Wanna visit the Afghan Wakhan? How to get an Afghanistan visa.
Wanting to trek the Afghan Wakhan and meet the extremely isolated and traditional Wakhi and Kyrgyz people scattered throughout Afghanistan’s frontier panhandle? Well, you’ll need a visa for that, probably anyways.
How to get an Afghanistan visa.
Note that: The whole of Afghanistan has travel warnings against visiting by just about every country on Earth due to the ongoing war and Taliban presence. The Afghan Wakhan has remained peaceful and safe over the decades of war the country has seen. But at any time it could turn dangerous, like just about anywhere else. So, if you choose to go, you’re going at your own risk. If you want to read more about travel warnings for Afghanistan read here, and to read up on war zone safety check this out. Realistically the biggest concern I personally had was in the event the Ishkashim border was closed while I was in Afghanistan, as this has happened in the past. Travelers were then forced to travel overland to Kunduz to return to Tajikistan, which is not a good option because it is definitely unsafe. If There is any uncertainty from Taliban threats to cholera to civil unrest they can and will shut the border crossing.
Where to apply for your Afghanistan visa.
Well, theoretically you can apply at any Afghan embassy or consulate. However, I’m going to only focus on where I had my experience, which is the easiest place to get your hands on the coveted Afghanistan visa. And this place is:
The Afghanistan consulate in Khorog, Tajikistan.
The consulate in Khorog is actually the closest consulate to the Afghan Wakhan and nearby Ishkashim will likely (ok, unless they ever open up another nearby post) will 100% be your entry point into Afghanistan and onto the Wakhan.
What to bring with you.
Your passport (duh), a passport photo, a copy of your passport and US dollars for payment (this will vary).
Afghanistan visa costs:
This will vary depending on where your passport is from. But it’s a pretty safe bet that it will cost between $100 and $150 for a one month single entry visa for most nationalities. However Americans get nailed with a $220 Fee for a one month, single entry visa. In Afghanistan’s defense, the US makes it very difficult for Afghans to visit the USA…. And, Yeah Americans, it unfortunately increased by another $20 in cost over summer 2017.
One thing I have discovered spending as much time as I have in Tajikistan, is that things rarely happen, leave or open on time. Officially the hours are 8am to 2pm Monday through Friday. However, I really wouldn’t bother to show up until to closer to 9am. I arrived at 8:45am and everyone was just starting to arrive to work. It’s not uncommon for the consulate to close by 12pm or 1pm. Also look into any upcoming Tajik/Afghan/Islamic holidays because you can be guaranteed the consulate will not be open.
Visiting the consulate is actually a straightforward and typically quick experience. I walked out with my Afghanistan visa in about 30 minutes, start to finish.
Step 1: You’ll first be brought back by the woman who will issue your visa. She will ask where and what you’re planning to do in Afghanistan. Then, likely, she will ask if you’re really sure you want to go because it’s such an expensive visa and that Afghanistan of course can be very dangerous.
Step 2: Hand over your passport, passport photo and passport copy and get the ball rolling. She’ll quickly start the process.
Step 3: Fill out your Afghanistan visa application. Do I need to give an explanation of this? Insha’Allah, I hope not. If you need further explanation on this step, I most emphatically recommend you not go to Afghanistan.
Step 4: Write your letter to the consulate. This is the step you’ve probably never experienced in all your travels. You have to write a letter stating you take full responsibility for any and everything that could, might, will or won’t happen to you along with personal details like name, passport number, date of birth, etc.
Step 5: Chit chat with the consulate lady. She’s actually really nice and speaks very good English in addition to her Russian and Tajik/Dari. Or stare at the wall in silence, weirdo.
Step 6: The visa will be printed. You’ll be asked to double check the info on it to verify it’s all correct. If it’s correct she’ll slap that bad boy onto one of the blank pages of your passport. She’ll then leave the room to get it signed.
Step 7: you’re now free to visit Afghanistan!
Easy as that!
The Afghan Wakhan was an amazing and interesting place to travel. Oh and did I mention I did it solo? Yeah I did it solo. And in case you forgot, I’m a girl. Well actually a woman I guess, or we could say female, whatever. Yes, a solo woman CAN visit Afghanistan! With the Wakhan being incredibly easy and fairly hassle-free for solo women. Of course take usual precautions and conservative dress (hijab) and a headscarf will earn you bonus points with the locals.
And, I’ll say it again:
You’re fully responsible for your own ass while you’re in Afghanistan. Read up on warnings and war zone safety that I linked at the beginning of this post.
Note about being “stamped” into Tajikistan
When I exited Ishkashim on the Tajik side I was hassled about a missing stamp on my Tajik e-visa that should have been placed there when I entered the country. The two guards working insisted that I should have had a stamp on my visa paper when I entered the country at. I explained that I flew into Khujand and did not receive a stamp. I expected to be asked for a bribe at this point. They kept insisting hat the visa needed to have had a stamp on it. I pointed out the stamp from Khujand in my passport showing my entrance date to Tajikistan and pulled out my airline ticket from the Moscow-Khujand flight. Eventually they accepted this in place of the missing stamp after a short lecture about making sure to get that paper stamped.
They remembered me when I returned back to the border to enter Tajikistan and stamped my new e-visa, and said ‘see we stamp at Ishkashim’.
And I’ll share the love: other helpful blog posts/books (that aren’t mine, of course)! I actually used some of these to help plan (recklessly) my own visit.
Expert Vagabond: How to Visit Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor.
Includes most everything you’ll need to know for the Wakhan.
Trekking in the Pamirs: By Jan Bakker.
This 6€ ebook covers many of Tajikistan’s popular treks as well as a 12-dayer in the Afghan Wakhan. And be on the lookout, he’s writing another book.
Lost With Purpose: The Ultimate Afghanistan Travel Guide.
This is probably the most comprehensive Afghan Travel Guide put out this side of the Russian invasion. This includes almost all the destinations that any traveler brave (or crazy, according to most) enough to visit Afghanistan. They however did not visit the Wakhan Corridor, but this guide includes a lot of useful tips.
Want to see more from Afghanistan?
Check out my Instagram to see more photos from my time in the Wakhan! And don’t worry there will be more posts to follow, including one on traveling as a solo woman in the Afghan Wakhan in a couple weeks.
Got questions about visiting the Afghan Wakhan?
Leave a message in the comments!