Remote and isolated, the Wakhan Corridor in northeast Afghanistan is blissfully far from the troubles and conflict that concern the rest of the country. Think Asterix's small Gaul village in the middle of the Roman Empire, only real and without druids and potions. This 350-kilometre finger of land jutting out between Pakistan, China and Tajikistan is known by the locals as Bam-e Dunya, or The Roof of the World, because of the spectacular converging between the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges.
Women are considered equal in the Wakhan Corridor; the burqa is nowhere to be found and the Taliban have never gained a foothold. Yet, despite its relative safety and because of its far-flung location, the region is chronically poor. Life is hard for its inhabitants, who are still existing in the same way they have for thousands of years; living in yurts, cultivating what they can out of the sparse earth and tending flocks of sheep, goats and yaks. Wakhi subsistence farmers share the land peacefully with Kyrgyz horsemen – nomadic pastoralists who have been itinerant for hundreds of years, the last of the truly nomadic, yurt-dwelling horsemen.
Celia Topping is a documentary travel photographer whose work you can check out here. Her Wakhan Corridor pictures will be exhibited at The Gowlett, 62 Gowlett Road, Peckham, London, SE15 4HY from 17th November until Christmas.
Celia travelled to Afghanistan with independent expedition company Secret Compass.