Untamed Borders is an adventure travel company providing unparalleled access to some of the world’s most interesting and inaccessible places. We specialise in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Middle East, East Africa, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, but also arrange bespoke trips to other off-the-beaten track destinations.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Untamed Borders was founded in 2008 following a meeting in the mountains of Afghanistan between two intrepid travel guides, Kausar Hussain and James Willcox. Both Kausar and James shared a desire to enable other people to experience the beauty and wonder of Pakistan and Afghanistan, lands that are often described as dangerous and inhospitable. This shared desire and a lot of hard work quickly laid the foundations for what Untamed Borders is today.
Untamed Borders uses specialist local guides throughout, whose aim is to provide authentic and original experiences for all our guests. We can introduce you to the people of the areas we visit because they are our friends. We speak the languages and know the history because it is our history and we want to share it with the rest of the world. We believe that peace and understanding on a world scale can only come when people of different cultures meet and interact.
Our aim is to add positive benefit to the areas we visit. We ensure that, whenever possible, the money we spend goes directly to the people of that region by staying in locally run hotels and using local drivers and supplies. Our business cards are printed in the bazaars of Peshawar and this website was designed in Himachal Pradesh. Small scale tourism might not change the world but every path starts with a single step.
There will be a maximum of 12 people on any trip we arrange. Some trips have less. This small number allows for greater security, flexibility and access to local people and places. Each set itinerary trip is individually designed to coincide with local events or to visit the area at the best time of year. In addition to our fixed itineraries, we can arrange all kinds of bespoke trips – this was after all how we started. We are happy to give advice to anyone considering visiting these areas. Please don’t be shy, just get in touch! Please join us on one of our small group itineraries or contact us to arrange a bespoke adventure.
KAUSAR HUSSAIN – FOUNDER
Born in Peshawar, Kausar has travelled every inch of Pakistan and Afghanistan and has friends almost everywhere. From the bustling bazaars of Kabul to sleepy, poppy growing villages in the Tribal Areas. When not leading tours and running Untamed Borders, Kausar works as a photographer and journalist. For ten years he has worked with foreign correspondents allowing them access to restricted areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kausar speaks 9 languages and for the last 5 years has spent time teaching English to Afghan refugees based in the camps that surround Peshawar. Kausar has given countless visitors safe and unparalleled access to the people and places of these remarkable regions.
JAMES WILLCOX – FOUNDER
James’ first travel memory is a donkey ride on Skegness Beach. Over thirty years later James has travelled extensively throughout central, east and southern Asia, South America, Europe and North Africa. James has guided hundreds of people in hard-to-reach destinations and in 2013 was awarded a personal commendation by Dr Habiba Sarobi the Governor of Bamian Province, Afghanistan, for his part in bringing ski tourism to Afghanistan.
Matt Traver was born and raised in Hong Kong. His adult life has seen him develop a love affair for the steppe and mountains of Eurasia. For five years he focused on filmmaking and photography as a way to share faraway cultures with an international audience. His film and adventure projects have taken him through the deserts of Uzbekistan, steppes of Kazakhstan, the high mountains of Iran and Tajikistan, the Tuvan taiga forests and rivers of Siberia. His independent films have also screened at thirty international festivals and events in the UK, France, Italy, Czech Republic, USA, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Australia and also won him an award for the Best Environmental Documentary at the Mountain Film Festival. He has also completed a number of first ascent climbing expeditions to Kyrgyzstan, Greenland and Malaysia. Matt now heads up our Expeditions and Trekking trips. Find out more about Matt by clicking here.
Jan was born in a village ten metres below sea level in the Netherlands. He had never seen a mountain until he was 16. Since then he has spent a life exploring remote mountain ranges over six continents. He has published several articles and photographs of his expeditions in Iraqi Kurdistan, Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan and is the author of Trekking in Tajikistan, the first guide book to trekking in that region. Jan gets to put all his passion and mountain experience in designing and coordinating our expeditions. Helping travellers to visit some of the most stunning and rarely visited places on our planet.
