ITINERARIES FOR 2013
We offer a small number of fixed itineraries each year. As well as visiting places of outstanding natural beauty, cultural interest and ensuring we meet and mix with the local population, we time these trips so they coincide with festivals, events or simply are the best time of year to visit each region. Each year we spend countless hours putting together the next years itineraries and because the same people who designed these trips lead the trips, we think you get a personal service that is unsurpassed.
Each of the itineraries below sees you accompanied by a European guide and a local guide from the country visited.
Ski Afghanistan - Bamian (10 days)
5th - 14th March 2013
Back in 2011 Untamed Borders became the first company to run ski trips to Afghanistan. After two successful seasons we will be back in 2013 and concentrating on skiing in the Bamian region of Central Afghanistan. Bamian now has a small ski rental shop set up by a local entrepreneur and is busy training ski guides familiar with the mountains.
We will be using the services of local Afghan guides for less experienced skiers and the skills of an internationally certified mountain guide, to take more experienced skiers deeper into the Hindu Kush. As you might imagine, there are no ski lifts so altitude will be gained the old fashioned way. Each run will need to be earned by walking up on special touring skis. Guests do not need any prior experience of ski touring and we know slopes suitable for all standards of skier. We feel that the chance to experience the incredible natural beauty of Afghanistan as well as skiing in one of the least visited regions in the world will make up for the lack of amenities. We fly into Kabul and then we head to the beautiful and peaceful Bamian valley to ski the Koh e Baba mountain range. We will also have time to visit the remains of the world's largest standing Buddha statues that overlook the town.
Afghanistan is a country slowly recovering from years of violence and neglect but it has always been a magnet for the intrepid. The rugged landscape, the ancient history crossed with tough yet incredibly hospitable people is an intoxicating mix. The chance to truly blaze a tourist trail is a rare opportunity.
- Skiing with professional guides in Bamian
- Apres ski in Kabul
- Visiting the remains of the Buddha's of Bamian
Nomads of the Arctic: Yamal Peninsula Expedition (15 days in Russia)
22nd March – 5th April 2013
Access to the Yamal Peninsula has long been difficult due to the fact no roads lead there and the area is completely closed to outsiders, Russian or otherwise, who do not go through the laborious three month process of getting a temporary permit. Members of this expedition will therefore be among the very few outsiders to have made it onto the Yamal Peninsula, let alone experience the true nomadic life of the Nenets.
The trip coincides with the time of year when the Nenets’ migration route will be taking them fairly close to the village of Yar Sale, which we will reach by all-terrain vehicle. From there we will travel by sledge to the encampment of a nomadic brigade with a 10,000 head reindeer herd. At this time of year they are traveling northwards very fast, moving camp several times a week, so there is an extremely good chance that we will witness this spectacular event and move camp with them. On days when they are not moving camp we will observe and participate in their daily lives, which involve herding reindeer, cutting trees, making sledges, sewing clothing and collecting ice for water.
Watching the herders pack up their tents onto sledges, get the 10,000 reindeer running around, lasso the ones they need for transport then move camp through the tundra.
Tasting raw reindeer meat and drinking blood if you dare!
Getting to know these warm, friendly people and experiencing a way of life radically different from that of anyone else anywhere in the world.
The Road to Shandur (16 days in Pakistan)
25th June - 10th July 2013
When we plan our trips each year this is the first one we start with and I am getting excited just writing this. We start in Islamabad and take a scenic flight across the Hindu Kush mountains to the ancient kingdom of Chitral to spend three days with the pagan Kalasha people. From there we load up with tents, food and expectation and head to the Shandur Pass. By the time we arrive the Shandur polo festival will be in full swing and a 3800m high mountain pass will be a tented town of tea shops, samosa sellers and revellers all there to watch two rival valleys play frontier polo in a mountain setting that is probably unsurpassed in all sports. After that we head to the legendary Hunza valley, famed for it's beauty, before skipping back to Islamabad on the Karakorum highway.
- Watching polo at a 3800m high mountain pass
- Visiting the ancient pagan people of the Kalasha valleys
- Visiting the Hunza valley
- A trip down the famous Karakorum Highway
Melons and Grapes – Grand Afghan Tour (15 days in Afghanistan)
14th - 28th September 2013
Each Autumn we run a trip to Afghanistan and we think it is the perfect time to visit. Summer can be blisteringly hot and winter icy cold. Spring has its charms but for us it has to be Autumn because of the fruit.
How a land that appears to be made entirely of bare rock can produce melons as large as beach balls and grapes bursting with juice is one of life’s great mysteries. This trip shows the best of Afghanistan at the best time with as much fresh fruit thrown in as you can eat.
We start in Kabul before crossing the spine of the Hindu Kush through the Salang Pass to Mazar e Sharif to see the blue tiled shrine of Hazrat Ali and the remains of the once great Silk Road city of Balkh. Then we will move on to Bamian where we spend three days exploring the valleys, the Buddha niche’s and the lakes. It is an area that allows us to experience what life is like in rural Afghanistan in safety. Finally we will take a short flight across the Hindu Kush to Herat, the most complete city architecturally in Afghanistan.
