“Urbane Nomads- Established in 2008, the company offers bespoke travel, with a focus on destinations in Asia and the Middle East. Through contacts, they are able to arrange for a visit to a warlord’s fortress in Afghanistan, or hold a private concert in a 14th century Mamluk palace in Syria.”
Conquerors whose names till today are still synonymous with notions of great empires as well as great travellers and adventurers- all of whom were desirous of and lured by, Afghanistan, for its geopolitical importance, and, in turn, due to the confluence of the various civilisations- its history, culture and religions. As you continue reading the itinerary, you’d find many names- both conquerors and travellers- to be familiar, each having had a hand in shaping the history and future of Afghanistan or had a turn in immortalizing the country in the popular imagination. The mainspring of so many of the world’s greatest religions- the Kushans brought Buddhism and constructed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Balkh(or Bactria) was believed to be the central seat of Zoroastrianism while Mazar-i-Sharif (capital of Balkh province) is believed by Afghans to be the tomb of Hazrat Ali, one of the Four Caliphs during the Islamic Golden Age. The history of the city of Balkh might serve as an instruction, and a summation of Afghan history in a microcosm. At the height of its power, the city of Balkh was believed to have rivalled the most prosperous (and now, almost-mystical) cities of the era- Ecbatana, Nineveh and Babylon. Later centuries saw the various contestations for power over the city, leading to the destruction of the city’s infrastructure and finally, as if the city had given up on itself, or rather as if nature had found a way to repel all those who’d coveted the city, was devastated by floods and malaria. The site of hundreds of Buddhist temples with costly Buddha statues led by Kashmiri Brahmins (Pramukh, with the Arabicized form being Barmak, as we later know as Barmakids) and which later provided political asylum to fleeing Persian emperor Yedzgird from the armies of Caliph Umar. The 13th century however saw Genghis Khan raiding Balkh and the levelling of all the buildings capable of defense, an act repeated once more by Timurlane in the 14th century. Henceforth, various figures, ranging from the Uzbeks to Aurangzeb and Nadir Shah later fought for dominance over the city. However, as if to signify the waning of a civilisation, the city suffered from an outbreak of malaria following a flood and the administrative seat was transferred from Balkh to the neighbouring city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Contemporary history speaks of wars fought by the Mojahedeen against the Soviets, tales of bravery of one-eyed mullahs, the idealistic roots of the Taliban, the atrocities committed by the same after and the devastation of Afghanistan by American forces post 9-11. Urbane Nomads offers tours to Afghanistan in as much luxury as possible. An area very much off-the-beaten trek and somewhat synonymous with adventure travel, those looking for a cultural initiation to Afghanistan or nature enthusiasts trekking the Wakhan corridor, would not be disappointed with what Afghanistan has to offer. There are no fixed tour dates and all tours are based on private departures. Photo Courtesy of Sebastian Wendowski. All Urbane Nomads tours are private, with the exception of our scheduled departure trips(as indicated). Our itineraries to Afghanistan can be found here: To customize an itinerary, please contact us.