Band-e Amir Lakes

Band-e Amir Lakes

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Band-e Amir is a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. The lakes are situated in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Central Afghanistan at approximately 3000 meters of elevation, west of the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan.

They were created by the carbon dioxide rich water oozing out of the faults and fractures to deposit calcium carbonate precipitate in the form of travertine walls that today store the water of these lakes. Band-e Amir is one of the few rare natural lakes in the world which are created by travertine systems. In 2009, Band-e Amir became Afghanistan's first national park.

The name literally means "Commander's Dam" which is a reference to Imam Ali, the first imam of the Shia Muslims and the fourth Caliph of the Sunni Muslims.
Band-e Amir was to become Afghanistan's first national park in the 1960s, but due to the instability of the Kabul government at the time, this did not happen. In 2004, Band-e Amir was submitted for recognition as a World Heritage site. In 2009, Band-e Amir was finally declared Afghanistan's first national park.

The problems facing the visitors are harsh terrain, rocky plateau, lack of basic facilities and mined unpaved roads. The surrounding roads were heavily mined by the local militias and the Taliban during their respective reigns. Only a thin track is clear from mines and is in use by traffic.
The only available bazaar is a tiny one situated by the side of Band-e Haibat, where a couple of basics can be purchased.
Due to the lack of attention and the absence of any maintenance authority, increasing number of visitors pose a threat to the ecological balance of these lakes which include unregulated grazing and uprooting of shrubs which can result in serious soil erosion and even landslides. Fishing using electricity from mobile generators and explosives such as grenades has damaged the aquatic ecosystem. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, much of the park's wildlife has been lost. Due to lack of funding for waste management, human waste and trash has led to increasing pollution. In 2008 the Afghan government banned the use of boats with gasoline engines on the lakes.
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Nearby points of interest
Buddhas of Bamiyan
Video Band-e Amir Lakes
NATO - Afghanistan's hidden oasis: Band-E Amir National Park
Bande Amir, Afghanistan 2006
NATO - Afghanistan's first national park: Band-E Amir

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