Travel Kyrgyzstan

Unseen Kyrgyzstan

Unseen Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan, an offbeat destination renowned for its trekking and horse riding, is an ideal place to discover nomadic culture at a grassroots level. There are plenty of rarely-visited locales to explore throughout this centuries old Central Asian nation, and our two part trek between Naryn and Osh is one such place. Over thirteen days you’ll traverse your way across the southern corner of the country, through remote valleys, and verdant pasturelands frequented only by the herdsman who dwell there in yurt camps during the summer. Along with passing by small and remote traditional Kyrgyz villages, and visiting Uzgen (an ancient capital city), another remarkable section of your journey will be paddling across Kel Suu lake located at over 3300m and hemmed in by towering rock walls overlooking the placid alpine blue waters.

Dates: 20th July – 1st August 2019

Highlights:

  • Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai of Tash Rabat, which was originally built as a Christian monastery in the 10th
  • Explore Kel Suu Lake, one of Kyrgyzstan’s largest and highest natural dam lakes, and also a little-seen corner of the country.
  • Experience traditional Kyrgyz hospitality and ways of life staying in yurts and venturing out on horseback.

Start point  – Bishkek
End point   – Osh
Maximum number of people: 10
Number of days: 13

Day 1 – Bishkek – Chong Kemin
Saturday 20th July 2019
You will be met by your driver and guide on arrival in Bishkek. If you arrive in the morning there will be time to go on a tour of Bishkek with your guide and to acquaint yourself with the capital city of Kyrgyzstan taking in locations such as the Osh or Dordoi Bazaar, the Central Mosque, Panfilov Park and Ala-Too Square. Afterward you’ll make your way out of Bishkek to Chong Kemin and along the way stop at Burana Tower, a 9th century minaret in the Chuy Valley.

Please note, the trip officially starts at 9am on the 20th July 2019. If you arrive before this date or very early in the morning on Day 1, then private transport and a night in a guesthouse can be arranged for an additional US$25 per person.
Overnight in guesthouse in Chong Kemin

Driving: 170km
Driving time: 2.5 hours
Altitude: 1600m

Day 2 – Chong Kemin – Char Valley
Sunday 21st July 2019
The first stop of the day will be Konorchek Canyon where you will be able to stretch your legs and enjoy a short hike for three hours within striking red sandstone canyons which start out very narrow and then open out to a wide valley. After lunch in Boom Gorge, you’ll head to the town of Balykchy which is on the edge of Issyk Kul, the second largest alpine lake in the world. It’s a great place to go for a quick swim as sometimes temperatures in July can peak at 40°C. We’ll then continue to Naryn City which is the regional capital of the Naryn region. Depending on time you can go for a short walk and see the Naryn River that cuts across the whole of the country.  The final stop for the day will be the Char Valley where your hosts will be waiting for you in a hidden valley near to At-Bashy.
Overnight in guesthouse.

Driving: 290 km
Driving time: 4 hours
Trekking time: 3 hours
Altitude: 2040m

Day 3 – Char Valley – Kok Kyia Valley
Monday 22nd July 2019
Departing the valley in the morning you’ll drive through the unspoilt pasturelands of the Bosogo Valley and then cross over the Kaingdy Pass which takes you into the wild Ak-Say Valley. Shortly after entering the valley you’ll cross into the border zone region between Kyrgyzstan and China via a military checkpoint. After lunch you’ll arrive in Kok Kyia Valley where you will meet Meder and his lovely family whom will accommodate you in their yurts for the evening.
Overnight in yurts.

Driving: 140 km
Driving time: 4-5 hours
Trekking time: 2 hours
Altitude: 3300m

Day 4 – Kok Kyia Valley – Kel Suu Lake
Tuesday 23rd July 2019
After breakfast, you will be able to jump on the back of your horse and head to the stunning Kel Suu Lake. The lake is a natural dam lying between vertiginous sharp cliffs and is a picturesque location to have lunch.  Make sure to keep your eyes open because there are many birds of prey in this area, as well as ibex, foxes and marmots. In the early afternoon we’ll inflate the rafts and begin our journey by paddling along the lake. At 15km long and only 40m wide at its narrowest point, we’ll drift along its shores which are overshadowed by 800m high cliffs. These valleys are still unexplored and it’s possible to spend a bit of time discovering this area. The aim is to reach the far side of the lake and build a camp near Chong Tash.

Please note that Kel Suu lake exists due to a landslide dam (similar to Sarez Lake in Tajikistan) and is primarily fed by meltwater from a glacier above the lake, in addition to rainwater. In July 2018 the lake’s water mysteriously drained away in less than a month. Our local team has been visiting the lake since 2000, and during that time this phenomenon has only happened once before and the lake refilled in a matter of weeks. No one is certain for the exact reasons behind this unusual hydrological event, however, it is believed to be due to an underground collapse. Since the 2018 event the waters have not returned, but depending on the weather conditions over late 2018 and into 2019, we hope the lake to refill. Of course there is the possibility that the water may not return in time for your trip. If it does not, the only impact this will have on the trip is that instead of paddling you will traverse the dry lake bed on horseback and on foot.
Overnight in tents.

Altitude:  3610 m
Altitude Gain: +350m
Attitude Loss: -0m
Horseback riding: 2.5 hours (6km)
Paddling time: 4 hours (15km)
Trekking time: 2 hours (3-5km)

Day 5 – Kel Suu Lake – Valley of the Five Boys
Wednesday 24th July 2019
After an early start you will head towards the little-visited Valley of the Five Boys, which is in close proximity to the Chinese border. If you’re lucky, it’s a great place to spot ibex, Marco Polo sheep and wolves.
Overnight in tents.

Altitude:  3933m
Altitude Gain: +800m
Attitude Loss: -800m
Trekking time: 5-6 hours (16km)

Day 6 – Valley of the Five Boys – Kok Kyia Valley
Thursday 25th July 2019
After breakfast you’ll venture over the Eshegart Pass (3933m) and descend into the Tuyuk Boto Valley. You will be able to see active wildlife in this very remote and wild region.  From the Eshegart Pass you will be able to see amazing panoramic views and, if you’re lucky, some wild animals like ibex gallivanting their way across ridges and hillsides.  In the late afternoon, you will arrive back at Meder’s yurt camp, where you will be greeted with cups of warm tea and great local dishes.
Overnight in yurts.

Altitude: 3933 m
Altitude Gain: +500m
Attitude Loss: -650m
Trekking time: 7 hours (20km)

Day 7 – Kok Kyia Valley – Tash Rabat
Friday 26th July 2019
Today we’ll leave behind Meder’s family and depart for Tash Rabat by road via At-Bashi.  This will be the last time you see houses and shops for the next few days.  After lunch, you will head to a 15th Century caravanserai where you will be greeted at Nazira’s yurt camp.
Overnight in yurts.

Altitude: 3250m
Driving: 265km
Driving time: 6 hours

Day 8 – Tash Rabat – Kok Bel Pass – Karakol Valley
Saturday 27th July 2019
Today will be a challenge. Leaving very early in the morning from Tash Rabat you’ll make your way by car to the Karakol River. The road is fairly rough in a few places so we need a head start in the morning. Once you reach the Karakol River you’ll link up with the local packhorses and herders and commence your trek over to the Karakol Valley via the Kok Bel Pass (3915m). After descending from the pass you’ll build a camp where the valley meets the Arpa Plains.
Overnight in tents.

Driving: 80km
Driving time: 3 hours
Altitude: 3100m
Altitude Gain: +465m
Altitude Loss: -815m
Trekking time: 6 hours (15km)

Day 9 – Karakol Valley – Arpa Valley
Sunday 28th July 2019
Today you will hike alongside the Fergana Range.  It’s important to get an early start today because you have a lot of ground to cover.  Today the views will change with snow-capped peaks in the distance and you may see a few yurts dotted in the horizon.  It’s quite a contrast from the last days of trekking. It’s possible you might be invited in to one of the yurts for some tea. The shepherds are often surprised to meet trekkers in this area.  Later in the day camp will be built near a valley to protect everyone from the strong winds in the Arpa Valley.
Overnight in tents.

