How To Visit Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor (Safety, Visas, Cost)

Travel in Afghanistan
How to Travel Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor

In August 2016 I traveled through Afghanistan as an American for two weeks, backpacking across the beautiful Pamir mountains in the Wakhan Corridor. This is how I did it.

DISCLAIMER: The US government warns against travel to Afghanistan. Just because I went, does not mean I think everyone should go. The safety situation changes on a weekly basis, and requires a good deal of research/planning.

When I told family & friends I was planning a trip to Afghanistan, they thought I’d lost my mind.

Afghanistan, the war-torn Centra Asian (or Middle Eastern, depending on who you ask) country full of terrorists, soldiers, car bombs, predator drones, and IEDs.

Why the hell would I want to go there?

Afghanistan has been on my bucket list for a few years after I met a fellow traveler and public speaker Shane Dallas who happened to share his experience with me at a travel industry conference.

I learned that the version of the country most of us see each night on the evening news is simply not the full story…

Parts of Afghanistan can be dangerous, sure, but it’s also full of beauty, hospitality, and history too.

This is the Afghanistan I was on a mission to seek out and share.

Wakhan Corridor
Exploring the Wakhan on Foot
Wakhan Map
Map of Wakhan (Courtesy of Wildlife Conservation Society)

The Wakhan Corridor

Afghanistan’s remote and desolate Wakhan Corridor is called the “roof of the world” by the local people who live there.

It’s located in the far North-East corner of the country, surrounded on three sides by Tajikistan, Pakistan and China.

The Wakhan is incredibly cut-off from the rest of Afghanistan.

There are no government services, large parts of the region have no roads, and people are basically living on their own in the mountains.

The area is inhabited by two main ethnic groups, the Wakhi and the Kyrgyz. The Wakhi often have two homes, one for winter and one for summer months, made of stone.

The Kyrgyz are more nomadic, living in semi-portable yurt tents made of felt. They move their homes and animals to different valleys depending on the season.

A majority of the population raises livestock for a living. They trade sheep, goats and yaks to merchants from Pakistan or other parts of Afghanistan for clothing, food, and necessities they can’t produce themselves at these remote high-altitude locations they call home.

The Wakhan used to be part of the ancient Silk Road, and explorers Marco Polo and Alexander the Great both passed through this part of Afghanistan on their travels around the world.

Afghanistan Safety
Friendly Faces in Afghanistan
Woman in Blue Burka
Afghan Woman Wearing a Burka

Safety In Afghanistan

Travelers don’t have to worry about the Taliban or Al-Qaeda in the Wakhan. It’s one of the few places in Afghanistan that has remained relatively conflict-free over the years.

The Wakhan is part of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province. While the Taliban does have a presence in parts of Badakhshan, the Wakhan region itself is terrorist-free (for now). The main road leading in is currently controlled by the Afghan Military, who keeps the Taliban out.

Most locals living in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor are Ismaili Muslims, who practice a moderate form of Islam. They despise the Taliban, and generally welcome foreign travelers. It’s become an important part of their economy.

But that doesn’t mean the Wakhan is a tourist hot-spot.

The area sees a total of about 100 tourists every year. This is partly due to the taboo of traveling in a war-torn country, lack of reliable travel information including safety tips and remoteness of the region.

Afghanistan Visa for Americans
My Tourist Visa from Afghanistan

How To Get A Visa

There is a very specific process for obtaining a visa to enter Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor, and it involves a trip to the neighboring country of Tajikistan and a town called Khorog near the border.

But first, you’ll need a double entry visa for Tajikistan. You cannot get a double entry visa on arrival at the airport, so you must apply for one in advance at an official embassy or consulate.

Why? After you travel into Afghanistan through Tajikistan, you’ll need to leave through Tajikistan too. Which counts as a 2nd entry into Tajikistan. But typical visas for Tajikistan are only single entry.

With your double-entry Tajik visa, the next step is to travel to the town of Khorog, where it’s possible to apply for an Afghanistan visa at the local consulate. Keep reading to learn more…

Dushanbe Monument
Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Arriving In Dushanbe

Flying into the city of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, is going to be your first adventure. Tajikistan has a reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world — and you’ll soon know why.

Dushanbe airport officials asked me for bribes on 2 separate occasions. If you refuse, they send you to the back of the line, or move you to another line, over and over again until you give up and pay them.

Dushanbe Accommodation:

Twins Hotel | Rohat Hotel | Green House Hostel

I recommend spending at least one night in Dushanbe, but probably more. You’ll need to exchange cash, buy last-minute supplies, and get a local sim card for your phone.

The best cell phone company to use is TCell for cell service in the Pamir Mountains. You’ll even have some service on the Afghanistan side for a while.

There’s a basic outdoor shop in Dushanbe called “BAP3ИШ” where you can buy a knife, stove gas, and other camping supplies you might need in the Wakhan. Nothing high-end, just cheap Chinese made stuff.

