About the Author: Erin Hart is a Presidential Management Fellow working in the Public Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy Kabul.
Ambassador Eikenberry and several regional Afghan leaders joined together on June 18 to celebrate Afghanistan’s first national park — Band-e-Amir. The park, which features six lakes in central Bamyan Province and covers 59,000 hectares of land, is a place of astonishing natural beauty and a poorly-kept secret among the Afghan population. The recent gathering of the leaders included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a walk to the lakes. Several American, Afghan, and international news sources were even on site to mark the historic day’s events.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had been working with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and local communities surrounding Band-e-Amir to establish the national park since 2006. The hard work of our colleagues at USAID and the involved Afghan organizations has certainly paid dividends. The surrounding area is expected to benefit economically and will hopefully surpass its pre-war popularity through the park’s renaissance.
Ambassador Eikenberry, Afghanistan’s Second Vice President and Bamyan’s Governor were also able to enjoy the recreational opportunities at the park in a rare moment of spare time. They took advantage of the large swan paddle boats and paddled around the lake in the crisp, blue water edged by arching natural rock walls. It is a truly breath-taking sight that American and regional leaders alike hope will be a positive, sustainable attraction for decades to come.
For more photos of Ambassador Eikenberry's visit and Band-e-Amir National Park please see U.S. Embassy Kabul's Facebook album.
Related Entry: Afghanistan Establishes First National Park.