Altitude: 3150m
Altitude Gain: +250m
Attitude Loss: -200m
Trekking time: 7 hours (20km)

Day 10 – Arpa Valley – Jylangash Valley
Monday 29th July 2019
In the morning you will descend into a lush wooded area rich with pastureland fed by small rivers and lakes. The Kyrgyz here believe that Japaiy Adam, a wild man related to the Yeti, uses this area to migrate between the Pamir and Tien Shan Mountains. At the end of the day you will set up camp in the Jylangash Valley.
Overnight in tents.

Altitude: 2750m
Altitude Gain: +600m
Attitude Loss: -1050m
Trekking time: 7 hours (20km)

Day 11 – Jylangash Valley – Chitti River
Tuesday 30th July 2019
After breakfast you will commence your difficult ascent over the Chitti Pass (3720m). The small path climbs gradually where you will have a chance to view both sides of the Fergana Range. The climate and the people will change after this pass because you are entering a different region of Kyrgyzstan. You will feel more of a Mediterranean climate and many of the people you meet are of Uzbek ancestry. You will stop beside the Chitti River for the evening.
Overnight in tents.

Altitude: 2450m
Altitude Gain: +1270m
Altitude Loss: -1300m
Trekking time: 6.5 hours (18km)

Day 12 – Chitti Valley – Osh
Wednesday 31st July 2019
Today you will say good bye to your horses and herders and leave the Chitti Valley.  On the way, it’s possible to meet beekeepers and have a sample of the local honey.  Once your driver meets you at the end of the trail you will leave the Fergana Range to discover some of the most ancient regions of Central Asia.  You will be able to visit the historical complex in Uzgen with its three mausoleums and large minarets from the 11th Century.  The final destination for the day is Osh where you will be able to have a famous plov dinner in a chaykhana (café).
Overnight in guesthouse.

Altitude: 1950m
Altitude Gain: 0m
Altitude Loss: -500m
Trekking time: 5 hours (14km)
Driving: 125km (4 hours)

Day 13 – Osh – End
Thursday 1st August 2019
You will have the chance to visit Osh and summit Mount Solomon and see the 3000 year old bazaar, amongst other highlights in the city. From Osh it’s possible to fly directly back to Moscow or to other parts of Central Asia, as well as continue onward via the Pamir Highway to Tajikistan.

You will be accompanied by an international trekking guide from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.

The trip includes:
All accommodation as described above
All meals during trip (3 per day)
All transportation in 4WD vehicle
Drinking water and tea
Local English speaking guide
Experienced international trekking guide
Horses and herdsmen
All activities as described above
All entrance fees for monuments, parks and permits
Camping equipment (tents, mats, kitchen utensils, gas)
Boats & lifejackets

The trip does not include:
International flights
Visas (if applicable)
Domestic flight from Osh to Bishkek*
Insurance
Alcoholic beverages
Tips
Additional rental of personal camping equipment (if required)
Any charged activity not mentioned in the program

Cost – US$2600 per person

*If you need to return back to Bishkek and require a flight back, with an airport collection, and night in a guesthouse then this can be arrange for an additional US$125 per person.

To reserve a place on this trip we need a deposit of US$400

If you have any questions about this trip or about Kyrgyzstan in general please contact us.

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Kyrgyzstan. However, we can suggest routes and operators.  You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:
Visas for Kyrgyzstan can be obtained on arrival for most foreign visitors. If you are based in the UK and require visa advice for other countries, then we recommend Travcour as an agent for your visa requirements. They are UK’s oldest leading travel visa specialist and are able to provide full visa support and consultancy for Untamed Border’s destinations.  They are the people we use when we need visa support for our staff.

Food:
In Kyrgyzstan three meals are provided each day and this is included in the cost of the trip. If you have particular preference for trekking snacks, such as energy bars/gels, then you will need to bring your own supply.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. Even if we wanted to, the reality is that standards in Bishkek cannot be compared to a home stay in an isolated valley in Kyrgyzstan. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay. The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When we are in the mountains we will be staying in tents and in local home stays that sometimes only offer central communal areas to sleep in.

Transport:
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. We will only be travelling by four-wheel drive vehicles. Your comfort, enjoyment and safety of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:
On this trip you will be accompanied by an experienced international trekking guide from Untamed Borders plus local guides. This allows for greater flexibility and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you even if the other team leader is busy making arrangements.

Security:
Kyrgyzstan is a safe and stable Central Asian country. Nevertheless we listen very carefully to advice from the foreign office and from our friends in the areas we visit. Our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas which are stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of this trip at short notice.

 

 

Wild Siberia: Western Tuva

  Dates: Summer & Autumn 2019

This eight-day trip will take you into the remote and rural western region of the Republic of Tuva. Being the epicentre of traditional Tuvan culture you’ll have a chance to meet with nomadic pastoralists, master craftsmen, throat singers and musicians. The area is also replete with archaeological remains which you can explore, ranging from Scythian era burial mounds to standing stones and petroglyphs. The second half of the trip will see us venture into the backcountry on horseback for three days near to the border of the Altai Republic. During this time you’ll also have the chance to trek in the rugged range and sub-alpine lakes which feed into Western Tuva’s most fabled river, the Alash.

Highlights:

  • Trek and horseback ride in the mountains of Western Tuva on the border of the Altai Republic.
  • Visit nationally renowned local artisans specialising in ancient soapstone carving, blacksmithing and leatherworking in the impressive Bai-Taiga region, as well as master throat-singers and byzaanchy musicians.
  • Visit the Ustuu-Khuree Temple – Russia’s earliest piece of Tibetan architecture.
  • Seeking out the Scythian-era Genghis Khan stone idol, ancient Turkic burial sites and the standing stones and petroglyphs near Bizhiktig Khaya village.
  • Return from Western Tuva through the southern mountains and plains of the Republic of Khakassia
  • Experience the nomadic culture of Tuva.

Start point – Kyzyl
End point – Abakan
Maximum number of people: 10
Number of days: 8


Day 1 – Kyzyl
We’ll begin the day visiting the Geographical Centre of Asia Monument in the morning, the Tsechenlig Buddhist temple and a tour around the comprehensive National Museum, which has well-preserved artefacts from Scythian-era burial sites. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Tuvan Cultural Centre for demonstrations in local music and khoomei – the throat singing art form which the republic is most internationally famous for. The Cultural Centre is also home to countless other artisans and masters of music and creativity which you may be able to meet. Depending on availability there may also be a chance for you to partake in a music workshop and purchase handmade local instruments.

In the afternoon we’ll head out to explore Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva, visiting the downtown black market and even the centre for the Republic’s shamans. Time permitting we can then head on foot or by vehicle to the north side of Kyzyl and watch the sun setting over the steppe from the summit of Doo-Ghey or another nearby peak where you’ll have miles long views of the Yenisei out to the west.

Overnight in Aldyn-Bulak ger.

Day 2 – Kyzyl to Sai-Khonash
The following morning we’ll drive out west to Ustuu Khuree Temple outside of Chadan – which is Russia’s earliest piece of Tibetan architecture and one of the most sacred places for Tuva’s Buddhists.

Afterward, we’ll stop for lunch in Kyzyl-Mazhalyk and drive toward Bizhiktig Khaya Mountain which is home to more than three hundred Bronze Age petroglyphs which depict ancient scenes of local life and even an image of Buddha which is estimated to date back to the 14th Century.

In the early evening, we’ll arrive into Sai-Khonash which is home to a number of nomad’s camps. We can spend the evening with a Russian banya, drinking tea, sampling Tuvan milk vodka [araga] and hang out with the numerous sheep, cows, horses, goats and yaks tended to by the nomads.

Overnight in Sai-Khonash ger.

