Firstly, we have to stipulate that this is in the context to travelling to Afghanistan. It’s certainly not the same as Island Hopping in South East Asia, or visiting all the cultural places of Europe. It is Afghanistan after all which is regularly rated as one of the most dangerous countries on earth, if not the most dangerous. However, in amongst all the chaos and trauma is an oasis of peace and comfort – Panjshir.
Located only a 2 hour drive from Kabul, this regions also happens to be one of the most picturesque parts of Afghanistan. Snow-capped peaks all year round, beautiful running streams and quaint little villages, and a favourite destination of Kabulis wanting to escape the pollution and hustle and bustle of the big smoke.
In the west the Panjshir would be most famous as the home of Ahmad Shah Massoud – the lion of Panjshir and one of the leaders of the Anti-Soviet Mujahadeen. The Panjshir under Massoud was able to resist the Soviet Invasion and then again during the Taliban period were able to repel their control and maintain their own autonomy.
That ability to control their own security and repel outside intruders has meant that even today it’s also the safest part of Afghanistan. They are still in complete control of their own security and while in the Panjshir it’s the one time in Afghanistan that we can all collectively relax and not worry about any incidents happening. The locals also have a long tradition of being more liberal and accepting than the rest of the extremely conservative Afghanistan, meaning it’s also a great place for our female travellers.
At the entrance to the Panjshir stands the security checks allowing individuals to enter, and boy are they thorough. It’s one of the few times when you’re in Afghanistan that you feel they are truly in control. And while they’re thorough, the men in uniform are also incredibly lovely, often offering us tea/coffee while we wait and apologising profusely for the time it takes for them to let us enter their special little corner of the country.
Although our tours always include the Panjshir, they also include lots of other parts of Afghanistan which have higher risks. However for those that wish to dip their toes in the pool of excitement that is Afghanistan, and have a proverbial wade in the shallow end, a quick trip to Kabul and Panjshir can be organised for private independent tours.