The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Afghanistan Tours

AFGHANISTAN EXPEDITION – Afghan Snowfinch and Large-billed Reed Warbler

Friday 9th June – Saturday 17th June 2023

Leader: Mark Beaman

9 Days Group Size Limit 7


Well, you probably were not expecting Afghanistan to feature in our birding expedition list were you? This is planned as a ‘once-only’ birding tour opportunity.

Mark Beaman last saw the little-known Afghan Snowfinch or Theresa’s Snowfinch in the wild Hindu Kush mountains at the scenic Band-e-Amir National Park in July 1973. Indeed Mark reached Kabul on the very day the Afghan monarchy was overthrown in a revolution, and the country has been troubled ever since!

But with Bamiyan (or Bamyan) and the rest of the Hazarajat region nowadays being consistently a peaceful part of Afghanistan, he reckons it is time to return.

As well as the great prize, the snowfinch (a bird on hardly anyone’s life list), there is a good chance there are Large-billed (or Long-billed) Reed Warblers breeding at Bamiyan, birds that in the distant past were misidentified as Blyth’s Reed Warblers both here and in the former Soviet Central Asian states. We shall see.

Bamiyan is now the only region of Afghanistan with a tourism office, although the number of foreign visitors is still in the low hundreds per year. We don’t think that is likely to change soon! There are, however, extraordinary scenic wonders here (the landscapes of Band-e-Amir are truly awesome) and some fascinating archaeological sites. Sadly the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan were blown up as idolatrous when the Taliban ruled the country, much to the disgust of the local people, but the niches are still there, as are the lonely ruins of the cities Genghis Khan laid waste when his grandson was killed in battle in the area, leading to the repopulation of the area by Mongols, the ancestors of the present-day Hazaras who inhabit the Hazarajat. A much persecuted ethnic group when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they look to a more peaceful future for the country and the return of the tourism that was once a mainstay of the local economy.

We have to have one night in Kabul at the start of the tour owing to the early timing of the Bamiyan flight (there are no overnight flight arrivals into Kabul), but we have chosen a comfortable hotel in what is regarded as a safe part of the city close to the airport. On the way back, it is easy to depart Kabul on international flights after the arrival of the flight from Bamiyan.

Needless to say, what with all the foreign government warnings about travel to Afghanistan, you will only be able to obtain travel insurance from a specialist provider, should you want insurance. We can provide you with contact details for a company that provides travel insurance for aid workers and others.

This expedition can be taken together with: NORTHERN PAKISTAN

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotel in Kabul is of good quality. In Bamiyan, the hotel is medium quality. Road transport will be by minibus (passenger van). Nowadays, roads in the Bamiyan region are mostly of reasonable quality, but we will still have to use rough dirt roads in some places.

Walking: The walking effort during our Afghanistan Expedition is easy to moderate.

Climate: In the Bamiyan region, it will be cool to warm or even hot. It will mostly be dry and sunny but overcast weather and even rain are possible.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Afghanistan Expedition will be quite good but limited.


  • The thrill of watching Afghan (or Theresa's) Snowfinches in the Hindu Kush, a bird seen by only a handful of living birders!
  • Taking in the spectacular scenery of Band-e-Amir with its deep blue lakes, ochre cliffs and bright green waterside vegetation
  • Seeking out Large-billed Reed Warblers in the lush green valleys around Bamiyan.
  • The sadness one feels looking at the huge empty niches where the Bamiyan Buddhas stood, destroyed, to the anger of the local Hazaras, by the hated Taliban
  • Just being in Afghanistan at all, never mind birding the country!


  • Day 1: Afternoon expedition start at Kabul airport.
  • Day 2: Morning flight to Bamiyan. Overnight Bamiyan.
  • Days 3-7: Exploring Bamiyan and Band-e-Amir. Overnights at Bamiyan.
  • Day 8: Morning flight from Bamiyan to Kabul. Expedition end at Kabul airport.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include the following flights: Kabul-Bamiyan-Kabul.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

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2023: provisional £1920, $2750, €2240, AUD3540. Kabul/Kabul.

Single Supplement: 2023: £190, $280, €220, AUD360.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour:  Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.


Day 1  The expedition begins this afternoon at Kabul airport, from where we will transfer a short distance to our hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 2  Transfer to Kabul airport for the morning flight to Bamiyan for a seven nights stay. This afternoon we will explore the Bamiyan area.

Days 3-8  Birding the Bamiyan and Band-e-Amir areas, plus some cultural sightseeing.

Day 9  Morning flight from Bamiyan back to Kabul airport, where the expedition ends.

Other Birdquest expeditions include: