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Post-War Afghanistan Draws Foreign Visitors: A Unique Destination

Post-War Afghanistan Draws Foreign Visitors: A Unique Destination

In an unusual turn of events, American traveler Oscar Wells embarks on a journey to Afghanistan not for political or military reasons, but for sightseeing, despite his soldier son’s past involvement in the country’s conflict. At 65, Wells, a farmer from Indiana, finds himself drawn to Afghanistan’s unique landscapes and cultural heritage, expressing admiration for its majestic mountains and traditional way of life.


His visit, however, is not without challenges. Decades of warfare have left Afghanistan’s tourism industry in shambles, with infrastructure in disrepair and security concerns lingering. Visitors like Wells and French tourist Didier Goudant, accompanied by the firm Untamed Borders, navigate through a country under the austere rule of the Taliban, facing strict regulations, checkpoints, and potential threats from groups like the Islamic State.

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Despite the risks, the allure of Afghanistan’s untapped beauty attracts an increasing number of tourists. Official figures show a 120 percent year-on-year increase in foreign tourist arrivals in 2023, reaching nearly 5,200. While Western governments caution against traveling to Afghanistan, the Taliban government welcomes foreign tourism as a means to showcase the country’s true image.

For tourists like Goudant, the journey is not just about sightseeing but also about connecting with the Afghan people and providing assistance in any way possible, such as making donations to local groups. Similarly, Wells feels a sense of responsibility to support the Afghan people in the aftermath of the US military withdrawal, which he views as poorly executed.

The resurgence of tourism brings both opportunities and challenges for Afghanistan. While it allows travelers to experience the country’s rich culture and history, it also raises concerns about the exploitation of vulnerable communities and the preservation of cultural heritage. Nevertheless, adventurous souls like Wells, Goudant, and solo traveler Stefanie Meier continue to explore Afghanistan, sharing their experiences and insights with the world despite the uncertainties and risks involved.