Khorog Tajikistan
Khorog from Above

Traveling To Khorog

Khorog is a mountain town in the heart of Tajikistan’s remote GBAO region. To travel in Tajikistan’s GBAO region, you need a GBAO permit.

This can be obtained either when applying for your double-entry Tajikistan visa, or in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe at the OVIR office.

Now you must travel to Khorog and apply for the Afghan visa in person.

This requires a rough, dusty, 20 hours long 4×4 taxi journey over the Pamir Highway from Dushanbe.

While there’s also a short flight from Dushanbe to Khorog, it’s not easy to get a ticket and is often canceled due to weather.

Khorog Accommodation:

Mountain River Guest House | Delhi Darbar Hotel | Pamir Lodge

Khorog is a major stop for trekkers/cyclists/motorcyclists who are exploring the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. It’s also the last place you’ll find an ATM, there are 2 or 3 in town. Plan on spending a least a night or two here before heading to Afghanistan.

Khorog Downtown
Downtown Khorog, Tajikistan

Visiting The Afghan Consulate

Khorog is home to a small Afghan consulate that has a reputation for giving out Afghan visas in as little as an hour. As an American, this same-day visa service cost me $200 USD.

Why so much? Because the United States makes it difficult for Afghans to get a visa. So they return the favor with a high visa fee for Americans.

The woman at the consulate was trying her best to persuade me not to visit. Saying the visa is too expensive for Americans, that it won’t be easy to travel there, etc. I assured her I was prepared and had been planning this trip for years.

At the consulate, I had to explain why I wanted to visit Afghanistan (hiking in the Wakhan), and write/sign a letter acknowledging I alone was responsible for myself and my actions in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Border
Afghanistan Border Crossing
Afghanistan Checkpoint
Hanging with Soldiers at a Military Checkpoint

Crossing The Border

With my shiny new Afghan visa in hand, I traveled to the Tajik border town of Ishkashim. It’s a 3 hour drive South of Khorog. One or two shared taxis head to Ishkashim from Khorog each morning.

The desolate Afghanistan border post sits on the right side of the road before you actually reach the town of Ishkashim. Tajikistan border guards have a reputation for requesting bribes, so just be aware.

On the Afghan side of the border, they searched my bags and scanned my passport through the INTERPOL database to ensure I wasn’t a fugitive. After that, I was in! Welcome to Afghanistan.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling nervous standing on Afghan soil.

The border post is a few kilometers away from the nearest Afghan town of Sultan Eshkashim, so unless you want to walk there, an overpriced taxi ride costs $20 for a 10-minute drive.

Ishkashim vs. Sultan Eshkashim: These are two different towns, and it can be confusing. Ishkashim is the border town on the Tajikistan side, Sultan Eshkashim is the border town on the Afghanistan side.
Wakhan Guesthouse
Marco Polo Guesthouse in Sultan Eshkashim
Wakhan Corridor Permission
Hand-Written Wakhan Permit

Eshkashim & Wakhan Permits

Sultan Eshkashim is the entrance to the Wakhan Corridor. Many travelers are happy to just hang out there for a few days to experience a taste of Afghanistan before heading back to Tajikistan.

But if you want to go hiking in the Wakhan, you need to acquire additional permits.

Sultan Eshkashim Accommodation:

Marco Polo Guest House (no website)

While getting these permits on your own is possible, it’s a huge pain in the ass if you don’t speak Persian/Farsi. Instead, I hired an English speaking local to help for about $50.

The permit process involves multiple passport photos, paperwork, plenty of tea, and stops at a few different government, police, and military offices. You’ll have to explain yourself to local officials questioning why you are there, what you do, etc.

The whole ordeal takes 3-4 hours, provided all the offices are even open. They sometimes close down on certain days (Friday/Saturday). I got lucky, but if something is closed you may have to return the next day.

Local officials eventually gave me a hand-written letter granting permission to travel to the next village, where I’d have to request permission again to move on further.

Driving in Afghanistan
Driving in the Wakhan Corridor
Khandud Afghanistan
Ruined Mosque in Khandud

Driving To Sarhad-e Broghil

Now that I had my permits for the Wakhan, it was time to make my way 200 km up the valley in an expensive 4X4 taxi to the village of Sarhad-e Broghil, where the road ends and the true wilderness begins.

I hired a local translator/guide to join me on the trek.

For the next 2 days, Yar Mohammad Attahi helped me navigate additional checkpoints and permit stops as we drove into the mountains while giving me the opportunity to actually communicate with locals.

The 4X4 journey to Sarhad navigates some of the roughest roads I’ve ever seen. Over boulder fields, into rivers, along the edge of cliffs, and through deep desert sand.

Our beat-up Toyota van was equipped with crappy shocks, broken windows, and was repeatedly crippled by flat tires (5 times). It was one wild ride!

