Untamed Borders Winter Newsletter 2021

In this issue:

A Note from James
Our New Sustainability Program: Planting Trees in Afghanistan
Where are we Guiding Right Now?
What to do if I Cannot Travel

A Note from James Willcox, Founder

You cannot imagine the happiness. Finally, we can refresh our hearts and are able to feed our families and take our kids to school. There are many families that rely on us to carry on.” 
– Hamid, Yemeni guide.

At Untamed Borders, we feel grateful that over the last few months we have been able to organise a few trips and assist a little bit in stimulating the small tourism sector within some of the world’s least developed nations. Places where there is no government support and where work is the only way to survive. It has been informative and rewarding introducing new procedures to reduce transmission and keep guests, guides, drivers and everyone else involved safe.

In the past few months this has allowed us to arrange trips to a dozen countries including a remarkable Scuba diving in Somalia and Puntland adventure, multiple trips to Kandahar and some spectacular group trips to southern Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. There are some great ideas in this newsletter on where to travel with us in 2021 or how to interact with us virtually if you are not able to.

We’ve been working hard to ensure that any trip with Untamed Borders is not only an amazing experience for our guests, but also provides maximum benefit to the communities we visit. We want our guests to know that whenever they book one of our group trips, they are also supporting the local communities we work in. Our latest project has been a tree planting initiative in Afghanistan, which you can read about below.

In short, 2020 has shown us that travel is not a necessity in life but something that should be loved and cherished and whenever undertaken, undertaken with forethought, care and intention.

All the best to you all for a safe and well intentioned 2021,


Planting Trees in Afghanistan

Last summer we had time to reflect on what we do as a company, how we can strive to make as positive a difference as possible with all the trips that we arrange. With that in mind, our most recent step has been to partner with charity Afghanaid, supporting their fantastic tree initiative in Afghanistan.

We have committed to donating a portion of all our fixed date trip sales to their tree-planting and disaster risk reduction work in Badakhshan province, Afghanistan. Tree planting provides a variety of different functions, including watershed management and climate resilience, as well as providing vital support for food insecure families. Afghanaid’s activities in the area include tree and sapling planting, as well as providing training and tools for local farmers to help reduce land degradation and the instances of natural disasters.

In 2020, we were able to donate enough money to enable Afghanaid to plant 11,200 willow cuttings alongside 10 farmers in rural Badakhshan, working out at 100 cuttings per guest. Alongside tree planting, Afghanaid supports these farmers to gain the tools, training and networks they need to properly care for their orchards, build their community resilience against extreme weather and natural disasters, and lift their families out of poverty.

We are also continuing to support ground-breaking social change projects such as female mountain guide training in Tajikistan and the mixed gender sporting events of Afghanistan and Somaliland.

Where Can we Guide Right Now?

For those of you able to travel right now, please note we can currently guide you in the following destinations:

Afghanistan (including ski trips in March and group trips in May)
Pakistan (including group trips in May)
Yemen (including group trips in April)
Ethiopia (including group trips in April)
Central African Republic
South Sudan (including group trips in March)
Somalia (including group trips in April)

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, we ensure that our trips comply with local public health protocols and we also ensure our staff and guests follow general WHO guidelines.

What to do if I Cannot Travel

If you are unable to travel right now, and that is a lot of people, then here are a couple of ways to travel vicariously:

• Our trekking guide Ade will be leading his 10th trip to the Wakhan this summer. In February, Ade will be giving a zoom presentation on all things Wakhan corridor. Contact us if you’d like to join.

• Secret Marathon film: The virtual global Premier of The Secret Marathon will be available to watch here this weekend. The film covers the story of two Canadians who travelled to Afghanistan to run the Marathon of Afghanistan, an event which Untamed Borders is heavily involved with. Film maker Kate McKenzie and marathon runner Martin Parnell will be hosting chats before each screening with various people including Zainab, the first woman to run a competitive marathon in Afghanistan and Katherine Switzer, the first woman anywhere in the world to complete a competitive marathon.

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 in the not too distant future.

The Untamed Borders Team

January 2021