Untamed Borders Autumn Newsletter 2021
In this issue:
- A Note from James
- Upcoming trips
- Where we can travel to
A Note from James Willcox, Founder
Afghanistan was the first place Untamed Borders started guiding trips to 13 years ago. Since then, we have pioneered ski and kayaking trips to the country, and over the years have helped develop tourism and other initiatives, including the Marathon of Afghanistan (the countries first mixed gender sporting event) and employing female tour guides.
The events of the past few months have been devastating for all of us at Untamed Borders, and for me personally. I sit on the board of two NGOs that offer sporting opportunities to women, and Afghanistan was a country I visited two or three times a year for over a decade.
Over the years I made many, many friendships, both professionally and personally, and worked with a huge amount of people who also wanted to promote the unique tourism opportunities Afghanistan has to offer.
The change in regime has left these people scattered, scared and jobless, and for a while we felt helpless when our Afghan friends reached out for help.
Because of this, a fund was set up to help ALL people involved in tourism and small-scale media creation in Afghanistan. The money raised means we are able to assist and advise those who have left their homes with just the clothes on their back, as well as offering candid and practical support, advice and options for those still in Afghanistan who face an uncertain future.
While the last few months have been heart-breaking for many in Afghanistan, the way the larger community has rallied to help, to show the people of Afghanistan they are not forgotten has been inspirational. People that have visited Afghanistan as tourists or for work, who have felt a connection with the country and people they met. These people, from many different nationalities, pulled together in so many different ways, and it was humbling to see this effort. Thank you again to everyone who has assisted and donated.
So far, the fund has helped over 100 people, including Afghanistan’s only female tour guide Fatima and guide Gul (pictured above seeing the sea for the first time) who have both found refuge in Italy. However, for most people involved in tourism in Afghanistan, the future is still very unknown, so our fund is still open, and any money donated will be used to further assist these people. You can donate here.
Thank you so much.
We know that travel is back on the menu for many of you, as a lot of our autumn and winter trips are now booked up! Mainland Yemen, our Pakistan Indus trip and Iraq – Cradle of Civilisation are completely sold out, but the three trips below have a couple of spaces left each:
We have created a brand new Ethiopia itinerary so that we can continue to run trips and support our staff in this beautiful country. We have revised our popular Ethiopia itinerary to bring you a different take on one of our favourite trips. We start by visiting the tribes of the Omo Valley, before flying east to the ancient walled city of Harar and crossing over into the de-facto independent state of Somaliland. We recently ran this trip as a private departure, and you can see the images here, and for the truly intrepid, you can add on our 48 hours in Mogadishu tour below.
On this short tour or Mogadishu, you’ll be able to visit the markets, bazaars and beaches of the city, including the harbour and lighthouse area. We also stop for a swim at Lido Beach, walk through the ruined Italian colonial architecture and see the monument to the unknown soldier. You will have the chance to use our severity team’s experience, and that of a local fixer who has worked with several journalists to get an insight into life in Mogadishu today.
The Erbil Marathon is back! Join us this November for either the 5km, 10km or full marathon race. As well as seeing the sights of Erbil, we will head out of the city to visit Lalish, the spiritual home of the Yazidi people, where you will get a taste of life in Northern Iraq and sample the famous Kurdish hospitality. You will also have a chance to train with female runners breaking taboos, and explore Iraqi-Kurdistan’s spectacular mountain scenery in the Zagros Mountains.
Two spaces have come up for grabs on our fully-booked Balochistan Explorer trip departing this December! Our new 10-day trip will take you on a journey along the Makran Coastal Highway from Karachi to Gwadar, with a feast of experiences along the way.
Travel to Syria
Visas are now being issued again for Syria, and our seven day trip this spring will visit the ancient site of Palmyra, the crusader fort of Krak des Chevaliers, as well as spending time in Aleppo and Damascus. Our group will be guided by an experienced local guide and an international guide who has lived and worked in Syria previously. This trip is not online, so please contact us if you would like more information.
Countries we can Travel to
With COVID restrictions easing and the new UK system coming into play this week, below is a list of destinations where we can currently guide you:
- Libya (Contact us for a 7 day group trip for 2022)
- Pakistan (Including group trips in November and our new Balochistan trip)
- Syria (including a group trip in March)
- Iraq (including a group trip October and February)
- Yemen (including a group trips in November, January and April).
- Ethiopia (including a group trip in November)
- Central African Republic
- Saudi Arabia (including group trips in February)
- Algeria (including group trips in January and February)
- South Sudan (including a group trip in March)
- Somalia (including group trips in November and Mogadishu Add On)
On these trips we ensure that our guests are up to date with any entry requirements and they also make themselves aware of any re-entry travel requirements when they return home. In addition, all our trips comply with local public health protocols and we also ensure our staff and guests follow general WHO guidelines.
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