But because so few cars travel out here, and the route is unforgiving to vehicles, the price of this “taxi” journey is high — $350 one way.

Once we made it to Sarhad-e Broghil, Yar and I spent the night at a guesthouse. The next day we began our 100 mile trek across the towering, snow-capped Pamir Mountains.

READ MORE: Epic Pictures From Afghanistan

Tent in the Pamir Mountains
Camping in Afghanistan with my Nemo Hornet 2P
Crossing a River in the Pamirs
Hiking in the Wakhan

Hiking In The Wakhan

While I’ll go into more detail about the trek itself in future articles, I just wanted to share some logistics here. I found my guide/translator Yar in the Afghan border town of Sultan Eshkashim.

At the end of the road in Sarhad, we hired a pack horse accompanied by its owner Panshambe to help carry our food & gear for the next 10 days of hiking.

The three of us were completely on our own in the wilderness after Sarhad. Only passing through tiny Wakhi or Kyrgyz communities made up of a few stone huts and yurts. No markets, no doctors, no roads.

I’d brought a camping stove and enough freeze-dried meals for 12 days, along with energy bars and trail mix for snacks. My companions packed rice, tea, and bread for themselves. Over the course of the trip we mixed and shared our supplies with each other.

Unless you bring your own trekking food, your options are going to be limited. Canned fish, beans, rice, and sugar are available to buy in Sultan Eshkashim. But that’s about it. You can sometimes buy flatbread from locals in the mountains.

The 10 day trek maintained altitudes between 12,000 and 16,000 feet. The trails themselves weren’t terribly difficult, as they are used by locals on a daily basis, but it’s the altitude and the dramatic weather that can mess you up.

Some of the trails were perched on the edge of 300 foot drops, and when it snowed (yes, in August), these became much more dangerous. There were many river crossings, but nothing deeper than your knee.

We hiked a loop from Sarhad to Chaqmaqtin Lake, starting on the “high” route through the 16,000 ft. Garumdee Pass, returning on the “low” river route back to Sarhad. You can read more about these trekking routes here.

How Much Did It Cost?

I spent 2 weeks in Afghanistan, with 10 days of those trekking. It cost me about $1800 USD. That doesn’t include 1 week spent in neighboring Tajikistan before and after the trip. Because just getting to the border of Afghanistan is a separate adventure that takes 2-3 days!

To keep things simple, prices are in US Dollars.

Tajikistan Costs

  • Double Entry Tajikistan Visa: $55 USD
  • GBAO Permit: $4-$20 USD
  • Dushanbe Hotel: $10-$80 USD per night (x 2)
  • 4X4 Taxi to Khorog: $38 USD (x 2)
  • Khorog Hotel: $20-$50 USD per night (x 2)
  • Taxi to Ishkashim: $9 USD (x 2)

Afghanistan Costs

  • Afghanistan Visa: $200 USD (cheaper if you’re not American)
  • Taxi to Eshkashim: $20 (x 2)
  • Guest House: $10-$25 USD per night (x 8)
  • Wakhan Permits: $50 USD
  • 4×4 Taxi: $350 USD one way (x 2)
  • Pack Animal: $20 USD per day (x 10)
  • Guide/Translator: $30 USD per day (x 14)
  • Camping: Free

I’d say you want to budget at least $2500 USD and 3 weeks for a similar trip, not including flights. Stuff goes wrong, delays happen, prices change, and credit/ATM cards are useless once you’re in Afghanistan.

It’s a tough place to travel in that respect. You need to plan at least a few buffer days, and bring plenty of extra cash for unexpected situations.

Wakhan Hiking Guides
My Horseman (Panshambe) and Guide (Yar Attahi)

Warnings About Travel In Afghanistan

Afghanistan is still a very volatile country. While the Wakhan Corridor itself is pretty safe, a foreigner did disappear there recently, and other parts of the province have seen kidnappings and Taliban attacks.

Just because it felt safe when I was there doesn’t mean it always will be.

Also, it’s important for me to point out that the Afghanistan/Tajikistan border sometimes closes without warning. Usually because of Cholera outbreaks, sometimes just because of bureaucratic arguments.

If it closes when you’re on the Afghan side, you’ll be stuck there until it opens again. Which could be a few days, or a few weeks. You need to be prepared for that possibility.

Traveling overland from Kabul to the Wakhan is not a safe option at the moment, as there are Taliban controlled areas located between the two. Entering & exiting from Tajikistan is the safest option.

Helpfull Websites About The Wakhan

Other Areas Of Afghanistan

Wakhan Corridor Guide

If you’re planning a trip to the Wakhan, you can reach out to Yar Mohammad Attahi as a guide and translator. Tell him I sent you!

More From Afghanistan

This was just a brief overview of the logistics for traveling in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. I’ll be sharing much more about the incredible trek itself in future articles.

