A young man's strange erotic journey around the globe
Here’s a map of Afghanistan. Please turn your attention to the green-colored province known as Badakhshan on the far top right of the map
Here’s Badakhshan province up close – to be specific, a narrow strip of it sandwiched between Tajikistan and Pakistan (a former buffer zone between the Russian and British empires delineated by a pair of agreements made during the Great Game era, one in 1873 and the other 1893) known as the Wakhan Corridor. Where it says “cross here” is a town called Ishkashim which had been my point of entry from neighboring Tajikistan to the north. Next to it, “my guide’s hometown” is a small village named Khandud that we’d be briefly passing through during the 2-day ride on rough, ass-wrecking roads from Ishkashim border town to Sarhad-e Broghil which is the starting point for the 9-day trek I had planned to an area known as Little Pamir
In the far bottom left of this map is Sarhad-e Broghil. From there I walked four days to Lake Chaqmaqtin (as seen at the top right). From the lake back to Sarhad, I took what among hikers is called “the high route” up and over Uween-e-Sar Pass (4887m) which takes five days, the 9th being the same as the 1st in reverse
Situated on an island in the middle of the Panj River, here’s the Tajikistan half of the Ishkashim border crossing leading into Afghanistan. In the months leading up to this moment, I must’ve said, “Fuck it, I’m not going,” at least ten different times. At one point when I was out washing windows with my dad, I even called the Afghanistan consulate in New York and said, “You know what, just send me my passport back without the visa. Yall can keep the $160. I don’t even care anymore.” And the guy’s like, “Sir, we already issued your visa and sent it back to you in the mail a couple days ago. It should be arriving this afternoon.” “Oh…okay. Thanks.” It’s weird. It’s hard to describe. It’s not something that I wanted to do because I thought it’d be fun or be a good time, but something that I was drawn to do without having a concrete rational explanation why. It was all gut instinct. It was like I didn’t even have a choice. Well, of course I had a choice, but to me it was a no-brainer. It was either go through with it in spite of all the self-doubt and fear and overall negativity surrounding such a decision or don’t go and regret it for the rest of my life.
After getting stamped out of Tajikistan, now walking over to the Afghan border post. Just a heads-up if you ever plan on doing this trek yourself, Tajikistan will not let you out of the country at this border crossing unless you already have a second Tajikistan visa in your possession so you can get back into the country after messing around in Afghanistan. They’ve implemented this rule because there are no other safe and legal ways to get out of the country once in there and, as such, a handful of visitors have gone to Afghanistan, explored the Wakhan Corridor then exited the country at this same border post here and, since they didn’t have return visas to Tajikistan, were left stranded in the no-man’s land on this island between Afghanistan and Tajikistan which is a bureaucratic nightmare that can take quite a bit of time to be resolved.
Here, part of me wanted to be a pussy and have the soldiers at the border call me a cab to the town of Ishkashim located approximately five miles along this road in from the border post, but I decided that if I’m gonna be going to Afghanistan I can’t be a bitch about it. I gotta fully commit to the adventure and doing so started by walking these five miles into the unknown
Kids who were working in the field that ran up to have their photo taken
Pair of old men I’d been walking behind
Although Dari, one of two official languages in Afghanistan (the other being Pashto) is very similar to Tajik (both are essentially bastardizations of Persian Farsi), Dari is written in a Perso-Arabic script (shown in the photo) and Tajik, thanks to Russian influence, is today most commonly written using the Cyrillic alphabet
Deux dudes taking a stroll on the edge of town
The part of Ishkashim in which my guesthouse had been located was like a maze. To navigate my way through, I’d been using maps.me but my phone’s GPS reception was spotty at best. And, of course, the guesthouse didn’t have a sign hanging outside the front door or anything like that. After some time spent wandering around, I eventually found it with the help of some local people who saw me walk past them three different times like a total jackass
My favorite entrance of all the homes I’d seen in Ishkashim
Up on the roof of this building is a collection of cow and yak shit that local people dry out in this manner and then use – by burning – to heat their homes and cook food over
Some stickiest of the icky being grown in the courtyard of Marco Polo Guesthouse
At $25 a night, accommodation in Afghanistan is far pricier than that of Tajikistan where just on the other side of the border you can get a similar room for $10/night with dinner and breakfast included. Dinner and breakfast were included here as well, but if I’m being 100% candid these meals were on par with dog food. That said, I didn’t go to Afghanistan to have a wonderful culinary experience, I went seeking the long lost sense of adventure that, as an oversocialized adult in a Western country smothered by rules and expectations, my inner child had long ago been robbed of.
