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Flying into Kabul, Afghanistan.

Dear All,

I am seeking opinions on the best way to fly into Kabul this spring (May or so) from Tokyo. I have been warned off the road from Peshawar through Jalalibad by several people.

Preferrably I would like to go in from Pakistan but
have had recommendations to fly in from Delhi and even Dubai. Dubai is quite far from Tokyo and expensive to get there, as I had to transit through there on the way to Yemen. It seems a better option from Europe than East Asia.

Why would Delhi be an advantage over Islamabad? Cost? Availability of flights?

Thank you in advance for the help.

Best,

James Whitlow Delano

www.jameswhitlowdelano.com

by [a former member] at 2007-02-20 12:52:25 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Tokyo , Japan | Bookmark | | Report spam→

20 Feb 2007 00:02
James, I guess flying in from Tokyo, Islamabad is not such a bad proposition. There are regular PIA flights between Islamabad and Kabul. Getting tix is really straightforward. Pakistan to Afghanistan by road is less interesting, its one long drive, and you’ll have to switch cabs quite often. It took me 16 hours coming from Kabul. Road travel might be hazardous as well during that period, with Isaf and Talib claiming imminent offensives. Be sure to get a visa from the Afghan embassy or consulate in Japan, as Islamabad’s Afghan embassy only issues 14 day journo visas. Cheers, Pat.

by [former member] | 20 Feb 2007 14:02 | Mechelen, Belgium | | Report spam→
Hi James,

Would advise via Delhi, Indian Airlines has a connection into Kabul, not sure about how safe it would be via Pakistan, and certainly NOT by road.
Dubai would be a little far off for you.

Flight No. Aircraft
type Dep. Arr. No. of
Stops Day of Service
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
IC 843 A-320 0910 1010 0
IC 843 A-320 1145 1245 0

Sched of Indian Airlines.

by [former member] | 20 Feb 2007 14:02 | Delhi, India | | Report spam→
James,

I’ve flown to Kabul from Islamabad, Delhi and Dubai and I would say that flying from Islamabad would be fine. You can fly PIA and its a bit better than Ariana. They are all fine. Just choose which ever one is more convenient for you. From Dubai you can fly Arian or Kam Air. From Islamabad and Dubai there are also UN flights which are the best but you’ll only be able to get on one if you have a friend working for the UN or an NGO who can write you a letter. I think there are actually more flights from Islamabad than from Delhi but that could have changed since I was there. You can find cheaper Ariana flights from Islamabad to Kabul – these might stop in Peshawar though and there is a chance you’d get stuck there for a few hours depending on the weather.

Hope that helps.

Best,

Katherine

by Katherine Kiviat | 20 Feb 2007 14:02 | Jerusalem, Israel | | Report spam→
James,

I tried to fly to Kabul via Islamabad in June of 2006 – to find that the flights for Kabul from Pakistan where flying from Peshewar not from Islamabad (this may have been temporary im not sure you will have to check), and the visa issues changed if you wanted to fly through Pershawar ( you need a seperate permissions or visa for pershawar) Peshawar as you will know is difficult visa wise due to the ongoing problems with the North Western Frontiere Province.

I ended up flying via Dubai, which worked out fine. Although in your case coming from Tokyo – Delhi is by far the best option. Indian airlines fly better aircraft into Kabul, – the wings dont creak like they do on Ariana, although the food may be just as bad !!! I have actually done the trip also via Delhi and it was fine that way too.

I also tried very hard to do the trip by road, but could not get a working visa to go through the NWFP or Pershawar, something you can only get once your on the ground in Islamabad, and is NOT easy to get. Its is however much easier to travel by road the other way around (i.e – from Kabul to Pershawar, and then onto Islamabad), but it is certainly no less dangerous doing that way ! And probably not advised – although a friend of mine did it and it was no problem at all. I think being robbed is probably the biggest risk of that particular road, as USUALLY it is safe enough these days. As i said i would’nt advise it if you have other options but you may not have so.

Hope this is of some help. I will be in Afghanistan for six months as of the end of March, so get in touch when you hit the ground.

Cheers,

Jamie

by Jamie Scott-Long | 20 Feb 2007 14:02 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Dear All,

Thank you for the information. I learned something different from every one
of them. Jamie, are you saying that you need to get special permission simply
to visit Peshawar (something I would very much like to do)? I would need to
get that documentation in Islamabad? I would guess the same would be true
for Quetta.

Anyhow, I will probably research Delhi versus Islamabad. I love India but
have never been to Pakistan and would like to do some photography there, and
it is more culturally related to Afghanistan.

Roughly what kind of cost are we talking for the Delhi or Islamabad flights?
Is it regulated highway robbery or reasonable?

