Afghanistan FAQ & Security Thread
Replies: 179 - Last Post: Dec 1, 2013 9:49 AM Last Post By: expat101
Jul 9, 2013 4:05 AM
If you're not travelling with your Afghan passport you need to follow the immigration rules of whatever passport you're using (eg. rules for British foreigners if you're using a British passport).. That means you will be needing a visa!
Usually the border at Ishkashim is pretty straight forward...
A passport check before the bridge on the Tajik side, then cross it to the island with the borderpost itself where customs and exit-stamps a done before proceeding over another bridge to the Afghan side and where you'll get a stamp and - probably - a foreigner's registration card.
Crossing as a woman/women should be a big deal - especially not on a foreign passport...
Jul 10, 2013 10:03 PM
Jul 10, 2013 11:16 PM
167See, I don't know how the mix of an non-Afghan passport and an Afghan ID card works... Don't think that's in the book anywhere :)
Worst case scenario (if you get turned back at the border) is that you have to backtrack to Khorog (three hours away) and get a visa at the consulate there... In any case as you possible need to pass through Khorog on your way to Ishkashim and could ask the consulate if you need a visa... They are usually issued in one working day...
I know foreign women have passed a number of Afghan border posts alone (including Ishkashim) without it being too big of a deal... From what I hear many Afghans treat foreign women as a kind of 'honorable men' just as they do in Iran... If you are worried about it my suggestion would be to keep your Afghan ID in your pocket, get the visa and don't dress too locally...
Which passport do you hold?
Jul 27, 2013 6:51 AM
Aug 23, 2013 4:35 AM
Aug 28, 2013 1:03 AM
170Hi fellow travelers,
I posted the below in another thread under Afghanistan but seems no reply so far.
Hope someone from here can give some advices.
We ( a couple) are from China and we are right now traveling around Central Asia. Will be in Uzbekistan next week and we have DOUBLE ENTRY VISA with it.
We are thinking of crossing to Afghanistan for 2 days for visiting Mazar-e Sharif from the Termiz border from Southern Uzbekistan.
Now we are at Dushanbe and we will apply our Afghanistan visa here if we go ahead.
Could anyone please give some comments on this? Whether its the safety issue or ALL comments are welcome.
Thanks a lot
Aug 29, 2013 9:19 AM
Sep 1, 2013 4:34 AM
Sep 1, 2013 4:43 AM
Sep 12, 2013 6:07 PM
I meant to do this weeks ago...! But here are some notes from my recent trip to Afghanistan, specifically Ishkashim and the Wakhan Corridor. Sounds like the border situation is much different already, so keep that in mind.
Entry date: July 23, 2013
Exit date: August 1, 2013
Point of entry/exit: Ishkashim (Tajikistan & Afghanistan)
Visa obtained at: Khorog, Tajikistan. $160 (US Passport).
Traveled with a friend. We tried to get visas in Bishkek Kyrg, and Dushanbe Taj, flat out denied in Bishkek. Needed a letter from the embassy and a 5-day wait (and $200 instead of $160) in Dushanbe. NO PROBLEMS at all in Khorog. Friendly, five-minute service. We obtained notarized letters from our embassy stating we were simple tourists, and that our passports had accurate information. This probably helped (though didn't seem to be mandatory).
Crossing the border:
Taj guys opened a little after nine. They were courteous and professional. Expect to state how much cash you're carrying. You'll be asked on exit, perhaps to ascertain how much you spent in Afghanistan. Also a quick search of luggage.
Afghan office was friendly but not at all professional. About 6 jokers, half in uniform, half not, and an "interpol" guy who will systematically go through everything in your bag and ask of every item of interest if it's a gift for him. "You mean you come from a rich country and you don't bring us gifts?? Next time, bring gifts. Tell your friends, too." Even without giving any gifts, we got our entry stamps no problem.
Then they tried to get us to hire a taxi at the mandatory (posted on the wall very clearly) rate of $20. We said we'd walk (6 dusty, hot km to the village). Outside, some Army guys took pity and let us ride in the back of their pickup for a nominal $5 donation to a young boy who was in the back seat.
Gov't-mandated pricing is a theme here. Be forewarned. Negotiation is possible but difficult.
Village is basically a wild-west crossroads. The bazaar is bustling with men, a few women in full burka. You can get essentials (toilet paper, limited canned foods, bottled water, scarves, shalwar kameeze) but it's limited.