The dining room of the guesthouse where I shared a meal with this young gentleman from the Netherlands who’d been riding a motorcycle from Europe eastbound across Asia
Cabinet in the dining area of the guesthouse
I feel like Alokozay has a monopoly on consumer goods available in Afghanistan
Yo that wild ass be the best kind
Shown here in his hometown Khandud is my guide, Ibrahim Hamdard – a pharmacist by trade – posing for this photo inside his drugstore. I first heard about Ibrahim on a Lonely Planet forum while doing research for this trip. Some dude from Seattle who’d gone through the area the year before hired him and had a really pleasant experience, so I said why not. Ibrahim’s a pretty good guy who speaks decent English, is ethnically Wakhi and, as such, knows all the local people in the villages you pass through while hiking. He charges reasonable rates for his guiding services ($30/day as compared to the $50/day people try to charge you in Ishkashim) and can arrange a horse to carry your shit for $10/day. And if you’re too fuckin’ lazy to make your own food while hiking like I am, he can get you a cook for another $10/day. If you’re interested in hiring him, the best way is to get in touch with him on Facebook Messenger. Although slowly, he also responds to emails and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
With the help of Ibrahim who came here from Khandud to guide me through this drawn-out antiquated bureaucratic process, here I am getting my permits issued at the government office in Ishkashim. At one point the guy on the left of the photo picked up a pin that’d been on the floor and casually started using it as a toothpick.
When all is said and done, they give you one of these which must be turned in to an immigration official at the border when exiting the country
After the paperwork ordeal, we headed over to Ishkashim bazaar from where we stocked up on food for the 9-day excursion
The stall clerk and the back of Ibrahim’s head
Buying cookware at a different stall down the way
Afghan soldier holdin’ it down at Ishkashim Bazaar
Tubby Kid brand rice is recommended by 9/10 Central Asian fatasses
It came as a surprise to me that there’s a martial arts school in Ishkashim. Roundhouse kicks are really one of the last things I think of when imagining life in tiny Afghan towns
1USD = approx 78.25 Afghan Afghani
Daaaaa Bears, Daaa Coach, Daaaaa Afghanistan Bank
Two-day Drive from Ishkashim to Sarhad-e Brohgil
Shepherds with a big-ass flock obstructing the road. The shittiest thing about this two-day ride between Ishkashim and Sarhad-e Broghil is easily the cost. Thanks to government standardization, the price for any cars containing tourists on this route is an absurd $300 each way. Apparently you can get around this if you have the patience and time to see if you can weasel your way into some local transport with local people for local prices. Whereas I had the time to do so, I was pretty anxious to start my hike and didn’t wanna spend any more time than I had to sitting around in small Afghan towns without internet where we don’t speak each others’ languages. Didn’t sound like my cup of tea. So, I anted up. But one important fact that should be known that I hadn’t read anywhere on the blogs I’d been checking out before going is that these drivers only like to get paid in either fifty or hundred dollar bills because they get a better exchange rate for it into Afghani at the Ishkashim Bazaar. I was not aware of that. I paid the first guy on the way there in fifties and he was pleased but on the way back, I only had $300 worth of twenties and the guy – a different driver we’d found in Sarhad – nearly shit a brick. He didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Wakhi and only know like three words of Dari and when we got back to Ishkashim after the two-day ride from Sarhad and I pulled out the stack of twenties, we nearly came to blows. “Mooshkalay!” he kept saying, which is the Dari word for “problem.” And I kept saying back, “Mooshkalay, nay! Bii-ibriim Tajikistan!” which is my broke-ass way of saying, “There is no problem. Let’s go. Take me to the border with Tajikistan.” He did take me to the border where we proceeded to argue for another half-hour and where he recruited the heavily armed border guards to try and intimidate me into giving an extra thirty dollars to compensate for what he might lose in the exchange from having small bills. I persistently told him that it’s not my fault the rip-off standardized pricing didn’t mention anything about big bills only, that $300 is $300 and that he should kindly go and fuck himself. Eventually, he came to realize that I wasn’t gonna budge, changed his demeanor completely, kindly thanked me with a “Tashahkoor,” shook my hand and then drove away perfectly satisfied as if he hadn’t been mad all along and the whole thing was just a game to see whether or not he could milk any more money out of the foreigner.
