the country, ATMs are non-existent, thus bring enough cash on you (US dollars preferred) for your entire journey.

Afghanistan is a conservative country, so be suitably attired. This means women should wear long loose fitting clothing and a head scarf. It is not necessary to cover your face. Men should also dress conservatively – thus long sleeves and pants are the norm.

Accommodation: Best to manage your expectations before travelling to the Wakhan area of Afghanistan.  Journeying through here is purely in the realm of adventure travel.  Guest houses are the standard accommodation where you sleep in a large common room and are provided with blankets, pillows and meals.  Showers are from buckets (hot water can be boiled) and toilets are always of the squat variety with no toilet paper – so bring your own.  Electricity is patchy, so best to charge all your batteries before you reach here. If space allows, bring a solar powered panel and battery charger.

Food: Food is basic, and mostly consists of rice, beans and other vegetables. Flat bread is always served, and so is tea – either black or a lovely milky variety. Meat is sometimes offered, but this is rare. There are no restaurants in the Wakhan Corridor, so all meals will be offered in your guest house. If you want to bring snacks, stock up in Ishkashim, and the same applies for bottled water – either purchase it in Ishkashim or carry a water purifier.

Transport: Public transport along the Wakhan Corridor is almost non-existent, thus you will either have to bring your own transport from Tajikistan (but you must obtain the official paperwork detailing your vehicle and driver details from the Afghan consulate in Khorog) or you will need to organise a vehicle and driver. The roads are incredibly tough, so ensure that the vehicle you are using is in sound mechanical condition and carries the correct papers.  Do not rely on taking public transport in the Wakhan Corridor unless you have a lot of time and patience. People have hitched along that route, but you may be lucky to secure a lift in a short amount of time, or you could wait days.

Permits: To travel to the Wakhan Corridor, you will need to obtain a permit, that involves visits to the local government administration office, and signatures from the military and police. Unless you speak Afghan Persian (also known as Dari) this could be a frustrating process. Best to pay the money to organise a local guide to assist with this process.  This pass must be surrendered at either the government office or the border upon leaving the area – my suggestion is to do so at the border.


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