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guide to

Til-e Panjshayr

03/10/2011

03/24/2011





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Step 6/6: Afghanistan - Til-e Panjshayr

Til-e Panjshayr photo by Guillaume Barreau
The Panjshir Valley... one of the most beautiful places of Afghanistan, but also one of the safest and most loaded with history. The valley of the Five Lions is crossed by the cold stream of the Panjshir River, laying a beautiful green scenery on the foot of dry mountains, towered by the white caps of the Hindu Kush. Its people are mainly ethnic Tajiks, the proudest of all, and assuredly the most welcoming as well. Panshir became famous in the earliest ages of the Greek and Roman empires for its emeralds and silver mines, and rose to yet another glory with its solid resistance against the Soviets and the Talibans under the direction of Ahmad Shah Massoud, "the Lion of Panjshir". Massoud is the national hero of Afghanistan, and the province of Panjshir boasts about its legacy. Panjshiris are extremely proud of their fighting skills and determination to get rid of all intruders, and even more so of their warmhearted care of visitors.
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Traveling time: 2 hours

Entering the valley is usually no problem, but in the week-ends leaving can be painful as hundreds of car accumulate in the very, very small passage out. Bring your passport with you.

Tips & Tricks

  • Swimming: girls, remove your headscarf but keep all clothes on. Topless boys OK.
  • Hiking with locals is the best, not to take dangerous and mine-infested trails

Things to see

Massoud's Tomb 10 /10
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Massoud's Tomb photo by Guillaume Barreau

User's opinion
Ahmad Shah Massoud's tomb is located in Bazarak, his home town, seen from far away in the Panjshir Valley. The National Hero of Afghanistan has been assassinated by the Talibans on Sept. 9th 2001, hundreds of thousands of Afghans attended his funeral in the rural village and nearly that many gather on Massoud day each year.
Ruins and Remnants of the wars 7 /10
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Ruins and Remnants of the wars photo by Guillaume Barreau

User's opinion
The place is technically cleared from mines and unexploded ordinances, but be careful. I don't find it particularly funny to play in tanks and pose with weapons, but it is true that old Soviet war machinery is scattered around the fields in the entry of the valley. Some are still stranded in the middle of the Panjshir river!
A plundge in the Panjshir river 10 /10
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A plundge in the Panjshir river photo by Guillaume Barreau

User's opinion
The Panjshir river flows from the high peaks of the Hindu Kush. As a mountain stream, it is slow and freezing in the winter and gets fast and "only" very cold when the Spring settles. Unveiled but fully-dressed girls can swim, away from Afghans (you're not readily available whores). Boys can swim topless. Jumping contests are regularly on :)
Fruit picking-and-eating 10 /10
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Fruit picking-and-eating photo by Guillaume Barreau

User's opinion
The Panjshir Valley is lush with fruit trees. Toots, Central Asian mulberries are found everywhere, but the king of all fruits here is undoubtedly the apricot. I mean, it's an activity in itself as you'll try the most delicious apricots you'll ever eat. I told you this place was a haven of peace and greetings.
Kebab by the Panjshir river 10 /10
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Kebab by the Panjshir river photo by Guillaume Barreau

User's opinion
On a takht, just above the flows of the Panjshir River, chill out with some tea, nan, and delicious kebab. There are small islets where men play football and children play. Waiters cross the river to serve their clients. It is definitely one of the places in Afghanistan where you forget all about the raging conflict.
Hiking the Hindu Kush 10 /10
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Hiking the Hindu Kush photo by Guillaume Barreau

User's opinion
You can spend a few days hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas. Overlooking the valley, reaching far-flung villages, discovering local customs... be sure you follow some tracks as occasional mines could still be there. Follow the locals, they know their mountains! In 2011, an Italian carabiniere was killed by locals after a quick fight - he had a weapon and acted rather stupidly. Be respectful.

Practical