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How to get to the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan? AM00000010000003530 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in wakhan, Wakhan Afganistan.
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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.

Wakhan ladyWakhan lady

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.

*Mountain Unity can provide an LOI if you need one (for a fee).

2) For arranging travel to the Wakhan Corridor you do need to get in contact with Mountain Unity. The person running this is David James – a UK national who is living in Ishkashim on the Afghan side with his family. Email him through the website and they will be able to arrange a Wakhan Permit for you. It is not an easy process for them to go through and there is not much point in them doing it if you only have a day or so for the Corridor. The Permit is currently $50.

By emailing Mountain Unity and telling them how many days you have they can provide you with an itinerary and the costs. Their partner Wakhan Tourism helps organize the trip for you by getting the permits, etc, but it is done through David at Mountain Unity.

WPvideo 1.10

Unfortunately, the driver and vehicle hire – which is a necessity for getting into the corridor is expensive.  Aga Khan Foundation are promoting tourism there (in partnership with Mountain Unity and Wakhan Tourism) and they can provide the driver/cars to get into the Corridor.   The rates at the moment appear to be considerably more than they would be Tajikistan.  Which is unfortunate.  Obviously the more people in the car the cheaper it is and you don’t need a car for many days – only 2 or 3. The price quoted August 2009 was $180 per day but this may change. Mountain Unity will provide a break down of all costs, but this is the big one. Further to that there is the cost for guides and homestays ($25pp/night), etc – which if going for 3 weeks will obviously add up. All of which can be arranged via the emails with David.

Sustainable / Eco Tourism – Mountain Unity is doing a very good job of trying to increase tourism with the aim of supporting local people. They have set up a basic network of guesthouses around Iskhashim that are reasonably priced and comfortable. However it appears there is some outside competition starting to come in that is likely to lead to the tourism money leaving the area. For that reason alone I would strongly recommend only staying at a Mountain Unity organized guesthouse.

Ayanbegs Guest house (Mountain Unity)Ayanbegs Guest house (Mountain Unity)

Border stuff
Mountain Unity can send a car to pick you up from the border (around $20-25).

The Tajik border opens at 0800-12.00 and then opens again at 14.00.
The Afghan border is closed on Sunday.

Opening times 09:00 – 11:30, 14:00 – 16:00.

It would be wise to get a taxi/cycle from Ishkashim (Tajikistan) although it isn’t far – about 3km out of town, simply because the border point is situated in desert – it is excruciatingly hot if waiting there for the border to open, and will not be a pleasant walk from Ishkashim!

There is the open border market on every other Saturday where the two sides mix at an island in the river.

Taj Afghan Market at IshkashimTaj Afghan Market at Ishkashim

To get to Iskhashim just follow the advice on the Taxi page on this website.

The best two websites to reference for sorting yourself out for the Wakhan and probably all you need  (other than this one of course):

*Mountain Unity website
*Jildu website

Random: If you like reading and you are interested in the Wakhan Corridor, I recommend buying the 3 Cups of Tea book. If you go to the Wakhan you can easily see some of Greg Mortenson’s schools and it is nice knowing the background. (link below)

Also, Mountain Unity will we setting up a nursery in the Wakhan this year and are currently fundraising for good quality toys – that are going to be brought over from the UK. Please throw your support behind this chance for the Wakhan to have a nursery, and one with with decent toys. The Amazon wishlist is here and with free P&P selected it is very easy. Thanks.

Source: http://tajiktourism.com/wakhan-corridor-afghanistan/


Forgotten on the roof of the World – Afghanistan’s Pamir mountains AM00000020000000531 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in Wakhan Afganistan.
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This is a 5 mn trailer from a 30mn documentary.
This multimedia documentary “Forgotten on the Roof of the World” tells the story of a little-known tribe of Kirghiz nomads in one of earth’s most remote regions – Afghanistan’s High Pamirs mountains. Leading the viewer through this people’s stories of struggle and survival, of opium addiction and infant mortality, French photographer Matthieu Paley and American anthropologist Ted Callahan narrate the film in word and image. Their documentation covers the tribe’s unique barter trade with a small community in Pakistan as well as their routines and traditions ‘at home’ in Afghanistan. Beneath the surface, the documentary addresses one of humanities most elementary themes – Homeland – giving a global context to the story of a seemingly insignificant forgotten tribe.

