There are so many options for exploration in and around Bamiyan, we were at a loss to decide where to go. We opted for the Foladi valley, and the owner of our guesthouse joined, because he had never been to the ice caves of the Foladi in his life. A short drive out of Bamiyan, we make a left in a village, cross the river, and leave the sealed road behind. Instead of the Foladi, we are now entering Qazan valley, a smaller side valley. While normally I would protest with the driver, I quickly see that the landscapes around us are superb, so instead, I am glued to the window. We pass many tiny villages, people walking the road, sometimes see the river, the trees which are definitely taking on their autumn colours, the barren mountains above it all, under a perfectly blue sky.
Our driver parks the car under one of the many trees, and we walk along the river on a stony trail, further up the valley. The crisp morning air, the yellow-and-green trees meandering over the rocky mountains, the clear and ice-cold water rushing down the valley, and the stone houses dotting the slopes of the mountains make it an almost magical experience. The only sound we hear is the rolling away of pebbles under our shoes. After a while, we see people working the fields, and the stone house in which we assume they live. Laundry is drying in the sun. The driver is not so sure now about where to go, so the owner of the guesthouse asks a girl. Ahead of us, higher up on the right hand slope, we should be able to find the ice cave. These ice caves intrigue me: is there really ice inside? Will the temperature inside be bearable?
The question that we need to answer before anything else: where are the ice caves? We ask two girls in the field a little higher up, and they point to a formation of rocks just ahead. We make our way up the steep hill of loose grit, and then, yes - we find a cave! I stupidly forgot to take my torch, but the light from my phone is suffient to walk to the far end of the cave, squeeze myself through a narrow opening, continue until I can go no further. It is chilly, it is dark, but there is no ice. When I am out of the cave again, I climb up to a narrow ledge, from where I can see the end of the valley, and the summit of the mountain dominating Qazan. Ah, if only I had little longer: the climb does not seem difficult. Instead, we walk back, I hurt myself while running down a steep slope of grit, and when we reach the car, it is just after midday. Instead of rushing back to Bamiyan and perhaps do something else in the afternoon, we decide to walk all the way back to town, leaving a puzzled driver behind. After he reluctantly driver back to Bamiyan, we take our time to enjoy the villages, the interaction with the locals, the views of the surrounding mountain landscape: it would never have been the same from the car. When we finally arrive in Bamiyan, a couple of hours later, we feel this was one of those memories that we will cherish for a long time.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Qazan Valley (Afghanistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Qazan Valley.
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