Day 3 – Sai-Khonash
This day will be a chance to relax and learn more about rural life in Tuva. We’ll have the chance to make traditional fresh cheese known as byshtak, learn the art of Tuvan throat singing [khoomei] from locally renowned masters, as well as general demonstrations of local instruments such as the byzaanchy – a local variation of a four-stringed fiddle commonly found throughout numerous steppe cultures.

In the afternoon we’ll go on a short excursion on horseback down the Bayan-Khol River in preparation for our larger journey beginning the following morning. In the evening we’ll have a freshly slaughtered sheep and if you have a strong stomach you can learn how to skin, gut and prepare the meat ready for the pot.

Overnight in Sai-Khonash ger.

 Day 4 to 5 – Sai-Khonash to Khoolaash
Monday 16th – Tuesday 17th July 2018
Day 4 will see us ride for 6-7 hours on horseback into the mountains to a yak summer camp. We’ll camp for nights 4 and 5 beside the Khoolaash waterfall area from where you can freely hike, swim, horseback ride and fish. On Day 5 we can embark on a hike through the forests and into the higher mountains near the Altai Republic.

Day 6 – Khoolaash to Sai-Khonash
After an early breakfast, we’ll depart on horseback again downwards through the mountains and back toward Sai-Khonash camp.

Day 7 – Sai-Khonash to Bai-Taiga
After breakfast in our ger, we will drive towards Bai-Taiga, a region renowned by Tuvans for its natural beauty. Along the way we’ll stop at Shivilig, a natural spring considered to have healing properties. In Tuvan language, these are known as an arzhaan and for centuries they have been central to their culture.

Afterwards, we’ll drive 30km towards Kyzyl-Dag, a small village which is famous for the best craft makers in the whole of Tuva, many of whom are internationally recognised for their skills in crafts such as leather making, blacksmithing and soapstone carving. This is also a great chance to buy some of their one-of-a-kind work.

Overnight in a homestay.

Day 8 – Bai-Taiga to Abakan
Breakfast in Kyzyl-Dag and then departure back to Abakan.

The trip includes:
Local English speaking guide provided by Untamed Borders
All accommodation
All camping equipment
All meals
All Transport (including 4 x 4 vehicles)
Entrance fees
Workshop fees
Horses and guides
Traditional music concert in Tuvan Cultural Centre
One workshop and shamanic ritual

The trip does not include:
Visas
Visa Support
Insurance
Flights
Drinks
Tips
Overnight accommodation in Abakan on Friday 20th July (if required)

Cost: Contact us
To reserve a place on this trip we need a deposit of US$400 per person

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights or train travel in Russia. We can, however, suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:
You will require a Russian visa for this trip. We will provide visa support and advice on how best to obtain this visa. If you are based in the UK or Australia then we can recommend using The Visa Machine as a visa agent.
Visit the Untamed Borders page at their website – untamedborders.thevisamachine.com.

Food:
We include all meals during the trip.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room or a tent.

Transport:
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Whilst this journey is mostly by river and off-road vehicle where necessary, we can assure you that your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is our first priority.

Guides:
On this trip, you will be accompanied by a local guide assigned by Untamed Borders.

Security and Alcohol:
Russia is a very safe country on the whole. Nevertheless, our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons.

Please note that at times when you are in Russia – and especially in Siberia – you will sometimes be given warning by the people you meet to be wary of drinking socially and sometimes even told that people can be threatening when drunk or generally a risk. Please don’t be too alarmed if you hear this. As long as you avoid getting heavily intoxicated with strangers you’re not comfortable with, don’t walk through Kyzyl’s streets at night and keep your eye out to avoid anyone drunk, you’ll have no problems.

Trekking Tajikistan: Pamir Mountain Lakes


Dates: 
3rd – 18th August 2019

Of all the Greater Ranges on the Asian continent, the Pamir Mountains are probably the least known and the least visited of them all. They boast the world’s largest glacier outside the Polar regions, the 77km long Fedchenko Glacier, and harbour three mountains taller than 7000m.

We will be traversing through the heart of the mountain range. Along the way, we will stay in the homes of the Pamiri natives, camp near centuries old caravanserais and explore the shores of shimmering blue Alpine lakes. To complete the traverse the team will scale a mountain pass that’s taller than Mont Blanc. Be prepared to be spoiled for life!

Highlights

  • Stay in the homes of the hospitable Pamiri people
  • Camp on the shores of shimmering blue alpine lakes
  • Scale a pass taller than any summit in the European Alps

Start point  – Dushanbe
End point   – Dushanbe
Maximum number of people: 10
Number of days: 16

Day 1 – Dushanbe – Kalaikhum
Saturday 3rd August 2019
After flying into the capital of Tajikistan Dushanbe we will be heading straight to one of the most spectacular mountain roads in the world: the Pamir Highway. Our four-wheel drive vehicles will scale the first pass over 3000 metres and descend to the valley of the mighty Panj river.

Driving: 9 hours
Altitude: 1600m

Day 2 – Kalaikhum – Khorog
Sunday 4th August 2019
Today we will follow the Panj river, also known as the Oxus in ancient times. The other side of the river is Afghanistan. During the drive, you can see daily life in the mud-brick Afghan villages. At times the Pamir Highway squeezes through dazzling gorges and crosses rickety suspension bridges. We will stay in the capital of the Pamirs, Khorog.

Driving: 6 hours
Altitude: 2150m

Day 3 – Khorogh – Shakhdara Valley
Monday 5th August 2019
Our drivers will take us up what the Pamiri people call Bam-y-Dunya, or the Roof of the World. As a part of our acclimatisation schedule for the trekking we will ascend 1300 vertical metres and stay in a Pamiri homestay at an altitude of 3470m. The skyline is filled with peaks over 6000m, of which the distinct Pik Karl Marx (6723m) is the tallest.

Driving: 3 hours
Altitude: 3470m

Day 4 Shakhdara Valley – Bulunkul
Tuesday 6th August 2019
On our way to the trailhead of the trek from Bulunkul we return to the Pamir Highway, that now crosses one of the highest sections. We will drive through an icy, high altitude landscape with jagged peaks as far as the eyes can see. The highlight of the day is the crossing of the 4271m Koitezek Pass. After a bone-rattling day we will arrive in Bulunkul, officially the coldest inhabited place in Central Asia where the temperature once plummeted to a whopping -63 °C.

Driving: 5 hours
Altitude 3750m

Day 5 – Bulunkul – Peninsula West of Sumantash
Wednesday 7th August 2019
After four days on the “road” it’s time to stretch the legs and hit the trail. The first day is literally a warm up. An 18km walk will lead us to our first camp on a peninsula west of Sumantash on the shores of Yashilkul. Along the way you’ll pass next to the remains of an ancient caravanserai, the Mahjura hot springs, and pre-historic stone circles near the mouth of the Marjanay River. The view from your tent is the beautiful mountain lake of Yashilkul.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3750m

Day 6 – Peninsula West of Sumantash – North West Shore Yashilkul
Thursday 8th August 2019
Today we head in westerly direction along the north shore of Yashilkul. After 18km walk we will pitch our tents at the North West end of Yashilkul.

Trekking: 7 hours
Altitude: 3750m

Day 7 – North West Shore Yashilkul – Langar Valley
Friday 9th August 2019
We will leave the shores of Yashilkul and enter the classic Pamir valley of Langar. A Pamir is a broad, U-shaped valley carved out by a glacier or icefield. These type of valleys are ideal grazing grounds also known as aylaqs. The shepherds go up to the aylaqs in summer time with their often massive herds of fat-tailed sheep and goats. We will set up camp halfway the valley.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3890m

Days 8 – Langar Valley – Chapdarkul
Saturday 10th August 2019
The 14km climb to the shores of the dramatic lake of Chapdarkul takes us above the 4000m mark. Depending on the speed of the group there is also the option to proceed further for up to one hour and camp nearby Langar Pass (4630m). The thin air at this altitude make even the easiest tasks an effort.

