Security in Afghanistan: Precautions you can take

Great Game Travel will do everything we can do to keep you safe during your trip in Afghanistan. However, there are certain things that you can do to help keep yourself secure. Here is a list of precautions that you can take to make your visit to the country safe.

  1. Dress appropriately. Modesty is important in a Muslim culture for both men and women. Please refer to our advice on how to dress appropriately in this culture.
  2. Ask before taking pictures. If you are photographing people, it is best to ask them whether this is ok. Your guide can translate for you if needed. Other times, hand signals work wonders in communication. Most people are happy to have their picture taken, but taking pictures of women is especially sensitive. Taking pictures of military installations or convoys is not permitted. If you have any doubts ask your guide.
  3. Watch out for land mines! Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. You will receive a full security briefing including instructions on how to identify mine fields and safe areas to walk. Never wander off of a main road or path without a local guide. As long as you stay with your guide you will be safe.
  4. Be discrete. Don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Sticking out makes you more a target, so do what you can to not draw attention to yourself. Don't flash large amounts of money when purchasing items. Don't lose your patience in public, or raise your voice, as this will draw a crowd. If you have a problem and need help, do ask a local for help or shout for help if necessary. Afghans feel honor bound to protect a guest, and will do anything and everything to help you if you are in trouble.
  5. Submit to the security decisions of our Security Officer and your guide. If, during your tour, our office determines that there is a security risk, and that we need to change our plans or depart from a location, do not resist. Comply quickly and calmly and be confident that we are taking care of you.
  6. Alcohol is forbidden by Islam, although it is permitted for non-Muslims. Great Game does not allow you to transport any form of drinking alcohol, especially since we travel through extremely conservative rural areas whose population would be offended at the sight of a bottle. However, when in the larger cities you are welcome to order a drink at restaurants, if it is on the menu, and consume it in the privacy of the restaurant.
  7. Keep expressions of affection with the opposite sex strictly private. Afghan culture strongly frowns on anyone, even husbands and wives, from showing overt expressions of affection including hugging and kissing. While traveling in Afghanistan, please keep your physical contact with anyone of the opposite sex to a minimum.
  8. It is not appropriate for women to swim in public. At Band-i-Amir and a few other locations there are certain areas reserved for women to swim, and this is fine. However, stopping by a river for a dip is not appropriate, especially if local villager might happen by the group.
  9. Ask before entering a home, mosque, religious shrine, or other facility. Your guide will be glad to speak to the local authority or head of family, and arrange for permission to enter. Remember to remove your shoes when entering any home or mosque.
  10. Be a gracious guest. Afghans may invite you to their home, and will be honored by your presence. Be sensitive to the cultural nuances, and rely on your guide, but realize that there may be a time when it is most appropriate to accept the invitation to a cup of tea, rather than ignoring a friendly host. Your guide will help you through this. Do not feel obliged to give or pay anything, but if a family invites you over for dinner taking a small amount of fruit or a small gift from home would be a great way to show your friendship. For security reasons, your guide may ask you to decline an invitation, and he will give the host a polite excuse for not accepting an invitation. Trust the intuition of your guide in these situations.