Our 5 day tour itinerary with optional extension can be seen below. Please note there is a local payment of $150 required for this tour to pay for domestic flights, or $510 if taking the extension.
Arrival into Kabul and after meeting our guide at the hotel we’ll head to Kabul National Museum. Its collection had earlier been one of the most important in Central Asia, with over 100,000 items dating back several millennia. From the start of the civil war in 1992, the museum has unfortunately been looted numerous times, resulting in a loss of 70% of the 100,000 objects on display. Afterwards we’ll head west to the holy Shia mosque, Sakhi Shrine. This beautiful turquoise tiled mosque is believed to be the resting place of Hazrati Ali, the cousin of Prophet Muhammed. We’ll end the day by visiting a local bazaar, where we’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy souvenirs.
Today we will travel to Panjshir and visit the Tomb of Ahmad Shah Masood. Panjshir means "Five Lions" and refers to five Wali (protector) brothers who lived in the valley. Local legend has it that the five brothers built a dam for Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznawi in the early 11th century. More recently it was the site of the Panjshir offensives, fought between the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Soviets against the Mujahidin from 1980 to 1985. The valley again witnessed renewed fighting during the civil war in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, which was between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, who were then under command by the national hero, Ahmad Shah Masood.
We’ll have a relaxing lunch at the river bank before heading back to Kabul.
We take a morning flight to Mazar-e-Sharif and visit the famous Blue Mosque built by Sultan Sanjar Seljuq in 1425. The mosque is believed to be the resting place of Ali the cousin of Prophet Mohammad. We then visit the gate of Charkent; a 12th century gate built in order to stop Ghengis Khan from entering the valley of Charkent. Later this ancient gate stopped the Red Army from entering the valley and in 1998 the Taliban were stuck at this gate. In the afternoon we will attend a Buzkhashi game.
Today we will visit Takht-i-Rustam (throne of Rustam); named after a king in Persian mythology. It is a hilltop settlement and a well known archaeological site. We’ll also visit the adjacent Buddhist caves and hilltop stupas north of the Hindu Kush passes. At this location caves were hewn out of the rock and inhabited by Buddhists. The Buddhist stupa here is in the form of a mound. It represents the earliest link to the evolution of Buddhist architecture in Afghanistan. Later in the afternoon we fly back to Kabul.
The tour ends this morning and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. For those of you taking the optional extension, you will fly to Herat, situated in the Hari River valley in Western Afghanistan.
This morning you will visit the Masjidi Jami or Friday Mosque, built by the Ghurid ruler Ghiyas ad-Din Ghori in 1200 (597 AH). Then you will visit the tile factory of Herat and the Herat citadel, which dates back to 330 BC, when Alexander the Great and his army arrived to what is now Afghanistan after the Battle of Gaugamela. Many empires have used it as headquarters over the last 2,000 years, with the citadel destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries. In the afternoon you will visit Guzargah Mosque before taking a flight back to Kabul.
Early morning transfer to Kabul Airport to take a flight to Bamiyan. On arrival, you will visit Buddha Niches. The Buddha’s of Bamiyan were a 4th and 5th century monumental statue of two standing Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan valley. This was in the peaceful Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, however, they were destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban. Afterwards you will visit Shahr-e Zuhak, also known as The Red City, which is an historic city ruins in Bamiyan which was once home to 3,000 people. This city used to be primary defense for this region.
After breakfast, travel to the blue lakes of Band-e-Amir, a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine (a mineral deposit). The name Band-e Amir literally means "Commander's Dam" which is believed by some to be reference to Ali, the first Imam of Muslims (Shias) and the fourth Caliph of Islam (to Sunnis). The area is dominated by ethnic Hazaras, who make up around 23% of Afghanistan's population. Band-e Amir was to become Afghanistan's first national park in the 1960's but this was delayed due to political crises and the decades of wars. In 2004, Band-e-Amir was submitted for recognition as a World Heritage site. In 2009, it was finally declared Afghanistan's first national park. Return to Bamiyan in the afternoon.
Fly back to Kabul in the morning ready for your departure flight home.
The costof the optional extension depends on the number of people taking it. Prices are as follows:
1 person - £1295
2 people - £1050 per person
3-6 people - £850 per person