Trekking: 6 hours
Altitude: 4530m

Day 9 – Chapdarkul – Uchkul
Sunday 11th August 2019
We will descend from Langar Pass towards the Uchkul area and camp in the Zaurbek area which is a series of three beautiful turquoise lakes surrounded by pastures grazed by yaks and sheep. The landscape is again very different from the previous days, with Mount Kulin dominating the skyline in the distance. We’ll be staying close to a shepherd’s camp at 4100m just after the Uchkul area.

Trekking: 4-5 hours
Altitude: 4100m

Day 10 – Uchkul – Zarojkul
Monday 12th August 2019
From Uchkul you’ll venture through more ever more wild terrain to reach what is arguably the most beautiful mountain lake in the Pamirs: Zarojkul, which is fringed by snow-capped mountain giants.

Trekking: 6-7 hours
Altitude: 4510m

Day 11 – Zarojkul – Top Bardara Valley
Tuesday 13th August 2019
In this section the team will reach the highest point of the trek, the 4840m high Shtik Lazar Pass. Although it’s just over 300 vertical meters of climbing to the top of the pass, it will be a tough day. From the top you can see one of the biggest mountains in the Tajik Pamirs, Peak Revolution (6940m). The 1100m descent takes us to our camping spot at 3720m.

Trekking: 7 hours
Altitude: 3720m

Day 12 – Top Bardara Valley – Bardara Village
Wednesday 14th August 2019
The final day is a long one. For 20km we will follow the crystal clear Bardara river before we arrive in one of the remotest settlements in the Pamirs, Bardara. Here we will sleep inside underneath a Pamiri roof again.

Trekking: 8 hours
Altitude: 2830m

Day 13 – Bardara Village
Thursday 15th August 2019
A rest day. This day it will be all about eating, sleeping and exploring village life in the Pamirs at a very slow pace.

Altitude: 2830m

Day 14 – Bardara Village – Kalaikhum
Friday 16th August 2019
Our drivers will pick us up and drive us through the wonderful Bartang Valley, back to the Panj river where we make a right turn towards Kalaikhum.

Day 15 – Kalaikhum – Dushanbe
Saturday 17th August 2019
This is the last full day drive back to Dushanbe. We will leave early which will enable us to explore the capital of Dushanbe a little bit.

Day 16 – Dushanbe – End
Sunday 18th August 2019
You will be dropped at the airport in the early hours of Sunday morning.

You will be accompanied by an international (trekking) guide from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.

The trip includes:
All accommodation, including tents during the trek
All meals except in Khorog and Dushanbe
Transport
Experienced international trekking guide
Local trekking crew
Pack animals

The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas and permits
Insurance
Flights to Tajikistan
Entrance fees
Drinks
Tips

Cost – US$2550 per person
To reserve a place on this trip we need a deposit of US$400

Fitness Requirements:
Our trekking trips are designed to be physically engaging and provide a level of challenge for most people. As a general guideline, we recommend that you have some prior experience walking with a 10-15kg day pack for up to 8 hours over 5 or more days through uneven & varied terrain (and weather); ranging from hard-packed earth, tussock grass, boulder fields, scree slopes, soft snow patches, and knee-deep rivers.

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Tajikistan. However, we can suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:

You will require a Tajikistan visa for this trip as well as a GBAO permit for the Badakhshan region where we will be traveling in.

A single entry Tajikistan e-visa is the quickest method. However, if you do not want to use an e-visa and you are based in the UK then we recommend Travcour as an agent for your visa requirements. They are UK’s oldest leading travel visa specialist and able to provide full visa support and consultancy for Untamed Border’s destinations. Click here to obtain our specialist visa packages and support from Travcour. They are the people we use when we need visa support for our staff.

Food:
In Tajikistan, meals are sometimes included with the accommodation, and these are included in the price. This also applies to the meals produced by our high altitude cooks while we are trekking in the mountains. The food in Khorog and Dushanbe is not included in the price as we want people to have the freedom to choose their preferred restaurant.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. Even if we wanted to, the reality is that standards in Dushanbe cannot be compared to a homestay in an isolated valley in the Pamirs. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.

The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When we are in the Pamirs we will be staying in tents and in local homestays that sometimes only offer central communal areas to sleep in.

Transport:
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. We will only be travelling by four-wheel drive vehicles because the majority of the road is essentially a dirt track (despite that “Pamir Highway” suggests smooth tarmac). Your comfort, enjoyment, and safety of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:
On this trip, you will be accompanied by an experienced international trekking guide plus an English speaking local guide from Untamed Borders. This allows for greater flexibility and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you even if the other team leader is busy making arrangements.

Security:
Tajikistan including the Autonomous Region of Badakhshan is currently a stable area. However, we monitor the situation closely and we listen very carefully to advice from the foreign office and from our friends in the areas we visit. Our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas which we consider to be stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.

Contact us for further information at info@untamedborders.com

 

Trekking the Wakhan, Afghanistan

In September 2019 we will be heading to one of world’s most remote corners. A 22-day journey to visit the land of 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 before travelling along the dramatic Pamir Highway and crossing over into Afghanistan. We will then pass through the Wakhan Corridor to the Afghan Pamir. The last section of this journey will be made by foot as we make our way to the summer grazing grounds of Chaqmaqtin. We will have the opportunity to encounter Kyrgyz and Wakhi 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 Road.

Highlights:

  • 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 deep into territory where few outsiders have ever been

Date: 2nd – 23rd September 2019

Start Point: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
End Point:   Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Maximum number of people: 10

Days 1 – 2 Dushanbe – Kalaikhum – Khorog
Monday 2nd to Tuesday 3rd September 2019
After collecting guests from the airport we head straight out of Dushanbe driving along the Pamir Highway towards the town of Khorog. We will overnight in Kalaikhum before taking a rest day in Khorog, nestling on the banks of the Panj River. We will stay overnight at a local homestay and begin to acclimatize to the mountains and explore this typical Tajik town of the Pamirs.

Please note – if we need visas for Afghanistan for any of the group we go straight to Khorog in one long day and have a rest day in Khorog. However, we strongly recommend you arrange your Afghan visas prior to your trip.

Total driving: 14 – 16 hours
Altitude Dushanbe: 800m
Altitude Khorog: 2100m

Day 3 Khorog – Ishkishim
Wednesday 4th September 2019
We will drive to the border town of Ishkishim and cross over into Afghanistan. Once in Ishkishim we will be staying at a guesthouse converted from the home of a local man or we will stay nearby in Qazideh. With the help of the Aga Khan Foundation local families are earning a little extra income this way.

We spend one whole day in the area with our guide, making the final preparations and collecting our permits for the Wakhan region. Once we have left Ishkishim we will have to be self sufficient for 14 days and we need this day to ensure we have everything arranged. You will have time to explore the local environment and understand some of the Wakhi culture through our Wakhi guide.

Driving: 3 hours
Altitude: 2600m

Day 4 Ishkishim – Qala e Panja
Thursday 5th September 2019
The 250km from Ishkishim to Sarhad e Broghil takes us along the narrowest section of the Wakhan Corridor. Passing the 7492m high Noshaq, Afghanistan’s highest peak, we will follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Hsuan Tsang on this ancient silk route. The road is poor and can be washed out in places but we hope to make it in two long but scenic days. We will have to stop in the village of Khandud to process some further paperwork and we plan to overnight in the village of Qala e Panja.

Driving: 6-8 hours
Altitude: 2800m

Day 5 Qala e Panja – Sarhad e Broghil
Friday 6th September 2019
We make our way to the furthest point that we can by vehicle. At Sarhad e Broghil the road ends and any further journey must be made on foot or by horse. We spend the afternoon making our final preparations for our trek into the Afghan Pamir.

