Tim Wood has climbed the troubled country’s highest peak: Could this be tourism’s renaissance?
By Matt Khoury 29 August, 2011
Tim Wood says he didn’t have to bribe anyone to get into Afghanistan. It was as simple as going to the Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan, getting a tourist visa, then jumping on a four-wheel drive and heading to the Wakhan Corridor, in the country’s northeast.
How to get there without too much stress…or paying pots of money
Firstly, What is the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan?
The Wakhan Corridor is the pan handle of Afghanistan that runs alongside Tajikistan and Pakistan and stops when it meets China. Unlike the rest of Afghanistan the Wakhan Corridor is safe. Visiting the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan is feasible and tourism is just starting to find its feet in this remote and beautiful area. To get to the corridor there is only one advisable safe way there that involves crossing from Tajikistan at the Ishkashim crossing. It is confusing but there are two villages with the same name on both sides of the border – they are not the same place!
The Wakhan Corridor has remained safe due to its remoteness. The Corridor does not have any open borders with Tajikistan, China or Pakistan and the communities that live in the corridor are very isolated.
The main reason for visiting the Wakhan Corridor is tourism – the area is becoming increasingly popular with mountaineers, trekkers and wildlife spotters. About half way along the corridor it splits into what is called the Big and Little Pamir. The Little Pamir reaches to China and is inhabited by Kyrgyz herders. The rest of the Corridor is the home of the Wakhi people who are generally herders and farmers. To find out more please visit the website links at the bottom of the page.
The Wakhan Festival didn’t happen in 2010, plans for 2011 are unknown at the moment (usually late summer time if it happens)
How to get to the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan from Tajikistan?
The safest way to get to the Afghan Wakhan Corridor is to go via Tajikistan and the crossing at Ishkashim. You will need a GBAO as well as your Tajik visa. There is no need to pay thousands of £s/$s to (probably a Western based) agency to do a Wakhan of Afghanistan tour when you can do the entire thing easily yourself.
1) First of all you need to pick up an Afghanistan visa. This is easy enough to do in Dushanbe and usually takes about 3 days. For a UK national it cost myself $60 for the visa and other than which type I wanted there were no questions asked. Be aware that the embassy has moved – it is not where The Central Asia LP guide says it is. You need a Letter of Invitation (LOI) for Afghanistan but we found that the Afghan embassy in Dushanbe already had a set letter that they provided and that required a short trip to a local shop to photocopy and submit with the form. This avoided the hassle/cost of obtaining an LOI. I also saw them filling out vehicle permits at the Embassy so if you have your own vehicle it might be worth a try.
Read more at Tajikistan Tourism Com
Some selected videos on Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wakhan Corridor is commonly used as a synonym for Wakhan, an area of far north-eastern Afghanistan which forms a land link or “corridor” between Afghanistan and China. The Corridor is a long and slender panhandle or salient, roughly 140 miles (220 km) long and between 10 and 40 miles (16 and 64 km) wide. It separates Tajikistan in the north from Pakistan in the south.
The corridor was a political creation of the Great Game. On the corridor’s north side, agreements between Britain and Russia in 1873 and between Britain and Afghanistan in 1893 effectively split the historic area of Wakhan by making the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between Afghanistan and the Russian Empire. On its south side, the Durand Line agreement of 1893 marked the boundary between British India and Afghanistan. This left a narrow strip of land as a buffer between the two empires, which became known as the Wakhan Corridor in the 20th century. The corridor has 12,000 inhabitants.
The term Wakhan Corridor is also used in a narrower sense to refer to the route along the Panj River and the Wakhan River to China, and the northern part of the Wakhan is then referred to as the Afghan Pamir.