Award winning photographer Matthieu Paley has worked all over Asia for clients such as Geo, Time, National Geographic Adventure etc. He recently started to work on documentaries.
For the full documentary, contact: info(at)paleyphoto.com
For more, see his website: paleyphoto.com or pamirknot.com – all images © Matthieu Paley.

Source> http://vimeo.com/8253484

Life: A mason and a mountaineer AM00000090000005531 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in wakhan, Wakhan Afganistan.
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A group of ordinary Afghans from a remote area of that war-torn nation set out with a dream — to scale the country’s tallest peak in the name of peace. 
Aunohita Mojumdar tracks their epic journey all the way to the top

It all started over a cup of tea, as things do in Afghanistan. Malang, a cook in the Aga Khan office had a simple question: “Why not go up Noshaq?” And there it was. A straightforward question. The question ‘why not’ probably had many logical and sensible answers: because Afghanistan was a country in conflict; because Afghans had no tradition of mountaineering in the last three decades; because there was no money to back such an impossible dream. In the end, the answer to the question lay in the question itself: “Why not?” And four ordinary Afghans from the Wakhi community in the remote Wakhan corridor set off to climb their country’s highest mountain, Noshaq. On July 19, they became the first Afghan team to reach the top, and Noshaq now proudly flies the Afghan colours, planted there by Malang the cook and Amruddin, a Wakhi farmer.

Read at http://www.khaleejtimes.com

The majestic mountains of north east Afghanistan PM00000010000003928 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in wakhan, Wakhan Afganistan.
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Welcome, Mountain Unity is a non-profit organisation which promotes mountain tourism
in NE Afghanistan.

The majestic mountains of north east Afghanistan, have kept the local people safe from
invasion since the days before Alexander the Great. However life in this remote province is
especially hard for its inhabitants. Maternal mortality rates are one of the highest in the
world, and many children die before the age of five due to the extreme poverty. By
co-ordinating and publicising mountain tourism, Mountain Unity aims to provide
sustainable livelihoods for the inhabitants.


 Tourism in the Afghan Hindu Kush Visit the Wakhan Corridor 070917 Wakhan/2

video clips….: http://www.youtube.com/user/mountunity

More detail at source: http://www.mountainunity.org/

Woman’s handicrafts Center Opens in the Wakhan AM00000090000003731 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in wakhan, Wakhan Afganistan.
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To help develop small and medium-sized businesses in the Afghanistan’s remote Badakhshan Province, USAID supported 25 female entrepreneurs in establishing a Women’s Business Centre in the Wakhan Corridor.  Once part of the famous the Silk Road, this mountainous and relatively secure region is becoming a popular destination for foreign tourists interested in Afghanistan’s history.  This summer the women saw their first sales of local products to the Wakhan’s new tourists.  The project hopes that these women will be able to produce a greater range of products targeted at this rapidly growing ‘high end’ market.

Source: http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/Article.406.aspx

The Wakhan Corridor AM000000110000004031 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in wakhan, Wakhan Afganistan.
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Ghoz Khan, Wakhan Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan

If you look at a map of Afghanistan, you will see an awkward tongue in the far northeastern part of the country. That is the Wakhan Corridor and Pamir. The Wakhan Corridor is inhabited by the minority Wakhi Tajik ethnic group, followers of the Ismaili sect of Islam, while in Pamir there are the Kyrgyz, who are Sunni Muslims. The formation of the boundary of the Wakhan Corridor was very artificial. Russia and Britain, who was fighting in the ‘Great Game’ in Central Asia, used the Wakhan Corridor of present day Afghanistan as the buffer of their emporiums. And now, the Wakhan valley is sandwiched between high mountains of Tajikistan and Pakistan. Walking along the Wakhan Corridor, which is only 15 km wide, indeed will give you a feeling that the giant mountains on the left and right (Tajikistan and Pakistan) will fall on you.

The Wakhi people are separated in 4 countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Tajikistan. It’s man who made the line, dividing the God’s world, and causing families to be separated.

