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K ABUL

104 KABUL •• Getting Around

Bus & Minibus

Several terminals serve Kabul, in reality lit- tle more than massed ranks of vehicles with drivers shouting out the destinations. There are no timetables – vehicles depart as soon as they’re full. If you do have to wait, there’s always somewhere to get tea or juice and a plate of kebabs. Minibuses to Jalalabad (200Afg, three

hours) and the Pakistan border at Torkham (300Afg, 4½ hours) leave Begrami Motor Park on the outskirts of Kabul on the Jalala- bad Rd (150Afg by taxi from Shahr-e Nau). A few vehicles also leave early just after dawn from Pul-e Mahmoud Khan, close to the Id Gah Mosque, but note that all transport coming to Kabul from the east terminates at Begrami, and isn’t allowed into central Kabul for security reasons. The fastest way to get to the border is to hire a taxi outright for 2500Afg.

Transport heading north through the Salang Tunnel departs from Serai Shomali Transport Depot (Map p80 ), a 20-minute taxi ride to the Khair Khana district on the edge of Kabul. Minibuses from here travel to Mazar-e Sharif (500Afg, eight hours), Pul-e Khumri (200Afg, four hours), Saman- gan (300Afg, five hours), Kunduz (400Afg, 10 hours), and Faizabad (800Afg, 1½ days). Serai Shomali is also the place for more local transport to Istalif (30Afg, 1½ hours), Paghman (30Afg, 30 minutes) and Charikar (40Afg, 30 minutes). To travel to Bamiyan, catch a minibus from Kote Sangi (sometimes called Pul-e Socta) in west Kabul (400Afg, nine to 11 hours). Transport from here usually takes the southern route through the Hajigak and Unai Passes – see p114 for security infor- mation before considering this route. At the time of writing the northern route via Shibar was preferred for security reasons. This may mean hiring a vehicle outright, or paying a supplement to the driver to use the alternate route. Kote Sangi is also the terminal for mini-

buses south to Ghazni, Kandahar and on to Herat, but this road is extremely danger- ous for foreigners and we strongly advise against it.

Prices and times given here are for 16-

seater HiAce minibuses. Smaller TownAces fill up (and leave) quicker, and are slightly more expensive. Faster shared taxis also de-

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part from the same terminals, and cost up to a third more. It’s not possible to arrange seats in advance. Long distance transport can start leaving from 5am or before, so arrive early.

GETTING AROUND

While Taliban-era Kabul was largely a city of bicycles, traffic jams are an unwelcome side effect of progress. Getting around can be a nightmare at any time of day, with frequent road closures for unexpected se- curity measures. Travel between Shahr-e Nau, Wazir Akbar Khan and the airport can be notably tiresome due to the large numbers of concrete roadblocks outside embassies that turn the roads into obstacle courses.

To/From the Airport

A taxi between the airport and the centre of Kabul should cost 200Afg, a 20-minute trip in good traffic (but allow for longer). Security at the airport is extremely tight. Access is divided into three zones. Zone A, immediately outside the airport doors, is reserved for VIPs and anyone lingering here will be swiftly moved on. Zone B, 50m to the right when facing the airport en- trance, is for accredited cars, while Zone 3 just beyond this is for taxis and everyone else. All vehicles are subject to a security check on arrival and all luggage is searched, so factor in time for this.

Car

A couple of companies offer secure radio- controlled taxi services in Kabul, aimed at the expat community. Both operate 24-hour services, and also rent cars and 4WDs with drivers for short and long-term hire.

Afghan Logistics & Tours (x079 9391 462/070

479435; www.afghanlogisticstours.com; midnight-6pm US$7, 6pm-midnight US$5, full-day within/outside Kabul US$40/80, airport transfer US$20) Safe Trip Kabul (x079 9041 130; www.safetripkabul .com; according to time of day US$6-13, full-day within/ outside Kabul US$80/90, airport transfer US$25)

Local Transport

Old buses operated by Afghan Millie Bus trundle the routes across Kabul, but they are slow with standing room only. Destina- tions aren’t marked, so shout out where you want to go when the bus stops. If you’re not

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in a rush, fares cost around 3Afg. A similar network of minibuses also criss-cross the city, usually stopping to pick up passen- gers at roundabouts and major junctions. Look for the vehicles with a young lad hanging out of the door barking out the destination. There are over 40,000 registered yellow

taxis in Kabul, forming the bulk of the city’s traffic. Shared taxis run the main roads, linking the districts. If you flag one down you’ll need to know the nearest landmark

KABUL •• Getting Around 105

© Lonely Planet Publications

or major junction to your destination. Most taxi drivers assume that a foreigner will want to hire the whole vehicle, so make this clear when you get in. Shared taxis have a minimum fare of 20Afg. Finding an empty taxi to hire can some- times be a challenge, though they’ll often veer towards a walking foreigner. Drivers almost always ask for 100Afg for a fare, although short hops should give you change from 70Afg. Women should be wary of taking taxis alone.

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