Earth : Asia : Central Asia : Afghanistan : Northeast Afghanistan : Panjshir Valley
Panjshir Valley is in Afghanistan.
Panjshir valley is divided in to five regions, starting from Taawakh, Rokha, Baazarak (the biggest city),Baadqol (second biggest city) and to the bottom Omarz. All the regions run between the mountains and in the middle Panjshir river.
Baazaarak pronounce (baa-zaa-rak) is the main city in Panjshir valley. It is popular for its shopping mall which runs both sides of the main road. The city is fairly busy at the day time and gets slower as the dark reaches the valley. Baazaarak has variety of stores, restaurants, cafes, and kebab shops.
About thirty minutes from Baazaarak is the second largest city, Baadqol. Baadqol has the main hospital of Panjshir (Changaram Hospital) which runs 24 hour services including emergency department equipped with the latest surgical and medical equipments. There are also a few general stores and restaurants opposite the Changaram Hospital in Baadqol.
The valley is about a 2 hour drive north of Kabul. Turn right at Jebal Saraj and head to Gulbahar, then turn left, and left again before the bridge crossing in to Kapisa province. The road is tarred all the way from Kabul except for some rough bits passing through the towns.
There is a police checkpoint soon after you enter the valley. Have your passports ready and you may have to sign a book / give car details etc. When leaving the valley it is unlikely you'll be stopped.
The road is a winding two-way tarred road, with the usual maniacal Afghan driving. A map of the province is available from AIMS.
Massoud's Tomb is well worth a visit. It is currently (August 2009) undergoing renovation and expanded but everything is still open.
Panjshir Valley is popular for its mountains. Mountain climbing during summer and skiing in winter is desirable. Its great place to go for a picnic in a group. Since the river flows almost through every village in Panjshir, swimming and fishing is very popular. But be in mind a lot of locals use the rivers for swimming with their families. So it is wise to swim some where away from the locals.
There are many Kebab shops and Chaikhanas from the beginning of the valley and along the valley till the end. Kebabs are freshly made in Afghan style served with freshly made Afghan breads and Chais (tea). Most Kebab shops are located along the Panjshir River which is one of the finest rivers in Afghanistan, It has a drinkable water, most population in Panjshir consume their water from that river. There are also a few western style cafes that serve burgers and desserts. They are fairly expensive than the local kebabs. Each Khoraak (serve) of kebab is cost approximately 100 AFG equivalent to 2.00$UD.
There is another local dry fruit as name of Talkhan it is made from Toot very strong if you eat for day is enough.
Panjshir is almost completely Tajik and the Taliban have no foothold here. Because it is surrounded by sky high mountains, it has always been one of the safest place in Afghanistan. There have been many attempts by Taliban to enter the valley for terrorism purposes but due to its narrow entry and tight security none has been successful.
The drive back to Kabul on a Friday is a very congested one. Better to visit on another day / return early.