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Asia > Central Asia > Afghanistan > Northwest Afghanistan > Salang Pass

Salang Pass

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The Salang Pass in January 2009

The Salang Pass is in Afghanistan on the road between Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. It has been in use as a trade route between central Afghanistan and the northern region known historically as Bactria for at least four thousand years. It is the main route across the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Understand[edit]

The pass features the 2.6 km Salang tunnel, the main link between northern and southern Afghanistan and one of the world's highest road tunnels. It was built by engineers from the former USSR in 1964. About 1000 vehicles pass the Salang tunnel daily. A trip via the pass could take a very long day, or more, if there are delays because the pass has received recent snow, although a 5 - 10 hour trip is possible in better conditions. The pass is popular for picnics in better weather, where the cool clean air makes a refreshing break from the dust and pollution of Kabul.

Get in[edit]

You can travel over the pass by taxi. You should set out at about 8 AM in case of any delays. It can snow in the pass as late in spring as May. For a day trip from Kabul to the pass, allow 2-3 hours to get to the Kabul side and expect to pay about USD40 for a taxi. It is not worth going through the tunnel to the northern side, since the best views are on the Kabul side.

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

The pass itself is very beautiful. There are several places to stop for photography.

Do[edit]

Buy[edit]

There are the usual small shops selling drinks and biscuits.

Eat[edit]

There are some local restaurants by the river in Jabal os Saraj at the bottom of the pass.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

If there is still the possibility of snow on the pass, be prepared to spend a cold night on the road if you get stuck.

Stay safe[edit]

All of Afghanistan is still unsafe as of mid-2017; see warnings in that article.

If travelling by vehicle, carry snow chains that are in good condition because, if it has been snowing, your vehicle will only allowed to go over the pass with chains on the tyres. Getting stuck in the pass is a risk if the weather is bad. Anyone travelling there should take warm clothing, food and drink.

The pass was the scene of major battles with the Soviet troops, particularly when they withdrew. Many died in the tunnel itself. There is still the possibility of mines and other unexploded ordnance. Walking or driving off of the road itself is therefore not recommended.

Go next[edit]

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