Going to Afghanistan?
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Step 6/6: Afghanistan -
About Til-e Panjshayr
Traveling time: 2 hoursEntering 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
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.
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!
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 :)
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.
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.
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.