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TRANSPOR T

214 GETTING THERE & AWAY

DEPARTURE TAX

There is a 500Afg/US$10 departure tax upon flying out of Afghanistan. Domestic flights have a departure tax of 50Afg/US$1.

Europe

Ariana operates a weekly flight between Frankfurt (Germany) and Kabul, as well as a weekly flight every Monday between Moscow and Kabul, with a stopover in Baku (Azer baijan). The Frankfurt flight uses new planes to allow Ariana to operate in EU airspace. There are flights between Istanbul (Turkey) and Kabul every Tuesday and Fri- day, the latter via Ankara (Turkey). Ariana has offices in these countries:

Azerbaijan (x12 93805; 16 Pushkin St, intersection 28th of May, Baku 1010) Germany (x69 2562 7940; Frankfurt Airport) Russia (x495-2026269; 8/1 Povarskaia St, 121069 Moscow) Turkey (x212-664 6930; Yenidoğan Mh. 42, sok 76 Zeytinbumu, Istanbul)

At the time of research, Kam Air had just announced a weekly Istanbul–Kabul serv-

ice, and Azerbaijan Airways (x12 493 4004; booking@azal.az; 66-68 28th of May St, Baku 1010) flies

between Baku and Kabul every Wednesday. In the UK, agents selling Ariana and Kam

Air tickets include Ariana Travel (x020 8843

0011; arianatravel@hotmail.com; 136 The Broadway, Southall, IB1 1QN) and Afghan Travel Centre (x020 7580 7000; 107 Great Portland Street, London).

Middle East

Dubai is the busiest route into Kabul, with Ariana and Kam Air both operating daily flights, as well as a new Ariana Kandahar– Dubai route. It’s important to note that while the vast

majority of international flights to Dubai ar- rive at Terminal 1, flights to Kabul are via the completely separate Terminal 2. There is a free airport bus (15 minutes) linking the two, alternatively a taxi will cost about 25AED. As flying via Dubai involves a change of airline as well as terminal, passengers cannot nor- mally check their bags through all the way to Kabul. This means having to go through UAE immigration on arrival at Dubai be- fore transiting to Terminal 2. Visas are not required for citizens of most developed

••

Air

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countries including all EU states, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Singapore – but check require- ments before travel.

The cargo airline DFS (x04 299 7556; www

11266) represents Ariana. Kam Air (x04 223 6060; kamairdubai@hotmail.com; near Emirates Bank, Bani-

yas Rd) sells tickets direct.

From Iran, Ariana (x021 8855 0156; Block 29,

.dfsmiddleeast.com) sometimes sells seats on its Dubai–Kandahar flight.

In Dubai, Eisa Travels (x04 223 7348; PO Box

Kheyaban Khalid, Tehran) run a weekly service from Tehran, while Kam Air have a weekly flight

to Mashhad. Iran Asseman (x021 8889 5567; www .iaa.ir; Enqelab Ave, Nejatollahi St, Tehran) have one flight

a week from Tehran to Kabul via Mashhad. Ariana also fly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

From India, both Ariana (x11-2687 7808; Ashok Hotel, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi) and Kam Air fly

twice weekly from Delhi. Ariana also has an

Amritsar–Kabul flight. Indian Airlines (x11-

2331 0517; Malhotra Bldg, Connaught Pl, New Delhi) fly

between the Indian and Afghan capitals twice a week.

From Pakistan, Ariana (x051 287 0618; Kash- mir Commercial Complex, Fazel-e-Haq Rd, Blue Area, Is-

lamabad) fly once a week from Islamabad. PIA

(x111-786-786; Quaid-i-Azam Airport, Karachi) oper-

ate an identical schedule. Both Ariana and Kam Air fly once a

Asia

week to Almaty (Kazakhstan). There’s also a weekly flight to Dushanbe (Tajikistan) with

Ariana (x1413-669 880).

flights to Afghanistan include Afghan Tours &

Travel (x703-998 7676, ext 222; ahmedb1961@yahoo .com; 4300 King Street, Suite 139; Alexandria, VA 22302) or Pamir Travel (x510-791 5566; hashmat@pamirtravels .com; 37477 Fremont Blvd. Suite C, Fremont, CA 94536).

