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Sunday, 25 August, 2002, 20:50 GMT 21:50 UK
Kabul welcomes first holidaymakers
Rug shop on Chicken Street, Kabul
Wares are for sale on the streets of Kabul

It isn't a city you immediately associate with package tours, but a group of brave-hearted travellers have landed in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, for a summer holiday with a difference.


It did seem like a daft idea - but not any longer

Enna Giddings, tourist in Afghanistan
They are the first post-Taleban travellers to enter the country on tourist visas only recently made available by the Afghan embassy in London.

It is an unlikely tourist destination - a country ravaged by war, in the middle of a drought, and thickly sown with landmines.

A small blast outside a UN office in Kabul on Sunday was a reminder of how fragile the current peace is.

But for the six Britons and one 72-year-old Portuguese woman who make up the group, the risks are worth a week-long holiday.

All of them are veterans of difficult destinations. Last year, some visited Iraq.

A Buddha statue in Bamiyan
The Bamiyan Buddhas, once a tourist attraction, were destroyed by the Taleban
The British Foreign Office warns against visiting Afghanistan, and travellers like Anna Giddings admit it may seem like a strange idea.

"I do feel mad," she told me.

"But as long as I go back in one piece and I can say, 'Well, I wasn't quite as mad as you think I was'.

"Before, I was a bit embarrassed to tell some people, because it did seem like a daft idea. But not any longer."

The group is planning to do as much travel as is possible outside of the capital, Kabul - but they say just being here is already worth the effort.

See also:

22 Aug 02 | Breakfast
30 Jan 02 | South Asia
24 Jan 02 | South Asia
07 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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