Move bitch, get out the way!
I ain’t gonna go chasing one of these
Melon break on the side of the road during the morning of day two in the car. On the left is the cook named Wahid whom we picked up the night before in Qala-e Panja, Ibrahim my guide is in the middle and on the right is the driver whose name I forget
I used panorama mode on my phone to capture this photo and it totally distorted the shit out of Ibrahim and the driver’s faces. Turned out lookin’ like Sloth from The Goonies
This had to have been the most beautiful part of the drive
Due to the harsh nature of the environment, in some parts of the Wakhan Corridor the road between Ishkashim and Sarhad-e Broghil (built in the 1960s) doesn’t really exist anymore. Here’s a photo of my driver and Wahid trying to find the most shallow parts of this here river through which we can drive
At a different point, we consulted this guy who’d been wading across the river for his opinion on the best place to cross
In this area of the journey where the roads had been washed away is where we encountered Fabian – the fellow from the Netherlands with whom I’d shared dinner two nights before at Marco Polo Guesthouse in Ishkashim. He’d been having problems with his motorcycle which wouldn’t run after getting thoroughly soaked in one of these gnarly river crossings
Ibrahim translated telling me the driver said that no more than ten days before…
…this bridge and that part of the road had been washed out
A look from above at the water running through the Wakhan Corridor. Back near Ishkashim, the Wakhan Corridor is only 11 miles wide. At it’s widest point in central Wakhan, Badakhshan Province’s panhandle spans forty miles between the Tajikistan and Pakistan borders. And most of it looks like this…a valley with massive mountains running parallel on each side of it
On the road on the left is Ibrahim helping the driver fix a blown tire
We got to this guesthouse in Sarhad-e Broghil mid-afternoon on the second day and were almost immediately served some bread, yogurt and milk tea
This is the guesthouse owner
Ibrahim and I took a late-afternoon stroll up in the hills overlooking Sarhad
That strip of green land down there is the town
What a typical property looked like in Sarhad-e Broghil
“Quick Ned, thin out their numbers!” https://southpark.cc.com/clips/150462/huntin-and-killin
Volleyball game going on down in the center of the photo there
Wakhi kids. Most Wakhi people (the ethnic group after which the Wakhan Corridor is named) are Ismaili Muslims which is a branch of Shi’ism that – from what I’ve gathered – tends to be more on the relaxed, in-touch-with-nature, spiritual end of the spectrum and way less about the hard-line implementation of Shari’a Law that’s strictly enforced by the Taliban (Sunni fundamentalists) in other parts of the country
Animal dumps being dried-out for burning
During late July/early August in Afghanistan, the sun rises right around 5am and sets around 7pm
Right around sunset, village kids gathered at the guesthouse to watch some corny soap opera on this here TV
Mini broom next to some hand-washing equipment at the guesthouse. How this works is some servant kid employed by the guesthouse owner comes up and sets the bowl in front of you and you extend your hands over it. The kid then pours water from the container in the middle of the photo onto your hands as you rub them together until you tell him to stop. This was done at most guesthouses we stayed at along the way
Day 1: Sarhad-e Brohil to Borak
Ibrahim, my guide, at the time of hiking, was 28-years-old and said that he’d owned his own drugstore in Khandud for about five years now. He said that two years of studying in Kabul were all that were needed to qualify him as a licensed pharmacist. With him on the trek he carried a pouch full of low-quality medicines imported from Pakistan, telling me he couldn’t afford the good stuff manufactured in the US or other Western nations. People in the villages through which we passed – especially the elderly, like this old bugger on the right of the photo here – admirably referred to him as “Doctor” and complained to him of their ailments. With a look of concern on his face, Ibrahim’d inevitably reach into his pouch, pull out two or three antibiotics or antacids and hand them to the grateful recipient with a blessing. In a region this remote and undeveloped, that’s just about the best healthcare they have access to.
