-Travel The White Silk Road-
Afghanistan is a paradise for those with a love of the mountains and mountain people. The Hindu Kush mountain range bisects the country and is one of the least explored ranges in the world. The opportunities for adventurous ski touring, trekking and climbing are almost unlimited. The mountains are also home to a number of peaceful minority groups in Afghanistan. The Hazara of Bamian, the Wakhi of the Wakhan and the Kyrgyz of The Afghan Pamir are all extremely hospitable and live in a world far removed from the troubles affecting the rest of the country.
In 2010 we arranged for a group of climbers to make first ascents of 3 unclimbed peaks and in 2011 we were the first company to ever take ski tourers to Afghanistan. We now are offering a full range of outdoor mountain activities to Afghanistan from first ascents of peaks in the Hindu Kush to ski touring on vast frozen lakes. We have teamed up with Nando, a qualified mountain guide and a man who knows the mountains of Afghanistan well to ensure all our Alpine trips are memorable for the right reasons.
The combination of ski, climbing or trekking little known or brand new routes and an immersion into the timeless Afghan mountain culture is a heady mix.
We like to call it a trip along The White Silk Road.
Afghanistan has only one ski shop and no ski lifts so if back to basics skiing is what you are into then look no further. Afghanistan is a ski tourers paradise. Snow and mountains in abundance with opportunities are only limited by the ability and imagination of the skiers.
Untamed Borders was the first company to bring skiers to Afghanistan and we have intimate knowledge of three regions that are perfect for ski touring.
– Famed for its giant Buddhas, the nearby lakes of Band e Amir and the Hazara people who are descendants of Genghis Khans armies, Bamian sees a small influx of tourists each summer. Now it is also a winter destination and sees ex-pats from Kabul come for some snow at the weekends. The Koh e Baba (old man mountain) range offers almost limitless options for “en etoile” (one day trips) skiing as well as two or three day trips camping or staying in shepherds huts for the more adventurous. We also can offer skiing to the frozen lakes of Band e Amir. Bamian also has Afghanistan's only ski shop as well as locally trained guides to allow beginners to learn the basics of ski touring.
– The main road between Kabul and the North of Afghanistan winds up and through the Salang Pass. A series of Russian built tunnels, the roofs hanging with icicles in the winter make this an atmospheric one day trip from Kabul. The Salang is the Kabul ex-pats playground and is a huge bowl with many ski touring options and majestic views of the Hindu Kush range. Its relatively small size is made up for by the fact we gain much of the altitude by driving up in the cars and by the fact we can finish the day in Kabul with a cold beer.
– Tucked away in the far North East of Afghanistan is the Wakhan corridor. A finger of land wedged in between China, Pakistan and Tajikistan. It really is one of the most remote regions in all of Asia and perfect for ski tourers looking for the ultimate in expeditions on glaciers, crossing high mountain passes and ski mountaineering.
See our 2012 itineraries for details on our ski trips or contact us and arrange something bespoke for yourself or a group.
Afghanistan is not short of snow, mountains or helicopters. However, to date no-one outside the military has ever combined the three. We have the contacts, guides and knowledge to make it happen. Just contact us and we'll give you a quote.
Here is the big confession, we are not breaking new ground when it comes to climbing big peaks in Afghanistan. The Hindu Kush was positively swarming with climbers in the 1970's with 23 expeditions in 1977 from Poland alone!! However, since the summer of love very Afghan peaks few peaks have been sighted let alone attempted.
We concentrate our alpine climbing on the Wakhan region of Afghanistan in the far North East of the country.
We have knowledge and skills to arrange logistics and guides for your expedition to climb anything from Nowshak (at 7400m the highest peak in Afghanistan) to smaller non-technical unclimbed peaks under 6000m. In the summer of 2012 we will also be running a special trip for climbers to join us in the Wakhan to attempt one or more unclimbed non-technical peak.
The Hindu Kush offers a huge array of trekking options. Due to the vulnerability of our guests whilst trekking and the risk of land mines we stick to the Bamian, Wakhan and Afghan Pamir regions.
Bamian has a number of fabulous day hikes and 2,3 or 4 day treks in the mountains of the Koh e Baba range. The routes we know pass 1500 year old Buddhist stupas, lapis lazuli blue lakes, natural arches, 1000 year old forts, isolated towers, hot springs, ice caves and ancient steps carved into the rock. As well as the incredible geographical landscape we offer opportunities to stay in villages with local families to experience the cultural landscape of Afghanistan.
The Wakhan and Afghan Pamir are some of the most isolated regions in Asia and offer the ultimate in trekking in Afghanistan. A three week trip to Chaqmaqtin Lake will take you through the steep sided Wakhan corridor into the vast expanse of the Afghan Pamir inhabited by the last of the Kyrgyz nomads. They are the last of the nomadic Central Asian people that roamed the steppe for Millennia. Collectivisation under the soviet regime in the rest of Central Asia pushed the Kyrgyz into this small pocket where they still herd their fat tailed sheep and live in felt yurts.
For those who prefer the feel of horse flesh between their legs we can arrange horses for guests on all our trips. Riding to the lakes of Band e Amir in central Afghanistan or deep into the Wakhan and Afghan Pamir is a link to the equine past of Central Asia.
We use horses and donkeys to carry skies, tents and other equipment as well as horse dung for fuel on our longer trips to eliminate the use of the sparce wood supplies in the mountains of Afghanistan.
We don't want to stop there. We have projects to be the first company to run kayaking trips in the Panjshir valley, Paragliding in Badakhshan and mountain biking in the Wakhan. If you want to blaze a trail and want expert guiding, information and support on Afghanistan then get in touch with us and we can make your dream into a reality.