Driving: 4 hours
Altitude: 3250m

Day 6 Sarhad e Broghil – Daliz Pass – Shawr
Saturday 7th September 2019
The geography of the region means that one of the toughest days trekking comes on the first day. The Wakhan Corridor becomes too steep to follow the river. For the first time since we joined the Panj River we move away from it, and instead must cross three passes. The first is the Daliz Pass (4260 metres) and will involve a vertical altitude gain of 1000 metres. We will overnight in Shawr.

Trekking: 7 hours
Altitude: 3450m

Day 7 Shawr – Boharak – Varsgitch
Sunday 8th September 2019
A further day’s trekking along the bank of the Wakhan River. We may meet Wakhi shepherds bringing their flocks back to the bigger villages for the winter.

Trekking: 6-7 hours
Altitude: 3600m

Day 8 Varsgitch – Masamarad
Monday 9th September 2019
Trek from Varsgitch to Masamarad via Langar. Langar means ‘free buffet’ and is a classic spot for the Wakhi to graze their sheep and yaks. The scenery gradually changes walking from the steep sided valley of the Wakhan to the wide-open plains of the Afghan Pamir.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 3800m

Day 9 Masamarad – Bozai Gombaz
Tuesday 10th September 2019
Passing by Khach Goz, we make our way further to Bozai Gombaz which is one of the largest Kyrgyz settlements in the area. At Bozai Gombaz there is a chance to visit the nearby Kyrgyz tombs, rest or simply watch the Kyrgyz way of life.

Trekking: 5 hours
Altitude: 3900m

Day 10 Bozai Gombaz – Chaqmaqtin Lake
Wednesday 11th September 2019
An easy days trekking up one of the sources of the Amu Darya, the 9km long Chaqmaqtin Lake where the Kyrgyz nomads graze their sheep and yaks in the summer. We may well see a Bactrian camel train too.

Trekking: 4-5 hours
Altitude: 4050m

Day 11 Chaqmaqtin Lake – Kurchin
Thursday 12th September 2019
If weather permits we will take the tough but spectacular high route back from Chaqmaqtin to Sarhad. Seeing more of the stunning Pamir Mountains. We return across the high plains, camping at the small Kyrgyz camp of Kurchin high above Bozai Gombaz.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 4100m

Day 12 Kurchin – Aqbelis Pass – Ghughumdeh
Friday 13th September 2019
After 2-3 hours the group will be at the top of the Aqbelis Pass (4600 metres) with great views of a small alpine lake. Another hour brings the group to a delightful lunch spot. In the early afternoon the group will arrive in Ghughumdeh for the night.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 4300m

Day 13 Ghughumdeh – Uween Sar Pass – Nauabad
Saturday 14th September 2019
Possibly the toughest day of the trip. Certainly the crossing of the Uween Sar Pass (4850 metres) is the highest point reached on the trip. An early start should see the group cross the pass around noon. From then on it is downhill to the small camp of Nauabad.

Trekking: 8 hours
Altitude: 4200m

Day 14 Rest day in Nauabad
Sunday 15th September 2019
A full day of rest and relaxation, or even a short day hike, in Nauabad.
Overnight in Nauabad.

Day 15 Nauabad – Sang e Nauishdah
Monday 16th September 2019
A short days trekking between Nauabad and Sang e Nauishdah.
Overnight in Sang e Nauishdah.

Trekking: 2-3 hours
Altitude: 4100m

Day 16 Sang e Nauishdah – Shawr
Tuesday 17th September 2019
If the river is low, as it can be at this time of year, then we have an option of making this day an hour or so shorter by fording the river to reach our overnight camp of Shawr. If the rivers are still high then we will cross the river near Boharak.

Trekking: 5-7 hours
Altitude: 3450m

Day 17 Shawr – Daliz Pass – Sarhad e Broghil
Wednesday 18th September 2019
A final crossing of the Daliz Pass (4250 metres) before the descent back into Sarhad e Broghil, where we will spend the night. Our vehicles will be waiting to take us back towards Tajikistan. We will say goodbye to our horsemen here.

Trekking: 5-6 hours
Altitude: 2800m

Day 18 Sarhad e Broghil – Qala e Panja – Ishkishim
Thursday 19th September 2019
The drive back to Ishkishim should be relatively smooth at this time of year as the river levels are low after the summer snow melt. Once back in Ishkishim there will be time to rest and say goodbye to our Wakhi guides.

Driving: 4-6 hours
Altitude: 2600m

Day 19 Ishkishim – Khorog
Friday 20th September 2019
We cross back into Tajikistan and head back up the Pamir Highway. Khorog will seem like Las Vegas after nearly three weeks in the Pamirs.

Driving: 3 hours
Altitude: 2100m

Day 20 Khorog – Kalaikhum
Saturday 21st September 2019
The long drive back to Dushanbe will be broken at the small town of Kalaikhum.

Driving: 6-7 hours
Altitude: 1250m

Day 21 Kalaikhum – Dushanbe
Sunday 22nd September 2019
A final meal together in Dushanbe.

Driving: 8-9 hours
Altitude: 800m

Day 22 Fly home
Monday 23rd September 2019
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.

Cost:
US$4300 per person

A deposit of US$400 is required to reserve your place on this trip.

You will be accompanied by an experienced international guide from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.

Please note, the itinerary is what we hope to achieve on this trip – the actual route in the Afghan Pamir can vary due to weather or other restrictions.

The trip includes:
All accommodation
All food in Afghanistan
Breakfast in Tajikistan
Transport/transfers
International guide
Local guides
Local cook
Tents and camping equipment
Pack animals
Permits to visit the Wakhan region

The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas
Insurance
Flights
Entrance fees
Drinks
Tips
Lunch and dinner in Tajikistan

If you have any questions regarding this itinerary or about Afghanistan in general, please contact us.

Fitness Requirements:
Our trekking trips are designed to be physically engaging and provide a level of challenge for most people. As a general guideline, we recommend that you have some prior experience walking with a 10-15kg day pack for up to 8 hours over 5 or more days through uneven & varied terrain (and weather); ranging from hard-packed earth, tussock grass, boulder fields, scree slopes, soft snow patches, and knee-deep rivers.

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Tajikistan. We run our Wakhan trips to coincide with the regular Turkish Airlines flights from Europe to Dushanbe, which is the most practical route into Tajikistan.

You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for other suggested routes.

Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk

Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:
You will need Double entry Tajikistan visa with GBAO permit and an Afghan Visa for this trip. We will assist with advice on how best to obtain these visas as visa requirements vary from country to country. Obtaining a Tajikistan e-visa (either two single entries with different ‘valid from’ dates or a double entry) is the quickest method. For the Afghan visa we will issue you a letter of invitation to provide along with your visa application at your embassy/consulate.

If you are based in the UK then we recommend Travcour as an agent for your visa requirements. They are UK’s oldest leading travel visa specialist and able to provide full visa support and consultancy for Untamed Border’s destinations. Click here to obtain our specialist visa packages and support from Travcour. They are the people we use when we need visa support for our staff.

Insurance:
The Wakhan and Afghan Pamir regions are both very remote areas in one of the least developed countries in the world. Please ensure that your insurance covers you both for visiting Afghanistan and for rescue in the Wakhan region of Afghanistan. If you have any questions about which insurance company to select please contact us.

Food:
Outside of Dushanbe options will be limited and once we are on the trek we will only be able to eat what we bring with us, or barter for from the nomadic people. Any specific allergies or dietary requirements can be accommodated if we are given prior warning. Please feel free to bring your own energy bars/trekking snacks from home, if you want to supplement it with what we provide you.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.

The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When we are in the Wakhan area we will be staying in tents and in local guesthouses that sometimes only offer central communal areas to sleep in.

Transport:
We always check the vehicles we use thoroughly before each trip. In Afghanistan we aim to use four-wheel drive vehicles and our international guides will carry a satellite phone should the vehicle develop a fault.

When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Your comfort, enjoyment and safety of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:
For this trip we use team leaders from Untamed Borders who have experience of guiding in the Wakhan. In addition to these experienced leaders we will be working with local Wakhi guides and porters.

