Why the f*ck did we travel to Afghanistan?!

Why the fuck did they travel to Afghanistan?! is the question burning in your mind right now, and we don’t blame you.

The country is plagued by war and considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Sensible governments advise against all but the most essential of travel in Afghanistan. Yet we went without a guide, without an interpreter, and without security.

So why did we?

The answer is simple, if a bit selfish: curiosity. We were curious to learn about its ancient history, spanning thousands of years. We were curious to see what life in the country was really like. We were curious to meet the people.

Why did we travel to Afghanistan?

Thousands of years of history with no one there to see

We wanted to see ancient Balkh, once capital of mighty Bactria, where Zoroastrianism was born and where Timur reigned supreme.

The ruins of the Masjid Sabz, Green Mosque, in Balkh province, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

The ruins of the Masjid Sabz, Green Mosque, in Balkh.

To wander through Herat’s ancient citadel and admire its colorful Persian roots.

The Jame Masjid, Friday Mosque, in Herat, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

The Jame Masjid, Friday Mosque, in Herat.

We wanted to explore the Panjshir Valley, where the Mujaheddin held off the Russians, and bombed out tanks still stand as a testament to their strength.

A bombed-out tank in Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

We wanted to explore the caves of Bamiyan and stand before its (sadly desecrated) Buddhas.

Overlooking the destroyed Buddha caves in Bamyan, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

Can you spot the buddha enclaves in the background?

Simply put, we wanted to see what Afghanistan had to offer.

Don’t believe everything you see on T.V.

But there’s more to it. When people think of Afghanistan, they think of war and violence, Predator Drones and Taliban, bomb blasts and murder of religious minorities and security personnel. Not people.

Playful Afghan boys in the back of a truck in Herat, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

Afghanistan is filled with people trying to live their daily lives, constantly coping with the threat of violence while trying to make a living. They laugh together with their friends, they cry together with their families. They are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, not just a bunch of angry men with turbans and Kalashnikovs.

Sebastiaan posing with a friendly barber in Herat, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

We wanted to meet these very real people and hear their stories, to go beyond the news flashes and learn the Afghan people’s perspective.


Where no man dares to tread

Of course, we also take a certain pride in going places where not many other travelers go. Not because it’s “cool” or because it makes us “interesting”—if we wanted that we could’ve hiked through the remote Wakhan Corridor, the only safe place in Afghanistan and a hotspot for people looking to check Afghanistan off their bucket list… sans-risk.

Wandering the great walls of Old Balkh, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

Wandering along the walls of ancient Balkh.

No, we seek out these places because they scream to have their stories told, and are dying to welcome international visitors (other than aid workers) once more. Tell an Afghan you’re a tourist, not an aid worker, and you’ll be blinded by the smile blossoming across their face.


But we might just be insane

We hope that by going here, without any form of protection or hired help, we can show the world it’s possible. If you’re crazy enough to dream of it, you can, too.

Some of you might think we’re foolish. Some of you think we just went to get attention. Some of you might think we’re batshit crazy.

Alex getting an IV drip at a clinic in Kabul, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

You might be right.

Curious about traveling to Afghanistan, too? Check out our comprehensive Afghanistan travel guide!


Why the f*ck did we travel to Afghanistan? It's one of the most dangerous countries in the world, rife with inequality, and extremely poor. So why did we? Read on to find out!


Alex Reynolds profile picture

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

55 thoughts on “Why the f*ck did we travel to Afghanistan?!

    Fabien Astre says:

    I just find your blog and I like it ! Just went through your blogs post about Afghanistan and Pakistan as I always wanted to go travel in Central Asia and I will go hopefully soon ! I find good advice and tips and will definetly take some notes of it when I will plan my trip there. Happy travels !!

    Hi Fabien, thanks for reaching out. Glad our blog is helpful. Let us know if you have more questions. Cheers!

    Today I visited an exposition from Steve McCurry and I said to a friend I would truely loooove to visit Afghanistan to see this country with my own eyes. A few times we flew over the country on our way to or from Asia and I am so curious about these desolate mountainous regions, the ancient cities and the people who live there. Great that you had the chance tot visit! I’m not in the position right now, we have 2 young kids and I don’t want to put them into danger, but once I’m gonna go! For sure!

    We understand that sentiment! Steve McCurry is one of Alex’s favorite photographers, and he’s done Afghanistan quite some justice in his photos.

    Afghanistan most certainly merits a visit for so many reasons, but it is indeed wise of you to wait until the kids are a bit older. Not the best place to draw eyes as a family traveling around!

    dare2gocom says:

    I consider this brave (but not foolish). I was in Afghanistan and Iran long before the war and loved it! I even saw the Buddhas of Bamiyan before the Taliban blew them up. But no photos of my own as at that stage I didn’t own a camera. So I guess I should file it in my head under ‘unforgettable’…

    That should definitely be filed under unforgettable. We’re still angry every time we think of those empty crevasses. Such an affront to history.

    Josie says:

    Afghanistan looks a like a truly beautiful country, those landscapes are breathtaking and sadly you don’t see that on the news. Absolutely fascinated by your adventures in Afghanistan, thank you very much for sharing them, as I’m not sure that I’ll ever pluck up the courage to go…

    Sebastiaan says:

    It is truly a gorgeous country, and it’s a shame the current situation bars people from appreciating it. We really hope that things will change, and that more people can experience the beauty, but the situation is getting worse, not better 🙁

    April Pishna says:

    Beautiful. Exactly why I want to visit Afghanistan, for its people and its beauty. We are all humans and simply trying to live a full life amidst all the conflict. I have read many personal stories about life in this conflicted country, and I cannot wait to meet the everyday heroes who live here.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Thanks a lot. It’s such a shame that a beautiful country like Afghanistan has been so ravaged for so long. Let’s hope things will get better, to that the people of Afghanistan can have their peace.

    Wahab Siddiqi says:

    When I saw the title I thought it might be like other stories about Afghanistan, but I found my rest of life in this story.
    I’m from Afghanistan and live in Herat, it’s quiet secure and amazing historical places for visit.
    I not a tourist guide but I guided many of my foreigner friends from USA, Australia, Pakistan, turkey, Iran and Italy.
    Without any expectation, I say welcome to all people around the world how are thinking and behave humanity.
    Afghanistan people are victim of the war not a part of the war! Our dream is world peace ✌️.

    Ryan says:

    I readily admit to being bitter and old…but I do worry for the two of you. I have no doubt the vast majority of people are just as you suggest (great photos suggest it).

    I’m thinking more about those looking to exploit the token quality of getting their hands on a westerner. Statistically, I have no idea of your actual risk.

    I can’t see it as worth it. Obviously you do. I’d assume, however, that if you were captured by those who would do the things I feared, you’d be at peace with it. As long as you can say, “yes”, to that, I suppose it is ‘fine’.

    But yeah, I definitely agree that the mass of people out there would have little sympathy if something went wrong. I hope it never does and all you end up with is the one-off food poisoning and some tremendous experiences.

    Mark says:

    Hey, jmho but please lay off the antibiotics. Screws up your gutflora and longevity decreases and morbidity increases. Carry and use neem!
    Bon voyage!

    dewolfguesthouse says:

    Really interesting to see such a post because none can explain Afghanistan like this really interesting to explore.

    lapuertadelsolcostarica says:

    Does Afghan have this all in it pretty impressive. Thanks for such a article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *