Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Your next holiday - Afghanistan?

Believe it or not Afghanistan was a popular destination for the adventure traveller. In fact Top Deck - one of the original overland companies - cut a route through Afghanistan on their London to Kathmandu trip using converted double decker buses in the 70's. A very turbulent and often violent period since then halted all but the most intrepid traveller crossing the Khyber Pass but can it make a come back? Personally I think so. Ok, not in the very near future but I'm confident that in my life time countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan will be safe to travel to. This desire of mine isn't anything so pretentious as a want to "tick off" dangerous countries there are some real travel gems in this corner of the planet - ancient cities, powerful history and incredible scenery. After travelling through Pakistan and reading engrossing books such as "The Great Game" my interest in Central Asia is burgeoning on obsession. I'm not the only one who believes that these wondrous places will once again welcome the traveller, the Lonely Planet has just released a guide book to Afghanistan. You may shake your head in disbelief but travel fashions change with time, just think when the Top deck double decker was passing through a safe Afghanistan Vietnam was the last place you would want to holiday.

From Travel Mole
Welcome to Afghanistan, warts and all

LONDON – It may be one of the world's most volatile nations, but that has not deterred Lonely Planet from releasing its first ever standalone guidebook to Afghanistan.

Researched and written by Afghanistan specialist Paul Clammer, the book also contains a special chapter on safety written by a Kandahar resident and former military officer.

Lonely Planet says the guide is a necessity for anyone thinking of going to the country, "and is therefore primarily designed for businesspeople and representatives of non-profits or NGOs who are travelling to Afghanistan for work or aid".

"The guidebook aims to help travellers stay safe and get the most out of their time in the country, but also provides interesting reading for independent travellers and armchair travellers who are curious about the state of the nation."

The author spent seven weeks on the ground conducting research, travelling from Kabul to Herat and Mazar, all by road, stopping in many remote towns along the way.

"It's hard to think of a more demanding country to write a guidebook about than Afghanistan," says Clammer. "It's a nation with a broken infrastructure and serious security concerns. But the rewards are incredible.

"Despite the recent history, the Afghans are the most amazing and welcoming people on the planet, and the scenery from the mountains to the deserts is sublime.

Earlier this year, Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler visited Afghanistan for his book, Bad Lands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil.

Afterwards Wheeler wrote, "Perhaps surprisingly, I had a great time in all my 'Bad Lands' and – apart from a little uneasiness in Afghanistan and Iraq – I was never particularly concerned for my safety. North Korea was easily the weirdest: a place alternating between horror and comedy, a Stalinist theme park, a gulag run by Monty Python."

If it's travel it's Travel Light - www.travellight.co.za

Travel Light Reading
Lonely Planet's first stand-alone guide to Afghanistan includes a chapter on security by U.N. Senior Security Advisor Rodney Cocks. Click here or on book to buy

1 comment:

trevor carroll said...

Afghanistan was not the safe destination in the 1970's. The Top Deck bus photo in the post was 'Grunt' taken in Afghanistan during the period I drove it. I Top Decked it through Afhanistan 4 times. The first at the time of the original Coup. My blog gives a good impression and pics of that time. www.trecarr.blogspot.com
The following link will take you to that first trip in Grunt.