50 Photos that will show you the beauty of Afghanistan

In August 2021, the Taliban took over Kabul, initiating a new episode in Afghanistan’s 40 years of conflict.

The situation can’t be worse.

When I see those images and videos from Kabul, Kandahar, or Herat, I still can’t believe that, less than two months ago, I was strolling and rambling those streets serenely and, personally, I really don’t know how to feel about it.

On the one hand, I feel privileged, and also lucky, that I was within the last bunch of travelers who witnessed the beauty of Afghanistan.

However, I am not sure if this is a right approach, or the right thing to think about right now, since I also feel terribly sad for all the people I met in Afghanistan, beautiful people and friends who are living the nightmare of losing their freedom and living in the most absolute darkness, especially Afghan women.

Undoubtedly, Afghanistan is one of the best countries I have ever been to, a country home to not only the most kind-hearted and hospitable human beings, but also unspoiled landscapes and dazzling valleys, once part of the historical Silk Road.

From Alexander the Great’s footprints to a large Buddhist legacy and mind-blowing historical mosques, few countries have so much history to tell and so much to offer the traveler.

I really don’t know when we will all be able to travel to Afghanistan again but in this post, I wanted to show you the beauty of Afghanistan in photos, so you can understand what the Afghans are fighting for.

50 Photos to show you the beauty of Afghanistan


Located only 65km northeast of Kabul, Panjshir Valley is a natural fortress and pretty much the only place in Afghanistan which has never been taken by anyone, during the last 40 years of conflict at least.

Today, Panjshir is not only a jaw-dropping valley, but it’s the last anti-Taliban stronghold.

Overlooking the valley, sitting on a Soviet tank, a legacy from the Afghan-Soviet war (1979-89). Panjshir Valley was a place of big resistance against the Soviets as well
Beautiful Panjshir Valley

Kabul has always had security issues but life goes on. It was also my favorite city in Afghanistan, a bustling, chaotic metropolis where there is always something going on. It is one of the most photogenic cities I have ever been to.

Kabul skyline is actually impressive

In most cities, you will find a bird market, the most epic and popular one, being the one located in the heart of Kabul.

The bird market had always been one of the safest and most relaxed places to visit in Kabul. Currently wondering how this place will be affected now that Taliban are ruling.

Men laughing and hanging out in the bird market of Kabul
A bird seller

This shrine was my favorite building in Kabul:

Its name is Sakhi Shah e-Mardan Shrine. It is mostly frequented by the Hazaras, the Afghan Shia community, the reason why this shrine has been a target for suicide bombers
The shrine from the inside

More scenes of daily life in Kabul:

A manual Ferris wheel. Kids just want to have fun.
A carpet seller in Kabul
Young Afghans hanging out
Kids buying birds
Preparing chanaki, typical stew from Kabul

One of the most incredible places to visit in Afghanistan is Bamyan. Home to a large Buddhist heritage and some of the most epic mountains in Central Asia, Bamyan used to be one of the safest places in Afghanistan, but that’s not the case anymore, since it also fell into Taliban hands.

Dreamy Bamyan
Bamyan is where those giant Buddhas were blown up during Taliban rule, back in 1996-2001. The big wall behind this little girl is where those Buddhas used to be
Bamyan is the native land of Hazaras, a distinct ethnic group in Afghanistan that represent nearly 10% of the population. They are Shia Muslims, the reason there have always been a Talib target
But some Pashtuns also live in Bamyan, and they are very kind too
Bamyan landscapes
And the roads are… <3
That’s 😮
Unspoiled…
Can you see the fortress composed of a few dozen towers? This is Chehel Burj, which literally means 40 towers
In Bamyan, you can also visit Bander e Mir National Park. Epic.
At 3000 meters above see level, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a series of 6 deep blue lakes separated by natural dams
The area receives a significant amount of local tourism that comes from Kabul
In Bamyan, we also went trekking, reaching over 4000 meters

If you like visiting mosques, it doesn’t get any better than in Mazar-i-Sheriff.

