Traveling around Kabul is very dangerous. Find a car service that the hotel you are staying with trusts. As you call them make sure that the driver can speak your language well enough. Foreigners can make some people nervous as they think that they may be targeted if they seem like a spot where foreigners hang out. So make sure your driver knows where he can take you. All the drivers we met were very warm and loved talking about the city.
At the time we were there, during rush hour times, traffic was very very bad. It can take an hour or so to go a few miles. Most drivers will be able to tell you when the best times to travel are. They'll also know how safe it is to travel out of the city. You'll want a driver that knows how to talk to the security checkpoints when security is high.
It is very difficult to find safe and secure transportation within Afghanistan.
Le Monde Rental Services Company is the first dedicated vehicle rental company operating since early 2003, providing safe and secure, quality transportation to NGOs, National and International companies in Afghanistan.
Le Monde is the only company in Afghanistan who provide safe and secure transportation equipped with Radio wireless sets, Blast Films on glasses, Fire extinguishers, First Aid Kit and many other related things along with the English speaking chauffeurs.
Le Monde provides Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Year rentals of different kinds of vehicles.
Le Monde is based in Kabul Serena Hotel (the only 5-star hotel in Afghanistan) with their sub-offices in major provinces of Afghanistan.
Le Monde Rental Services Company
Kabul Serena Hotel
Telephones: +93-(0)79-899-9998, +93-(0)79-9-555-333, +93-(0)70-677-300
24-hour hotline: +93-79-909-7979
Electronic Mail: email@example.com
Ariana Afghan airways- the flight from Delhi.
Many Ngo groups were reluctant to fly with Ariana for safety reasons, but for their limited resources, the crew and airline did a good job for our flights at least.
Taking pictures on the tarmac is not permitted, since it is used by the military as well. However, theres nothing to stop you from clicking from inside the aircraft.
Ariana now flies to many more destinations- includng Delhi, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Moscow, Tehran, Islamabad, Dubai, and others...
Airport report 2002/ 2003:
The airport building was basic. Though still a better than what i was preparing for, having just seen the view outside my window as we were coming in to land on my first trip to Kabul in 2002... Aircraft from years gone by, that were lying junked/ destroyed/ rotting just off the runway. The aircraft we were flying in, (Ariana Afghan airlines) itself wasnt one that would have taken off the ground with any other airline. An old boeing 727, something i hadnt seen at airports for almost a decade or more...
This time (sept 2003), things seemed to have improved further, a conveyor belt (though our luggage took a while showing up), organised queues at passport control... airconditioned waiting area at departure, etc.
Also, Ariana now flew Airbus300 aircraft, a step up from the last experience with the 727's... Three Airbus airplanes were gifted by the Indian govt earlier, adding to the goodwill that exists between the two countries...
Ariana Afghan airlines, the national airline of Afghanistan, restarted operations in its post taleban years with some old boieng 727's which were not the safest pair of wings in the skies. The UN staff and many other Ngo's were advised not to fly Ariana. They`d rather operate their own aircraft or charter.
A year later, Indian airlines passed three of their older Airbus300 aircraft (yet a fair bit newer to the ageing 727's) to them. These were painted in Ariana colours put into service soon, one of the routes being the Delhi-Kabul one.
It was a move that earned the Indians a good measure of goodwill amongst the Afghans as well...
Ariana Afghan Airlines Main Office
P.O. Box 76,
Ansari Watt, Kabul,
One of the most amusing sights around Kabul are the colourful german busses being used for public transport.
You will see them with names of assorted German towns - like Hamburg/ Frankfurt etc painted on them, sort of announcing departures to these locations, though they are actually transporting people around town, or between the Afghan provinces. These are obviously busses that have been retired recently from service in Germany and have found their way into Afghanistan- as aid probably. The paint from the orignal busses remains in place still...
Oh and i must add here, that if you ask an average Afghan about impressions of foreign governments, the Indians, the Germans and the Japanese are right on top.
There are several flights in and out of Kabul now. From Ariana, to Indian airlines, Kam air, PIA and other operators to UN flights and military flights.