“Thanks for the drugs, Ibrahim!”
Leading the way here is Mirza. Just behind him is his horse Mishkii all loaded-up with everything we’d need on the excursion
Making our way up and out of Sarhad-e Broghil
The sun here in Afghanistan…I don’t know how to describe it really. It’s a different kind of bright up there in those mountains. Any exposed skin is ravaged mercilessly
Going over Daliz Pass (4267m)
Beginning our way down on the other side
Couldn’t have asked for more spectacular scenery on the first day. On the middle of the mountain taking up the left half of the picture is a really thin line that angles up towards the middle of the photo. That, my friends, is the trail
The trail once we’d made our way around the bend shown in the photo previous
Wahid and Mirza readjusting Mishkii’s load
One of many, many river crossings throughout the trek. For the first two days, I took my shoes and socks off at every one of ’em and carefully made my way to the other side, trying not to slip and break an ankle or get swept away by the current. It’s strange how something as simple as taking off your shoes can remind you how truly vulnerable human beings are in nature. Trying to walk on rocks without these mass-produced, man-made things to protect our soft-bottomed feet…well, it really fucking hurts. Couldn’t possibly have done this 9-day trek over terrain like this without proper footwear – that’s for damn sure. Anyway, profound life-changing realizations aside, on the morning of day three I cut the bottom of my foot open while doing a river crossing barefoot and decided that that was the end of that. Having wet shoes is a lot less annoying while trekking than having big open wounds on the bottom of your feet. That said, the guys told me I could ride Mishkii across any and all rivers if I wanted to both stay dry and protect my feet at the same time. So I tried it once and, to be honest, I didn’t really like it. I feel like I don’t have any control and that’s a problem for me because I’m a control freak. I feel like if this horse made any sudden moves, that I could be thrown off and there’s nothing I’d be able to do about it and I’d have to spend the whole rest of my life like Christopher Reeves when I’d rather spend it Christopher Walken. So, I ended up just keeping my shoes on each time I walked across a river. Wet feet proved not to be a problem for me.
Here we are in an area right alongside the river known as Borak. This is where we’d set up camp for night one. They had mosquitoes out the ass around dusk in this area
Little nook where Wahid cooked dinner
Day 2: Borak to Langar
The perfect way to start Day 2!
When I saw a photo of this bridge about a year or so before going on this trek, it was one of the deciding factors in why I had to do it. Where else in the world do you get to walk across a raging river on a bridge made of sticks, stones and mud?
Look at that fuckin’ thing! I don’t understand how it can withstand the weight of livestock
Walking along the Wakhan River
Right around here Ibrahim said, “See that mountain?” and he pointed to the rock peeking its head over the other two slopes in the top center of the photo here. “That area name is Langar. Tonight we sleep there.”