If you’d like a notification when I publish something new about Afghanistan, make sure to sign up for my newsletter here. ★

Watch Video: Backpacking Afghanistan

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(Click to watch Backpacking Afghanistan – Wakhan Corridor on YouTube)

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I hope you enjoyed my guide on Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Have any questions about Afghanistan? Would you ever consider traveling there? Drop me a message in the comments below!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
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Comments (122)

  1. Hey Matthew! So inspired by this now we are planning to go too! What is the deal with women travellers do you know? I’d have my husband with me. Also does the trek HAVE to be 10 days? I think we might only have time for 4 or 5 days…Also is there a border crossing into Tajikistan at Langar rather than having to go all the way back to Ishkashim?!

  2. Hi Mathew. I am Kiran Kumar from India. Your blog post on Afghanistan is quite interesting and informative. Afghanistan makes me so curious. I am always thrilled to visit countries as a tourist, just like the way you do, but my financial resources do not support the cause.
    I am happy to see you enjoy your passion. I wish you all the best in all your future travel adventures.

  3. Dear Matthew
    What an amazing journey and such a wonderful detailed travel blog.
    I have always wondered what that narrow piece of Afghanistan contained in it. And you have answered it with a great description and video.
    Thanks again
    Stay safe in the pandemic

    Zahid Raza

  4. Hi….
    I just read down your artical and watched video as well.. Oh my God that was your wonderful tour.. You know I am living 300km away from wakhan but I can’t visited..

  5. Hi,

    I’m planning a trip through Central Asia / Middle East this summer and I’m considering spending a couple days in Sultan Eshkashim. When did you make this trip? Did you need to contact the marco polo guesthouse prior to your visit?

  6. Hi matt!
    I’ve just stumbled across your article as I’m currently in the middle of planning a 7 week trip throughout Central Asia and I’ve recently delved into the idea of crossing into Afghanistan. That said, I see some comments on your blog about traveling as a solo female but unfortunately they are not dated so I can’t figure out when and how current that information is. I am looking at doing my Pamir highway journey in between may 15 and june3, with crossing into Afghanistan for a few days at this time. As of Feb 6, 2020, do you know how one would find updated security/safety/visa info? Is it better to get the opinion of locals in Tajikistan (if it would even be possible to get a visa as a solo female (and also American) in the first place).
    Thank you so much!

  7. Great and true ! I did it partially in 2010 single like you. Unfortunately due to weather conditions (May) I had to turn back after a week. I traveled from Faizabad – took two days one way. And stay the same “Marco Polo” shelter opened with Norwegians founds help.
    One day having more time I will share pictures.
    Take care !

  8. Hello
    Your pictures are so fairy tales, all angles of mountain and aligning scenic of river steam are super panoramic view. Wakhan, Nanga Parbat, Leh Ladakh are considered as my top spots to travel in south asia apart from my old trip in Kaghan Naran valley, pakistan. Look forward your new journey article soon ;)

  9. Hello, Matthew I have been watching your video since one month ago I found you a pretty risk taker person, and hope other could be able to visit to Afghanistan and make an adventure, basically your way of writing step by step was impressing I really admire your works! keep it up :)

  10. Simplemente maravillosa experiencia y relatos. Felicitaciones.
    Me gustaría ir a todos esos lugares pero solamente me quedo contento con ir a pocos kilómetros de Sultan Eshkashem, caminar por esas tierras aunque sea en dos días. Te preguntaré más cosas cuando esté decidido. Saludos

  11. Hello
    I am Sayed Fridoon Fedelle from Afghanistan and architecture student ,when i visited your page i become so glad that you came to Afghanistan and i found some information here.
    i want to write a Article about Wakhan corridor and i need plans of homes , architectural plan can you help me where i can find it?

  12. Would it be possible to travel here in the winter? Also, is it not possible to enter Pakistan from the Wakhan corridor rather than going back to Tajikistan?

    • The “road” you take on the 2-day drive to the start of the trail is closed in the winter. So it would take a lot longer, you’d have to walk that too. Possible, but not for the faint of heart. It would be a difficult journey (on top of an already difficult one).

      It is extremely hard to get permission to cross from Afghanistan into Pakistan. I’ve read of a few people who’ve done it, but it involved knowing or reaching out to the right people within Pakistan’s government. Generally, the border here is closed off to tourism. Ditto for crossing into China too.

  13. Afghanistan is not in the Middle East. It is appalling that a world traveler such as you wouldn’t know about basic geography. Afghanistan is in Asia.

    • I’m aware of that Ahmed. Geographically, Afghanistan is part of Central/South Asia. But in the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan are often also considered the “Greater Middle East” when culture, religion, and politics are included.

      It’s a common misunderstanding, so I’ve included the term here to help people find this article.

  14. Awesome write-up, Matt.

    I’m planning on doing the loop to Lake Chaqmaqtin this summer. Lots of prep work to do, but I can’t wait to see this side of Afghanistan.

