On the Road

PAUL CLAMMER Coordinating Author

For me, late summer is the best time to be in Afghanistan, and researching this book was no exception. I missed out on the winter buzkashi (Afghan rugby on horseback, with a dead goat) season, but there was ample compensation in the endless fruit - sweet grapes from the Shomali Plain, fat Kandahari pomegranates and melons everywhere. The country might not be the most straightforward to write a travel guide for, dealing with terrible roads and security concerns, but the rewards (like so many things unexpected in Afghanistan) were always the sweetest.


Any trip to Afghanistan should start by entering through the Khyber Pass (pi 85). I'll stop in Kabul (p79) to catch up with friends before heading out of the city for the vistas of Bamiyan (pi 14) and the Band-e Amir lakes (p122). If I can brave the bad roads I'd bump my way to the Minaret of Jam (p126), or fly from Kabul to finish in Herat (p132), my favourite Afghan city.


Paul grew up near Cambridge. After a false start as a molecular biologist he spent several years kicking around the Islamic world from Casablanca to Kashgar, eventually becoming a tour guide in Morocco, Turkey and Pakistan. Having watched The Man Who Would Be King at an impressionable age, the Khyber Pass was always in his sights, and in 2001 he finally made it to Afghanistan, only to find himself having dinner with two Taliban ministers a fortnight before the September 11 attacks. When the dust settled he wrote Kabul Caravan, one of the first travel websites dedicated to Afghanistan, and is now the first Lonely Planet writer to cover the country since the mid-1970s. See contributing author bios on p236.

Opposite: The trinket trade still flourishes in Herat (p132)

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