Security:
Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider to be relatively stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.

 

 

Blue Mosque Mazar i Sharif - Seb MacKinnon

Melons & Grapes – Grand Afghan Tour

Dates: 14th – 28th September 2019

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 autumn is the best, and all 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 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 niches and the lakes of Band e Amir. 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 architecturally complete city in Afghanistan.

Highlights:

  • Discover the remains of the Buddhas of Bamian
  • Explore Herat
  • Visit the Shrine of Ali in Mazar e Sharif
  • See the lakes at Band e Amir

Start Point: Kabul, Afghanistan
End Point: Kabul, Afghanistan
Maximum number of people: 8


Day 1 Kabul
Saturday 14th September 2019
Arrival and briefing. For those who arrive early, we will have time to take an afternoon tour of the city. This will include a visit to the hills of Bibi Mahru, the remains of Darulaman Palace and a visit to the Kabul Museum.

Day 2 Kabul – Mazar e Sharif
Sunday 15th September 2019
A morning in Kabul to visit places such as the British cemetery, the bush bazaar and Babur’s Gardens.
Then fly to Mazar e Sharif.
Overnight in Mazar e Sharif.

Day 3 Mazar e Sharif – visit Balkh
Monday 16th September 2019
Full day in Mazar & Balkh
You will have time to visit the majestic blue tiled tomb of Hazrat Ali, Afghanistan’s most important religious site. You will spend part of the day visiting the ancient Silk Road city of Balkh, called Bactria to the Greeks. Bactria was the birthplace of Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism as well as Rumi the legendary Persian poet. The legacy of its Islamic and Buddhist past can be found in the stupas at the entrance to the town, at the blue tiled shrine of Khoja Parsa and at the oldest mosque in Afghanistan, the 9th century No Gombad mosque.
Overnight in Mazar

Day 4 Mazar e Sharif – Samangan – Mazar e Sharif
Tuesday 17th September 2019
A day trip to the Buddhist monastery remains at Samangan, two hours drive south of Mazar e Sharif. The 1500-year-old complex contains a huge stupa carved out of the bedrock as well as a number of caves used as places of worship.
En route you will also be able to visit Tashkurgan and the old king’s hunting lodge.
Overnight in Mazar e Sharif

Day 5 Mazar e Sharif – Kabul
Wednesday 18th September 2019
Early morning flight from Mazar e Sharif to Kabul.
Day in Kabul to visit the sobering OMAR landmine museum, Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque and the Murad Khane district of Kabul.
Overnight in Kabul

Day 6 Kabul – Panjshir
Thursday 19th September 2019
We will visit the Panjshir Valley, described as the most beautiful place in Afghanistan by locals. We will stop to view the tomb of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir and Afghanistan’s most universally revered Mujahedin commander, as well as stopping off at a local fish restaurant on the banks of the Panjshir River.

Day 7 Kabul – Bamian
Friday 20th September 2019
We will fly between Kabul and Bamian, the capital of the Hazarajat – home of the Hazaras and one of the most peaceful places in Afghanistan. When we arrive in Bamian we will have time to look at the hillsides containing many caves in which monasteries and Buddhist carvings were once situated.

Days 8-10 Bamian and around
Saturday 21st – Monday 23rd September 2019
We will spend 3 days in and around Bamian, an area of striking natural beauty. The mountains and valleys are dotted with ruins from Afghanistan’s past as well as friendly Hazara villages. It is one of the few places in Afghanistan where we can walk freely and safely in a rural environment.
The lapis lazuli blue waters of Band-e-Amir are often the highlight of any trip to Afghanistan. Legend has it that the dams that separate the 5 lakes were made by Ali, the prophet Mohamed’s cousin and son in law. However geologists insist they are natural dams made from mineral deposits. The lakes contrast to the stark landscape surrounding them only adds to the beauty of this area.
We will also visit the natural landscape of Dragon Valley, see the ruins of Shah e Zohak (Red Fort) and the remains of Shah e Golghola (The City of Screams).

Day 11 Bamian – Kabul
Tuesday 24th September 2019
We will fly back to Kabul, taking the opportunity to visit any sights we may have missed on the first day in the Afghan capital.

Day 12 Kabul – Herat
Wednesday 25th September 2019
Fly from Kabul to Herat. The flight is early in the morning leaving us the afternoon to enjoy Herat.

Day 13  Herat
Thursday 26th September 2019
Herat has the largest collection of ancient buildings in Afghanistan and we will take a full day to explore the city and its surroundings including the Friday Mosque, the Tomb of Gowar Shad, the Masullah Complex and the atmospheric shrine of Khoja Ansari at Gazar Gah.

Day 14 Herat – Kabul
Friday 27th September 2019
We will fly back to Kabul and ensure that you get to see anything you may have missed on our earlier visits as well as ensuring we take a trip to Chicken Street to pick up any last souvenirs.

Day 15 Fly home
Saturday 28th September 2019
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.

You will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.


The trip includes:
All accommodation
Breakfast
Transport/transfers
Guiding
6 internal flights within Afghanistan (Kabul-Mazar/Mazar-Kabul, Kabul-Herat/Herat-Kabul & Kabul-Bamian/Bamian-Kabul)

The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas
Insurance
Flights to Afghanistan
Entrance fees
Lunch
Dinner
Drinks
Tips
Any additional flights needed in Afghanistan that may be necessary due to security concerns.

Cost – US$4450
A deposit of US$400 is required to reserve your place on this trip.

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Afghanistan. We can suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:
We do not arrange Afghanistan visas directly. We will provide visa support in the form of letters of invitation to assist in your Afghanistan visa application.

Food:
With the exception of breakfast, meals are not included as part of the trip. In our experience people sometimes want to eat different things in different places at different times. We know some great places and will also happily show you some of our favourite restaurants and tea houses. Some are luxurious, some are earthier, but all have character. However, we do not pretend to be the arbiters of good taste and are equally happy for you to go off and find your own favourites.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing.

Transport:
In Afghanistan, we take at least 2 vehicles when driving between towns if there is a big group, for safety reasons. If there is a breakdown we will not be left stranded. When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel (not a laughing matter in a country that should be the setting for a live-action version of the Wacky Races). Your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:
On this trip, you will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from Untamed Borders. This allows for greater security and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you even if the other team leader is busy arranging something.
Sometimes we also hire local guides. If we are a large group, we may wish to split into smaller groups for city tours to allow greater flexibility and keep a lower profile. An extra local guide allows us to do that.

Security:
Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider to be stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.
If there is an extra expense incurred due to the change of itinerary then you may be asked to bear part of that cost. For example, if we have to fly between cities rather than drive.

Contact us for further information at info@untamedborders.com

 

Marathon of Afghanistan

Marathon of Afghanistan 2019

This package offers travel and entrance to the fifth edition of the Marathon of Afghanistan – the only international marathon in the country.

The Marathon of Afghanistan will take place in the Bamian province, amidst the mighty mountains of the Hindu Kush in central Afghanistan. The astonishingly beautiful valley, a UNESCO world heritage site, is recognised as one of the safest provinces in the country and remains almost completely untouched by violence.

The fifth edition of the marathon of Afghanistan will take place in 2019. It was the first international marathon that was run in Afghanistan.

The trip will be led by Untamed Borders founder James Willcox. We will meet you at Kabul Airport and show you a few places of interest in Kabul before flying to the beautiful and peaceful Bamian valley. We will also have time to visit the remains of the world’s largest standing Buddha statues that overlook the town and the ancient cities of Shah e Zohak and Shah e Golghola.

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.

Difficulty – Well, you have to run a marathon.
Comfort – There is some level of comfort. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms and sometimes during the day there is hot water, but not for the entire day.

For further details about this trip and the chance to join us please contact us.

Erbil Marathon 2018

Erbil Marathon 2019

This package offers travel and entrance to the Erbil marathon.