  15. Anyone interested in a Pamirs/Wakhen corridor trip this Spring 2019? May/Jun. I am planning on going and would be like to collaborate. Cheers

  16. Just got back from the Wakhan. Amazing experience. Not much has changed, easy to get the visa in Khorog. Also second that Yar Muhummed is the mad good guide. He has started his own agency now. Here are his details: [email protected]

    Happy travels

  17. I was in Sultan Ishkashim for just one night in July and really enjoyed it. The border guards invited me for lunch as two military helicopters landed nearby. I was alone, but did have a guide arranged. I felt very safe and had a wonderful walk around the town and a great night in a local homestay. I’m very pleased I went.

  18. There are Taliban in the area. The locals insist that Wakhan Taliban is different from Pashtun Taliban but I wouldn’t like to meet either. In 2015, I had to cut short my trip after a week and a half because a major stronghold fell at Waduj and Zebak. This opened up the chance that the crossing at Iskashim would be closed as those towns are no more than 20miles away from the border crossing. It happened again in 2017 and reached within 5miles from Iskashim.

    • Yes. You really have to stay on top of the situation to figure out if it’s safe to visit or not, because it can change.

  19. Hello Matthew
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am a photographer and would like to go Wakhan corridor in order to meet the Wakhi or Kyrgyz communities. I am a woman, do you think that it will possible?
    Thanks for your reply!

    • I met a married couple returning from a similar trip as I was heading in, they had a great time. However the rumor is that the consulate in Khorog won’t give an Afghan visa to a woman traveling alone. But you shouldn’t have any problems if you are traveling with someone else. I think I remember reading a trip report about two women who teamed up and traveled together there. There’s also a few group tours that visit the Wakhan region.

  20. Matthew, how I envy you. My biggest dream was to move to Afghanistan to live out the remaining years of my life. I have a Facebook friend who lives not far from Mazar-I-Sharif and I was going to help him through university. The war got too hot and I got too old and feeble.

    Thanks for your photos and video. If I can’t make it to Afghanistan myself, I’ll watch you. Good luck in your travels.

  21. Great article, I’m trying to plan a backpack travel in Central Asia too and your experience is very usefull! I have many questions but I’ll ask only one: you often took taxis during this travel, why didn’t you take a collective one for longer ways? Like, for example, marshrutkas in ex-URSS countries or louages in Northen Africa. That question can also be turned this way: how locals can moove from a point A to B in Wakhan Corridor spending as less as possible?
    Congratulations for your amazing blog! Go on and never change!
    Lorenzo from Italy

  22. It’s awesome information. I hope visit there also. Who want to join and visit with me. Can contact and plan together. Just email to me at [email protected] I hope visit there at next year or soon possible.

  23. Great travel advice. The internet has made finding advice from people such as yourself so much easier. The old days of travel was wait, see explore when you get there.

  24. Thanks for the info! I didn’t realize how much time was needed to properly prepare for this trek both just to get the required Visas and permits, as well as the trek itself. BTW, loved the video! It gives us a different perspective of what you actually experienced on this journey. What software did you use to edit this video?

  25. Hey, I want to travel to the wakhan corridor sometime in the next few months, what is the reality of a female being able to do this?

    • The last I heard, the Afghan consulate in Khorog wasn’t giving visas to solo-women. You may have to find a travel partner (male or female?) to join you. Or get your visa elsewhere first.

      • Hi Matthew! I’m also willing to visit Whakan corridor but next year.
        Do you think it’s possible to do it on Feb-Mar? Could it be good season?

        • The area is often covered in snow until early June. While technically it’s possible to visit in February, I would only recommend it for very experienced winter trekkers. Winters in the Wakhan are some of the harshest on Earth.

      • Hi Matthew,
        First of all, thank you for the amazing stories, explanation and pictures here. It’s a truly inspiring trip you’ve made there and it has ended up on top of my bucketlist!
        I also have a question about female travels within this area, as apparently Afghan visas aren’t given to solo female travellers in Khorog, but would two females travelling together experience the same problem or not?

    • Hello: Great travel and memories. By the way, I also have plans traveling-trekking in Central and Southeast Asia. Would love to talk about planning something together if it works. I am currently living in Turkey . My email address is attached. Thanks.

    • As an Afghan, i assure you that people in Wakhan and Pamir are really nice people then the rest of Afghans, they are hospitable brave and will not let anyone else to hurt their guests. Security situation in Wakhan is pretty good most of the times and there is no place for Taliban and other terrorists there because the people don’t let them there and also the weather there fortunately is not good for terrorists to stay there.

  26. Hello, do you know current situation in wakhan and border in Eshkasem? Is the border open? And eventually is it safe now there. Many thanks for reply. Cheers pavel

  27. Hello. I loved watching your adventures journey to this amazing country, filled with rich culture and history. However, Afghanistan is not a Middle Eastern country, as you had indicated in your opening statement. Afghhans are not Arabs, nor they speak Arabic. You may want to correct your statement. Afghanistan is situated in the heart of Asia.


