Turkmenistan or Afghanistan?!

Now, there’s a question that’s very rarely asked!

I’m musing about my Central Asian journey, Having now obtained my visa for Uzbekistan, I’m plotting my onward journey, which will hopefully incorporate around 2-3 weeks in Iran. However to get from Uzbekistan to Iran requires going overland through either Turkmenistan or Afghanistan.

This is more of a trickier decision than it sounds:
a) Turkmenistan is safer, obviously, and much more direct a journey. However the visa is bloody hard to get hold of, relatively expensive, and, if I get the Transit visa, requires me already having the Iranian visa before I apply. Which I won’t have. It also takes about 2 weeks to process.
b) Afghanistan is, obviously, a little more ‘dubious’. However the visa is much easier to get, takes about a day and requires no admin. It’s also cheaper.

Turkmenistan has the ruins of Merv and the alien city of Ashkhabad, whilst Afghanistan has the Great Game city of Heart and the ancient cultural cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Balkh.

I’d only be in either country for about 4-5 days, at the very start of October, and either way I’d end up in the Iranian city of Mashhad, so it really is a simple choice.


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