North America

There are no direct flights between North America and Afghanistan. In 2006 Ariana (x866-330 3431) started offering online book- ing packages from the USA and Canada to Kabul, including connecting flights with ei- ther Lufthansa or Air France to their direct Frankfurt–Kabul service. In Canada, you can also try the Ariana GSA (x905-389-0999;

203-801 Mohawk Rd West, Hamilton, Ontario, L9C 6C2). For

Kam Air tickets in the USA or Canada con-

tact Kam Air (x888-952-6247; sales@flykamair.ca).

In the USA, other agents who can arrange

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LAND

Afghanistan’s traditional position as the crossroads of Asia can make entering the country by land an evocative trip. Sneak- ing over the high passes like so many Great Gamers or journalists with the mujaheddin (Islamic fighters) is, however, no longer necessary: border procedures are, for the most part, a formality these days.

Iran

Crossing from Mashhad in Iran to Herat is one of the most straightforward entry points to Afghanistan. Alexander the Great pioneered this overland route, followed nearly 2500 years later by the Hippy Trail. In the 1970s, as some Afghans grew weary of the kaftan-clad hordes, a sign appeared in the consulate in Mashhad: ‘Visas will not be given to people with long beards or hair like that of beetle.’ The highway between Herat and the border crossing at Islam Qala (Taybad in Iran) has recently been upgraded, allowing a quick transit. Direct buses run daily from Mashhad to Herat (IR70,000, seven hours), which is slightly cheaper than travelling piecemeal from Mashhad. On the Afghan side of the border, note the huge parks of ve- hicles imported from Dubai and waiting to clear customs. From Islam Qala it’s around 90 minutes’ drive to Herat. There are plenty of shared taxis (60Afg) after immigration. There are also direct Herat–Mashhad buses (see p141 for details). Mashhad is an excellent jumping-off point for Herat. The Great Mosque in the vast Emam Reza Shrine Complex is the most outstanding surviving building com- missioned by Gowhar Shad ( p138 ). A daz- zling confection of Timurid mosaic tiling, it gives a taste of how Herat’s Musalla Com- plex must once have looked, and should not be missed.

Pakistan

There are two official border crossings open to foreigners between Pakistan and Af- ghanistan: at Torkham between Peshawar and Jalalabad through the Khyber Pass, and at Spin Boldak (Chaman on the Pakistani side), equidistant between Quetta and Kan- dahar. In the current political climate, we strongly advise against attempting to cross the latter border independently – see p190

GET TING THERE & AWAY •• Land 215

for more information. For trekking into north Pakistan from the Wakhan Corridor, see p172 . Minibuses and shared taxis run daily from

Kabul and Jalalabad to Torkham. Border for- malities on the Afghan side are relaxed, but more chaotic on entering Pakistan. The road from Torkham to Peshawar passes through the Tribal Areas of North West Frontier Province, an autonomous area belonging to the Pashtun tribes where the Pakistan gov- ernment’s writ is light. It is forbidden for foreigners to travel on this road without an armed guard from the Khyber Rifles – you’ll be assigned one after immigration. There’s no fee, but the soldier will expect a tip of around Rs200 once you get to Peshawar. Technically foreigners are also forbidden to take public transport on this road, leaving a taxi (Rs1200, two hours) the only option, although we’ve heard of a few travellers who have snuck onto local buses. From Peshawar to Torkham, some paper- work is involved. You need a Tribal Area Permit, obtained for free at the Home Depart-

ment of Tribal Affairs (x9210507; off Saddar Rd), to

travel to the border. Take your passport plus photocopies of your Afghan and Pakistani visas and the photo page to the Foreign Section staff office on the third floor. The permit specifies the exact date of travel, and should be applied for no more than two days in advance. With luck, the process takes around an hour. Make three or four photocopies of the permit to give to police checkpoints along the route. Ideally arrange a taxi the day before

travel. Before leaving Peshawar you must go to the Khyber Political Agent (Stadium Rd) to collect your gunman. Without him you’ll be turned back at the first checkpoint. There’s plenty to see as you drive through the Khy- ber. Look out for the army badges on the hills near Jamrud Fort, belonging to British and Pakistani regiments who served here. The massive fortified home of the notori- ous drug smuggler Ayub Afridi at Landi Kotal (complete with anti-aircraft guns) is also unmissable, and a keen reminder about who really rules this part of the country. There are good views of the Khyber and across to Torkham from Michni check- point, but ignore the children who assail you trying to sell afghani banknotes at over- inflated rates.

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