ABOUT US

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, the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus. We also arrange bespoke trips to other off-the-beaten track destinations. Alongside our regular cultural tours, we also run adventure sport excursions – including ski trips, trekking, marathons and much more.

 

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Untamed Borders was founded in 2008 following a meeting in the mountains between three travel guides from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UK. They 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.

OUR ETHOS

Untamed Borders uses specialist local guides, who aim 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 MISSION

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 suppliers. 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.

 

OUR TRIPS

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.

 

THE TEAM

 

JAMES WILLCOX – FOUNDER

James’ first travel memory is a donkey ride on Skegness Beach. Over thirty years later James has travelled extensively throughout Central Asia. the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. James has guided hundreds of people in hard-to-reach destinations. He is one of the founders of the Marathon of Afghanistan, the Somaliland Marathon and the Iraq Ski Rally. He sits on the board of the organisation Free to Run and has been awarded a personal commendation from the Afghan government and a medal from the Afghan Olympic Committee for his efforts in promoting tourism and sport in Afghanistan. He is also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, has been Associate Producer on films (including Champions of the Golden Valley, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival) and has worked as a wedding planner.  

 

KATE ARCHER

Kate has been working in adventure travel for over a decade, and during that time has travelled across five continents to some of the world’s most adventurous places. With years of sales experience, Kate is an expert when it comes to putting together your perfect itinerary and will be your first point of contact when booking your trip.

Kate can chat you through anything from private trip ideas, flights, visas or any of our group itineraries.

 

 

 

MADELENE MADSEN

Madelene was born in Sweden where she spent her life in the great outdoors, hiking and skiing. Before moving to London she travelled extensively in East Africa, scuba diving and working at a marine conservation base, to which she has returned to visit on many occasions. She pursued a career in travel and has many years of experience in both sales and operations. Madelene works closely with our local operators to ensure that we can provide the most up-to-date information and that all aspects of our trips are carried out in the best possible way.

 

 

DAVID HARRISON

David is originally from the Isle of Man and is a former BBC journalist, who worked as a reporter in England for 9 years, across both radio and TV. He now manages the Marketing and PR for Untamed Borders. David’s recent travels have included volunteering for an aid organisation in Ukraine, during the war with Russia, multiple extensive trips around Central Asia, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.

Alongside David’s passion for travel, he’s also a keen endurance athlete and has competed in many ultramarathons, ironman competitions and long distance cycle events. He’s a nature enthusiast and spends much of his time outdoors – hiking, surfing, mountain biking etc. David is one of the co-founders of a street art organisation in England, called Bankside Gallery Hull, which helps regenerate areas using street art as their tool – they’ve overseen the painting of thousands of pieces of art in England and organise big street art events.

 

 

RAJJAN PARMAR 

Rajjan grew up in Hertfordshire, to Indian parents, and has had a passion for travel since a young age. After studying history at university and going on to complete a masters in journalism and documentary film making, Rajjan hosted a travel, adventure, crime and corruption podcast called – RSP Podcast. One of his specialist subjects is Stalinist and Soviet history and he’s traveled extensively – including backpacking around the Middle East in his early 20s, passing through Israel and Palestine, and spending time with the Bedouin tribes in Jordan. Most recently he went on a 3-month long overland trip around Africa, taking in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana.

 

 

 

ANA  TASIC

Ana was born in Maribor, Slovenia, and learned to ski at the age of three she has lived and worked mostly as a ski coach and guide in alternative countries to the popular destinations. For Untamed Borders Ana leads our skiing trips to Afghanistan and to Iraq, along with our cultural trips to Yemen (among other places). Since her first trip to West Africa a decade ago (when she accidentally illegally crossed the border from Burkina Faso to Ghana), 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. 

 

ADE SUMMERS

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 led our treks in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor and Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountain Lakes region, among other cultural adventures and he is also leading our pioneering new trekking trip to Yemen in 2025.

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.

CARLY FILLIS

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.

 

TARIA DAWSON

Taria started working for Untamed Borders in 2017. Whilst a latecomer to travel (she was a bass player in a rock band for 13 years prior), she is passionate about capturing her travels in her sketchbook. Since the lockdown in 2020 she started a blog and Youtube channel about travel sketching, encouraging and teaching others to sketch their adventures in ink & watercolour. She is now a published author of a book on the subject and has been invited to teach all over the world. Taria assists with the design and technology side of Untamed Borders.

 

Upcoming Trips

Check our Itineraries page to see all scheduled trips.

South Sudan

    South Sudan

    Cultural

    Experience the complex diversity of the world's youngest country through an immersive 7-day journey into South Sudanese culture.

    from $2,950
    Lake Attabad Pakistan

      Pakistan – Hindu Kush & Karakorum

      Cultural

      A 14-day road trip through the awe-inspiring Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountain ranges of Northern Pakistan. These mountains contain a kaleidoscope of people as well as some of the earth's most incredible scenery.

      from $2,950
      Trekking Tajikistan: Pamir Mountain Lakes

        Trekking Tajikistan: Pamir Mountain Lakes

        Trekking

        We will be traversing through the heart of the mountain range. Along the way, we will stay in the homes of the Pamiri natives, camp near centuries old caravanserais and explore the shores of shimmering blue Alpine lakes.

        from $3,150
        Runner at Somaliland Marathon 2019

          Somaliland Marathon

          Marathons

          This package offers travel and entrance to the Somaliland Marathon, which takes place in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital. Contact us for more details about the 2024 package.

          from $1,450