Travel To Afghanistan: The Next Frontier?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

If I were to look back upon some of the places I’ve traveled to recently — Colombia, Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mozambique — as recently as even a decade ago, people would’ve thought I was crazy to travel to some of those countries. So is the prospect that travel to Afghanistan really that far-fetched of an idea? Don’t forget, Afghanistan — as part of the so-called “Hippie Trail” of the ’60s and ’70s — was once well on the “beaten track.”

Outside Magazine recently decided to check out what travel was like these days in the war-torn country. For a mere $3,700 it seems intrepid travelers can sign up with Hinterland Travel — a U.K.-based travel company — for a whirlwind tour of some of the country’s best ruins, spectacular Central Asian vistas, and, oh yeah, probably a few encounters with members of both the Taliban and the United States military forces.

And who can you expect on this trip with you? Oh, the usual hodgepodge of British, Danish, and American tourists, and as the author encountered, maybe even a Indian septuagenarian.

The oldest person in our group was a tiny, 75-year-old Indian woman named Bithi Das, who walked with a cane and exuded Yoda-like tranquillity. She was going to Libya and Uzbekistan after this, and seemed to have a philosophical take about risk.

“I will die,” she told me at one point. “We all will die. It’s OK.”

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