Although Afghanistan sadly may not have the favourable image it deserves on the world stage, the country is home to some great back-country skiing in the Koh-e Baba mountain range and in recent years there has been an effort to both revive and encourage snowsports in the country.
This winter ISHKAR Explore, a social enterprise that runs trips to places including Afghanistan and Iraqi Kurdistan are launching a completely unique backcountry skiing experience.
The group are organising a small ski trip to the historic Bamiyan valley which they say is a stable region of Afghanistan.
“This is a chance to see the country that exists beyond the headlines and ski mountains that only a handful of foreigners have ,” said Zanna Baker, the company’s Head of Travel.
The first ski tour is guided by Afghanistan’s national ski champion and subject of the short film “Where The Light Shines”, Sajjad Husaini, who will be guiding a small group of people through the Koh e Baba mountains, where he recently founded Afghanistan’s inaugural ski club.
“Bamiyan is one of the least-visited and most historic corners of the planet and the trip aims to give participants the chance to meet inspiring people, ski untouched mountains and make up your own mind about what this fascinating country has to offer,” Zanna Baker adds.
The Koh-e Baba mountain range lies across the way from the ancient mineral streaked Hindu Kush, soaring above the lowlands of Bamiyan. Bamiyan’s verdant green valleys are full of ancient ‘Qala’ – mud brick fortresses and crumbling ruins dating back to when Genghis Khan laid ruin to the region.
Bamiyan is best known for the infamous Buddhas – first constructed in the 6th century, they were once the tallest of their kind in the world – tragically destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
“Bamiyan is a safe and peaceful region, populated by the Hazara people, viciously persecuted by the Taliban during their rule. We will be flying directly into Bamiyan avoiding the parts of Afghanistan which draw international headlines,” says Zanna Baker.
The trip is open to all keen skiers who are fit enough to walk up the mountains and have some experience of back-country skiing, although guides will be on hand to give one-to-one tips and show you the routes through the mountains.
The price for the 10 day pioneering trips start at £2680 ($3450) per person on a group trip (6 people). It’s also possible to construct a personalised itinerary on request.
The trip includes four – five days of guided skiing inclusive of food, travel and accommodation whilst in the country, alongside some great days out visiting the sights that Afghanistan has to offer.
Equipment, including avalanche kit, is available to hire at an additional cost if required ($50/day).
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Images Credit: Louis Van Zeller and Bamiyan Ski Club
Image top credit Louis Van Zeller and Bamiyan Ski Club, other images credit Bamiyan ski club (Christopher Zurcher), Daniel Etter and Neil Silverwood.