Istalif is a village in northern Kabul province, Afghanistan. The village itself makes for a nice wander, with good views and plenty of shade under the trees. However the valley offers some excellent hiking, both in summer and winter.
About an hours drive north of Kabul. There are two roads into the village from the main Kabul highway - the southernmost winds through the hills whilst the second is more direct and goes straight to the pottery shop street.
The ruins of the hotel makes for an interesting wander - with superb views over the Shomali Plain.
Hike up the river valley.
Istalif is famed for its pottery - supply far outweighs demand so prices are more than reasonable - and who wouldn't want a glazed dish with 'Made in Afghanistan' stamped on the bottom?
Tea and kebabs under the trees.
The oddly named HydroLight Lodge offers western comforts such as electricity and hot showers. The place was built with the expat in mind.