Afghanistan’s Grand Canyon reopens to tourists after Taliban claim power

Tourists return to the azure waters of Band-e Amir, Afghanistan
Tourists return to the azure waters of Band-e Amir, Afghanistan Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Ben Anthony Horton with AFP
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Seven weeks after the Taliban seized power, tourism is returning to the so-called Grand Canyon of Afghanistan.


After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August, tourism was the last thing on many Afghans minds.

But the stunning azure waters of the Band-e Amir lakes - the so-called Grand Canyon of Afghanistan - are once again attracting visitors.

The six lakes are at the heart of the Hindu Kush mountain range. According to legend, they were a miracle creation of Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Mohammed.

Their striking colour is down to the surrounding limestone cliffs, which are rich in mineral content.

Tourists rent paddle boats in the shape of swans imported from Iran, paying the equivalent of €7 an hour.

Taliban guards brandishing rocket launchers have also taken trips out on the water.

"We have come from Kabul for the first time," says 23-year-old teacher Asal Walizada.

"The route was safe and we had no problem. It's beautiful here," she adds.

Visiting with friends, 17-year-old Hadi cries out with joy as he plunges into the brisk water.

"I've lived here for four years and each day when the water is warm enough I swim in the lake," he smiles.

Bamiyan was once one of the safest regions in Afghanistan. With the return of tourists, locals are hopeful that stability in the area will follow close behind.

Watch the video above to find out more.

Video editor • Ben Anthony Horton

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