  28. As an Afghan who lived in similar area there, I admire your courageousness. I am glad you were able to see the other side of Afghanistan. Also, thank you for being objective! Nice work!

  29. the ultimate guide, surely . there were 3 days of skirmishes in May. road out of Khorog was closed. thats the news from some bikers. am working in a hostel in karakol KGZ. i get all the up dates!

  30. I’m so very glad you made it to Afghanistan after our chat about the country back in 2014. The impact on you will remain for years to come – it was an important part on my journey to becoming involved full time in the travel industry. You will want to return for sure – there is something very special about the people and those astonishing mountains.

    Another option for the Afghanistan visa is Dubai. I obtained my visa on the same day in Dubai (in 2013) for a fraction of the cost you paid. The process was easy but I did need a Letter of Introduction.

    Excellent post!

  31. Thank you for such a great blogs !! fantastic details and info. hoping to visit this part this year but i dont have more the two week in hand. wish i can explore some of part. i had dropped words to guide waiting for responds! what do u suggest if i have 2 week for entire journey! ?

  32. Just wanted to post an update. There has been a lot going on in the Afghan town of Sultan Eshkashim the past few weeks. The Taliban took control of town for a while, but were just kicked out by Afghan forces.

    I’m not sure I’d recommend an independent visit to the region until things cool off and the front-line moves farther away from Eshkashim (the border town you need to cross into from Tajikistan).

    Click here to read more about the operation.

    My thoughts are with friends in Sultan Eshkashim, I wish you good luck and safety.

  33. Hey Matt !! Images are really cool.
    Im a Pakistani National Living in Karachi & I can evaluate that being an American this trip would`ve been an entire different experience for you relatively to any other national.
    I would strongly recommend the Northen Pakistan to you & anyone who wish to visit breath taking valleys with endless sceneries.
    It is much more cheaper when it comes to your budget for trekking.
    Despite the people of Northern Pakistan comprise very little for their living but are full of hospitality & would beg you to stay at their place & allow them to be hospitable to you.
    Top of everything these lands have zero violance with trustworthy & strong hearted people.
    Deosai-Skardu-Gilgit Balitistan , Hunza(Naltar & Gojal Valley)-Shimshal(Karakoram-K2) & also Yes you can access Wakhan Corridor & Pamir Mountains too Via Hunza on Road.

  34. Hi,Bro i myself wafiullah iam from afghanistan i travelled most parts of afghanistan and really happy to see your adventurus story.hope you come again and again and visit more beautiful places thanks

  35. Great post Matthew! I would love to go to Afghanistan one day. What are the chances that you may travel to Somalia and perhaps to Mogadishu or to Somaliland?

  36. Fascinating! Not a trip I ever want to take but I enjoyed reading your account of the preparations and the entry into Afghanistan.

  37. Hi Matthew, your blog is excellent. Congratulations and thank you very much for sharing! I was in Tajikistan in 2012 with my GBAO permit to travel across the Pamir road and hoping to visit Wakhan corridor but, unfortunately, just before I arrived, they closed the road for security reason (troubles in Khorog). I was planning to try again this year. By reading your story, it gives me more reasons to do it. So I will :) thanks again.

    • Thanks Claude! Yeah nothing is guaranteed in that part of the world, the situation is always changing. Wishing you good luck!

  38. The Wakhan Corridor looks and sounds like great hiking/trekking country. I live in Scotland and like to hike the ‘Munros’ when I can. I flew over Afganistan in 2012 on my way to Nepal to trek the Annapurna Circuit. I don’t know if I’d take a chance on Afganistan but it looks lovely! Good post and good info.

  39. I would recommend northern Pakistan. Per day you need about $10 which covers food and hotel and endless amazing scenery. There is also a valley Chapursan near to Wakhan it is also populated by Wakhi people and the cost is WAY cheaper than this with pretty much same environment it is also Pamir mountains.. to hire 4×4 vehicle including fuel I paid $60 for 3 days you can stay with local families for free or there are a couple cheap guethouse for $5-10 per day.

    • January 7, 2017
      Lucky in bumping into you Jason. I felt happy in your suggestion to trek Northern Pakistan Where you come across the largest glaciers in the world. You trek to K2 – the second highest peak in the world – known as the ‘Killer Mountain’. One can trek up the roof of the world – Dosai Plataue. If anybody is interested in a trek to Wakhan, then rightly Chapurson is the answer and if more, trek up to Brogol and with Govt. stamps, jump across the Pakistan Afghanistan border into Wakhan through Brogol pass at 3382m or Darwaza Pass at 4288m and hit Nirs on Wakhan river. The people specially on Pakistan side are awesomsely hospitable and ahead too. From there one can go to Sarhad-e-Brogal and choice of going left or right into desolate and virgin lands. Now I am 70 and I have had my hay days hunting and trekking and I wish to have another bounce at Brogol to explore the 22 small and big lakes in the region.

