Travelling to Afghanistan

Travelling to Afghanistan

Travel, transportation and traffic

The usual journey to Afghanistan from Europe takes place with a stopover in Dubai. Flights are also possible, with a stopover in Istanbul, to Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif. Afghanistan’s aviation hub is Kabul International Airport, which has been called Hamid Karzai International Airport since 2014 and is located around 16 km from the city center. After severe damage, a new airport building was inaugurated in 2008.

International and domestic flights to Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif are served by the state-owned airline Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air. Safi Airways was also active here until September 2016, but had to cease operations due to outstanding debts. The private Afghan airline East Horizon Airlines flies to purely domestic destinations such as Kabul, Bamiyan, Kunduz, Herat and Faizabad. The private airline Afghan Jet International Airlines also only served national destinations. It was the youngest airline to start operations in April 2014, but had to stop operating again in 2016.

Incidentally, all Afghan airlines are banned from operating in the European Union for reasons of aviation security.

Except for the railway line between Uzbekistan and Mazar-e Sharif, which opened in August 2011, there is no rail traffic in Afghanistan,  a country located in southern Asia according to 3rjewelry. It is planned, however, to expand this route via Kabul to Torkham on the Pakistani border.

Traveling by car in Afghanistan is usually arduous and unsafe, and many roads, especially in the mountainous parts of the country, are in poor condition. Paved roads outside the larger cities are the exception rather than the rule. Despite the major destruction of the road network, some main traffic routes have now been restored. A newly developed highway connects Kabul with Mazar-e Sharif by means of the Salang Tunnel, which has been reopened in both directions since 2004 and represents the only year-round connection between Kabul and northern Afghanistan.

In addition, the connections from Kabul to Kandahar and Jalalabad have been restored, although they are unsafe to drive due to the Taliban.

If you rely on your own car, you can rent it, preferably including a driver (!), At Kabul International Airport or in Kabul.

Gas stations outside of the cities are few and far between and gasoline is expensive. Theoretically there is right-hand traffic in Afghanistan, but the traffic rules are sometimes interpreted very freely, so caution is advised. Due to ailing roads, inappropriate driving style and the poor technical condition of many vehicles, serious traffic accidents, often fatal, occur again and again.

You should also be extremely careful when encountering military convoys on the way, as misconduct can quickly lead to the use of firearms. Here it is important not to overtake under any circumstances and always keep enough distance!

Public passenger transport in and out of town takes place with buses, minivans and (collective) taxis that serve the individual routes. There is no fixed timetable in the true sense of the word, if enough passengers are together, the journey will begin. With taxis, it is advisable to negotiate a fixed fare in advance.

Afghanistan Everyday life

Afghanistan Everyday life

Security

The Federal Foreign Office continues to issue an urgent travel warning for Afghanistan.

Despite the presence of international troops and Afghan security forces, terrorist or criminally motivated attacks can occur, with the result that security is not guaranteed nationwide. As repeated attacks have shown, this also applies to the capital Kabul.

After the momentous attack on May 31, 2017 (see marginal column), the Afghan government had a new security plan developed for Kabul, which apparently aims to better protect important government institutions and bodies of the international community.

When traveling to Afghanistan, German nationals are advised to register on the crisis prevention list, for example on the website of the German representations in Afghanistan, in order to enable quick contact in exceptional situations.

The Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also advises its citizens to register a trip so that they can be reached quickly in the event of a crisis.

The same applies to Swiss nationals who should register online with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) before starting their journey.

In general, however, both countries expressly warn against traveling to Afghanistan!

Comprehensive safety instructions for the individual regions of Afghanistan are also published by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The US Department of State also publishes an annual report on the security and crime situation in Afghanistan.

In addition, one should be well aware of the danger of landmines and explosive ordnance residues off the main roads.

Stay healthy

No vaccinations are required for travelers from Europe for Afghanistan. The Center for Travel Medicine recommends vaccinations against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid.

Vaccinations against cholera, hepatitis B, rabies and meningococci are advisable depending on the conditions of stay. In some parts of the country with altitudes below 2000 m there is a medium risk of malaria, for the capital Kabul this risk is low.

In general, careful food and drinking water hygiene should be observed.

Wastewater is mostly not treated, but disposed of untreated in surface waters, so that it is contaminated accordingly. Even tap water is not of drinking water quality, so bottled drinking water in the original packaging should be used. In general, the old advice “Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it!” Applies to food in order to minimize the risk of diarrhea.

Basic medical care is almost non-existent in large parts of the country. Better medical care can only be found in larger cities.

As a precaution, the US embassy in Kabul has provided a list of clinics and hospitals with English-speaking doctors.

Current medical information on Afghanistan is also published by the Federal Foreign Office and provided by the travel medical information service.