drove them all the way from Berlin to Afghanistan in search of the legendary Wakhi people. Making the 6,000km journey into the belly of the 14,000ft high Wakhan Corridor, this was not your typical road trip.
For years we had heard that Afghanistan was a region torn by war and riddled with societal problems beyond comprehension. But after a few too many sensationalised headlines, it seemed to us that the story was starting to seem a little one sided. We knew it was time to search out the truth first hand, and so began preparations for the road trip of a lifetime.
As our date of departure neared, day by day, we wondered whether the Afghanistan we found on our journey would match the one we’d witnessed on our TV screens. We had heard it was a place where danger loomed. But we had also heard it was home to peaceful people, and, most intriguingly to us, were those known as the Wakhi. Rumoured to be a nomadic community that communed with nature and believed in the oneness of everything, the Wakhi sounded like a far cry from the place of conflict the world had been advised to fear.
As though from a tale of folklore, this elusive community were said to be found in the remote Wakhan Corridor – a narrow valley nestled almost autonomously between Tajikistan, Pakistan and China, and towered over by the legendary Pamir Mountains. Once the Silk Road’s pinnacle connection between Occident and Orient, was it possible this valley still held the peaceful nomads that once hosted armies, spice traders and the likes of Marco Polo? And if so, what were the chances they had been able to maintain their tranquil way of life throughout centuries of conflicting political ideologies, world wars, and the Taliban? We knew if we could find them, however, these inhabitants would show a side of Afghanistan that had not yet made it onto the 6 o’clock news.
Accessing this remote and uncertain corner of the world was no small feat. Lined with some of the tallest mountain peaks in Central Asia, the Wakhan Corridor was encamped in a natural fortress of cliff and rock. This impenetrable wall left us with a singular point of access at the southwest corner of the valley.
To reach this gateway we would need Maltec – our off-road exploration partners – to bring two extreme all-terrain 4x4s 6,000km from Berlin as close to Afghanistan as they could get. “As close as we could get” turned out to be Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan. Tajikistan in itself is an adventure, and a place widely known as one of the region’s most exciting landing points for climbers, trekkers and adventure travelers. It is also a nation almost unmatched in its warmth of hospitality. It was at this inviting hub in the core of Central Asia that our team arrived from their respective corners of the globe and set out on our mission.
An exhilarating four days of border crossings, check points, desert terrain, and pots of tea with locals intrigued by our international team of travellers found us soon approaching the mouth of the Wakhan Corridor. We had arrived.
Follow the rest of our journey in our next blog post!
Check out our Wakhan Corridor fundraiser here.