In 2006, the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the United States Agency for International Development joined forces with the Afghan government to develop a plan to train rangers, map boundaries, and provide financing for Band-e Amir. This effort led, in 2009, to the creation of Afghanistan's first national park. On peak days, a few thousand Afghans now visit the 222-square mile park. But there's still a ways to go: Bamiyan province, where the park is situated, is expected to welcome just 650 foreign visitors this year.
Above, a view of Band-e Amir lake on Oct. 23, 2012.
AFP PHOTO / Massoud HOSSAINI