Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

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JakubSerwa
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Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by JakubSerwa »

Hey, we are planning to get from Iran to the Pamirs and given the difficulties with Turkmenistan transit visas, we are considering going through Afghanistan. As far as we researched, there is a possibility to obtain a Visa in the embassy in Tehran. We are wondering about safety and road conditions. Anyone has information on safety in the region? (see route below)

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/34.7007 ... ?entry=ttu

We are two caucasian males, traveling in a car with Polish number plates, so not really an option to be undercover haha :D
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liberspirita
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by liberspirita »

go first comrades !
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gernot69
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by gernot69 »

Hi,

i was in the same situation and after some intense research i found a way for me. my tour-plan is Austria - Balcan-states - Turkey - Iraqi Kurdistan - Iran - Afghanistan - Tajikistan - Uzbekistan - Kirgistan. i'll go by motorbike.

first of all - it's not my intention to do any dvertisements for anyone named in my post - just want to show you how i will do it.

Transiting Afghanistan came on my view after i found the youtoube-channel of Adventurous Archie (https://www.youtube.com/@AdventurousArchie/videos) - he transited Afghanistan to Pakistan.

I found an agency which is linking local guides to visitors/tourists ( TourHQ.com ) - i contacted them and received two offers. the second one looked good to me and i started to chat with the potential guide. my first idea was also to take the same route as you guys are planning. The guide explained to me that this route (north ring route) might not be in a good condition and that it would be better to take the route via Kandahar - Kabul (south ring route).

i negotiated with the guide to meet him at Herat which is his hometown. from there he'll go with my (by car, public transport or with me on my bike) - he will support me with communication and so on as i'm not speaking the local languages. We've planned to go from border to border within 3-4 days and the costs for that are about USD 500 all in all (including commission for the agency).

for me it's a adequate solution and i'm looking forward to do this trip with this "special" tour-guide/buddy..

i'll leave next week - when do you guys plan to be there?

Gernot
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gernot69
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by gernot69 »

additional information about the visa:
I don't know whether you can apply for an Afghan-visa somewhere else except your home-country..

The Afghan embassy in Vienna requires a crime-record. the form for applying can be filled out on site (about 2 pages), the visa is valid for 3 months, the costs are EUR 100 and it took 1 week. Had to apply on site personal and also the pickup had to be in person - they are not sending the passport via DHL or any other courier service.

Gernot
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liberspirita
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by liberspirita »

when will you do that?
please keep us informed
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gernot69
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by gernot69 »

I entered to Afghanistan at Taybad on June/28.
Exiting from Iran took nearly 3 hours (although Eid and therefore only a few travelers)
Entry to Afghanistan was done in 10 mins, no translator, no specific permission, just me with my motorbike, passport and visa
Road to Herat is good, no potholes, no checks, a gew gasstations and watershops along the road.
Stopping somewhere and you will be surrounded immediately by all kids and teens around … as a tourist with big bike wearing protector—jacket,gloves and a helmet you’re an alien there …
Met my guide at Herat, he booked also the hotel for me. Hotel standards in stars at way lower than what we used to have in Europe, 4 star Afghanistan is about 1,5 stars in Europe.. but we are not here to test hotels and accommodations, we want to explore a new mostly unknown part of the world, right?

Next day we started at 6 in the morning towards Kandahar. The first 150 km are good conditions, than it starts to became interesting..
The pothole-ratio increased tremendously, sometimes you have just gravel.. Afghans are driving a bit wired , so don’t be scared
It took us nearly 12 hours to reach Kandahar, with a few short stops for drinking and getting fuel.
Having a few kids around after 30 seconds when stopping was fun in the beginning, but now it was bothering and disgusting. Everyone wants to sit on the bike, to put on the helmet, to press ever button, to play with the gps to stay on the cylinders (!!!) and so on.
So we did not stop for longer than drinking a bottle of cold water sitting on the bike and left immediately after.. that’s a sad thing because not getting in contact with people will prevent you from exploring a country and it’s details. But for me that was too much,way too much…
Checkpoints can be bothering as they don’t speak English. If you are alone and the guy asks you where are you from in paschtu , what will you tell him? And giving the wrong answer to someone who does not understand why an alien with a black protector jacket and a helmet on his head might get the wrong result when putting together one and one…