Dressing like this is how I prevented my pasty white skin from getting brutally sunburnt day after day
The afternoon slog
Approaching those two unoccupied buildings over on the left which’d serve as our campsite for the evening
Didn’t quite reach the mountain that Ibrahim had indicated as a waypoint earlier in the day. That’s it on the far left side of the photo, a few miles ahead of where we camped
This was my favorite campsite of the trip
Day 3: Langar to Kauch Goz
I have no idea how far we walked each day. And neither did my guide. For example, on Day 3 here we’re walking from a general area that’s known as Langar to a Kyrgyz village called Kauch Goz. I asked, “How far is it between Langar and Kauch Goz?” “One day. Maybe six or eight hours,” he replied. “Okay,” I said. “But how much in kilometers?” “Kilometers?” “Yeah, in kilometers.” “I don’t know,” he said. “But probably six or eight hours walking.” As you can see, kilometers are a useless tool of measurement for the people who live in the Wakhan. All distance is described in terms of time. Even looking for maps online after having returned from the trek, I haven’t been able to find any information on some of the places we stayed, let alone the distances between them. The places we slept on days 5, 6 and 7 while taking the high route back to Sarhad over Uween-e-Sar Pass – Kharchin, Warim and Shupokis (I got the names of these places directly from Ibrahim)…well, Google turns up absolutely nothing on these most remote of locations.
A river runs through it
Some more riverside walkin’
Wahid triumphantly making it to the top of this here big climb
Mirza & Mishkii
The village of Kauch Goz as seen from a distance
Kauch Goz up close and personal. Notice the piles of shit being dried-out in the middle of the photo and that layer of it atop the stone fence on the right
A very fair-skinned Kyrgyz chap saddling up his horse
Yurt Reynolds – This remote location would be a great place to film an Afghan version of Deliverance
Kyrgyz kids. The one on the left of the photo there is playing the circle game and said he owed me a punch in the shoulder after having taken this photo
Kyrgyz lady milking a yak. From what I was told, younger Kyrgyz women wear red headscarves and the older ones tend to wear white
The one-room Wakhi guesthouse at which we stayed in Kauch Goz
Inside the guesthouse, an ad for some politrickster who’s apparently in support of people’s right to 69
Mr. Hands, ready to make you squeal like a piggy
Mirza trying to tame the guesthouse owner’s wild stallion. This horse had a bad attitude. It just didn’t want anyone on top of it, or even near it for that matter
The guesthouse owner showing his horse who’s boss
I like the the dark outline effect that all the poop stacked atop that brick-walled corral has in this photo
Day 4: Kauch Goz to Lake Chaqmaqtin
Day 4 had been a relatively short day of walking over mostly flat terrain like that in the photo
Kyrgyz village near Lake Chaqmaqtin where we’d be spending the night. Check out those massively impressive shit piles. Looks like enough fuel to last them five winters over
Formerly more, approximately 1000-2000 ethnically Kyrgyz people are said to live in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. These people have a very interesting background that I don’t have the space to explain here in a photo caption. If you’re interested, more information can be found at… https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/on-the-roof-of-the-world-the-last-kyrgyz-in-afghanistan/
The dots of red among the sea of cattle are Kyrgyz women milking. They seemed to milk morning, day and night while the men in the village stood around and smoked cigarettes
Kyrgyz men and motorcycles. Quite a few people came from surrounding villages on this day to celebrate a wedding.
Slaughtering animals for the big wedding feast
Killing stuff with friends is fun!
Kids watching the slaughter. The wee’un on the right can’t wait ’til he’s old enough to do some blood-spillin’ of his own
In honor of the wedding, the young able-bodied Kyrgyz men from the area were fixin’ to play a game of buzkashi and I was fixin’ to witness it. This here path leads to the field below where they’d been playin’
Some kids who’d also been on their way to watch the match
Wahid atop his former donkey which he’d traded to one of the Kyrgyz villagers the year before and we just so happened to come across on our way to go see some buzkashi
Gettin’ closer now. That black dot in the middle of the field down there is a group of about…oh, I dunno…maybe thirty men on horseback
Here we are amid the action. The objective of the game is for each horseman to fight against the rest of the horsemen for possession of a goat carcass which, in this case, had been stuffed with packs of cigarettes.
