Band-e Amir are a series of six blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine (a mineral deposit). The lakes are situated in Eastern Afghanistan, precisely in the Hindu Kush mountains at 2900m of elevation, and they were declared Afghanistan’s first national park in 2008.
The access to the lakes is made with minivans, but because the lakes are remote and desolate, they are visited from Bamiyan more easily. In the high season, minivans leave on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and they cost 150 Afg, but you can also take a minivan towards Yakawlang (200Af) and get off at the turn-off to the lakes. From that point, there’s only a three hour walk in the burning sun… so you should bring some water.
If you don’t care about money, than you can hire a private minivan who charge 2000-2500Af for three hours, but you will have to bargain for this price. For some extra money you can stay there for one night, and when you’re going to the lakes, don’t hesitate to ask them to stop for some landscape photos because the scenery is breathtaking. Also, keep in mind that the services at the Band-e Amir lakes close around mid-November and they reopen in March.
Once you get there, your only choice is to walk to the lakes, unless you managed to rent a horse or a donkey.
An overview of Band-e Haibat
All the five lakes are in close proximity of each other and they all worth seeing.
If you want to see some great views, you should try to be on the road at sunrise at the top of Band-e Haibat (in October 6am was perfect), and if the water is clear, wonderful reflections of the mountains surrounding the lakes can be seen in them.
A 20 minute walk from Hotel de Reves can get you to see some impressive views of 2 of the lakes, but if you like to be closer, you can rent a boat from Band-e Haibat, where there is the small mosque-like tomb of Amir.
There is also a women’s beach, behind the tomb of Amir. A hut was built in the water so no one can see the women bathe. It is said that if you take a bath in the lake, than you will be cured of diseases, but the rubbish near the lakes might suggest the opposite.
For the road you can buy some supplies in the parking lot near Band-e Haibat where there are some booths. They sell basic stuff like biscuits, batteries and maybe mango juice packets.
Eat & Sleep
The only place to spend some nights and eat is a chaikana called Dir Hotel in Band-e Haibat. For 100Af/person you can rent a mat on the floor and the meals cost 120-150 Af. In the building next door (Hotel de Reves) they have three basic dirty rooms for 100Af/person, but the rooms from Dir are preferred by most people. There’s also a public tent space for the tourists who like to sleep in the nature. You’ll find that space near the only public toilet, but you can also rent tents if you want to go somewhere else.
Although there’s no bottled water, there is a fresh-water spring but you should bring your own bottle and take it with you. From Dir Hotel you can buy many pots of green tea for only 5Af.
In these places you should be more careful, because there are land mines especially on the road from Bamiyan, so you should not use other paths than the main roads.