Karin & Air Buddy, Third Lake Bamiyan

Scuba diver breaks world record in Afghanistan, Libya, Tajikistan and Somalia with the help of Untamed Borders

Scuba diver, Karin Sinniger, holds the world record for diving in the most countries – now standing at 118 UN recognised nations in total.

She has recently broken her own world record by adding Afghanistan, Libya, Tajikistan and Somalia to her achievements, with help from adventure travel company, Untamed Borders.

The company guided her in all four countries, to ensure she could travel and dive safely, from the pre-planning stage, all the way through to on the ground logistics.

It comes as the world applauds Norway’s Kristin Harila for becoming the fastest person of all time to ascend the world’s 14 highest mountains and it’s an increasing trend of women pushing the boundaries in adventurous locations.

Karin Sinniger officially broke the scuba diving record in 2013, after diving with an elephant in the Andaman Islands, which are Union Territory of India.

                                                                                                           6th Lake, Fann Mountains, Tajikistan – Karin Sinniger & Cathryn Riley

Scuba diving in the likes of Afghanistan, Libya, Tajikistan and Somalia poses a number of challenges, with many hard-to-reach countries not having commercial diving centres or dive tourism facilities.

These hurdles are an extra slice of adventure for Karin, “Customs often have no clue what they’re looking at. In Afghanistan, a border guard went ballistic when she saw my floating compressor and tiny Go Pro, thinking it was a drone. With help from the Untamed Borders guide, we were able to explain that I had a “swimming machine” not a drone, allowing us to continue on our journey.

In Libya we couldn’t see our hand in front of our faces underwater, due to the weather. It was like being in a desert, in a dust storm.

Meanwhile, in Somalia and Puntland I was diving with a hookah system, it was literally a garden hose, held to a diesel fuelled compressor, with a piece of string. You could taste petrol as you breathed and it was hard going. I quick developed a headache from the lack of oxygen.

I admired the local lobster and turtle divers, who would do that for a living, with no training or computers to avoid getting the bends.”

                                                                                                                                       Tiboda, Libya – Karin Sinniger & Cathryn Riley

Untamed Borders has also worked on multiple other projects in the past, to help facilitate world record attempts and adventure sport challenges for female athletes.

In 2017 the company helped a group from the Women On A Mission organisation to complete the first-ever cycle crossing of the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, known as one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

The team completed the 200km challenge over 6 days, with temperatures topping more than 50℃.

The company also helped a group of international women climbers access some of the hardest to reach peaks in Iran, joining local women for the adventure.

                                                                                                First ever cycle crossing of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia – Women On A Mission

Untamed Borders founder James Willcox says, “There is a perception that adventure travel and challenging environments are predominately male environments.

In our experience, this simply isn’t true, we regularly work with inspiring and adventurous women.

Karin holding the world record for such a feat is a great example, which shows women are not only operating in these environments, but are leaders and record breakers in them too.

We’re seeing an increasing number of women sign up for our trekking and ski trips year after year, and many more women getting touch with very adventurous, bespoke trip ideas.”

In 2005 British sailor, Ellen MacArthur, broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe – completing the 27,354 mile journey in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds.

Meanwhile, 10 years ago US long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad, became the first person to swim the treacherous stretch from Cuba to Florida.

She made the 110 mile crossing, without a shark cage, in 53 hours.

And in 1993 free climber, Lynn Hill, became the first person in the world to climb The Nose without ropes or a harness, one of the steepest and most exposed parts of Yosemite’s infamous El Capitan.

It took her 4 days and she then smashed her own record the following year, taking 24 hours.

These are only a few examples in recent decades, but there are many other inspiring examples over the course of history.

                                                                                                                        Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan – Karin Sinniger & Cathryn Riley

For Karin Sinniger, being close to nature is one of the biggest draws for her challenges, along with the added spice of adventure….

“Diving with an elephant in the Andaman Islands was incredible. Seeing his eyes and trunk up close, and seeing such a huge animal weightless in the water was amazing.

Looking into the eyes of a pair of curious humpback whales in South Africa was also amazing.

We were diving for the sardine run, but the whales were curious, so came around our boat and stayed around when we slipped into the water, for 40 minutes.”

Karin has more adventures to come, as she looks to continue furthering her world record.

She is planning to dive in Eritrea next with Untamed Borders in October 2023 and has more nations on the horizon.

And she says having Untamed Borders alongside her in some of the nations, really adds to the experience…

“Untamed Borders is passionate about its destinations and its staff seem to enjoy the challenge of helping me dive in these types of destinations, almost as much as I do.

The company has good guides who ensure safety and can help translate, not just the language, but the culture too.”

Along with the dives in the 118 UN recognised countries, Karin has also dived in many disputed and other non-UN recognised territories – totalling 192 of the 330 recognised by the Travelers’ Century Club.