We will meet you at Erbil airport and show you the places of interest in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital. We will also head out of Erbil to visit Lalish, the spiritual home of the Yazidi people and go training with female runners breaking taboos in Iraq, giving you a taste of life in Northern Iraq.
There are three distances (5km, 10km and full marathon) so even if you are not a strong runner you can take part and enjoy the event and the famous Kurdish hospitality.
Iraqi Kurdistan has largely escaped the violence that has plagued the rest of the country and is a great way to get a flavour of modern Iraq.

Date: 21st – 26th October 2019
Start Point: Erbil
End Point: Erbil
Cost: US$1850

Day 1 – Erbil
Monday 21st October 2019
Arrive in Erbil.
Briefing. Depending on time of arrival we will be able to arrange a city tour to some of Erbil’s sights including the ancient citadel that dominates the centre of the city.
Overnight in Erbil.

Day 2 – Outside Erbil – Activities day with Iraqi runners
Tuesday 22nd October 2019
A day in the Kurdish countryside with some local runners. The day should be fun and hopefully will be able to get an insight into life as a runner in Iraq.
Overnight in Erbil.

Day 3 – Day trip to Lalish
Wednesday 23rd October 2019
A drive into the hills of Kurdistan to visit Lalish, the spiritual home of the Yazidi people. If there is time and the security situation allows we will also visit the Alqosh monastery high in the hills overlooking the Ninevah plains.
Overnight in Erbil.

Day 4 – Rest Day
Thursday 24th October 2019
For serious runners, this will be a day of rest.
For others, our guides will discuss some options in or close to Erbil for some further sightseeing or meeting with organisations.
Overnight in Erbil.

Day 5 – Erbil Marathon
Friday 25th October 2019
Run the Erbil Marathon. Our team will be there to get photos and support the runners before and after the race.
Overnight in Erbil.

Day 6 – Erbil Marathon
Saturday 26th October 2019
We will drive back to Erbil to connect with afternoon or evening flights home.

You will be accompanied by an English-speaking Iraqi translator and an international guide for the length of the trip.

The trip includes:
All accommodation (5 nights in Erbil)
Breakfast
All ground transport
Guiding
Entry to the Erbil Marathon

The trip does not include:
Visas
Insurance
Flights to Iraqi Kurdistan
Entrance fees
Lunch & Dinner
Drinks
Tips

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Iraqi Kurdistan. We can suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966
If you do want to extend your trip in Iraqi Kurdistan either before or after this one please contact us for arranging something or simply for advice and suggestions.

Visas:
For most nationalities, a visa is available on arrival in Erbil airport. The visa is valid for Iraqi Kurdistan only and NOT for southern Iraq.

Food:
Breakfast is included on this trip. Other meals will be paid for by yourself.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, security, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
In Erbil we will stay in a 3-star Hotel.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room in Erbil.

Transport:
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of the journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Your comfort, enjoyment and safety of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:
You will be accompanied by an international guide for the length of the trip. There will also be a local Iraqi guide to translate.

Security:
Trips to Iraq do create dangers of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas which we consider to be relatively stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.

For further details about this trip and the chance to join us please contact us. For more information about the race itself visit http://www.erbilmarathon.org/

Buzkashi Afghanistan

NEW – Afghan Winter Tour

Dates: 29th October – 12th November 2019

Each autumn we run a trip to Afghanistan and we think it is the perfect time to visit.
We start in Kabul before taking a short flight across the Hindu Kush to Herat, the most architecturally complete city in Afghanistan. Then we will move on to Bamian where we spend three days exploring the valleys, the Buddha niches and the lakes of Band e Amir. It is an area that allows us to experience what life is like in rural Afghanistan in safety. Finally we cross the spine of the Hindu Kush through 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. Hopefully taking in a game of Afghanistan’s national winter sport – Buzkashi.

Highlights:

  • Experience the national sport of Buzkashi
  • Discover the remains of the Buddhas of Bamian
  • Explore Herat
  • Visit the Shrine of Ali in Mazar e Sharif
  • See the lakes at Band e Amir

Start Point: Kabul, Afghanistan
End Point: Kabul, Afghanistan
Maximum number of people: 8


Day 1 Kabul
Tuesday 29th October 2019
Arrival and briefing. For those who arrive early we will have time to take an afternoon tour of the city. This will include a visit to the British Cemetery, the hills of Bibi Mahru and Sakhi shrine.

Day 2 Kabul – Herat
Wednesday 30th October 2019
Fly from Kabul to Herat. The flight is early in the morning leaving us the afternoon to enjoy Herat.
Overnight in Herat

Day 3 Herat
Thursday 31st October 2019
Herat has the largest collection of ancient buildings in Afghanistan and we will take a full day to explore the city and its surroundings including the Friday Mosque, the Tomb of Gowar Shad, the Masullah Complex and the atmospheric shrine of Khoja Ansari at Gazar Gah.
Overnight in Herat.

Day 4 Herat – Kabul
Friday 1st Novermber 2019
A morning in Herat to visit any sights we may have missed on day 3. Fly to Kabul in the evening.
Overnight in Kabul.

Day 5 Kabul
Saturday 2nd November 2019
Day in Kabul to visit Kabul Museum, Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque and Babur’s gardens – the final resting palce of the first Mughal emperor.
Overnight in Kabul

Day 6 Kabul – Bamian
Sunday 3rd November 2019
We will fly between Kabul and Bamian, the capital of the Hazarajat – home of the Hazaras and one of the most peaceful places in Afghanistan. When we arrive in Bamian we will have time to look at the hillsides containing many caves in which monasteries and Buddhist carvings were once situated.

Days 7-9 Bamian and around
Monday 4th – Wednesday 6th November 2019
We will spend 3 days in and around Bamian, an area of striking natural beauty. The mountains and valleys are dotted with ruins from Afghanistan’s past as well as friendly Hazara villages. It is one of the few places in Afghanistan where we can walk freely and safely in a rural environment.
The lapis lazuli blue waters of Band-e-Amir are often the highlight of any trip to Afghanistan. Legend has it that the dams that separate the 5 lakes were made by Ali, the prophet Mohamed’s cousin and son in law. However geologists insist they are natural dams made from mineral deposits. The lakes contrast to the stark landscape surrounding them only adds to the beauty of this area.
We will also visit the natural landscape of Dragon Valley, see the ruins of Shah e Zohak (Red Fort) and the remains of Shah e Golghola (The City of Screams).

Day 10 Bamian – Kabul – Mazar e Sharif
Thursday 7th November 2019
Early morning flight from Bamian to Kabul.
Lunch in Kabul then afternoon flight to Mazar e Sharif.
Overnight in Mazar.

Day 11 Mazar e Sharif – Balkh – Buzkashi
Friday 8th November 2019
Full day in Mazar & Balkh.
The aim of the day is to watch a game of Buzkashi. Afghanistan’s national sport, played on horse back with a dead goat in place of a ball.
You will also have time to visit the majestic blue tiled tomb of Hazrat Ali, Afghanistan’s most important religious site. You will spend part of the day visiting the ancient silk road city of Balkh, called Bactria to the Greeks. Bactria was the birthplace of Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism as well as Rumi the legendary Persian poet. Legacy of its Islamic and Buddhist past can be found in the stupas at the entrance to the town, at the blue tiled shrine of Khoja Parsa and at the oldest mosque in Afghanistan, the 9th century No Gombad mosque.
Overnight in Mazar e Sharif.

Day 12 Mazar e Sharif – Samangan
Saturday 9th November 2019
A day trip to the Buddhist monastery remains at Samangan, two hours drive south of Mazar e Sharif. The 1500 year old complex contains a huge stupa carved out of the bedrock as well as a number of caves used as places of worship.
En route you will also be able to visit Tashkurgan and the old king’s hunting lodge.
Overnight in Mazar e Sharif.

