Afghans love to have picnics! They build tents, sit down on their carpets and pillows while others roast lambs or sheeps. And picnic is no real picnic if there's no lake nearby. That's Afghan picnic, you see. Foreigners should not go alone as they will be considered invading territory. Wait till you getinvited by an Afghan family and benefit from the unique Afghan hospitality!
In Afghanistan, locals are very choosy when it comes to kebab. Before you try Afghan kebab, ask the locals where the best shop is and for sure they will point you to their favourites.
Kebab is to Afghans as fish and chips is to Brits. Afghans wrap their Kebabs using used newspapers. Not clean really but well, that's how they do it in Afghanistan. Better eat it as you buy it.
So what's in store for you :D They sell lamb, beef and chicken kebabs.
The road from Kabul to Mazar-e-Sharif passes by this beautiful and meandering valley. The mountains are dry and reddish but the bottom is very green... and small villages nestled on the rugged slopes.
The magnificent mountains north of Kabul are something you can't miss.
We had the opportunity to see them (very closely!) going north to Mazar-e-Sharif.
The road built by the Russians in the 50's climbs up to the scary Salang pass at 3800m of altitude.
You can suffer of lack of oxygen there... so be careful !
King Nadir Shah's Mausoleum is the resting place for Afghan's royal family. It is visible from most of Kabul and you can imagine how magnificant this monument must have been in it's original glory.
There were a few guards present and an unofficial tour guide who spoke good English. Little boys ran around our legs, offering soda and cookies. They were very persistant! Before long we were found by a young man who had a key and led us down the stairs into the catacombs. The view of Kabul from this spot is spectacular! Mujaheddin fought over Kabul's high ground and also caused desturction from it.
The Kabul Zoo is not the best zoo out there, as it is a bit sad. There are over 100 animals, including lions, bears, pigs, vultures, etc... The zoo is popular with locals and can see up to 3,000 people per week.
"Marjan" the one-eyed lion was the most famous resident of the Kabul zoo. Unfortunately, he died in January 2002 at the age of 40. Marjan survivesd all of the fighting in Kabul and even killed/ate a Taliban fighter that climbed into his den. The man's brother threw a grenade into the cage for revenge and Marjan lost his sight.
Open 6:00am to 6:00pm. Admission is 5 AFA.
This palace built in the 1920s by King Amannullah. As with most of Kabul, much of the building is destroyed from fighting that has taken place since1992. The palace was used by King Amannullah and later used as the Justice ministry and Defence ministry. Behind this palace is the former Defence Ministry.
Lashkar Gah, the capital city of Helmand Province, is relatively clean and decent looking city considering the area that it is in. Probably one of the reasons for that is because American engineers in the 1950s built modern Lashkar Gah as there headquarters for an irrigation project in the area. The history of this place does go back 1,000 years though. It orginally was a town for soldiers accompanying nobility on their way to a winter capital. Lashkar Gah means "place of soldiers." Today you can still see old castle/mansion ruins along the Helmand river in this city. It is located fairly close to the border with Kandahar province. Around the border of Helmand and Kandahar provinces there is a road that forks off of Highway 1 which will bring you to Lashkar Gah.
Since the entire country of Afghanistan is practicaly one giant battlefield, there is bound to be some leftovers from past battles. The Soviet war provides most of the war wreckage that you can see and there pieces of their military in many places over the country. The Soviets first came on Christmas Day in 1979 and February 15, 1989 they had announced that all their troops have left Afghanistan. Before you come close to old war machines make sure you check locally if it is safe to do so. What ever killed that tank or other military vehicles still might be in the area from landmines, UXOs or whatever other explosive device. You don't want to lose a leg just for a good photo.
Kandahar is Afghanistan's second city after Kabul with a population of around 315,000-320,000. It is also the capital city of Kandahar Province. It is a very old city where modern Kandahar dates back to around 4th century BC and founded by Alexander the Great. In recent history it is most famous for the Taliban. It is here were they first conquered and then used as a base to capture about 90% of Afghanistan. The city is not overly crowded somewhat clean (in comparison to other developing nations big cities). A large part of the city mud brick buildings while in the westren side of the city has nice fancy buildings where some countries have diplomatic representation. It is located in the south of the country at the very important meeting place of Highway 1 (the ring road around the country) and Highway 4 (the main route to Pakistan in the south).
Reportely, the remote and distant Minar-e-Jam, close to the very center of Afghanistan, is the second largest free-standing minaret in the whole world. Only surpassed by Q'tab Minar at Delhi, India, Minar-e-Jam was built more than 800 years ago and is tucked away in a narrow valley 350-400 kms east of Herat.
The minaret has not been built in connection to any mosque. It stands all by itself in the valley, surrounded by greyish-brown maountains and a number of tiny villages stuffed with firendly, but rough-looking Afghanis. The minaret itself is leaning a bit like the tower of Pisa, and apart from it being so big, the main attraction by going there is the trip. How to get there rather than being there is the main issue and a challenge to anyone.
There are no scheduled public transport, however, with a bit of luck, you may catch a private vehicle from Herat and 400 kms east. Getting back is probably easier as no cars would ever depart Jam without ending up in Herat. Either way, the journey takes 1½ days of driving, but it's dirt cheap (8 USD each way) and the scenery almost equals the Karakorum.
This is a small part of my job.
This picture was taken when we were building a Government Building in Jalalabad.
The idea is to create the construction business in the country. Good business for a long time.
The King's Palace is an ancient palace which suffered massives rocket attacks during the 25 years of war. Now is completely destroyed but you can see how beautifull and powerfull was this country years ago.
Decades of war have created over two million orphans in Afghanistan. If you have an opportunity to visit the orphanages, stop by to visit, . And if you can bring any donations of clothes or school supplies, they are greatly appreciated. The children we visited were divided into a girls class and a boys class. They were all so very happy and eager to learn! Teachers were never short of volunteers willing to answer questions. There are also some very talented artists to be found in the young children. Due to capacity, some only offer half day classes in order to accomodate two sessions of students per day.
If you - by any chance - should get tired of the calm and chaotic streets of Herat, the village of Gozara, some 40-50 kms south of Herat is not a bad place for an excursion.
Gozara is nothing but a mud house village but a very nice one, and the experience is quite different from being in Herat. The town itself is nothing but a mud labyrinth, but, with the rice fields right outside the mud walls, it's actually very scenic.
The people don't see man foreigners! Hardly any, I should think, so be prepared for being the most interesting thing which has happened to the village for months. They'll surely stare at you like you've never been stared at - at least not outside India and Bangladesh.
Normally, these days at least, the Herat region is comparatively calm, however, do ask the locals if there has been any shooting lately.
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Good for: Solo
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