After someone gains sole possession of the goat carcass, it’s custom for them to ride away from the rest of the horsemen and take a victory lap around the playing area
After the victory gallop, the horseman takes the goat carcass…
…and tosses it back on the ground for the rest of the dudes to gather around and fight over.
After tossing the goat, the rider would commonly come over to the sidelines where we’d been standing and hand over to one of the children spectators a pack of cigarettes which he’d pulled from the inside of the goat carcass. This, I was told, was how they’d been keeping score.
Before I entered Afghanistan, I was having some trouble getting a return visa to Tajikistan and, like I mentioned earlier in the post, they don’t let you out of Tajikistan until you have said return visa in hand. This caused a 2-3 day delay in my plans. I was quite annoyed at the time, but…what the fuck do I really know about what the universe has in store for me? Boohoo, my plans got fucked up. But if they didn’t get fucked up, I would’ve visited Lake Chaqmaqtin 2-3 days before this game of buzkashi happened. Like, they don’t do this sort of shit every day. This is actually a pretty rare event. I’m so very fortunate to have been in this exact place on the exact day someone happened to be getting married and, as such, all the local Kyrgyz would be gathered to play this crazy fucking game I’d long ago read about but never figured I’d be fortunate enough to witness. Sometimes – not always! – it’s better to just let go of control and let the universe take you for a fuckin’ ride
Chasin’ some action
You know what really gets my goat?
Gimme that fuckin’ thing!
The game has no boundaries and sometimes the struggle would come right up to where we’d been standing. This old guy with the tangerine headscarf was totally caught off guard and quickly tried to grab that jacket off that there pile of stones without getting himself trampled to death
In this very moment, at least four different horsemen have their hands on the goat and are pulling it in different directions
In those two gold-colored jugs had been some kind of animal milk which must’ve been piss-warm out in the hot sun, but that didn’t stop the sweaty, panting horsemen from occasionally stopping on the side to chug a quick saucer of the stuff before heading back out to keep chasing after that goat carcass
Day 5: Lake Chaqmaqtin to Kharchin
Like the photo earlier in which the faces of Ibrahim and my driver had become Sloth-ified from my phone camera’s panorama mode, Wahid had suffered a similar fate here at this hot spring in the middle of nowhere where we spent 2-3 hours lunching, resting and bathing. Down where Ibrahim had been dipping his hands is the hot spring that the four of us ran a motherfuckin’ train on. The gents were kind enough to let me go first. This was the only time that I washed my body and my clothes during the entirety of the 9-day excursion
Inside the cave adjacent the hot spring where we had lunch and took shelter from the ruthless rays of the midday sun
A view from the inside of the cave looking out towards where I took the previous photo
I bet my high school self making jokes about bin Laden hiding out in caves in Afghanistan never imagined that I myself would one day be in a cave in Afghanistan. Life’s a fuckin’ trip
Post cave chill sesh – here’s Mirza, Mishkii and Wahid walking past a pack of camels
I’m really surprised none of them were smoking cigarettes
Look at those badonks, bro. There’s no way those aren’t implants. I haven’t seen asses like that since I lived in Colombia.
