Best time to go to Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a country of four distinct seasons. Scorching summers cook up swirling sandstorms, while the freezing winters see snow-blocked passes.
The best time to visit Afghanistan is generally in April-May and September-October. You’ll avoid the 40°C summers which can make sightseeing unbearable, and the winter snows which cut off more remote regions. December to April is the rainiest period, and in spring, northern Afghanistan in particular is lush and green. Autumn remains warm and dry, with fruits being harvested. However, summer is the best time to visit the remote Wakhan Valley, due to access issues and because the high altitude keeps temperatures down. Do check Ramadan dates, as restaurants and other facilities may close; for the next few years it falls in spring. March 21 is Afghan New Year.
Kabul Weather Chart
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Afghanistan travel advice
Marc Leaderman, from our leading Afghanistan vacation experts, Wild Frontiers, shares his advice for traveling in this little visited country.
Step back in time in Kabul
“In the center of Kabul there is a sort of ‘souvenir street’ called Chicken Street. I bought a carpet, a couple of old books and there was some beautiful jewellery and textiles as well. Speaking to one of the guys there, he was there in the 60s and 70s, and he remembers all the hippies coming through. It’s easy to forget that Afghanistan was once a major stop on the hippie trail, and there are amazing photographs of people chilling out in cafes in Kabul. It was always one of the edgier places but it was a major stop on the route to Delhi and Kathmandu, and it’s fascinating to meet people who can still connect with those times. And to be able to buy some of their souvenirs! It’s also nice to be able to put some money back into the local economy, that isn’t charity, that isn’t opium, that’s just honest, good trade. That kind of transaction just brought a whole sense of normality to Afghanistan that is so often not there.”
Culture in the Wakhan Valley“The Wakhan Valley was never taken by the Taliban and there are reasons for that, partly strategic, but it’s also just the geography of the place. In order to access the valley you have to go through quite a narrow entrance called Ishkishim, and that is quite heavily defended. So it’s quite different culturally to the rest of Afghanistan. The people there are called Wakhi and they speak a language that is related to Dari so it is more Persian, more Tajik, it has a very different feel to the Pashtun that you get down in the south of Afghanistan. They look different, they have a different temperament and it’s a completely different experience.”
Risk & reward“We’re about vacations, we’re about cultural interaction, we’re not about thrill seekers, people wanting to take selfies on the edge of a battle zone. We avoid areas where there are Taliban, we’re not trying to engage, we’re not trying to change the world; at the end of the day it’s personal risk. Some people are prepared to put bits of wood on the bottom of their shoes and go hurtling down the side of a mountain to go skiing – for some people that is a stupid risk, and for others that is fine. And some people think you’d be absolutely mad to go to places like Afghanistan, while for others, who have travelled quite extensively, and especially if they’ve spoken to people who’ve been, they have quite a different perception.”
Responsible tourism in the Wakhan“Another top end camping tour had passed through the Wakhan Valley before us, and they’d brought all their own equipment and all their own food. They had an amazing time but local people saw them going past and they really benefitted very little – if at all – from the tourists. I made a decision at that time that even though the vehicles in Afghanistan are pretty rubbish, I’m going to use Afghan vehicles rather than take Tajik vehicles over the border. I’m going to use Afghan guides even though admittedly they are not great; they are more fixers and translators as you would expect. But if you’re going to an area that is so rarely visited, I think there is a responsibility to really utilise them as much as possible and give encouragement to people, so that’s what we do.”
More about Afghanistan
An extreme destination even by the standards of the most adventurous travelers, Afghanistan redefines what it means to head off the beaten track.
The remote Wakhan Corridor is a 220km-long sliver of land that creeps through the mountains of northeast Afghanistan.
With an ongoing war, Taliban insurgents and many regions entirely uncontrolled by the government, we can’t guarantee that it is safe to travel in Afghanistan.