Afghanistan

Misplaced Paradise

An oasis (almost) untouched by 30 years of war

The Soviet tanks are still scattered among the hills of paradise. They have been there for the past 30 years, since the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan, and they’ll probably be for a long time. Band-e-Amir is a mountainous region 170 km west of Kabul and about 50 km west of the Bamyan valley, where the colossal Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban mortars in 2001 could be found. Here, a series of natural travertine dams have given origin to crystal-blue lakes, creating one of the country’s most spectacular landscapes.
After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Band-e-Amir has been one of the most popular weekend retreats for the few Afghans who could afford the uncomfortable and costly ride from the capital. And in 2009, it officially became the first Afghan national park. But in the past years the Taliban have regained control of much of the country, including the province of Wardak, which must be crossed in order to reach the park from Kabul. Thus, visitors from the capital have become scarcer and scarcer.
The paradise, unfortunately, is still surrounded by hell.

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