Links and resources
Note: This list was compiled in May 2003 and it is highly unlikely that this reflects the best of what's out there.
Kabul Caravan - The best of the travel resources out there. Good mixture of historical and practical information.
Afghan Web - An excellent portal to a variety of general information on Afghanistan.
Survival Guide to Kabul - Very good information on Kabul and an excellent portal to news and additional Afghanistan information. It would appear to have been originally developed primarily with expats in mind, however the website has been evolving rapidly and is becoming more and more useful to would-be tourists, real and virtual.
Luke Powell - Photos of Afghanistan and more. Definitely worth viewing.
A short note to Afghanistan - Practical information based on one Hong Kong Chinese's visit in late 2002. Reasonably accurate though errors do exist. However, inaccuracies may be as much a result of things changing than any shortcomings in the author's observation skills.
Afghan Travel - A travel guide to Afghanistan based on one American's experiences there. Generally useful but sometimes inconsistent site. The author adamantly warns against travel to Afghanistan without adequately explaining why it was okay for him to visit but not the rest of us.
Triple Gem Gallery - A bit of travelogue and a lot of photos of one individual's travel through the region in August and September 2002.
Balkh.com - A short history of Balkh.
Official State Dept/Foreign Office travel advisories:. USA, UK, Australia. I'm skeptical at best of these reports as they tend to present worst case scenarios and are not always up-to-date. However, for the time being, these offices are keeping their reports fairly current and as investigating the present security situation in Afghanistan is imperative prior to departure, you might want to take a look, just the same. But keep in mind that these reports are written more to protect the embassies than to protect their citizens, as they can say, "Don't blame us, we told you so," in the event one of their citizens does have a problem. These reports tell you all the bad things that could happen but often fail to place them in context or address the actual likelihood that you could be a victim. Read these reports, but be critical when you read them!
An Unexpected Light, by Jason Elliott - First rate travel writing of some recent forays into Afghanistan. Read the Amazon.com customer reviews.
A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush, by Eric Newby - a 1950s walk through the Hindu Kush. Quite funny. Read the Amazon.com customer reviews.
Essential Field Guides to Humanitarian and Conflict Zones: Afghanistan, edited by Edward Girardet and Jonathan Walter. I haven't personally seen this book, but word is that it's quite a comprehensive book written for aid workers, journalists, etc. Published in 1998. Read the Amazon.com customer reviews.
An Historical Guide to Afghanistan by Nancy Hatch Dupree. Last published in 1977, this is still the number one guidebook to Afghanistan's sites and more current than you might imagine. The book has been out of print for years, but you can find old copies for sale all over Kabul. It's a comprehensive listing of all the attractions of Kabul as of 1977 as well as some then-practical travel information. The writing style is well, sort of like your grandmother sitting by the fire telling you old stories.
Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics, by Martin Ewans. 2002. 338-page succinct history of Afghanistan. Read the Amazon.com customer reviews.
I wish I could recommend a good introduction to Islam, but the book I read left me with mixed feelings. Perhaps I should have known better, but I picked up a copy of the Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam by Yahiya Emerick. The book begins with the basics of the religion in an easy to digest format and yes, it did teach me a lot. However, the book is not objective, seeing the religion through proverbial rose-tinted glasses and the further you read the more you find the author replaces instruction with proselytism. If someone can pass along information on a better, more objective introduction to Islam, I'd be happy to comment on it here. Readers have had a field day reviewing this book on the Amazon.com website. Have a look.
Nelles Maps makes a 1:1,500,000 map of Afghanistan that includes a city map of Kabul. If you pick up a copy of Nancy Dupree's An Historical Guide to Afghanistan there's a map of Kabul inside that's still pretty good. Bookstores in Kabul also offer various sheet maps.
The Kabul Caravan site has a very good listing and descriptions of on-line resources, books, and maps.
Links & resources
All text and photographs © 1998 - 2010 Gordon Sharpless. Commercial or editorial usage without written permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.