Untamed Borders is a travel company founded and run by Kausar Hussain, Prince Mahir Ullah Khan and James Willcox. Since 1997 Hussain and Prince have been acting as fixers, guides and translators for journalists and independent tourists wanting to visit Afghanistan and the Tribal Areas of the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. They have given countless people safe and unparalleled access to the people and places of these remarkable regions.
Since 2008 Untamed Borders has also arranged small adventure travel tours into Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia and the north east of India. Each trip is individually designed to coincide with local events or to visit the area at the best time of year. We, the owners of Untamed Borders, act as tour leaders and we only work in these areas because that is where we are from. We can introduce you to the people of the areas because they are our friends. We speak the languages and know the history because they are our history and we want to share them all with the rest of the world.
In addition to our fixed itineraries, we can arrange all kinds of bespoke trips in the region. This was after all how we started. We can arrange almost anything in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. We also are happy to give advice to anyone considering visiting these areas and if you are ever in Peshawar please let us know and we'll meet up for tea. Please don't be shy just contact us.
There will be a maximum of 12 people on any trip we arrange allowing greater security, flexibility and access to local people and places. Afghanistan and Pakistan are not exactly suffering from the ills of mass tourism but we believe that this type of low impact tourism adds benefit to the areas we visit. We ensure that, whenever possible, the money we spend goes directly to the people of that area by staying in locally run hotels and using local drivers and supplies. Our business cards are printed in the bazaars of Peshawar and this website was designed just over the Indian border in Himachal Pradesh.
We also believe that peace and understanding on a world scale can only come when people of different cultures meet and interact. Small scale tourism is not going to change the world but every path starts with a single step.
Prince Mahir Ullah Khan
Since the mid nineties the Prince has been a one man tourist board and NGO rolled into one for Peshawar and the NWFP. He is the president of both the "The World Welfare Organisation" and the "Peace, Welfare and Development Organisation". The two organisation deal with a raft of issues including tourism promotion, educational projects, legal aid and drug abuse facilities in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. He also acts as the editor of "World Problem's" magazine which has a varied readership from national politicians to local religious leaders. He has travelled to numerous countries in his role as a cultural ambassador and has received awards for this service from the Pakistan Tourism and Development department. However his first love is showing people around the sights of Pakistan and he has arranged countless trips and tours for a variety of people from ambassadors to backpackers. His enthusiastic approach never changes and he has bought countless people their first cup of tea in the great Pathan city of Peshawar.
Born in Peshawar, Hussain has travelled every inch of Pakistan and Afghanistan and has friends almost everywhere from the bustling bazaars of Kabul to sleepy, poppy growing villages in the Tribal Areas. When not leading tours and running Untamed Borders, Hussain works as a photographer and journalist. He is the chief reporter for "World Problems" magazine and also works freelance. For ten years he has worked with foreign correspondents allowing them access to restricted areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also works with Prince as part of the "World Welfare Organisation", a Peshawar based NGO. He is well known to many independent travellers for his advice on traveling safely in the region and offering access to restricted areas. Either in person when they reach Peshawar or through travel chat rooms and bulletin boards.
Hussain speaks 9 languages and for the last 5 years spends time teaching English to Afghan refugees based in the camps that surround Peshawar.
After a varied career in the UK, James set off from Istanbul a few years back heading for an Indian beach. He got delayed however in Pakistan and Afghanistan. After a chance meeting with Hussain and a mutual love of an area that they both want the rest of the world to come and see they set up Untamed Borders.
When James is not guiding people around Central Asia he can be found either in Peshawar drinking tea, in Amsterdam with his girlfriend or in London where he is slowly coming to terms with owning a flat with negative equity.
Pei Tapan Gab
Pei is Untamed Borders man in the North East of India. He and James met by chance in a train compartment between Calcutta and Guwahati in 2007 just as Pei was finishing his studies. After a string of adventures too numerous to mention they decided to work together on trips to see the real North East of India.
Pei's generation are the first from Arunachal Pradesh to leave the state and be educated in other parts of India. He is very aware that he and his generation will preside over a crucial time in Arunachal Pradesh's history. The tribal culture is changing as it encounters the rest of the world and he feels it is his responsibility to ensure that their culture is not eroded by the waves of outside influences. He has recently set up the first travel agency to be run by a member of the Nyishi tribe, he also manages his families tea garden and works on his burgeoning political career.
Whenever we run any trips to the North East he puts all this on hold to arrange permits and joins us to make sure we are well looked after.
Nando is our head mountain man for Afghanistan. As well as being able to cook great Gnocchi, he is an IFMGA qualified mountain guide with 25 years experience in Europe and Asia.He has made numerous first ascents and descents on mountains in China particularly in Yunnan where he “brought ski” to the province as well as the wilds of Qinghai. However, he rates his finest achievement as having led groups to the summit of Mount Blanc at least 10 times a year since 1991.
He spent his first winter in Afghanistan in 2010/11 training Afghan ski guides for the Aga Khan Foundation and is currently working on a project called Kohistan (Land of Mountains) to help mountain people in Afghanistan in a variety of sustainable ways including tourist development.He is as good a mountain guide as is available and knows the mountains of Afghanistan as well as anyone guiding today.