Untamed Borders Spring 2024 Newsletter

A note from James Willcox, Founder:

Regular followers of Untamed Borders will know we have a long and deep connection with Afghanistan, a country I have visited close to forty times. Having spent so much time in the beautiful nation, some of you may expect me to have done and seen everything it has to offer. However, in February I was working on a special project, which took me to six provinces that I largely hadn’t visited before. I embarked on a long anticlockwise road trip, starting in Mazar e Sharif, in the north, and ending in Jalalabad, in the east. At times I passed within a few kilometres of the Turkmenistan, Iran and Pakistan borders. You can see a selection of photos from the fantastic trip here.

I was fortunate to follow a route (in reverse) taken by Robert Byron in his classic travelogue Road to Oxiana, one of the all-time great travelogues – taking in the Turkmen, Uzbek and Pashtun towns of Jowzjan and Badghis Provinces. Later, I passed huge columns of camels whilst driving on the dried-up bed of the Hamun e Helmand, in Sistan – a once vast wetland that contained fishing fleets up until only a few years ago. In antiquity, it was the home of Rostam, the great Persian literary hero of Ferdowsi’s epic poem – Shahnama. Now it is simply empty desert.

Finally, I travelled east to Paktia, Khost and my final stop was to the Tora Bora region of the Spin Ghar Mountains in Nangarhar. Although the infamous caves have long been destroyed, the people remember the night that “The Sheikh” escaped into Pakistan. Now the region sees a small influx of curious Afghans in the summer, enjoying picnics in the mountains – so much so that a local businessman is building a restaurant right next to the old caves. The Tora Bora café, you heard it here first. After so many wonderful adventures to Afghanistan, over 15 years, it was a privilege to see some places, which were new to me.

We have lots of ways you can enjoy Afghanistan with Untamed Borders.

  • You can experience the country from the comfort of your own home with our Virtual Tours with Fatima Haidari, the country’s first female tour guide.
  • You can experience it in the cinema. A new film is coming out soon, called Champions of the Golden Valley, which follows the story of Afghan skiers in the country’s Bamyan Province and the formation of the country’s first ski club – The Bamyan Alpine Ski Club. I worked as an Associate Producer on the film and Untamed Borders arranged the logistics for it. The film’s world premiere is at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in June. Check out this link for further details.
  • Visit Afghanistan in person with Untamed Borders. We have added extra Afghan trip dates into our schedule this year due to high demand. We have dates available to book on our Afghan in 9 Days group cultural trip and on our Afghan Central Route adventure. We’re also returning to the stunning Wakhan Corridor on a trekking trip in August. We’re still finalising details, but we will also soon have news about next year’s Afghan ski trip.

Wishing you new perspectives in old locations.


Upcoming Trips 

Our trips in 2024 are filling up fast and we have new group adventures due to begin imminently! There are still a few spaces on some of this year’s trips and we’ve added some new dates at the back end of 2024, due to high demand on certain routes. Our top picks for the rest of this year are cultural group trips to Syria, Libya and Pakistan. We’ve also now released new dates for some of our trips in early 2025. You can find a full list of our upcoming group itineraries below and online.


In September we’re returning to the beautiful country of Syria on a 7-day adventure. Our first stop is the Crusader Fort of Krark des Chevaliers, one of the world’s best preserved medieval forts, before moving on to the ancient city of Palmyra, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. We then head to the city of Hama and spend two nights in Aleppo, one of the oldest cities in the world – there we have chance to explore the city’s historic Citadel and many of its other fantastic ancient sites. We continue, travelling south to Homs and on to Maaloula, with its surrounding mountain landscape and ancient monastery, a place where ancient Aramaic is still spoken. We then finish the trip with two days exploring the Syrian capital Damascus. You can see photos from some of our previous visits on this route here and here.


7-day group trip in October, where we take in some of the country’s fascinating Roman sites along its northern coastline, the capital Tripoli, and the oasis town of Ghadames, in the Sahara. On the adventure you’ll visit Leptis Magna, one of the most complete Roman cities on earth and the stunning Roman remains at Sabratha. We also spend time in the Jebel Nafusa hills and experience Berber culture in the desert. It’s an opportunity to see some of the historic and natural gems in this beautiful nation, which few outsiders have sadly had chance to see in recent memory. You can see photos from some of our previous Libyan trips to the areas we visit on this adventure here and here

