Afghanistan: A new vacation destination?

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images Disneyland it’s not, but war-torn Afghanistan is still hoping to lure international tourists — at least those who don’t mind venturing off the beaten path. Eight hours by car from Kabul, the country’s Bamiyan province boasts the country’s first National Park, complete with several crystal-blue lakes and Afghanistan’s own picturesque “Grand Canyon.” ...

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594009_080715_grandcanyon5.jpg

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Disneyland it's not, but war-torn Afghanistan is still hoping to lure international tourists -- at least those who don't mind venturing off the beaten path. Eight hours by car from Kabul, the country's Bamiyan province boasts the country's first National Park, complete with several crystal-blue lakes and Afghanistan's own picturesque "Grand Canyon."

The area is no secret to local Afghans, who have been coming to the Band-e Amir area for years. Local families come on the weekends to picnic, swim and rent boats, as do a few more adventurous foreigners.

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Disneyland it’s not, but war-torn Afghanistan is still hoping to lure international tourists — at least those who don’t mind venturing off the beaten path. Eight hours by car from Kabul, the country’s Bamiyan province boasts the country’s first National Park, complete with several crystal-blue lakes and Afghanistan’s own picturesque “Grand Canyon.”

The area is no secret to local Afghans, who have been coming to the Band-e Amir area for years. Local families come on the weekends to picnic, swim and rent boats, as do a few more adventurous foreigners.

While the area is beautiful and much safer than other parts of the country, violence in surrounding areas has cut into the tourist flow. So has a lack of funds according to provincial Governor Habiba Serobi, the country’s only female governor:

Unfortunately the aid is always going to the more difficult areas where there are problems and conflict – that’s where the international community puts more money.”

While addressing the country’s security situation is a necessary reality, it’s sad to see it hamper development in other parts of the country like Band-e Amir–especially after all the effort and hope that went into the park’s creation. The US government still strongly warns its citizens against traveling to Afghanistan, but hopefully, in time, we’ll see more foreigners in Afghanistan with cameras rather than rifles.

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