Delays are often expected and the departure lounge, though it seems pretty sizable when you first walk in, can fast turn pretty crowded in a blink. To the point that you may struggle to find a seat.
If you are entitled to a meal coupon, check at the check in counter, and head to the restaurant and not to the departure area- which takes you past the point of no return, or the immigration desk.
Non business class passengers may have to identify their baggage and their names will probably be called out by an airline official.
There are several security checks, including a last one just as you are boarding the aircraft, so be prepared to wait up...
Some changes that i noticed... there are many more flights operating now for one, so its busier. We flew Indian Airlines, which flies Delhi-Kabul twice a week (tuesday and thursday?). Your vehicles will normally not be allowed to drive up to the building itself, and park at the parking lot instead, which is a short walk away. You can take a trolley to carry your luggage, but its of use only for a short distance once you enter. After the baggage X ray machine, you cant carry the trolleys. There are several locals to help and they will approach you. It may not be a bad idea if you have a lot of stuff and also, they will queue up for you to pay the departure tax ($10, or 500 afghanis). The distance between the counters is short, but the lines move slowly.
They dont allow handbaggage, but laptops and cameras are permitted. Its usually a matter of convincing the guys... If you`re flying business class, and your flight is delayed, as was the case with us, you will get a restaurant coupon from the airline. The airport restaurant is not in the direction of the departure lounge area, as we discovered much too late. Its somewhere on the ground floor. We were not allowed to go back down from the departure lounge, as we had already gone thru the immigration desk on our way here. There are some snacks to be had at a shop in the departure hall, and an internet cafe as well, but not much else.
Cabs are available in most parts of the city. Rates are usually determined before you set off.
You can hire a cab individually, or hop into one that is a shared taxi, where the driver will go around the city (a bit like a bus would) and pick up passengers heading his way...
Painted yellow, and almost always - a Toyota Corolla. I used to wonder what it was about the Toyota bit. I think i heard someone mention that they are brought in second hand and cheap thru the Gulf countries, which is why they are the preferred brand.. But still-- why only Toyota??
There are lots of Taxis in Kabul. Too many. The streets are crowded and the air polluted. Bargain and don't get in the first taxi that stop. To get around Shahr-e Naw it should be about 30 Afghani. Shahr-e Naw to for example Khair Khana is about 50 Afs. Taxis to the airport are cheaper than the ones from there. (Aiport=Maidan-e Hawai) Maybe about 40 Afs. is a fair price. (Jan -04)
You have three choices of transportation in Kabul. Walk, Taxi,or Bus. Taxi’s your best bet, just negotiate the price first. Traffic in Kabul is like no other in the world, its not that they drive crazy…. its just that is so crowded there is no room to drive. You will be in bumper to bumper traffic all day. It’s a very dangerous position to be stuck in if you are targeted by people who would commit a violent act based on opportunity. Kabul is mostly a safe place, crime is low, but there are still plenty of reasons to be very security conscious. Terrorist still exist and random rockets do land in the street every once in a while.
After taking a taxi out to the (closed) Kabul Museum, I took a bus back into the center. I was surprised how nice it was, and I even talked to this boy (in English) along with other kids traveling from school. They were all interested in my digital camera for sure.
Now many airlines have flights to Kabul. Azerbaijan Arilines fly from Baku, PIA from Islamabad, Asseman Airlines from Mashad, Iran and Ariana Airlines from Kabul to lots of different cities. Check their web pages for the latest schedules and prices.
An Afghan rides with his possessions on top of a truck on the highway along the Pakistan side of the Torkham border with Afghanistan September 17, 2001. Pakistan effectively closed its borders as tens of thousands of Afghans streamed toward the frontier, sparking fears of a mass exodus and prompting aid officials to put emergency plans in place.
Afghan boys ride their horse-drawn cart past Pakistani soldiers a few kilometers from the Torkram border with Afghanistan September 17, 2001. Afghanistan's Taliban rulers have moved a large arsenal of weapons, including Russian Scud missiles, to positions near the border with Pakistan, a Pakistani army officer said on Monday.