Dylan Harris, the founder of Lupine Travel, is amazed because Afghanistan has unexpectedly become their most popular travel destination this year. Despite being labeled as “extremely dangerous” by the UK Foreign Office, people are eager to visit.
Lupine Travel used to operate in Afghanistan but stopped when the Taliban took control in 2021. They thought it would take a long time for the situation to improve, but surprisingly, it’s now considered safer than before because the people they were concerned about are now in charge.
In September, one of their staff members visited Afghanistan for initial research, and it went well. Last month, they put three trips on sale for next year, and they sold out immediately. Now they have eight trips for next year, and all of them are already sold out.
Although there was always demand for Afghanistan travel before the Taliban takeover, safety concerns held people back. However, now safety is less of a worry, but there’s more paperwork involved in moving between cities.
The tours cover various places, including Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan with its Buddha niches, Band-e-Amir National Park, Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh, and a traditional game called buzkashi. Flights are not included, and travelers need to go through Abu Dhabi, Dubai, or Istanbul.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to Afghanistan, citing the high threat of terrorist attacks, extreme danger throughout the country, and the risk of detention for British nationals. Standard travel insurance doesn’t cover countries with such warnings.
Lupine Travel acknowledges the ethical concerns of supporting a regime like the Taliban but emphasizes that they interact with local people and support the economy, not the Taliban directly. They are aware of specific issues, such as the treatment of female visitors, and are making alternative plans in case some locations are not accessible to women during the trips.