Kat, born and raised in London but with parents from New Zealand, grew up on her parents travel stories and their home was always full of visitors from overseas sharing tales of adventures. At 18, she took a gap year and spent six months in Nepal, India and Pakistan and this trip forever changed the way she travels. Preferring to live and work and really get to know a place, she has spent a significant amount of time in various locations including four years in Guatemala working for a large NGO, four years in Australia managing community development programs and travel scholarships, two years in Ecuador managing a hostel and she has also managed and led volunteer programs in Ghana, Mexico, Thailand, Borneo and Sri Lanka. An outdoor enthusiast, she is happiest in the mountains surrounded by nature and has spent a lot of time conquering some impressive peaks in South America. Now back in London after many years away, she is excited to learn about a part of the world that is very new to her through her work at Untamed Borders.
Taria is a VW camper van enthusiast and as such as always been drawn to travelling the road. After completing her ambition of driving across the US in 2010 she took to the road through Mexico and around most of Central America illustrating her travels in a sketchbook along the way. The Mongol Rally is her next 4-wheeled ambition. She’s toured the UK and Europe as a bass player in a progressive metal band and spent 6 month living in Mexico learning silversmithing. She maintains that Iran is the most beautiful country she has visited thus far.
After first visiting India age 16, Elise developed a love for travel and adventure. Elise’s recent travels have taken her surfing in Sri Lanka, trekking in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and cycling around the entire island of Cuba. Elise has spent the last two years following in the footsteps of histories forgotten female explorers, (with no modern equipment!) a journey which has taken her from the remote peaks of the Scottish Highlands to the basecamp of the world’s third highest mountain, deep in the Indian Himalaya. Elise looks after our PR and marketing, for press enquiries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carly was born in Wales and grew up in the RAF, always moving around and gaining new experiences. Carly found work as a tour leader in Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt and lived in Aleppo for a few years, learning Arabic and immersing herself in the Syrian way of life. Guiding through Europe in the Summer’s after the war broke out, saving money and travelling on a shoestring. Walking across Goa, cycling around Morocco, hiking the Annapurna in Winter, apparently the first person to take a donkey into the Baharia desert in Egypt, driving across Canada and the States living in a tiny fiesta and living in a camper in the UK. She has a passion for the Middle East and Central Asia, hiking and camping in Mountains and deserts, in her bivvy bag and now guides tours back to Syria and Iraq.
Ade is an experienced expedition leader, mountain guide, trekking guide and a keen photographer. Originally from Wales, he’s now based in Sydney, Australia. Ade spends his life leading trekking and climbing expeditions in the most remote and far-flung regions on the globe.
Ade has climbed, trekked and travelled on all seven continents. His passion is to develop new trekking routes in countries like Nepal and Mongolia. When not working Ade enjoys everything Australia has to offer, including canyoning, sea kayaking and the Sydney lifestyle. Ade is responsible for leading our trips to the Wakhan, which he has been to countless times over a number of years.
Ana was born in Maribor, Slovenia, and learned to ski at the age of three. Since her first trip to West Africa a decade ago (when she accidentally illegally crossed the border from Burkina Faso to Ghana) she has lived and worked mostly as a ski coach and guide in alternative countries to the popular destinations of Canada to Australia. She has certainly learned a thing or two about foreign lands. Later she fell in love with the Middle East and swapped hiking up snowy peaks to going down rocky wadis.
Ana has recently spent most of her time in Ramallah in Palestine, working on sports programmes for women in refugee camps. When she gets tired of living under occupation she guides trips for Untamed Borders to Afghanistan and Kurdistan.
PEI TAPAN GAB
Pei is our top man in the North East of India. He and James met by chance in a train compartment between Calcutta and Guwahati in 2007 just as Pei was finishing his studies. After a string of adventures too numerous to mention they decided to work together on trips to see the real North East of India. Pei’s generation are the first from Arunachal Pradesh to leave the state and be educated in other parts of India. He is very aware that he and his generation will preside over a crucial time in Arunachal Pradesh’s history. The tribal culture is changing as it encounters the rest of the world and he feels it is his responsibility to ensure that their culture is not eroded by the waves of outside influences. He has recently set up the first travel agency to be run by a member of the Nyishi tribe; he also manages his family’s tea garden and works on his burgeoning political career. Whenever we run any trips to the North East Pei puts all this on hold to arrange permits and joins us to make sure we are well looked after.
Moritz is an old friend of Untamed Borders and a very experienced trekking guide. There are few people alive who know more about the trekking routes of northern Pakistan. As well as guiding treks 11 times to K2 base camp, he has rebuilt schools in Indus Kohistan after the 2005 earthquake, written a guide book and countless articles. The treks he guides are to his favourite places, offering some of the world’s most incredible scenery and experiences.
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