We stayed at the Pamir Marco Polo guest house, about a ten minute walk north from the village. It's owned by Jumagul and was a phenomenal, safe, clean, hospitable base camp. Would definitely stay here again. Rate was $30 a night (breakfast and dinner included). Lunch is $5. Electricity, nice beds, and even a wood-burning water heater!! (like I said, deluxe). Abdul Samad is the manager. Mobile # is: 0796383422 or 0793610356. If you ask for "Jumagul's", people will point you to it.
Best thing about this place is the blue toyota Land Cruiser they have for hire through the Pamir Tourist bureau. Daulat is the driver. He became a good friend during our trip; he's trustworthy, humble, hard-working, honest, and knows how to navigate the gov't BS at all the checkpoints along the way. Best part is: the rate is $250. All other options will try to charge you the "gov't mandated rate" of $450. If you can't get Daulat, just be sure you don't get gouged on price.
Getting permits to head up the Wakhan was annoying and challenging. You'll be approached by fixers who want to charge a fee for their assistance. It's tricky, because you have to go three or four different places, talk to the right people, get signatures and letters, and you won't know where to go or who to talk to without a fixer. DO NOT HIRE AZIM. He was wearing a black blazer over black shalwar kameeze, maybe 20 years old. He owns the internet club in town. He ripped us off, lied to us, and cost us a day of travel. In the end, after we fired him, we took care of the paperwork ourselves and had better luck and more expedient service. Again: DO NOT HIRE MUHAMMD AZIM ZIAHEE. He followed us to the Marco Polo guest house and inserted himself in our planning. Just tell him to f* off. (I can give specifics if you need them, but trust me. He's a cheat.)
Now the fun begins!! It's gorgeous. People are friendly. They don't try to rip you off. They are happy to see you. You'll see. Halfway up the corridor (about 6-8 hours drive) is Qal'e Panja. We stayed with Salahudin at his guest house. He is well-known, and runs a very nice house. Recommended.
At the end of the road, in Sarhad, we stayed with Abdul Wadood (sorry if I'm screwing up the spelling). Also highly recommended. They have 3 or 4 generations working there and everyone is amazing.
From Sarhad we hired a donkey (comes with donkey owner) for $8/day to portage our backpacks as we hiked further up the corridor. We bought and packed food from Ishkashim. You'd have to rely on whatever they can cook in Sarhad (probably just bread, cold rice, and tea) if you don't shop before you arrive. There are no stores here.
Things I highly recommend bringing into Afghanistan:
-Ciproflaxin (antibiotics... like any good western traveler)
-iodine tablets (the water seems very pure, but you'll be at the mercy of creeks and irrigation ditches).
-toilet paper (for sale in Ishkashim bazaar, "triple Horse" brand, but absent everywhere else).
-pictures of your friends/family (the locals LOVED seeing my relatives. family is super important to them).
-tajik cell phone (some places along the corridor pick up the signal from across the border)
-passport photos (you'll need 3 or 4 to affix to all your permits. there is a photo shop in Ishkashim, but better to avoid the hassle).
-U.S. Dollars. US$ are KING here. They won't touch a Euro. They accept Afghan money. Fives and Tens are good for the villages, in town a lot of people won't touch anything smaller than a $US 20. Bring crisp 100's and $10's and your should be okay.
I'll check back here in a few days, so if you have specific questions, ask away!
Oct 28, 2013 10:43 AM
Oct 29, 2013 5:31 AM
The road between The Iran border to Herat and then onto Turkmenistan is pretty good for Afghanistan. The region near the Turkmen border is a little lawless but you should be OK.
What are you driving? If it is not a toyota you'll stand out in Afghanistan.
Women are allowed to drive in Afghanistan.
Have fun JJ
Nov 7, 2013 9:15 AM
177Hello Ten Penny Hat - Would describe the rest of your trip up the Wakhan in Sept ? How many days did you travel into the corridor and how far did you go in? Did you have any difficulties going from village to village ? Do you speak Farsi - how did you communicate with locals? Did you have to negotiate pack animal transport in each village or continue thru with the same animals? Many thanks for any info you can provide. We are considering going to the Wakhan next August.
Dec 1, 2013 4:34 AM
Dec 1, 2013 9:49 AM
179I would not advise to drive to Bamyan. The road from Kabul is not safe. Air Horizon charges 100 dollars one way.
Bamyan is then safe to walk about.
The hotel there is called the Silk Road Hotel. Just Google it.
(0 star Hotel)
From US$25.83 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$100.20 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$93.81 per night