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The Traveller's Magazine
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National Parks are essential for protecting wildlife, flora and stunning landscapes. Afghanistan created its first and so far only National Park in 2008 and it’s a stunner. Introducing Bande-e Amir with its turquoise lakes and dramatic mountains…

Water the colour of turquoise

The park is a stunning collection of six turquoise lakes in the eastern part of Afghanistan. The lakes are in a very mountainous region, in the Hindu Kash, at about 2900m altitude. In 2008 the country declared the region a national park, the first in Afghanistan.

Start your day at the top of Band-e Haibat for some great views and some fabulous reflections is the lake is calm. There is a small tomb on the top and also a dozen swam paddle boats to hire if you want to go out onto the water. For swimming, there is a woman’s only beach behind the Tomb of Amir.

Years of unrest have really taken their toll on the area. Snow leopards used to be common but now they’ve vanished because of hunting. But there is still some wildlife to see like Ibex (wild goats), urials (wild sheep), wolves and foxes.

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How to get there:

Bande-e Amir National Park is closest to Bamiyan. Ideally you can reach it in 3.5 hours with a rental car from Kabul but a local guide might be a better option, especially considering the current political climate.

Shared minivans from Bamiyan can get you there during peak season (March-November) and should only cost 150 Afg (£1.50). Alternatively you can hire a private minivan to take you there but you should be prepared to bargain the price down to 2,000 Afg (around £20). If you go this route, be sure to ask your driver to stop along the way so you can take photos.

Landmines are common in this area. Do no stray off of well-worn paths or access roads.
Imgs: Carl Montgomery, afgmatters, afgmatters, calvin wilhelm, kabulplublicdeplomacy, bebeltravel / Flickr cc.

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