This is the last part of a 5 part series chronicling Stephen’s of Uncharted Backpacker journey through Afghanistan – if you missed it, see all the other parts here.

FROM STEPHEN

The Final Stop: the Medieval City of Herat

A Journey Through Afghanistan Herat (6)

From Kabul I wanted to head to Herat through Bamiyan. Unfortunately due to fighting there were only two routes. One was the bus through Kandahar, not a safe option. The other was to take a flight, the only safe option. Sad that my overland idea had to be broken by this flight, I did what I had to.

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To be honest, the flight was spectacular (apart from it being broken and delayed on the runway for two hours). Seeing Afghanistan from the air is great. You see the scope of Afghanistan’s sheer size. Mountains, deserts, lakes, forests – you will pass over so much dramatic scenery. The flight took around an hour, arriving in Herat early morning.

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Herat is located near the Iranian border. This medieval style city resembles Iran in looks and culture. The people here even see themselves as more Persian than Afghani. Herat is like a whole new unique corner of this country.

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The airport taxi crew was super helpful and brought me to the Marco Polo Hotel. The staff at the hotel were also incredibly helpful. One of the younger staff agreed to walk me around Herat, and show me why he is so proud to be from here.

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We walked from the hotel to the Herat Fort through buzzing markets filled with the aromas of spices and tea. The Herat Fort can be seen from anywhere in the city. It looms high above the city scape, displaying the power Herat once held. The Fort was like every other sight in Afghanistan: Empty. I had this Fort and city all to myself.

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Apart from the fort, Herat boasts other incredible sights. There are countless mausoleums decked out in blue tiles. Herat city itself is full of bazaars and shops selling everything imaginable.

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That evening we shopped for Afghan war kites. I was told to buy a couple as the skies are violent and I would most likely lose a few kites. I bought seven kites, and I’ll have you know I also bought the strongest glass infused string I could find. From the roof top of the hotel I lost all seven of my Kites. When each kite was cut from a mischievous child, a large gang of children would plow rapidly through the streets to steal my fallen kite. It was one of the most thrilling experiences I had while in Afghanistan. This country will never leave my heart.

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About Stephen: The Uncharted Backpacker Biography

A Journey Through Afghanistan and Kabul (7)

Hi, I’m Stephen Gollan, the Uncharted Backpacker! I have traveled to over 80 countries in the past nine years. I tend to travel to very unique destinations that others will not dare to go. I recently backpacked across Libya, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. I’m the kind of traveler who would rather be on an adventure climbing mountains in Pakistan or bumming across North Africa than relaxing on a beach somewhere (but I do that, too!). My website www.unchartedbackpacker.com is a testimony to my travel experience. I created it to give free information about “off the beaten track” destinations, and to help you create your next big adventure. Traveling will always be my life. The experiences you learn from traveling are far more valuable than any possession you might own. So come with me around the world and join in on a different style of travel – and life – that I promise you will love.

A Journey Through Afghanistan // Part 1 of 4 (3)


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  • Aah this is incredible!! Great trip, Stephen. It’s awesome to see posts about places that many of us wouldn’t have thought to go. Your pictures are epic 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Stephen really had such an amazing experience didn’t he. So glad you like his account as much as we did Sarah.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Kayley Nammari

    Thank you, Stephen, for sharing your photos and stories with us! I’ve heard of Herat but because I was stationed on the opposite side of the country, I never was able to see it. It’s stunning. Wonderful series!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      So glad you liked the series Kayley. Stephen really allowed us to see a different perspective on Afghanistan.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Zara

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this series of posts! What an amazing set of articles that has changed my opinion of Afghanistan. Thanks for giving us a great insight into a country that we know so little about!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      So glad you like the series Zara – we did too and we’re so happy Stephen shared his remarkable account with us all.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx