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Band-e Amir

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East Afghanistan : Band-e Amir
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Early morning at one of the lakes


Band-e Amir are a stunning group of turquoise lakes in Eastern Afghanistan. They sit high in the Hindu Kush at an altitude of 2900m, and in 2008 were declared the country's first national park.

Get in[edit]

Very remote and desolate, they are most easily visited from Bamiyan. Shared minivans leave in the high season on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and cost 150 Afg. Otherwise take a minivan towards Yakawlang (200Af) and get off at the turn-off to the lakes. From there it's a 3 hour hot walk... bring some water.

Private hire minivans are also available (3 hours) and should cost 2000-2500Af, but you will have to bargain very hard for this price. You could also negotiate an overnight stay into the price for a little extra. Don't be shy to ask them to stop for pics en route to the lakes, the scenery is stunning.

All services at the lakes close up around mid-November and reopen around March.

Get around[edit]

Walking is pretty much the only way to get around the area once you arrive, unless you were to befriend the owner of a donkey or horse.

See[edit][add listing]

An overview of Band-e Haibat

There are 5 lakes, all worth seeing and in close proximity.

If possible try to be up on the road at the top of Band-e Haibat at sunrise (in October the ideal time was 6am) for some great views and, if the water is calm, some stunning reflections of the surrounding mountains in the lake.

A trail from behind Hotel de Reves leads up the hill, and a 20 minute walk brings you to some stunning views of 2 more of the lakes.

The small mosque-like tomb of Amir looks over Band-e Haibat, and fortunately there are 25 awesome swan peddle boats available for rent here... a good opportunity to intensify the beautiful reflections in the lake.

Behind the tomb of Amir is a women's beach, with a hut built half into the water, allowing women to enjoy a bath in the lake covered from curious views. Taking a bath in the lake is said to cure from diseases (though a lot of rubbish in and around the lake lets one fear the opposite).

Buy[edit][add listing]

At the parking lot near Band-e Haibat some booths are set up, selling some basics, with a very minimal selection... a few biscuits, some batteries, and maybe some mango juice packets.

Eat & Sleep[edit]

  • Dir Hotel, Band-e Haibat, is a chaikana and the only place to sleep and eat. A mat on the floor costs 100Af/person, and meals are 120-150Af. They also have 3 very basic dirty rooms in a building next door, ambitiously named Hotel de Reves (dream hotel). While you can have a more private room here, it's also just mats on the floor, and also 100Af/person; most people prefer the much warmer main room at Dir.
  • Camping – The adventurer among the visitors may use the public tent space near the only public toilet around. Sometimes tents are available to rent.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Bottled water is not available, but there is a fresh-water spring which should be fine to drink from (bring your own bottle, and take it with you when you leave). Dir Hotel can provide you with endless pots of green tea (5Af).

Stay safe[edit]

Land mines are prevalent around this area, especially along the road that leads in from Bamiyan. Stick to well-worn paths, and don't stray more than a couple of feet from the main access road.

Get out[edit]

  • Bamiyan – site of the destroyed Buddhas
  • Yakawlang – the likely next stop if you're heading west/south towards Jam and Herat



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