Best,

James.

by [former member] | 20 Feb 2007 15:02 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
James,

When i was getting my visa in London for Pakistan, i was told that if i wanted to go to Peshewar i would have to apply for a special visa once i had landed in Islamabad, friends of mine who have tried it on the fly without a visa have been caught because there are several police check points on the way to Pershawar, and if you dont have the right documentation you can forget it !

The Pakistani’s have a fairly fierce intelligence service, and the police are no different. I got through in 2001 to Pershawer from Islamabad by bribing officials with ‘bagshish’, but it is not easy to do.

However this may have changed now – when i was applying for my visa last year – it was only JUST after the London bombings, which as you will know at that time had all been linked to extremist training camps in Pakistan, in the NWFP – which may have made my plight more difficult. Perhaps they have relaxed the rules now that all that is passed. Im sure you can get there on a tourist visa, but then of course you will need a working visa for Afghanistan. The Pakistani’s may not give you a tourist visa to travel to the NWFP if they know that you are working in Afghanistan – they can be a little suspicious.Im not sure what they’re worried about but hey ! Perhaps they’re worried about cavalier journo’s trying to find Osama Bin Laden in the hills of the NWFP. Perhpas they just dont like journalists??

Who knows this may all be different now ??!!

Cheers,

Jamie

by Jamie Scott-Long | 20 Feb 2007 15:02 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Dear Jamie,

Thank you for the information. That is a little trcky. I guess
I can try to get that special permission in Tokyo (maybe not
possible) before applying for my Afghanistan visa.

I had not have considered this before.

We’ll see what happens.

Cheers,

James.

by [former member] | 21 Feb 2007 03:02 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
James,

I don’t know what you’ll be covering in Afghanistan (military or civilian shooting), but I do know the authorities in Dubai are uber-strict about bringing in flak vests/ceramic plates, etc into UAE when you travel civvy-air. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re only connecting to another flight. Still, something to think about if you want to visit Dubai during your trip.

Have a good one!

Sgt Frank Hudec
Cameraman/Canadian Forces Army News
www.army.forces.gc.ca
www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca
www.frankhudec.ca

by [former member] | 21 Feb 2007 21:02 | Ottawa, Canada | | Report spam→
heya James,

Sgt Hudec is correct. There’s security officers screening the baggage that leaves the airport at Dubai, and they will confiscate body armor. They’ll give you a reciept for your gear, but you might have to insist on it, and wait a little while. None of the airlines flying in (that I know of) will transfer your luggage to the Afghanistan-bound airlines, so its hard to get around this. Most likely, you’ll fly into terminal 1 – the flights to kabul leave in the early morning, from terminal 2. The security officers will meet you between the x-ray machines and the check in counters at terminal 2 and return your gear.

by teru kuwayama | 22 Feb 2007 01:02 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
ps. would also be curious to know if anyone has had any problems moving body armor through delhi or islamabad. both of them seem to do random checks on arrival, and islamabad is pretty thorough checking outbound luggage, but I’m not sure what happens at either airport when they turn up helmets or bulletproof vests.

by teru kuwayama | 22 Feb 2007 04:02 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
James,
I am based in Delhi, and we regularly carry flak jackets and helmets out of Delhi, they are never a problem, if they ask , we have sometimes said the right answer or trekking helmets. They normally do not bother.

by [former member] | 22 Feb 2007 09:02 | Delhi, India | | Report spam→
Dear Anamitra, Teru, and Frank,

That is an interesting wrinkle. If one is not embedding in Helmand
or Kandahar, where would it be a good idea wearing body armour.

If traveling to Kabul, or perhaps north and west to the Hazara lands,
is body armour necessary? I would like to travel light and not
carry armour unless it is prudent to do so.

I am more interested in the human condition of ordinary Afghan
people than in military maneuvers.

Thank you.

Best,

James.

by [former member] | 23 Feb 2007 07:02 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Hi James – if you’re not embedding, forget the armor. ordinary Afghans don’t even wear seatbelts.

by teru kuwayama | 23 Feb 2007 08:02 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
James,

There’s lots to shoot in Kabul for what you’re looking for. Check out the brick factories, markets, Soviet tank graveyards, gym’s, old city wall, and TV Hill. Do a search for Kabul on Getty Editorial:

http://editorial.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx

to see what you can expect to see. Get yourself a good fixer and driver if you’re going this route.

Good luck!

Sgt Frank Hudec
Cameraman/Canadian Forces Army News
www.army.forces.gc.ca
www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca
www.frankhudec.ca

by [former member] | 23 Feb 2007 09:02 | Ottawa, Canada | | Report spam→
James,

I agree that you do not need to wear flak jackets all the time, but please carry them, Taliban presence has been building up near the Pakistan borders. Be safe !

by [former member] | 23 Feb 2007 11:02 | Delhi, India | | Report spam→
I will definitely consider my movement carefully. My interest is
more in the Afghan people than in soldiers’ maneuvers. STill
it is possible to find yourself unexpectedly in the wrong place
at the wrong time and because the conflict affects the people,
the two are not easily separated.

