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A game of Buzkashi _COPYRIGHT_UntamedBorders 2015

Autumn 2016
Newsletter

In this issue:

  • A note from James on visas
  • Upcoming trips
  • Private trips in 2016
  • Introducing Matt Traver
  • Marathon of Afghanistan Donations

A note from James Willcox, Founder


Visas and permits... can't live with them, can't travel without them. The regions we work means the Untamed Borders team spends an awful lot of time assisting with visas and permits. Despite the hospitality of people in the region a trip to the embassy or consulate is less about rolling out the red carpet and more about rolling out the red tape.

You would think we would have seen it all but situations can still surprise us. We have had guests be issued visas with the wrong dates, occasionally been given the visa for someone else and on one occasion accidentally have their passports shredded.

You would think that visas on arrival would make things better. It usually does, however on remote borders this can also be troublesome. On one very sensitive border the visa on arrival service was suspended for one week back in 2012. But why? There was talk of a diplomatic row or a military incursion. Finally it was discovered that the service had been stopped because they had run out of visa stickers and one of the staff had to get the bus to the capital to get some more. This was not a Banana Republic either but a border between two nuclear powers.
 
These stories emerged earlier this year when we had one guest from the USA start his visa process for Tajik and Afghan visas with one passport. After a convoluted story involving the FBI, the US postal service and the US passport office he started the trip with two Afghan visas and one Tajik visa spread over THREE passports.
 
Although I have an even better visa story than this one... during the earthquake in Sichuan in 2008, we had a guest leave his passport at the Pakistani consulate on the 17th floor of a high rise building. The building was cordoned off by police and he was told no-one could enter. As he sat there brokenhearted he recognised one of the Pakistani embassy staff and they went for dinner. Later that night they broke into the consulate and he had his visa signed by torchlight inside a condemned building.
 
On that note, happy travels and smooth documentation,
 
James

Private expeditions in 2016

Along with our fixed date trips, we also ran a variety of private trips and projects including:
  • Earlier this year we were approached by filmmaker Jordan Manley to arrange the logistics for a ski film in Iran, which would be the final episode in his extensive film series called “A Skier’s Journey”
  • In May we took a small group of Americans to visit the Altai region of southern Siberia.
  • A four person team who ventured to paddle Afghanistan's mighty Panjshir River. We'll also be running a kayaking trip to Afghanistan in 2017, so if this floats your boat drop us a line.

Upcoming Trips

We are currently finalising the details of all our 2017 fixed date trips. Some like our Afghan Spring trip and the Chechnya, Dagestan and Russia's Deep South trip are fully booked. However there are still a few places below on the following trips:
Wakhan Corridor photo_copyright Untamed Borders

Ski Iraq


As far as we are aware, this will be the first ever commercial ski trip to Iraq. A country more associated with deserts has some great mountainous terrain in the northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region which we will explore with a qualified international ski guide.

Click here to find out more.
 
Afghanistan photo_copyright Untamed Borders

Ski Afghanistan


We will be back in 2017 for our 7th Afghan ski season, concentrating on skiing in the Bamian region of Central Afghanistan. This trip will be led by an internationally certified mountain guide assisted by local Afghan ski guides. In addition to this we have a second trip which will take you to the Afghanistan Ski Challenge which is a great chance to hang out and ski with some of the country's best and budding skiers.
Ski Afghanistan photo_copyright Untamed Borders

Horn of Africa


Join us for an exploration in to the wilder parts of Ethiopia and Somaliland visiting intriguing locations such as the Danakil Depression, the lava lake of Erta Ale, the salt mining Afar nomads and Hargeisa, the capital of the independent state of Somaliland.

Find out more by clicking here.

Meet Matt!

Over the summer Matt Traver joined Untamed Borders as our Expeditions and Trekking Manager. His background in the adventure world is a mixture organising various personal expeditions and producing/directing independent documentary films in places such as in Iran, the wilds of Siberia, Pakistan and Central Asia.

In 2017 Matt will be guiding a multi-week trip paddling across the Russian Republic of Tuva. Let us know if you'd like to join!

Marathon of Afghanistan - Donations

As you may know we're the logistical provider for the Marathon of Afghanistan which takes place each Autumn. With the marathon being a non-profit organisation, the race is free to enter for all Afghan runners. All race entry fees collected from international runners are used to help fund the cost of arranging the marathon and any surplus funds are distributed to local charitable causes. So far they've raised over US$4600! If you'd like to contribute then please head to their donation page.
If any of the above trips sound tempting or you'd like to have a chat with one of the Untamed Borders team please get in touch.

Untamed Borders Team

October 2016
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