This three part trip includes Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia and can be easily extended to include more destinations at the start and end of the trip!
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Asia25 days / February 2020
Highs & Lows
Getting to experience Afghani culture first hand
Security concerns can make certain aspects of the trip a little stressful.
Afghanistan is a destination that can either fill travelers with dread or with excitement. More well known for never ending war than its jaw-droppingly beautiful landscape, incredibly welcoming (and often, insanely attractive) people and mind-boggling diversity, Afghanistan has sadly been mostly overlooked as a tourist destination since its days as part of the overland "hippy trail."
Afghanistan has a lot to offer visitors and while security concerns ARE an issue, reputable tour operators and experienced guides will know how to mitigate your risks. PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT TRAVEL TO AFGHANISTAN ALONE AND ALWAYS USE A GUIDE.
During my trip, I combined an overland border crossing from Delhi to Islamabad via Amritsar and Lahore with a two week guided tour of Afghanistan. I crossed from Afghanistan into Uzbekistan and then continued to Tajikistan. I flew back to India from Dushanbe with a one day layover in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Central Asia is very easy to travel around so this itinerary can easily be extended to include more time there.
Q & A
What would you have changed?
I would have allowed more time for Pakistan and tried to time the trip for when the Panmure Highway was accessible.
Anything go wrong during the trip?
It was pretty challenging to get the Pakistan visa despite the major improvements in their e-visa processing. Luckily, I did manage to get he visa but I didn't have enough time to explore the country properly.
How was the food?
I am vegetarian and most of the region is pretty meat-heavy. Be prepared to eat lots and lots of bread!
What tips would you give a friend?
If you have the opportunity to travel Pakistan and Afghanistan, do it! Although Afghanistan does have some unique risk factors, a guided tour helps mitigate the risks. Accidents, crime and terrorism can happen almost everywhere in the world so this alone should not deter you from going. The security situation does change so be sure to check the most recent updates and find a guide that has great recommendations from recent travelers.
Pack lots of layers. Thin, long sleeve shirts are perfect when you need to cover your arms and sarongs are useful as head scarves and can even be worn as a normal scarf in case it gets chilly!
In Pakistan, you can travel by tuk tuk throughout Lahore and by bus from Lahore to Islamabad. Low-cost trains connect most large cities in Central Asia making it extremely easy to get around.
Always, always check the most up to date information on visas in any country that you go to in Central and South Asia. It has become much easier over the years to travel there and most countries are now visa free or offer e-visas.
I booked the Afghanistan tour directly with the tour guide and paid cash once I arrived in Kabul. For Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, I booked my hotels using Booking.com.