Next day we left Kandahar towards Kabul, we started at 5 a.m and reached Kabul at 7 p.m. road is sometimes not existing, just track or trail. It was very exhausting although I’m used to do a bit more than just biking for fun on paved roads…
Checkpoint rate increased together with the intensity of questioning - some wanted to have filled out a paper registration form (all in Farsi), some others wanted to know how I feel in Afghanistan, how happy I am with the security, costs of the bike (never tell them the truth…), for whom I’m working, what my job is and and and… all in common, they don’t speak English and I don’t speak paschtu or Kurdu… without my guide I would still be somewhere on the road .
I have to say that the majority of them are very friendly and polite, but again - helmet, jacket, … alien…

Today we left from Kabul again at 5 a.m towards Kunduz. The route was over Salang pass and that piece of the trip was by far the worst I’ve ever done. I can’t describe but about 80 km is only riding on stones, jumping from one pothole into the next. And these are real potholes - you can easily ruin your bike when overseeing one because it was underneath behind another one… the average speed for about 2 hours was 12 km/h…
The tunnel itself is dangerous and toxic because of the smoking truck pipes and no ventilation. You’ll find potholes filled with water but due to very limited visibility you’ll recognize them most of the time when you’re already in the middle of such a lake..
Take a face mask with you and use it !!!
At the north-end road (or what they call “road” is same as it was the last kilometers before you entered the tunnel. For decending 600 m altitude we needed about one hour. Then out of the blue a perfect paved road begins and the smile comes back. For us unfortunately only for about one kilometer till the big checkpoint. The officer there took a look at my gps (BMW mounted ) and started asking what this is and with whom I’m communicating? My guide explained but the officer was not happy! Long story short x about 90 minutes intense luggage check, questions questions questions, check of pictures on cellphone and counting cash they found in my luggage.
Not unfriendly but to be honest I was far away from feeling comfortable or having fun! My guide managed the situation and we could continue to Kunduz. The road was ok’isch but again a lot of checkpoints…
We are now at Kunduz and I’ll continue my trip tomorrow early morning to the border for Tajikistan (which will open at 8.00 a.m.

I don’t want to destroy dreams and I’m also not saying “don’t go to Afghanistan “. I was probably in the same situation and dreamed about exploring the unknown or something like that. But by far the best decision was to find and book a guide.

So - my recommendation; be aware that you are traveling to a country which does not have any working internal administration. When you are in troubles or met the wrong officer at the checkpoint or answered anything in the wrong way you might get an extension of your trip in one of their offices..
I would never ever do this trip without a guide traveling with me, but I think I already mentioned that…

I know there are a lot of other traveller who did the trip by them self without a guide. Well - I’m very happy for them it worked but for me that would be too much adventure…

Hope that helped - let me know if you have additional questions

Cheers
Gernot
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Hugues
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by Hugues »

Thanks for the detailed report.
Just one question, is there anything to see along the way ? Is it worth it ? You did not say much.
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JakubSerwa
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by JakubSerwa »

Thanks for the detailed report, Gernot!

We decided to go via Turkmenistan (or at least try) - we are planning to be there in less than two weeks. Afghanistan stayed as our number two option, in case the Turkmen visa fails. Tbh it does not seem very encouraging, especially given the numerous checkpoints on the way and being at the 'mercy' of an officer.

Hope you will make it safely across the border tomorrow!

Best,
Jakub
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liberspirita
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by liberspirita »

many thanks for that report!
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Roadtophnompenh
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Re: Transit through Afghanistan (Iran - Afghanistan - Usbekistan)

Post by Roadtophnompenh »

JakubSerwa wrote:
Sat Jun 03, 2023 8:53 am
Hey, we are planning to get from Iran to the Pamirs and given the difficulties with Turkmenistan transit visas, we are considering going through Afghanistan. As far as we researched, there is a possibility to obtain a Visa in the embassy in Tehran. We are wondering about safety and road conditions. Anyone has information on safety in the region? (see route below)

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/34.7007 ... ?entry=ttu

We are two caucasian males, traveling in a car with Polish number plates, so not really an option to be undercover haha :D
The austrian-pakistani ""adventurious archie" did more or less the same trip a couple of weeks ago, tremendous road-condition, here is the youtube video from his journey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU6j9UBnqhY
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