This is Hazrat Ali Mosque, the Blue Mosque. Muslims believe it contains the tomb of Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Rightly Guided Caliph (Prophet Mohammed Successor).

Praying time
Just WOW
Blue Mosque Mazar
Woman in burqa
Blue Mosque
Woman in burqa
It’s actually pretty big, with many different buildings and domes

On the west side of the country, very close to the border with Iran, you have Herat, the cultural capital of Afghanistan, and where you find the oldest caravanserais, mosques, fortresses and madrassas. They are culturally close to their neighbours of Iran.

This is the Grand Mosque of Herat
As you can see, it has many similarities with the mosques you find in Uzbekistan
I also visited the workshop where they make the mosque’s tiles
Herat Grand Mosque
A man reading the Quran, in the mosque
A burqa seller in Herat
This is the fortress where Taliban celebrated their conquest of Herat

And last, the city of Kandahar, infamous for being the place where the Taliban movement was created, but also a historically-rich city founded by Alexander the Great.

Views from Old Kandahar
Old Kandahar
Mausoleum of Mirwas Khan Hotak, who ruled in the 18th century.
The inside of the mausoleum is gorgeous
People in Kandahar
This isn’t a beautiful photo but the characters you meet in Kandahar are something else
Same guys, they were actually anti-Taliban fighters

Thank you for so many beautiful moments, Afghanistan

19 comments

    1. Een fantastisch beeld van Afghanistan.
      Een aantal beelden doet me denken aan noord Pakistan waar ik ook een aantal keer ben doorgereisd.
      Ik wordt er erg verdrietig van wat een verschrikkelijk drama er momenteel in Afghanistan afspeelt en leef erg met de situatie mee.
      Heel hartelijk dank dat ik van deze mooie beelden mag genieten.
      Met vriendelijke groeten
      Anke Steens

  1. Thx a lot for sharing. I always wanted to visit this country but unfortunately i think it is a bit too late now………

  2. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful photos. This part of the world is most often brought to us only by the news media, and only with the focus of war, violence and despair. One would easy forget that normal peoples normal lives are lived here every day, and we never get to see the beauty of these places. I was supposed to travel the Pamir highway + Wahkan valley last summer, it was postponed to augyst this year due to COVID. And now… I dont know when we will ever be able to go there. I enjoy your blog and a much more diverse view of where in the world it is possible to travel. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Mette! I don’t think the Afghanistan situation will affect your trip to the Pamir Highway, but I wonder about the Tajik Wakhan… since you are likely to see Taliban right from across the river.

    2. Ik geniet van deze schitterende foto’ s uit een helaas verscheurd
      land waar de situatie ronduit slecht is maar hou nog altijd hoop dat de slechte omstandigheden nu, ooit nog es zullen verbeteren.
      Was ik in ’83 die grens vanuit Pakistan maar overgegaan.
      Anjo Fasten

  3. Alfons Sort Vidal

    Thanks Joan, your newsletter about Afganisthan is impresive and hard to believe that this was just teo month ago!

  4. Wow!! such stunning unbelievable natural beauties of Afghanistan. I watch the news everyday
    and it’s so heartbreaking. I just wonder why they can’t sit down and settle differences for the good of their people. I believe no one will win in this situation. Am praying hard for this country to be at peace as soonest. Thank you Mr. Torres for sharing those awesome pics. I hope someday I will be able to step on Afghanistan soil too. Take care and be safe.

    1. Thank you for sharing such amazing and true to life photos and stories.

      Hard to believe you were there a few months ago when it was peaceful. Thank goodness you left when you did and returned home safely. My prayers go out to all the people struggling now for their life.

  5. Such an amazing journey. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of this troubled country. I am amazed at the beauty of your photos. Be safe!

    Lynne

  6. Wow, spectacular scenery! As I probably won’t get to Af. in this Lifetime, maybe in my next one. Thanks for sharing these terrific photos. Hope that this country will have Peace some day…

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