Like the recently posted entry on birding Kabul, this isn’t really much of a birding post – it features just two or three really bad (= taken with a mobile phone; = I do not really want these photos to be associated with me as a bird photographer at all bad) photos. So, be prepared to look at a few awful bird photos and quite a few somewhat better (but still taken with a mobile phone) photos of Afghanistan, and a bit of covert advertising at the end – or skip reading this post altogether.

So, when you do NGO work in Kabul, it seems your Afghan hosts are always keen on showing you some of the good aspects of a country with its fair share of not-so-good sides. In my case, this meant a trip from Kabul almost to Jalalabad on a Friday (not the “Friday I’m in love” of The Cure but the Muslim weekend Friday, so no way to do NGO work anyway).

So they did (you will see a photo of them later).

Leaving Kabul and stopping for some snacks and fruit on the way.

Kabul is at a higher elevation than Jalalabad, so you basically go downhill all the time (incidentally, the story of my life as well, if bad jokes are appropriate in a comparatively serious post).

Now and then, you drive across reminders that this was basically a war zone not a long time ago.

For some reason, my hosts decided that the car needed to be washed. As in Shanghai I never wash my own car (and it gets pretty dirty during birding trips), this was a bit puzzling to me. Maybe hospitality going into some kind of deranged overdrive – “we do not want our guest to be driven around in a dirty car?”

The view down from the carwash site.

Apparently, the signs on this car indicate that the person in the car has just returned from Mekka – which allows the local kids to harass the passenger for sweets.

Alternative transportation options would have included traveling on a truck like this one.

As I said, the road mostly goes downhill …



… but not every car or truck has good enough brakes to stay on the road during this journey.

A bit lower, the landscape has a distinct desert feeling to it …



… interrupted only by the areas very close to the Kabul river.



One of the sights is an old Russian tank. Now, I normally do not take photos of tanks (I did do alternative service in Germany rather than serve the mandatory time in the army), but I made an exception for this one.

Then, lunch break near the river with my hosts.

And finally some birds: Plumbeous Water Redstart …

… and Common Kingfisher.


Here, the river is quite serene …

… so my companions took a rest while I looked for birds and cursed myself for not having a proper camera. I guess this is a raptor, but no clue which one.

On the way back to Kabul, we stopped at a mosque …

… so that my companions could pray and I could take some more photos …


… not only of the impressive landscape but also of some goats (which then made me the center of attention of the locals) …



… and buy drinks at the roadside store.

Then, we arrived back at the outskirts of Kabul.

At the end of this post, again some background of what my Afghan friends are doing in Kabul and how you might be able to support them.

We are currently focusing on two areas – one is getting some mineralogy/geology labs to work again so that Afghanistan can get more value out of its rich resources, and thus create more jobs for the people. Anyone with knowledge of the equipment in this area and an interest in helping is very welcome to contact me.

The second, even more pressing area is female education. We will establish a series of online workshops, trainings, and seminars for young women. The topics for these may cover a wide range but will generally focus on the development of critical skills to empower these women. If you are interested in being part of this and are willing to share your knowledge with Afghan women from diverse backgrounds, please contact me at kai.pflug at (see also the contact page of this website). I will be very happy to provide more details.

Written by Kai Pflug
Kai Pflug has been living in Shanghai for 20 years. He only became interested in birds in China – so he is much more familiar with birds in China than with those in Germany. While he will only ever be an average birder, he aims to be a good bird photographer and has created a website with bird photos as proof. He hopes not too many clients of his consulting company read this blog, as they will doubt his dedication to providing consulting services related to China`s chemical industry. Whenever he wants to shock other birders, he tells them his (indoor) cats can distinguish several warblers by taste.