Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Ishkashim - gateway to the Wakhan Corridor

In Ishkashim we met a young Afghan who had set up a tour company. Born in Ishkashim but a product of Afghanistan's turmoil over the last 30 years, Adab had always been on the move in his 22 years, to Kabul and Pakistan, where ever it was safe and his father could find work. Now he had returned to Ishkashim to set up a business. Although he had not been educated beyond school level his intellect and innovation were comparable with any Oxbridge graduate. He had this incredible ability to understand what we as tourists wanted, with Adab all the battles we had had over the past couple of months with logistics etc were over. We paid him to help us organise all the permits which we required to head into the Wakhan Corridor. He whisked us around the Governors office, border police and local police departments collecting letters, stamps and permissions. He had organised a car for us to leave that afternoon and had made the decision to join us to help us find pack animals and get the final permission we needed in Khandud.

Heading east out of Ishkashim, there was a distinct feeling of autumn in the air. The barley in the fields had turned golden and people were preparing for the harvest. The Wakhan Corridor has long been pivotal in history. Marco Polo recovered from Malaria here in the13th Century; it was a key Silk Road route. More recently Great Game encounters between the British and the Russians had been played out here, resulting the in the obscure pan-handle addition to Afghan territories, which was designed to be a buffer between the British Indian empire and the Soviet Union. It certain feels that there has been a long history of habitation here, unlike in the Eastern Pamirs. The people are also unique. In the Lower Wakhan the Wakhi people are Ismaili Muslims and the women do not cover their faces and traditionally wear rich red clothing and shawls.

James and barley fields

Me in the market

Wakhi woman in traditional dress

Invited in for tea. Local family in their home


  1. Hi Rebecca, I'm enjoying reading your blog. Wakhan Corridor has been on my bucket list for a while now (just need to convince my wife that it is safe to visit) - could you please share the costs (accommodation/home-stay, food, car, guide etc)? Many thanks!

  2. Hi Neeraj

    Glad you are enjoying the blog. I am currently writing my report on the area which has all the budget details in it. I will post it on here when it is finished.

    You can reassure your wife that as a woman I felt very safe and comfortable travelling in the Wakhan and would definitely go back!!


  3. Thanks, I look forward to reading your report! :)

  4. Hi

    Here is the link to my expedition report

    Hope it helps with your trip planning


  5. nice to see wakhan again nice work.
    thank you