      • Hi Hashmi!
        If you been in Chipursan, please share some pictures or videos if you have got. I am basically from Chipurson valley and gathering visitors memories for a local liabrary.If you are planning for a visit contact me.

  40. I really enjoyed reading this as i’m trekking the Wakhan Corridor this summer with Secret Compass and an really looking forward to the adventure and the experience. Looking forward to reading your further posts on the actual trek. Was also wondering if you’ve come across any travel literature, either fiction/non-fiction written about the Wakhan corridor to start reading up on before i go. Ritchie

  41. The logistics of working through corruption is fascinating from an American perspective. Here I am sheltered from concepts like corruption.

    I’m traveling to Colombia in February. I hear rumors that their local police are corrupt, as well as the legal system.

    Did you learn these skills on the road through experience?

    • I hope your Colombia trip went as planned. I’m going back there (3rd time) in April. I saw no corruption while there. Theft and such in broad daylight, but nothing like being shuffled to the back of the line until you pay a bribe. On the other hand, I never got a speeding ticket nor otherwise interacted with local government, only customs.

  42. You’re a daring traveler!
    Great photos!
    I am trying to imagine the fresh cold air in those mountains and the quietness…

  43. Wow, that’s a really amazing blog post. Love the fact you include the beauty and the exulting details along with the practical ones that can be really uncomfortable. Always great to hear about areas that really are off your conventional beaten track for travel and I love hearing something travel has taught me: that at the end of the day generally speaking people are hospitable, curious, and welcoming. Looking forward to reading more of your work!

    • Thanks Shane! Yes I’ve found that to be the case almost everywhere. Most people are good and welcoming. We’re just bombarded by the negative stuff instead of the positive.

  44. Hello Matt,

    Great blog! I am an American who previously worked in Kyrgyzstan and who currently works in Tajikistan. This summer I was in Khorog and the Khorog airport and the road to Iskahshim parallel the border with Afghanistan and are just in some places 20m from the Afghan border (the border being the Panj river that separates Tajikistan and Afghanistan).

    This is the border that the British and Russian empires settled on in the late 1800s.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Daniel! Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah Afghanistan is very close to the road around there. In my photo above captioned “Khorog from Above”, Afghanistan can be seen on the right side of that river.

  45. Thanks for the post. I was there in 1975 before the you know what hit the fan. I would go back in a heartbeat if I didn’t want to live so much!! A magnificent country with truly powerful and gracious people. If you would like to chat, shoot me an email anytime.

  46. What an incredible adventure Matt. You will be remembering this one all your life, I imagine. I’d consider something similar if I was about 20 years younger, but I look forward to reading about the rest of it. Well, I have a long list of unexplored places right here in SE Asia to keep me busy for awhile. Cheers!

  47. I am a solo female traveler so obviously many countries are off the list, with Afghanistan being one. I would like to venture to countries that are off the “tourist map” but safety is one of my concerns. Many of those “backwards” countries may still be unfriendly towards women.

    • I met 2 female travelers in Afghanistan, but they were traveling with men. I can’t say for other parts of the country, but the last I heard is that the consulate in Khorog won’t give visas to solo-women at the moment. Hopefully that changes one day.

  48. I am so interested in doing it again after my previous try was thwarted by the single enter Tajik Visa. Would like to know if there are other groups or companies which offer expeditions in the Wakhan Corridor.

  49. I stumbled upon your blog & I love readings all the tips and experiences that u have. I always wanted to start my own travel blog but I have no idea on how to. But your post on how to start a travel blog is really helpful !! Thanks :) Love from Malaysia!

  50. Wow, what an incredible trip. My dad lived in Afghanistan for two years as a child, and he compared it to the Rockies. I’ve always wanted to go.

  51. Matthew, this is an amazing trip and post. I’ve only heard about the terrible side of Afghanistan from my military friends. I had a chance to go there two years ago as a civilian analyst but turned it down. Have you every watched “Spies Like Us?” The road to Dushanbe features prominently in the movie. It’s pretty unbelievable to look at old pictures of Afghanistan (1960’s) and see how modern they were. To think we once hated Russia so much that we trained the current generation of Taliban fighting against us!

  52. This is absolutely amazing!! You have completely inspired me to travel here! I hope that one day I have the balls to cross it off my bucketlist.

  53. Wow! This is totally inspiring. Sadly most news about Afghanistan is not so nice. The beauty of the mountains is incredible. Hopefully the country will grow safer over the coming years.

  54. Awesome post! I was just in Tajikistan in September and was so tempted to go over into the Afghan Wakhan but didn’t due to time constraints for needing to be in Kyrgyzstan by a certain date. I’m definitely planning to go back next summer because I loved it so much, but this time I plan to leave enough time to cross in into Afghanistan! So this is a great reference, thanks!

