This is the 4th 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.


The Forbidden Panjshir Valley

The Forbidden Panjshir Valley (3)

While in Kabul I met a local friend. His name was Farwad. Farwad said he knew how to get into the Panjshir valley. This valley has been off limits to foreigners for the past 30 years. This was the biggest challenge yet on my trip.

Hiring a taxi we left early in the morning to head back into the mountains. The Panjshir is the home of the Mujahedeen. The Mujahedeen were the largest resistance group, first to the USSR invasion, and then to the Taliban. Their homeland can only be entered through a narrow heavily guarded mountain pass. The opening to the valley looks like something out of a scene in Lord of the Rings. After entering into the valley the first thing you see is hundreds of British, Russian, and even a few American war machines blown apart all over the country side. The militia here quickly stop you from going any further. They detain you, question you, and you wait.

The Forbidden Panjshir Valley (1)

The general decided that he would give us passage to the valley. Why he did this I am not sure. He told me I was to be the first foreigner to enter here in many years. The general said we would be watched the entire time without us knowing. So behave I guess was his point.

Driving for hours past small traditional communities with the backdrop of massive white capped mountain peaks was absolutely stunning. Whenever we stopped locals gathered to talk with me, and ask how I felt being in their slice of paradise. At the end of the valley we visited the tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the Mujahedeen, and the face of Afghanistan.

The Forbidden Panjshir Valley (2)

We were not permitted to stay long in the valley; as the militia general instructed we left the valley before sundown. What a beautiful day this was. Who knew such a peaceful valley existed in a country that is supposed to be full of war. Panjshir breaks all stereotypes about this amazing nation.


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 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.

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