Paddling Afghanistan

afghanistan canoe river art
Here’s a really cool article over at the home of Canoe & Kayak Magazine on the web. It’s the story of Jason Straziuso and his fiancé Katie, who decided to canoe two remote rivers in Afghanistan.

Jason happens to be an Associated Press reporter who works in the war torn country, and Katie came to join him on his adventure. The pair took along a 15-foot Pakboat canoe, which has the ability to break down, and be stored, in a canvas sack for easy transport. When you reach your destination, you re-assemble the boat, and off you go. Perfect for exploring this rugged and remote region that likely hadn’t seen a canoe in decades, if ever at all.

While on their adventure, they find themselves the center of attention by curios villagers, towering statues of Buddha, and ancient tea houses. Their canoe expedition is as much of a cultural endeavor as an adventurous one, but they see parts of afghanistan that few westerners ever venture into, and have the chance to explore a couple of rivers that may not be paddled again for years.

Afghanistan has the potential to be one of the really big adventure centers of the world. There are amazingly remote areas with stunning mountains, impressive Class V rapids, and regions that have not been explored by westerners in centuries. Places like the Wakhan Corridor that were, until recently, last visited by non-Afghanis around the time of Marco Polo. Sadly, the country has been in a nearly constant state of war for decades, and it doesn’t look like that is going to end any time soon. It’s not safe to travel in many areas of the country, and while it has opened up to some adventure travel, it’s far from reaching it’s potential as an adventure destination. Perhaps the future will allow more of us to venture to this amazing place and take it in for ourselves.

Kraig Becker

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