Untamed Borders Summer 2023 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • A note from James 
  • Upcoming trips
  • New Afghan virtual tour, a scuba dive world record & an Afghan Guide Fund
  • Untamed Borders in the media

A note from James Willcox, Founder

At Untamed Borders we are always trying to pioneer new trips and to push the boundaries of where our guests can travel to.
So we were delighted to be able to offer a small group of long-time guests the chance to visit the East of Libya recently.
We believe this is the first trip made to Eastern Libya, by an international company, since 2011.
Our guests had previously visited the great sites of Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Ghadames, in the west of the country, but wanted to visit some of the ancient sites in the east too.
In previous years this wouldn’t have been possible – Libya is divided, with different governments managing the east and west of the country.
However, over the past 18 months, the relations between these two governments has improved and we felt it was time to start expanding where we can guide in Libya.
Our guests flew to Tripoli and then on to Al Bayda in the east – from there they visited a multitude of ancient sites, including the UNESCO site of Cyrene, the half-sunken city of Apollonia and Tolmieta. 
The region boasts an enormous amount of Ancient Greek and Roman remains, many of which are incredibly well preserved – photos from the trip can be found here.
It was not only a delight to be able fulfil our guests’ travel goals, but also to surprise and delight the staff who work at these fascinating sites – the return of tourists after over a decade of turmoil is a sign of hopefully better times in the future.
We currently offer 7-day group trips to Libya, visiting Tripoli, Leptis Magna, Sabratha and a road trip to the desert town of Ghadames – trips to the east of the country are available on request.
We are also planning a special reconnaissance trip to the South of Libya this winter. For further details about this ground breaking trip please email us.


Upcoming Trips 

Many of our 2023 trips are now full, but there are still a few destinations with spaces available. We’ve also released lots of our dates for 2024, which are bookable now on our website. We’ve picked a couple of our favourites for the coming 12 months – including an extra Iraq cultural trip later this year, two ski excursions early next year to Afghanistan and Iraq and an adventure into the Algerian Sahara in 2024. You can find a full list of our upcoming group itineraries below and on our website.

Algerian Sahara 2024

On our 10-day adventure into the heart of the Sahara you will take in vast swathes of this remote and beautiful landscape, while meeting the people who call the Sahara home. On the journey you’ll explore Roman ruins, remote oasis towns, deep canyons, enormous sand dunes and learn more about the nomadic communities who live in this harsh environment.

Ski Trips 2024

In February & March we return to both Afghanistan and Iraq on two phenomenal skiing adventures. On the two trips you’ll have the chance to ski virgin back country routes, take part in local ski competitions/festivals, spend time with the local skiing community and learn more about the cultures in these two fascinating nations. Our Afghan ski trip is 11-days long and our Iraq ski trip is 9-days long.

Iraq December 2023

Due to popular demand, we’ve added in an extra Iraq – Cradle of Civilisation – tour into our 2023 schedule. The 9-day trip departs in December, taking in Baghdad, then travelling through the region bound by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, to Basra on the Gulf Coast. You visit areas which were home to some of the earliest civilisations, including ancient Babylon and Samarra, along with two of Shia Islam’s holiest sites. You will also see some of Saddam Hussein’s Palaces and explore the southern marshlands.

News – Virtual Tours, Scuba World Record & Guide Fund

New Afghanistan Virtual Tour Route With Fatima

Untamed Borders has been working with Afghanistan’s first ever female tour guide, Fatima Haidari, for many years and she used to lead our tours in Herat. When the Taliban retook control of the country Fatima had to flee for her safety, but we’ve continued to work together, offering virtual tours of Herat. In October we will be launching a new virtual tour with Fatima, taking guests across Central Afghanistan, to the likes of Kabul and Bamian Province. They both can be booked now.

Scuba diver furthers her world record with Untamed Borders

Scuba diver, Karin Sinniger, holds the world record for diving in the most countries – now 118 UN recognised nations in total. Recently Untamed Borders helped her further her world record, by guiding Karin on successful diving trips to Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia and Tajikistan. Along with sourcing dive locations and equipment, we also led the world record holder on a short cultural tour in all the countries. 

Afghan Guide Fund

When the Taliban took control of power in Afghanistan in August 2021, a number of Afghan and international tour guides, along with tour operators (including Untamed Borders), set up a fund to assist local people who had previously been involved in Afghan tourism. It was also targeted at those involved with small scale media creation. The idea was to help some guides leave Afghanistan and support those still in the nation, who would be facing economic difficulty.

More than $80,000 (USD) was raised in total and distributed to more than 100 local people in tourism. A portion was also given to Afghan Aid for their humanitarian relief programme and a portion allocated to support the limited number of female education projects left within Afghanistan. It also helped a number of high profile guides leave the country.

All the organisers and recipients would like to thank the generosity of those who donated to the fund and were able to help Afghan guides, drivers, hoteliers and many other people during a very difficult time.

Untamed Borders in the media 

Untamed Borders has contributed to multiple pieces in the media over recent months, including an excellent feature about Iraq by BBC Travel, where we guided award winning photographer and journalist, Simon Urwin, around the country. 

Meanwhile, our ski trips to Iraq were featured in a recent Conde Nast piece about ski destinations near Dubai and we were included in the Financial Times & Wall Street Journal in discussions about adventurous tourism, in the wake of the Titanic wreck viewing disaster. We were also asked to comment on a piece in the Daily Telegraph about the growing trend of tourists visiting Afghanistan.

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 Untamed Borders adventure very soon.

The Untamed Borders Team

August 2023