- Visit Afghanistan at the best possible time of year.
- See the remains of the Buddha’s of Bamian
- Explore Herat
- Marvel at the Timurid architecture of Balkh
Afghanistan Horse Trek - Riding the Wakhan (22 days in Afghanistan)
19th August - 9th September 2013
In the summer of 2013 we will be running one of our great trips. A 22-day horse-back odyssey to meet and live with one of the world's last and least visited nomadic cultures: The Kyrgyz of the Afghan Pamir. We will begin and end in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe travelling along the dramatic Pamir highway before crossing over into Afghanistan, passing through the Wakhan Corridor into the Afghan Pamir. From here we will meet our horses and explore Chaqmaqtin Lake and the surrounding area.
We will have the opportunity to meet Kyrgyz nomads who graze their livestock here during the summer months as well as seeing ancient tombs and Buddhist engravings which live as a reminder of this once great section of the silk route.
We will be running this trip in collaboration with our horse loving friends at Zavkhan trekking. They run some of Mongolia's best and original horse riding trips. A combination of their equine expertise and our Afghan experience is the best way to see this remote corner of the planet.
Discover the culture of the Wakhi and the Kyrgyz nomads of this rarely visited corner of Central Asia
Travel along the Pamir highway, one of the world's highest roads
Explore by horse-back deep into territory where few outsiders have ever been
Silk Road Cities (13 days in Uzbekistan)
7th -19th October 2013
Uzbekistan epitomises the silk road. Empty desert highways and isolated oasis cities that stand as a reminder of the days of Timur, when half of Asia was ruled from Central Asia. On this trip, we visit three of the best preserved cities on the silk road as well as getting a feeling for what life is like in post-soviet Central Asia.
We begin in Central Asia's largest city, Tashkent before flying to Nukus in Uzbekistan's far west. There we will witness the sobering sight of the remains of the Aral Sea as well as visiting the Savitsky museum, one of the most remarkable modern art collections in the world. We then will follow the route that camel trains used to take through the deserts and steppe to the medieval city of Khiva and on to the narrow streets and blue tiled Timurid architecture of Bukhara before reaching Samarkand and standing in awe at the Registan, one of the world's most most beautiful squares.
Our guides will ensure that you are fully informed on the ancient as well as modern history of the heart of Central Asia.
Visit the awesome silk road cities of Khiva and Samarkand
Explore the medieval back streets of Bukhara
Experience life in Karakalpakstan
Chechnya, Dagestan and Russia's deep south (7 days)
6th - 12th October 2013
Chechnya, Grozny and Dagestan are names synonymous with the destruction and terror that followed their attempted breakaway from the Russia motherland following the break up of the soviet union. Yet the Caucasus is a place of great natural beauty with fascinating cultures set in the shadow of the mountains that mark the border between Europe and Asia. This trip offers a view into an region that remains almost unexplored by western visitors.
We will visit four of Russia's least visited republics to get an insight in to life in Russia's restless underbelly. Starting in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia's fading yet elegant capital, we'll travel to Beslan and the sobering memorials to the Beslan school massacre before passing through Ingushetia to Chechnya. There we will have time to see how the world's most destroyed city has been rebuilt into a gleaming capital complete with visible personality cult to the new Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. A truer insight into traditional Chechen life will be found in nearby Itum Kale where some of the regions best preserved traditional watch towers still are found. From there we'll pass through turbulent Dagestan staying in Makhachkala before heading down to the UNESCO world heritage town of Derbent. Derbent means “closed gate” in Persian and the town boasts the world's only surviving Sassanid fortress which used to be part of a 40km stretch of wall that kept the Persian empire safe from the barbarians to the north.
A truly ground breaking trip into a much misunderstood region.
Be one of the few non-Russians to explore the UNESCO world heritage city of Derbent.
Sample the atmosphere in the new built Grozny
Visit the Chechen watchtowers of Itum Kale.
The edge of India (15 days in north east India)
3rd - 18th November 2013
This trip allows you to experience some of the traditional ways of life of the peoples of the tribal states of north east India. It also coincides with Divali, the Indian festival of lights, which is always a colourful, if noisy, time to be in India.
We start this trip in Meghalaya where we will hike down from Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth, to the lush jungles on the border of Bangladesh. There we will witness the incredible living bridges of the Khasi people. Then we will take a road trip through the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh and up into the peaks of the Himalays and the Tawang Valley. We visit the largest Tibetan Buddhist complex outsdie of Lhasa and experience life in a remote Buddhist convent.
To really get a feel of tribal life we will stay at a small Adi village and join some Adi friends of ours on a traditional trip into the jungle. We will see first hand how the jungle is the builder centre and larder for the villagers with rope, poison, baskets, food, entertainment and lodging all available if you just know where and how to look. Finally, we’ll cross the mighty Brahmaputra by ferry before staying a night in a colonial era tea plantation.
Visit the Tawang valley and meet with Tibetan Buddhist nuns
Join Adi tribes people on a traditional hunting trip
Stay in a colonial tea plantation bungalow
Cross the incredible living tree bridges of the Khasi