Thanks again for the advice.

Best,

James.

by [former member] | 05 Mar 2007 05:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Thanks for the link, Frank. I am not sure it
had the effect you desired (29027 images found).
That is a saturated subject. Hm.

I will go anyhow.

Cheers,

James.

by [former member] | 05 Mar 2007 05:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
James,

Some information on flying from Delhi to Kabul.

Ariana are currently offering flights on Wednesdays and Sundays but the times vary. It is about eleven thousand Indian Rupees. They are based at Delhi International Airport and no longer at the Ashok Hotel. If you call the number below and leave your name you can show up at the airport and pay cash for your flight. They do not have an online booking system on their website. The Delhi operations manager is Raj Kumar (his number is the first one). He is genuinely helpful and will look after you.

ARIANA AIRLINES DELHI: 981 0733394
also: 9818283602, 9818043310

I was going to say the Khyber Pass was safe but after recent news from Jalalabad I guess not anymore.

Cheers

Ross

by [former member] | 05 Mar 2007 08:03 | Kabul, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
Hi Ross,

Thanks for the information. I am guessing that this is
the price for a round trip.

You are based in Pakistan? Have you flown to Afghanistan
from Islamabad or Peshawar?

I think that going overland this spring would not be a
good idea, given the recent incident on that road.

Cheers,

James.

by [former member] | 07 Mar 2007 01:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Hi Ross,

Thanks for the information. I am guessing that this is
the price for a round trip.

You are based in Pakistan? Have you flown to Afghanistan
from Islamabad or Peshawar?

I think that going overland this spring would not be a
good idea, given the recent incident on that road.

Cheers,

James.

by [former member] | 07 Mar 2007 01:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Hi James,

Do you, or anyone else reading this, know what sort of visas are required for Afghanistan? My friend and I are planning to go Kabul – Herat – Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) sometime in mid-late may. We won’t be on assignment as such but we are both full-time journalists. But I will definitely be taking pics and he will be writing… any thoughts about journalist or tourist visas?

Michael

by [former member] | 07 Mar 2007 08:03 | Moscow, Russia | | Report spam→
Try here: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/dest/report-en.asp?country=1000

Sgt Frank Hudec
Cameraman/Canadian Forces Army News
www.army.forces.gc.ca
www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca
www.frankhudec.ca

by [former member] | 07 Mar 2007 20:03 | Ottawa, Canada | | Report spam→
I would advise check the work of Tomas Munita. He had a Leica Award for his work. Is good to see that work for research. www.tomasmunita.com

by [former member] | 08 Mar 2007 03:03 | Santiago, Chile | | Report spam→
James, please be safe. You may be interested in people’s lives and not “military maneuvers” but Afghanistan is still a warzone.

Helmand is not looking too safe, especially the north, where the Taliban control the districts of Musa Qala and Washir. About 5,500 NATO and Afghan troops are going on the offensive in northern Helmand province in a pre-emptive maneuver to combat the anticipated spring offensive of the Taliban.

For a reliable source on Afghanistan and Pakistan, see Bill Roggio’s website, or contact him directly at billroggio@gmail.com.

Good luck!

by Damon Lee Perry | 08 Mar 2007 14:03 (ed. Mar 8 2007) | Beijing, China | | Report spam→
Dear Hugo and Damon,

Thanks for the two tips. Hugo, I see you are also from Chile, like Tomas.
Tomas, ironically, is a friend and we met because of the Leica award.
I took second place to his wonderful work. We may actually travel together
in Afghanistan this time. I am really hoping that it will work out.

Damon, you are absolutely right about Helmand. I have no plans to embed
or get involved with the south. I am more interested in the stories of
the Afghan people. I want to freely work close to people and not cooped up
apart from most of them (no offence intended toward soldiers risking their
lives there but that is just the way it would be). This kind of story
is more interesting to me.

Cheers,

James.

by [former member] | 11 Mar 2007 03:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
James,

You should have a word with Taku who’s also based here in Japan. He made two similar trips unembedded through Afghanistan.

http://www.lightstalkers.org/takuya

Nathan

by [former member] | 11 Mar 2007 03:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Dear Michael (Eckels) and Nathan,

Michael, as far as I can tell, getting a visa for Afghanistan,
is fairly straightforward. So no worries about that.

Nathan, thank you for the head’s up on Taku’s post.

Nathan, so you too are based in Tokyo? We should
get together at some point.

Best,

James.



by [former member] | 11 Mar 2007 08:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→

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Participants

Katherine Kiviat, Photographer Katherine Kiviat
Photographer
New York City , United States ( JFK )
Jamie Scott-Long, Photographer Jamie Scott-Long
Photographer
London , United Kingdom
teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
I/O
New York , United States
Damon Lee Perry, Damon Lee Perry
[undisclosed location].


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