Pakistan Indus Valley

We have 3 cultural group trips to Pakistan in November/December this year. The longest is a 13-day adventure, which begins in Karachi and finishes in Peshawar. After starting on the coast you head north to Thatta and the Necropolis of Makli Hills. We then continue on to Hyderabad and the historic city of Sehwan, with a stop at Ranikot Fort, and a visit to the holy shrine of Sehwan Sharif. We also take in Moenjadaro, the best-preserved city of the Indus Valley people, and stop at Kot Diji Fort on our way to Sukkur. We visit Uch Sharif and take in a slice of the Cholistan desert and on to the city of shrines – Multan. We also spend a number of days in the bustling city of Lahore,  before moving on to the northern city of Peshawar. We then finish in the capital Islamabad. We also have a 10-day version, which takes in the stretch between Karachi to Lahore and a shorter 7-day trip, which begins in Lahore and finishes in Islamabad. You can see photos from previous visits here and here.

Future Departures

Below is a full list of our upcoming and future group departures for  2024, along with a number of depatures we’ve announced for 2025 (there will be more announced later in this year). We can also organise private trips to any of these destinations.

– Afghanistan

– Algeria (group trip in February 2025)
– Djibouti & Somaliland (group trip in November 2024 & February 2025)
– Iraq

– Libya (group trip in October 2024
– Pakistan

  • Balochistan (group trip in November 2024)
  • Hindu Kush & Karakorum (group trip in May 2024)
  • Pakistan Indus Valley (group trip – 13, 10 or 8 day options – in November 2024)

– Somalia (Mogadishu) (group trip in September & November 2024 & February 2025)
Syria (group trips in September 2024 & April 2025)
Tajikistan (group trekking trip in August 2024)
– Yemen 

In addition to the above, we can also get in touch for more information and suggested itineraries in: 

  • Chad
  • Central African Republic
  • DRC
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Georgia
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • India
  • Iran
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan 
  • Lebanon
  • Mauritania 
  • Puntland
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • Turkmenistan 
  • Uzbekistan

Latest News

Yemen Trek 2025 

Our trailblazing new trekking adventure to Yemen is bookable now. In January/February 2025 we will be taking guests on a 10-day trip into the impressive Wadis of Hadramout. The trekking route will weave in and out of the date palm lined wadis, up steep canyons and across the desert, in this beautiful part of the country. The route was checked by one of Untamed Borders’ international trekking guides, alongside our Yemeni team, in the winter of 2024 and you can see pictures from the adventure here. Although Yemen has suffered from instability and conflict in recent years, the trailblazing trekking trip will take place in the east of the nation, far away from the flash points in the Houthi controlled west around Sana’a. 

Yemen Trek 2025 

In 2025 Untamed Borders will be launching an exciting new trekking adventure into the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq. We will be taking on the Zagros Mountain Trail, a new 215km trekking route, which follows ancient pilgrimage and trading routes, along with shepherds’ paths, finishing at Mount Halgurd, Iraq’s tallest mountain. The project was designed to boost tourism and the economy in these remote areas, while also bringing together the different communities of the region. Full details about our plans for this new trek will be revealed over the coming year, but you can register an interest now by emailing – info@untamedborders.com. 
New Trip To The World Nomad Games
Later this year we will be organising a special group trip to the World Nomad Games in Kazakhstan, in collaboration with an award winning journalist. The Games, in Astana, celebrate unique sports played by nomadic communities, with more 3,000 people from 100 countries due to take part. After taking in the festivities in Kazakhstan in September, we move on to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, visiting a famous stretch of the ancient Silk Road. Along with a Central Asian cultural experience, guests will also have chance to enjoy a travel writing masterclass with American journalist, Autumn Phillips. Autumn was recently awarded the title of “Journalist of the Year” by the North American Travel Journalists Association. We will also be running a second trip for aspiring travel writers with Autumn, to Algeria, in September. You can find out more information about the two trips here and here.

Untamed Borders in the media 

Over recent months Untamed Borders has featured extensively across world media, regarding our work in Afghanistan. In March we contributed to a piece by Sky News, regarding a rise in tourism to the country over recent years. 

We also contributed to two excellent pieces by AFP about Afghanistan – one about the the rising number of tourists and also one about the continued growth and development of skiing in the country, which is aided by our ski trips to the nation. The pieces were picked up by media organisations around the world including France 24, Al Jazeera, Japan Today, among more than 50 other publications.

We also featured in a number of publications regarding our new trekking trip to Yemen, including Matador Network and a number of publications in the Middle East, including The National News in the UAE and SA Today in Saudi Arabia. 

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

We hope to see you all on an adventure with Untamed Borders very soon.

The Untamed Borders Team

May 2024