Jan recounts their recent journey to Afghanistan, now under the rule of the so-called “Taliban 2.0,” to continue the Afghan Pamirs Mapping Project. The goal is to boost socio-economic development in the region through adventure tourism. Despite the uncertainties and changes under the Taliban’s leadership, Jan navigates through the challenging terrains, collecting data for trekking and bike-packing routes and interacting with locals and the Taliban alike.
- Afghan Pamirs Mapping Project: The objective is to promote socio-economic growth in Afghanistan through adventure tourism, focusing on the Afghan Pamir region.
- Journey under Taliban Rule: Jan traveled 450km to the Wakhan Corridor, encountering various Taliban-controlled areas, observing remnants of wars, and stalled infrastructure projects, with the only new visible constructions being mosques.
- Taliban Interactions: Generally, the Taliban was polite, and their leadership seems open to tourism. Jan’s encounters ranged from light-hearted moments like the Taliban trying out mountain bikes to profound conversations about perceptions, religion, and life in a Wakhi settlement.
- The Wakhan Expedition: Jan gathered data on about 500km of paths suitable for biking and mountain biking, including areas like the Wakjir Pass, which might serve as the first trade route between Afghanistan and China.
- Changing Landscapes and Surprises: The trip revealed surprising advancements like 2G connectivity in remote areas, contrasting sharply with the traditional and political backdrop of the region.