Taking a mid-afternoon break and…
…looking back towards from where we’d come
The guesthouse for the night
Group dinner featuring some funky dairy products I’d never seen before. I was feeling adventurous and ate a bit of everything. Ended up having diarrhea and a hard time keeping any food or water down on days 6-8. Could this have been the culprit? I’ll never know
Day 6: Kharchin to Warim
Starting the morning heading up towards Aqbelis Pass at 4595m
It was sleeting pretty good on us – even accumulating on the ground a bit – for about half-an-hour when we’d been going over the pass
Ibrahim standing at the edge of a major downhill. I know it’s almost impossible to see, but – to give some perspective here – that dot just to the left of the river that runs down between the two mountains in the center of the photo is a village
A yurt in which we stopped for some bread, milk tea and more funky, chunky dairy products that I had to – as politely as I could – decline at this point in the trip
The owner of the yurt guesthouse
Animals eating and shitting all day long
Final river crossing of the day
The owner of the tent guesthouse (the one in which he’s sitting here) where we spent the night
Day 7: Warim to Shupokis
Off to a rocky start
Making our way up to Uween-e-Sar Pass (4887m)
If the sun was out, it was hot as fuck and I was sweating my ass off and in a big hurry to remove my jacket and cool off. But if the sun went behind a cloud for more than a minute, I’d be instantly freezing and throwing my jacket back on for warmth
We’re gettin’ there
Near the top of the pass
SUCK IT at the top
Headin’ down on the other side
Doctor! (pronounced by the villagers as duck-TORE)
Looking back towards the pass at the others whom Ibrahim and I had gotten ahead of
Good luck trying to snort this line of yak
Day 8: Shupokis to Shaur
Start of the last full day
I left this drawing – and several others like it along the way (some depicting penises and pieces of poop, some not) – on rocks for shepherds to inshallah one day stumble across
A guesthouse where we stopped for lunch
Some grubby-faced wee’uns
Here’s where I threw up the lunch I ate at the guesthouse
‘Bout to begin a big ol’ descent
This descent was so big that the crew and I had been going down even more than your girlfriend does on strangers at the club, you punk bitch
“I’m goin’ down, down, down, down” – Bruce Springsteen
One step closer to the edge, and I’m about to…
Last big descent of the day
View to the left before goin’ down
View to the right
I loved this view. And how you can see the trail running along the side of the river on the right. So cool
Wait for me!
Ibrahim getting some drinking water
Sunset at camp in an area called Shaur. All those tents there belong to a massive tour group which’d set out that morning from Sarhad-e Broghil. Hiking tours to this area are extremely expensive – around $4500 USD! Even if the money wasn’t an issue (which it definitely is) I wouldn’t have enjoyed an experience like that. Whereas I did it in Jordan (for half the price and for forty whole days) and had a pleasant-enough time, big group hiking tours take all the adventure out of the journey. As soon as you fork over the money, someone sets up literally everything for you. It’s comfortable, yeah. But in doing so you pretty much surrender your right to make decisions about anything related to the trip. It felt a lot like being a schoolkid, getting shuffled along from one place to another by your teachers. And you miss out on the solitude of the environment you’re in because you’re always surrounded by a big group of people. And like, honestly – even though I wouldn’t have done it any other way; I wouldn’t have wanted to do this trek through Afghanistan on my own – it’s even quite a lot for me to have Ibrahim telling me when we’re gonna leave, when we’re gonna eat, when we’re gonna stop all day every day. It was a cool cultural experience hanging out with those guys and all, but that much togetherness was mentally and emotionally draining for me.
Wahid telling me I should go up to one of the female tourists from the big group and give her the old in-out in-out
The Last Supper
Day 9: Shaur to Sarhad-e Broghil
Retracing our steps from Day 1
Happy trails to you
Heading down from Daliz Pass (4267m)
As you can tell by those tiny dots on the trail, the guys got ahead of me here
Sarhad-e Broghil in the distance
With the last of the big steep descents out of the way, it’s a piece of cake from here on out
The home stretch
The following afternoon. As told in a caption towards the beginning of the post, here’s where I sat for half-an-hour arguing with my driver about money at the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border crossing
After I’d gotten stamped out of Afghanistan, here’s me awaiting Tajikistan immigration officials to return to their post which, as I was told by a guard, they’d abandoned to go and hang out in town. The End
If you didn’t get enough of my visit to the Wakhan Corridor from the photos, I invite you to check out my video from the trip. Here it is as featured on YouTube. Be sure to crank the volume, there’s some good Afghan jams on there!
And if for whatever reason the video is not working on YouTube, here it is featured on Dailymotion but broken into two parts, each approximately eleven minutes long. If the mobile version of the videos doesn’t fit on the screen, for best viewing results turn your phone horizontal.