The six blue lakes | Afghanistan’s national treasure

Band e Amir

View of Band-e-Amir lake from the cliff

The six blue lakes, otherwise famously known as the Bands of Amir are one of Afghanistan’s top national treasure. An hour drive towards the west side of Bamyan city, you’ll come across six deep blue lakes, nestled deep into the canyons amidst the gigantic mountains. The different blue colours of the lakes and the desert surrounding contrast spectacularly to give the the national park an incredible view.

In this post I’ll be giving you a first hand tour of this one amazing place, and for the sake of keeping the name short and simple, I’m just going to call the six blue lakes, ‘the blakes’. These blakes all have their own unique names, folktales, sizes, depth and temperature. Through this trip, I have learnt a heaps load about my own birth-country that I was never aware of. So hop along and let’s discover the blakes together.

How to get there?

Welcome gate

The entrance gate

Like I mentioned in one of my pervious posts, there are tons of buses and private cars that travel across the country wherever you heart and feet desires to go to. Because I had such a big family back in Kabul, we hired a mini-bus that fitted I think roughly 20-25 people and also a van, suitable for a maximum of nine people.

vanone

Somewhere in the middle of Bamyan Province

The van costed us about 12,000 Afghani Rupee ($240 AUD). I believe it took us about four to five hours to reach Bamyan city centre on proper developed roads. And then it took us about an hour drive to reach Band-e-Amir on dirt road. The driver was with us all the time and he knew the place quite well, so we hardly had difficulty getting around and stuff. A bonus!

Where to stay, what to eat? All the basics

⏤  Band-e-Amir Village  ⏤

As far as accommodation goes, you can choose to stay in hotels, guest houses or even tents that are put up everyday. As for the price, it really depends what time of the year you visit the national park. We went in September, so we paid roughly 500 Afghani Rupee ($10) per room, per night. How cheap right? But like if you decide to go on festive days throughout the year, then maybe take a tent with you, just in case all the places are booked out. The locals are very nice people, so even if you forget or come across such situations, they’ll gladly let you sleep in their houses. Doesn’t sound normal, but back in Afghanistan, hospitality is number one in our culture. So don’t hesitate to knock a door.

Kebab

Local kebab

As for food, the choice is limitless, there’s kebab houses, hotels and local shops you can purchase fresh products from. Take a stove or even make a fire and do your own cooking. There are many built-in seating areas around the national park where you can set up a picnic, listen to music, drink your tea and just enjoy yourself in serenity and tranquillity.

It’s definitely the best place to soak in some naturalness from the surrounding waterfalls in different areas around the national park. Obviously don’t forget to checkout the six blakes.

First lake | BandeAmir

Boats

Band- e-Amir boat station

Back to the blackes! Like I was saying there are six lakes of which the famous one is called Band-e-Amir by the locals, a direct translation would be ‘the band of Amir’, the lake of Amir, whichever one suits you better. This lake is located in the centre of the national park, close to the villages and the market place. Don’t forget to checkout the boat station and perhaps consider paddling a boat across this beautiful piece of creation for just 60 Afghani rupees ($1.20 AUD).

paddling boat

Touristy activities, get paddling kakai (uncle)

 

Or maybe hire a horse and enjoy a ride along the waterfalls. And yes, don’t forget to buy yourself something along the path as a token to take home with you. And before I forget, DO NOT SWIM in this lake. You will most likely drown. The waters of this particular lake and the next one are not friendly, you see.

Second lake | BandeZulfiqar

Band e Zulfiqar

Couldn’t see the end to this lake, way too HUGE!

It’s okay if you can’t pronounce the name, it can be a little difficult. Band-e-Zulfiqar (lake of the sword of Ali) is the BIGGEST lake of them all. The one that looks unreal, dangerous, scary, deep, dark and daunting. At least if not five times bigger than Band-e-Amir, about three shades darker in colour and most probably ten times deeper as well. A look down the cliff and man I was already dizzy!

Band e Zul

Had my Titanic moment on land, missed my ship you see

I remember questioning myself, how is this even REAL? How? You’ll know what I mean when you see it with your own eyes. I’ll leave it at that. Oh and Yes, in winter, the lakes freeze, like really hard, and apparently cars travel across the lakes. Wooo!! Wouldn’t want to risk my life, because like you know in Afghanistan, ten people in one five seated car, on ice that could break anytime. Damn, these people are crazy enough to drive on ice! I give it to them, they’re BRAVE! Unless they were joking with me, then eh. But I wouldn’t mind ice-skating here though. Except I don’t think it’s a thing there.

Third Lake | BandePudina

Band e Pudina

Say hello to Mint lake

Well hello! Ola, I found a lake named after my nickname! DABB!!! Ok, so Pudina in Dari, Persian, Farsi, whichever language you are familiar with is another word for mint. You can actually find fresh mint everywhere in this lake. Damn, should’ve done one of them mint chewing gum adds there. Gosh I’m so extra! Back to Pudina lake. It’s pretty! Very pretty!

Fourth lake | BandePanir

Cheese

In between the cheese lakes

YOOO! we even have ‘the lake of cheese’. Though cheese is more Australian than Afghan, but one of the blakes is called the lake of cheese. Like I was saying before, all these blakes have a story to them. This one concludes somewhere along the lines of Hazrat Ali eating cheese in this place. I’m guessing this is the same Hazrat Ali that killed the Dragon in my previous Bamyan post. Personally, I loved the mint and cheese lake the most, not only because of its one of a kind light turquoise colour but also because I could swim in them. Like that’s important man. And the clear water damps, they were so pretty!! Somebody take me back!!!

G gate

Some strangers in the process of taking mandatory touristy pictures

So that was the four lakes I personally saw, unfortunately I missed out on the other two lakes named Band-e-Haibat (lake of Grandiose) and Band-e-Qambar (Lake of Calliph Ali’s Slave Qambar). It’s okay, there’s always a next time.

Village area

Outlook of the village area

Before I forget, Band-e-Amir national park is also listed on the UNESCO World heritage list. YAY!! Development plans and strategies are in place to transform this unbelievable place into a beautiful tourist destination for everyone to visit one day. And honesty, I had never imagined before my visit to this place, that there existed paradise in Afghanistan. And I truly believe that this place will not only be the heart of Afghanistan’s tourist destination one day but will also promise a brighter future with it’s magnificent aura and landscape for our war torn country. A statement jewel, a national treasure, I say!

Bird view

Deeper than it looks

And that my friend was my final Afghanistan trip post for the year. I hope you guys have enjoyed reading a little bit about our beautiful country, Afghanistan! Can’t wait to go back sometime soon to share more! Before I head off and continue preparations for our upcoming AATSA Sham-e-Ghazal night (Music kinda night), I’ll leave you with a video of this beautiful place.

Happy reading/watching!

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