We’ve all heard plenty of negative things about Afghanistan. The media typically portrays it as a war-torn and impoverished country.
While Afghanistan does have it’s own troubles, it’s also an incredibly beautiful country that is full of amazing people.
I’ve spent a total of five weeks independently travelling around Afghanistan. In this post, I’ll share some of my favourite photos from my time there to give you a different perspective of the country. My travels in Afghanistan have taken me to the Wakhan Corridor, Bamiyan Province, Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif.
The Wakhan Corridor – A Journey Back In Time This is the guesthouse I stayed at near Ishkashim, the first Afghan village you’ll pass through when visiting the Wakhan Corridor. Basic mud homes like this are typical in this part of Afghanistan. The mountains in the distance are actually located in Tajikistan – the valley descends to the Panj River which marks the Afghan-Tajik border. Wakhi children in Sarhad-e-Broghil. I returned to Sarhad-e-Brogil, after over a week hiking in the Little Pamir. I was exhausted, but these children came up to me with smiles on their faces. They were curious as to who this strange figure walking alone through their village was. Children in the Wakhan Corridor live extremely tough lives. They work in the fields, with their animals, and cook for their families all while living in an extremely harsh climate high above sea level. Sunset views in Sarhad-e-Broghil, Wakhan Corridor. During the Wakhan’s short summer, the valley floors turn beautifully green. Wakhi children from the tiny village of Ptukh in the Wakhan Corridor. The journey here takes at least 12 hours on rough roads. At certain times of the year, rivers swell so high that the “road” becomes impassible. Well-dressed Wakhi guys at the top of Daliz Pass (4,400 meters) I managed to hitch a ride with a family from Ishkashim to Qala-e-Panja, another small village in the Wakhan. This boy was in the car with me the whole time and kept asking me to take photos of him and his brothers, I think this one has gotta be my favourite. Little Pamir – The Roof of the World I spent a night with this family in the Little Pamir. I wandered into the 3-building village of Itchkili in mid-afternoon and was warmly taken in by this wonderful family. We did our best to communicate – they gave me some tasty food, and I showed them some photos I’d taken in Kyrgyzstan, the land of their ancestors. I can’t wait to return and give them a hard-copy of this wonderful photo I took of them. Yaks carry the belongings of the Kyrgyz family to their summer home. The morning after spending the night with them, the family packed up their belongings to move to their summer yurt. Loading the yaks with all of their belongings took almost as long as the journey itself. While hiking from the village of Bozai Gumbaz to Chaqmaqtin Lake, I met some Afghan engineers who were surveying the area to prepare for an eventual road connection with China. Work for the day was finished, so they took me fishing in the lake. And look at how many fish there are! All that was needed was a basic net, and we could catch an endless amount of fish. I wandered over to a Kyrgyz village neighbouring the one I was staying at and met this boy. Like most people in the Little Pamir, he was a confused and intrigued by me. His father was out pasturing their animals, so he was keeping watch over the village. Kyrgyz girl rides her horse in the Little Pamir, with lake Chaqmaqtin in the distance. This girl is wearing a red headpiece, which means that she is unmarried. When she’s married, she’ll don a white one. The first two nights of my trek into the Little Pamir were spent alone in small huts like this. They’re more comfortable than a tent, as they keep out strong winds and dampen the sounds of the raging Wakhan River. A starry night in the Little Pamir. The stars in the Wakhan Corridor were absolutely incredible. Kashgar, the nearest light polluting city is over 300 kilometers away. Want to learn more about this part of Afghanistan? Check out my guide to the Wakhan Corridor Kabul – The Heart of Afghanistan Wandering the crowded streets of Kabul’s bird market. That’s right – Kabul has an entire street dedicated to selling birds. While walking the street, I was constantly stopped and invited for tea. Classic Afghan hospitality 🙂 A friendly Afghan man in Kabul. I don’t usually take many portraits, but in Afghanistan, it was hard to avoid. When people saw my camera, they’d ask me to take their photo. Of course, I was happy to oblige. This is one of my favourites. Wandering the old markets of Kabul. Walking through the markets of Kabul is an assault on all of the senses. It’s important to wear local clothes so you blend in a bit, and not to spend too much time in one place and attract a crowd. While 99.9% of people here are extremely welcoming and friendly, you still need to be careful. Corn seller in Kabul. Do you see those colourful houses in the background? Homes like that can be found all over Kabul nowadays. The colours are an attempt to improve mental health and bring the city a new lease of life. The beautiful Kart-e-Sakhi shrine in Kabul. On Fridays, this shrine is full of praying Shiite Muslims. Bamiyan – Land of the Buddhas Band-e-Amir is a beautiful collection of lakes sitting at 3,000 meters above sea level in Bamiyan Province, Central Afghanistan. I visited in October, and all of the trees in the park had turned gorgeous golden colours. There wasn’t another person there – I had this entire place to myself. Remnants of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. In 2001, the Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban. There have been attempts to reconstruct the Buddhas, but no significant projects have been undertaken. Amazing autumn views in Band-e-Amir National Park. Band-e-Amir is an easy day trip from the town of Bamiyan. A driver costs about 2000 Afghani ($26) for the day, and they’ll know how to take you to all of the different lakes. The entrance fee to the park is 250 Afghani for foreigners, or about $3. It’s best to visit in autumn for these beautiful colours, but you can make the trip at any time of year if you want. Hazara boys playing together in Bamiyan Province You can now wander around inside the caves surrounding the Bamiyan Buddhas. Whenever you come upon an opening, you’ll get to see an incredible view like this one. Mazar-e-Sharif – Tomb of the Prince The gorgeous Shrine of Hazrat Ali in Mazar-e-Sharif. I lost count of how many times I visited this place. It’s got to be one of the most stunning buildings I’ve ever seen. Man in Old Balkh smoking hash with his bong. Once a great city that hosted Alexander the Great and Marco Polo, Balkh is nowadays just an empty pile of ruins. Boys sitting at the Shrine of Hazrat Ali in Mazar-e-Sharif. Families and friends visit the shrine in the evenings to pray and hangout. It’s such a peaceful and beautiful place. A carpet seller in Mazar-e-Sharif. This man was extremely friendly and offered me tea. If only I could’ve bought one of his carpets to take back home. Another shot from the bazaars of Mazar-e-Sharif. This man was selling fabrics. Herat – Gateway to Persia A cleaner walks inside the Great Mosque of Herat Inside the Herat Citadel The stunning Great Mosque of Herat Salang Pass – High Over The Hindu Kush A colourful truck loaded with pomegranates headed from southern to northern Afghanistan. Sunset over the snowy Hindu Kush, taken near the top of the Salang Pass Wrap-Up
I hope that you enjoyed looking at my photos of Afghanistan, and that you gained a new perspective into the country.
Please share this post to your social media if you liked it! One of my main goals when travelling is to help people see misunderstood places through a new lens.
Take care, and safe travels! Feel free to contact me with any questions about travelling in Afghanistan.
21-year old Canadian dude who loves to visit off-the-beaten-path places, climb tall mountains, and try delicious foods.
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