The Untamed Borders Spring Newsletter 2022

In this issue:

  • A Note from James
  • Upcoming Trips
  • Visit Afghanistan…Virtually!
  • Summer Internship Opportunity

A Note from James Willcox, Founder

Winter has always been a great time to visit the deserts of Africa and the Middle East, and this year was no different. We guided two very different trips to old desert Oasis towns that 100 years ago would have been very similar, but nowadays feel polar opposites.

In the 1940s, Riyadh was a small strategic Oasis town on the edge of Saudiu Arabia’s mpty Quarter. Today, it’s mushroomed into the third largest city in the Middle East and a geopolitical and financial hub. Skyscrapers and urban sprawl dwarf the only remaining original buildings of that once small desert town.

In March, we took guests to the first ever mixed gender running event in Saudi Arabia – the Riyadh Marathon. Saudi Arabia is a fascinating country with a surprisingly diverse range of places for the visitor, however the country’s motivation behind promoting tourism and sporting activities has been questioned in recent times. While this cannot be overlooked, it was interesting for our guests to meet female Saudi runners who can now take part in such events that five years ago was not possible. As with all trips to the destinations we guide, we try and show the countries in as nuanced a way as possible.

Our second Oasis was the World Heritage town of Ghadames in Libya. Formerly a key trading centre, its whitewashed walls now stand as an illustration of a Berber town of old Islamic architecture, and is one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities to still stand, retaining the traditional way of life.

For nearly a decade Ghadames has been completely off the tourist trail due to the political upheaval in Libya, but we were able to guide a small group there in February and have another group trip planned in October. Hopefully it’s a sign of greater opportunities for travel in Libya and we wish the nation well in its impending elections.

Both living, breathing places, Ghadames and Riyadh have been through very different times in the last 80 years and are currently going through major geo-political and social change. I always think one of the greatest aspects of travel is comparing and contrasting the places you go, to develop a greater understanding of the world.

Wishing you all safe and happy travels,


Upcoming Trips

Our Autumn departure dates for 2022 are now live on the website! We’ve picked a couple of our favourites here, including our Balochistan trip that was recently featured on BBC Travel. You can find a full list of our upcoming group itineraries below or online.

Horn of Africa – NEW Itinerary

This November, we are re-starting our trips to the Danakil Depression. The current conflict between government and Tigrayan forces have meant our usual route is not possible, but we are able to visit areas of the Danakil from the south. This trip includes Harar and Somaliland with an optional Mogadishu add-on.


This 7-day trip visits the ancient sites of Palmyra, the crusader fort of Krak des Chevaliers, as well as spending time in Aleppo and Damascus. You will be guided by experienced local guides as well as an international guide who has lived and worked in Syria.


Join us on our Balochistan departure as featured in BBC Travel. This is a 10 day trip into the heartland of Pakistan’s largest and least visited province, a region previously very difficult to access. Highlights include journeying along the Makran Coastal Highway, a train journey through the Bolan Pass and the Oasis of Moola Chatok.

Future Departures

Below is a full list of our upcoming and future group departures. We can also organise private departures to any of these destinations:

  • Pakistan (group trips in December, November and May)
  • Balochistan (group trip in November)
  • Syria (group trip in September)
  • Iraq (group trip in October)
  • Libya (group trip in October)
  • Ethiopia (group trip in November)
  • Mainland Yemen (group trip in November)
  • Somalia (Mogadishu) (group trip in November)
  • Socotra (group trip in October)
  • Kyrgyzstan (group trip in July)
  • Tajikistan (group trip in August)
  • Saudi Arabia (group trip dates for 2023 announced soon)
  • South Sudan (group trip dates for 2023 announced soon)
  • Algeria (group trip dates for 2023 announced soon)

Other Destinations

In addition to the above, we can also currently guide you on private departures in the following destinations. Please  get in touch for more information and suggested itineraries:

  • Uzbekistan
  • Central African Republic
  • Sudan
  • Djibouti
  • DRC
  • Lebanon
  • Iran

Virtual Tour of Afghanistan 

We are teaming up with Fatima, our guide from Afghanistan bring you a virtual bookable tour of Fatima’s home city, Herat. Fatima is currently living in Italy and will be hosting the tour from her new home, perfect for those wishing to reminisce from their time in Afghanistan or those who want to learn more about the country.

Profits raised will be split between Fatima and the greater Afghan humanitarian effort. If you would like to be notified when Fatima’s tour is online and ready to book, please let us know.

Our real-life tours to Afghanistan are still suspended, but if you would like to be notified when they start up again, let us know here.

Summer Internship Opportunity!  

Each year at Untamed Borders we offer a summer internship opportunity to someone looking to gain experience working at a busy adventure travel company.

So if you know anyone who is looking for some experience in the travel world, do drop us a line for more information and a full job spec.

If you would like to talk to us about anything mentioned in this newsletter then please do get in touch.

We hope to see you all on an Untamed Borders adventure at some point soon.

The Untamed Borders Team

April 2022