In this album I am trying to introduce the life of the Wakhi in Afghanistan. They are an Ismaili minority who are waiting of freedom and prosperity. Tajikistan has been an idol for them. On the Afghan side, there is no electricity, shop, bazaar, telephone network, road, and vehicle. There are only muddy houses with lonely animals and people full of hope. Across the Amu Darya River, poor Tajikistan is proudly showing their power lines, busy highway with passing cars and trucks, and beautiful wooden houses. Even the cows’ songs and laugh of the Tajikistan children can be heard from Afghanistan
Source: http://www.avgustin.net/gallery.php?id=50

The Wakhan Corridor AM000000100000001030 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in wakhan, Wakhan Afganistan, Wakhan Tajikistan.
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The Wakhan Corridor is a small strip of land belonging to Afghanistan that connects it with China separating Pakistan and Tajikistan, On the left the valley of the Pjandsch river marks the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, on the right the crest of the mountains the border to Pakistan. At the horizon the Muztagh Ata and Kongur Shan peaks in the Kunlun Mountains can be seen.

Source: http://earth.imagico.de/view.php?site=wakhan

Tajikistan + Afghanistan: Expedition: Wakhan Corridor (National Geographic Adventure)

The Wakhan Corridor is one of the wildest landscapes on the planet:
A 200-mile-long (322-kilometer-long) valley splitting the Pamir Mountains and the Hindu Kush, where few Westerners have traveled since Marco Polo passed through in the 13th century. “It’s a true adventure in the old-fashioned, swashbuckling sense of the word,” says Geographic Expeditions’ Afghanistan and Silk Road regional director, Kristina Tuohey, who notes that the Wakhan has been largely immune to the region’s political and military upheavals. Beginning in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, Geo Ex’s groups of 16 people or fewer move south on foot to the Tajik-Afghan border, continuing east through the snowy Pamirs to Sarhad-e Broghil. In the ten days of hiking that follow, you’ll trace Marco Polo’s route through a wildlife-rich valley inhabited by Siberian ibex, snow leopards, gray wolves, Marco Polo sheep, and yaks. You’ll also likely encounter members of the tiny, hospitable Afghan Kyrgyz nomad community—a rapidly dwindling ancient culture that survives long winters by trading with the Wakhi ethnic minority on the Pakistan side of the Pamir, crossing back and forth by horse caravan over rippling mountain passes. The primary focus of the hike, however, is the sweeping vivid-blue skies, snow-covered slopes, pastoral ranges, and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be one of the handful of outsiders to traverse this lonely stretch. The turnaround is Afghanistan’s eastern outpost, at the mountainous border with China.

Source: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventure-travel/asia/tajikistan-afghanistan.html

PAMIR FESTIVAL 2008, Sarhad-e-Broghil PM00000020000005131 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in Places, wakhan, Wakhan Afganistan.
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By Mehmoob Aziz

The second annual Pamir Festival will take place at Sarhad-e-Broghil, in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghan Badakhshan on Tues, 12th and Wed, 13th August, 2008

The festival is organised by the people of the Wakhan with the assistance of the Wakhan Tourism Office based in Ishkashim, Badakhshan. It’s a chance for the people of this little known area to gather to celebrate their own culture and to welcome tourists and other visitors who are interested in finding out more about the region.

The Wakhan Tourism Office was established by the Aga Khan Foundation to develop appropriate tourism in the Wakhan. It has two main objectives — to bring a much needed new source of income so that local people don’t have to live in poverty; and to try to ensure that local people remain in control of tourism and other development as the region inevitably opens up to the world. The Office has helped local people to set up simple guesthouses and given them training in basic tourism services. It has also trained a number of mountain and tour guides.

More Detail: http://www.wakhan.org/

Ishkashim Jamatkhana in Afghanistan AM000000110000004631 7, 2008

Posted by Mыsofer in Wakhan Afganistan.
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First purpose-built Jamatkhana opens in the Ishkashim region of Afghan Badhakhshan

On 15 May 2008, the Jamat of Afghanistan celebrated a significant milestone with the opening of the first purpose-built Jamatkhana in the Ishkashim district of the province of Badakhshan. Set in a spectacular location, the Jamatkhana overlooks much of Ishkashim, with views of the Panj River and neighbouring Tajikistan. The Jamatkhana will house the offices of the Ismaili Council for Badakhshan and other local Jamati institutions.

Source: The Ismaili; http://www.theismaili.org/cms/507/First-purposebuilt-Jamatkhana-opens-in-the-Ishkashim-region-of-Afghan-Badhakhshan