In an effort to boost adventure tourism, and show off its spectacular natural wonders, Afghanistan has reopened its tallest mountain to climbers after years of conflict prevented travel in the region. The country now hopes to become a popular destination for mountaineers and adventure travelers seeking new challenges and unique experiences in remote places.
The 24,580-foot Mt. Noshaq is located in the extreme northeastern corner of Afghanistan, falling along its shared border with Pakistan. According to National Geographic, a team of climbers traveled to the mountain in late July to commemorate the reopening by making the first ascent of the mountain by foreigners in more than three decades. Noshaq was climbed by an all Afghani team for the first time in 2009 as well.
Noshaq is located inside the Hindu Kush, a spectacular chain of snow capped peaks that run across much of central Afghanistan and into northern Pakistan. Due to the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, however, many of those peaks have been off limits since the Soviet Union invaded back in 1979. Now that a level of stability and security has returned to much of the region, the country is hoping to lure climbers and mountaineers looking for new mountains to explore.
Mountain climbers aren’t the only ones to find new adventures in Afghanistan however. Trekking the Wakhan Corridor has also become an attractive option for adventure travelers looking for an escape to a very remote destination. This narrow strip of land runs between two towering mountain ranges and was once part of the famed Silk Road, an historical trading route that Marco Polo may (or may not) have used when traveling to China. The entire route takes a couple of weeks to complete, during which time hikers cross through high mountain passes, visit tiny villages inhabited by sheep herders, and witness some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.
Obviously Afghanistan still has a long way to go to convince travelers that it is a safe place to visit. But by reopening Mt. Noshaq and promoting treks like the Wakhan Valley, they have taken steps to demonstrate to the world that they are a first class adventure travel destination with untapped natural resources for those bold enough to experience it.
I’m definitely ready to go!
[Photo credit: Noshaq.com]