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7 Days tour of Afghanistan
Day 01 Thursday: Arrive Islamabad We are welcomed at Islamabad Airport and transferred to our hotel. Afternoon we go on a twin cities tour of the old city of Rawalpindi and the modern Islamabad. We begin with a visit to Raja Bazaar, the oldest and traditional shopping area in Rawalpindi. From here we continue to Shakerparian Gardens for a panoramic view of Islamabad. Next stop is Faisal Mosque, unique in its architecture and among the largest mosques in the world. We then drive past some Government Buildings, which showing an interesting combination of both traditional and modern Islamic architecture. Overnight: Regency Hotel, Islamabad (1 night)
Day 02 Sunday: Islamabad / Kabul (Flight) Morning head to Islamabad Airport to take Afghan Ariana's flight to Kabul. Upon arrival at Kabul Airport we see the first evidence of the devastations of recent history. The airport terminal is full of war-damaged aircrafts - a desperate sight. We are warmly welcomed and transferred to our hotel. The drive from the airport gives us an overview picture of this world capital. Rest of the day free at leisure in this re-born city. Overnight: Continental Hotel, Kabul (4 nights) (B)
Day 03 Monday: Kabul Today is a full day sightseeing of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan since 1776. Kabul was once a fast growing city ringed with mountains, gleaming emerald green in spring and glistening white in winter. It was a popular tourist spot and a place of convergence for the many tourists who were journeying overland from Europe to Asia. Though most of the attractions in Kabul city were destroyed due to heavy bombardment the remains of Bala Hisar Palace, the Arg (Citadel), Mausoleum of Amir Abdur Rahman, and Babur's Gardens remain to catch the eyes of visitors. In addition, various mosques like Masjid-e-Pule Kheshti, Masjid-e-Shahe Du Shamshira, Masjid-e-Sherpur (Blue Mosque); Masjid-e-Wazir Akbar Khan etc are places to be visited for their unique architecture. The living cultural patterns can be observed in various teahouses, restaurants and shops located in the "Chicken streets". We also visit the bazaars and have ample time to meet and talk with the locals sharing their experiences from the pre and post Taliban era. Translating for us will be the employees / volunteers of the many foreign missions in Afghanistan. (B)
Day 04 Tuesday: Kabul Today is our excursion to the scenic Salang Pass and Istalif Village. Salang Pass is located 122 km / 76 miles north of Kabul in the heart of the Hindu Kush Mountains. The trip to Salang Pass presents some of the worlds most thrilling and spectacular scenery. There are various attractions on the way to the Salang Pass but the most prominent are the fruit market at Qara Bagh, Top-e-Darra (Valley of the Stupa), and the town of Charikar, which is the capital of Parwan Province and is noted for its bazaars. Reg Rawan (Moving Sands), which run down the mountain some 300 meters / 984 feet, Koh-e-Pahlwan (Mountains of Heroes or Wrestlers) famous for the Buddhist Monasteries of Paitava and Shotorak can also be viewed on the way. The ancient town of Kapisa lies at the footsteps of this mountain. Finally, a 3-hour drive will take us to Salang Tunnel, located at an altitude of 3363 meters / 11033 feet. It is 2.7 km / 1.7 miles long and an additional 4.9 km / 3 miles of Galleries were constructed to keep the approaches free of snow. This tunnel was built in joint collaboration between former U.S.S.R. and Afghanistan. The work began in August 1958 and the tunnel was officially opened in November 1964. We visit Istalif located in Koh Daman valley that is ringed by barren hills dotted with villages nestled within green orchards. Among these villages, Istalif is one of the largest, and the most ancient village that combines beautiful scenery with an introduction to Afghan life. At Istalif the Takht (Throne) lies under huge plane trees offer an impressive panoramic view of the village and the Koh Daman. Many picnic here today, as did the Mughal Emperor Babur in the 16th century. The terraced gardens below the Takht are an attraction for those who enjoy natural settings. Istalif is also famous for its Blue pottery, cotton prayer rugs and intricately carved wooden chests. We visit Tapa Iskander, a Hindu Shahi Complex of 7th to 9th centuries, Qala Murad Beg, famous for its local pottery work, Karizamir, an experimental farm established by King Zahir Shah, Khair Khana Pass and the Brahmanic Temple (6th-7th centuries). (B)
Day 05 Wednesday: Kabul Today we take another full day excursion - this time to Paghman and Kargha Lake. Paghman is located some 20 km / 12 miles from Kabul at an altitude of 2200m / 7218 feet and affords a delightful sample of Afghanistan's countryside. On weekends and holidays, Paghman is filled with festive visitors from Kabul who can approach this town via one of two paved roads from Kabul. This town is also known as birthplace of King Amanullah, the most celebrated King of Afghanistan. Victory Arch standing in Central Square commemorates those who fought and died in the war of Independence (1919). Visit to Red mosque and Bagh-e-Umumi (Public Garden) are also included in this visit. Darra (The Valley) are the gardens open to public and you may picnic beside the river under the cherry trees. The Emperor Babur introduced the cherry to the Kabul region in the 16th century. Those from Paghman are especially delicious. In comparison to Darra, Tapa is a formal garden offering a fine view of Kargha Lake and the city of Kabul. From here we return to Kabul and pass by Kargha, which is a picturesque lake nestled within the mountains. This Lake was created as a cherished project of Mohammad Daoud, founder and President of the Republic of Afghanistan. Kabul's Golf Course is laid out in the gardens at the foot of the Kargha Dam. (B)
Day 06 Thursday: Kabul / Islamabad (Flight) Morning is free to continue our exploration of one of the most talked of cities in the world today. Later we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Islamabad. Upon arrival in Islamabad we are met and transferred to our hotel. Overnight: Regency Hotel, Islamabad (1 night) (B)
Day 07 Friday: Depart Islamabad After interesting experiences that few people have had, we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to our next destination. This is an ideal opportunity to combine this tour with Hunza, and Gilgit region in Northern Pakistan, the last living Shangri-la. (B)
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