    • I have no plans going to Afghanistan but I follow this blog and have always enjoyed Matthew’s photos.

      I can’t help but commenting when I saw you are planning to visit there next year. I commend you for being brave Nicole.

  55. Love your photographs, beautiful and they help us to know about Afganistan. Our mindset is that, Afganistan is war proned country, terrorist everywhere but this sterotype is false. Thanks for writing about Afganistan.

  56. Thanks for providing useful information about Afganistan, due to war, its beauty diminished and you are also brave man which picked Afganistan for your travelling.

  57. Well done Matthew! I really loved reading your story and thanks for depicting such an incredible natural beauty of Afghanistan which is unfortunately not much seen on Media.
    Btw as an Afghan, visiting this amazing valley is on my bucket list as well :)

    • Hey Khalilullah, thanks for the comment. I need to visit other parts of the country someday too! I can’t wait to return to Afghanistan.

  58. I am an Afghan and living in Afghanistan. I have worked for almost 4 years in Badakhshan province and Wakhan corridor is one of the places that I wish to visit one day. People of Badakshan are very friendly so I encourage anyone wishing to visit this place to do so. It is one of the rarest places on earth. The mountains there have beautiful snow leopards. Make your dream come true, life is very short.

    • Hey Zaher! Thanks for your comment. Yes I agree, the people of Badakhshan are very friendly. I would love to return one day to try and catch a glimpse of a snow leopard too.

  59. I am happy that you visited Wakhan and you like it. Since, I am from Afghanistan and currently living in here, I recommend to come to Afghanistan directly, no need to go to Tajikistan and from there to Wakhan cuz it will be costly for you. Instead, you can fly to kabul and from Kabul to Badakhshan province which is only an hour flight. From Badakhshan you can hire a 4×4 which will take you near to Wakhan with low price and from there you can hire horses and guide to continue your journey. Afghanistan, has been showed to the world as an conflict or war zone, but once you are here and if you have some local contacts then you are safe as you are in your home. Good luck with your more adventures trips. Thanks for visiting a tiny part of Afghanistan :)

  60. Wow. So glad to finally read about your adventure. I always like how you share the nitty gritty and the how-to. Considering the hassle, would you do the trip again?

  61. Matthew, what an experience, an exciting adventurous, demanding… experience! Admire your creativity, desire and ability to accomplish. Different that your travel , yet the same basic area, the “stan” counties. As one seriously interested in train throughout, any suggestions for a lone older female? Thank YOU

  62. This was so good! I can’t wait to read about the rest of your travels. You might be covering this in an upcoming post, but what was the sense around female travellers — were there any? From what you saw, would it be safe, or would it be best to travel with a guy? I’m particularly curious since a guide and translator seem necessary, and they’d likely be men, I’m assuming.

    Gorgeous photos too, btw.

  63. Wow, Matthew, that sounds such a crazy of a trip!! It must be the most risky so far! Reading about everything you needed to go through in order to cross the border, it makes me wonder-have you at any point felt like you’re not going to manage to do it? The other thing is-did you feel safe being so remote and alone with 2 strangers? Did it cross your mind for even a moment that they might hurt you? Or kidnap you for ransome? Or even sell you?? Am I exagerating?
    I must say, it is an impressive adventure this one! Not for many! I bet you’re so proud of yourself for doing it!
    Enjoy the next places, I wonder if you’ll find them a bit boring for a while :-)

    Best wishes from Georgeta-Romanian born, living in UK for the past 7 years and aspiring to become a traveler sometime in 2019 (I know, I shouldn’t be waiting!!)

  64. Matthew! You are bonkers…and that is why you are a top traveller! Thank you for sharing your story, what an adventure you had! Yes there are some truths about safety, but the people i am pretty sure are lovely. Afghanistan, we must admit, is not in the bucket list, but it’s great so see you venturing out there and telling us about it.

    Did you ever think….”maybe i shouldn’t go”. Or you were up for it straight away? Did you lie/hide about your nationality?
    Feeling curious now….

  65. I’d love to do a similar trip in the next few years. I’m searching for flights now, just to get an idea on prices. Question: Where did you fly from? How much did it cost? Thanks!

    • Hey Scott, I flew from Boston to Dubai on Emirates, then Dubai to Dushanbe, Tajikistan with Somon Air.

      Istanbul is another hub for flights to Dushanbe.

    • Hey Scott:
      If you are flying from East or Southeast Asia, and additional option to consider is Air Astana, which is Central Asia’s only airline currently cleared by the EU ASC and ICAO. I flew with them from BKK to Dushanbe and the experience was seriously memorable and colorful, replete with endlessly flowing vodka, nude passengers, and a seriously pricey beer.

  66. Incredible, the views are amazing. Afghanistan has a secret beauty I’ve wanted to see for years. Not sure I have the guts to do it just yet :)