Viewed on a map, the Wakhan Corridor seems a peculiar territory, a narrow strip of northeast Afghanistan that stretches between Pakistan to the south and Tajikistan to the north and ends on the Chinese border. Politically, it is an invention of the Great Game, a buffer zone between old empires, but there is a geographic reality to it. The Corridor is exactly that, a long and nearly impenetrable valley flanked by some of the tallest peaks of the Pamirs (including Afghanistan’s highest—Noshaq at 24,580 feet). To this day, it remains one of the few regions of the country that the Taliban have failed to step foot in.
In Afghanistan, security is a rare luxury. With everything else that the Wakhan has to offer to travelers, its tranquility is still one of its most appealing traits. It was certainly an added bonus when I was asked by the Aga Khan Foundation, which conducts development programs in the Wakhan and throughout the north of the country, to accompany a small team into the Corridor. Not having to watch my back was a relief that is rarely afforded in the parts of Afghanistan my work usually takes me to.