Day 13  Mazar – Kabul
Sunday 10th November 2019
We will fly back to Kabul, taking the opportunity to visit Chicken Street for any last minute souvenir shopping.
Overnight in Kabul.

Day 14 Kabul – Panjshir
Monday 11th November 2019
We will visit the Panjshir Valley, described as the most beautiful place in Afghanistan by locals. We will stop to view the tomb of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir and Afghanistan’s most universally revered Mujahedin commander, as well as stopping off at a local fish restaurant on the banks of the Panjshir River.
Overnight in Kabul.

Day 15 Fly home
Tuesday 12th November 2019
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.

You will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.


The trip includes:
All accommodation
Breakfast
Transport/transfers
Guiding
6 internal flights within Afghanistan (Kabul-Mazar/Mazar-Kabul, Kabul-Herat/Herat-Kabul & Kabul-Bamian/Bamian-Kabul)

The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas
Insurance
Flights to Afghanistan
Entrance fees
Lunch
Dinner
Drinks
Tips
Any additional flights needed in Afghanistan that may be necessary due to security concerns.

Cost – US$4450
A deposit of US$400 is required to reserve your place on this trip.

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Afghanistan. We can suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:
We do not arrange Afghanistan visas directly. We will provide visa support in the form of letters of invitation to assist in your Afghanistan visa application.

Food:
With the exception of breakfast, meals are not included as part of the trip. In our experience people sometimes want to eat different things in different places at different times. We know some great places and will also happily show you some of our favourite restaurants and tea houses. Some are luxurious, some are earthier, but all have character. However, we do not pretend to be the arbiters of good taste and are equally happy for you to go off and find your own favourites.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing.

Transport:
In Afghanistan, we take at least 2 vehicles when driving between towns if there is a big group, for safety reasons. If there is a breakdown we will not be left stranded. When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel (not a laughing matter in a country that should be the setting for a live-action version of the Wacky Races). Your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is the first priority.

Guides:
On this trip, you will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from Untamed Borders. This allows for greater security and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you even if the other team leader is busy arranging something.
Sometimes we also hire local guides. If we are a large group, we may wish to split into smaller groups for city tours to allow greater flexibility and keep a lower profile. An extra local guide allows us to do that.

Security:
Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider to be stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.
If there is an extra expense incurred due to the change of itinerary then you may be asked to bear part of that cost. For example, if we have to fly between cities rather than drive.

Contact us for further information at info@untamedborders.com

 

Horn of Africa – Ethiopia and Somaliland – Autumn 2019

Date: Thursday 14th – Saturday 23rd November 2019

An exploration into some of the wilder parts of Ethiopia plus Somaliland.

We begin in Ethiopia on a road trip through the otherworldly Danakil Depression. Passing through the hottest inhabited place on earth, visiting the lava lake at Erta Ale and witnessing the life of the salt mining Afar nomads that live in this otherwise inhospitable climate. Whilst in Tigray in the north of Ethiopia we’ll visit some of the most spectacularly located rock churches you’ll ever see.

Then we’ll fly to the east of Ethiopia to the ancient walled city of Harar, exploring the narrow alleyways where wild Hyenas still wander. Finally, we will cross into the de-facto independent state of Somaliland to see the stunning cave paintings at Las Geel and enjoy the atmosphere in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa.

Then, for the truly intrepid, add on an extra 48 hours in Mogadishu with our experienced guide and security team.

Highlights:

    • Experience the Danakil Depression – the hottest inhabited place on earth
    • Feed wild Hyenas at dusk in ancient Harar
    • Explore one of the world’s least visited countries – Somaliland

Start point: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
End point: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Maximum number of people: 8


Day 1 – Arrive in Addis Ababa
Thursday 14th November 2019
You will have an optional tour of the city depending on arrival time. This could include a trip to the Archeological Museum (where you can meet 3.25 million year old Lucy), the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Ethnological Museum (the former residence of His Majesty Emperor Haile Sellassie) and Mercato – the largest open-air market in Africa.
Guests planning on collecting their Somaliland visa in Addis will be required to do so as priority.
Overnight in Addis.

Day 2 – Addis – Mekele – Dallol
Friday 15th November 2019
A morning flight from Addis to Mekele. From here we will drive approximately 260km to Hamedella via Berhale (where we shall be joined by police escorts). We will then continue on to Dallol (at 116 metres below sea level – the lowest place in the Danakil Depression and generally considered the hottest inhabited place on earth). The otherwordly landscape around Dallol hosts colourful sulphur and salt lakes as well as thermo-active springs. The route passes many camel caravans laden with salt crossing the bleak landscape. You’ll also get time to meet some of the Afar people that live near Lake Assal.
Overnight in Dallol in very basic conditions.

Day 3 – Dallol – Erta Ale
Saturday 16th November 2019
After spending the morning visiting further sites in Dallol, you will begin your journey by 4×4 to Khiwa where the Danakil Depression really begins. One of the lowest places in the world it is an inhospitable landscape of sulphur springs, acid pools and colourful rock formations. We will collect our police escorts in Khiwa and then our Afar militia escort in Kesrawat. In the late afternoon we will reach the base of the volcano. We will wait until nightfall before beginning the 3-hour trek to the volcano’s rim (camels can be hired for those that need them). On the rim you will be able to gaze into the boiling lava of one of the world’s only permanent lava lake. An experience you will never forget.
Overnight camping or sleeping on a rope bed at Erta Ale.

Day 4 – Dallol – Mekele
Sunday 17th November 2019
Rise with the sun and spend the early hours of the day walking around the pits and craters of Erta Ale. Then return by foot to the base of Erta Ale.
Return and overnight in Mekele.

Day 5 – Mekele – Hawsein
Monday 18th November 2019
Drive to the Tigrayan mountains to visit the most remarkable rock churches cut into the mountains near Hawsein. These will include Mikael Imba (requires a 20 minute walk and a short ladder) and the easily-accessible churches of Wukro Chirkos and Abreha we Atsbeha.
Overnight in a lodge at Hawsein.

Day 6 – Hawsein – Mekele – Dire Dawa – Harar
Tuesday 19th November 2019
In the morning, before the heat of the day rises, visit either Abuna Yemata Guh or Maryam Korkor. Both churches require a challenging 1-2 hour hike to reach. The reward is commanding views of the surrounding areas and visiting some of the most remote churches in the world in the most unsuspecting of places. Return to Mekele to take a flight to Dire Dawa followed by a drive to Harar. Time permitting, we shall visit the lively market at Kefira and/or the chat market on the way.

Day 7 – Harar
Wednesday 20th November 2019
A full day to explore the walled city of Harar – considered by some to be the 4th holiest city in Islam. The old city is famed for its medieval townhouses and has 82 mosques, including three built in the 10th century. The walls surrounding the sacred city of Harar were built between the 13th and 16th centuries. African and Islamic traditions combine, creating a particularly unique character. One of Harar’s more unusual traditions is the nightly feeding of wild hyenas that wander the streets.
Overnight in Harar.

Day 8 – Harar – Hargeisa
Thursday 21st November 2019
A full day to drive from Harar to Hargeisa crossing the border between Ethiopia and Somaliland on the way. As you progress you will pass out of the green Ethiopian lands into the brown scrub desert of Somalia, spotting camel trains as you drive.
Overnight in Hargeisa.

Day 9 – Hargeisa – Las Geel – Hargeisa
Friday 22nd November 2019
After a visit to the Hargeisa Camel Market we will take you (with your security escort) to the wonderful cave paintings at Las Geel, one of the most intriguing sights in the Horn of Africa. On the overhangs of a rock in the desert are some of the world’s best preserved ancient cave paintings. Dating from 5000-9000 years old they depict cows, people, dogs and even giraffes. Return to Hargeisa.
Overnight in Hargeisa.

Day 10 – Hargeisa – Addis – End of Trip
Saturday 23rd November 2019
Transfer to airport for morning flight to Addis.
Connect with evening flights home.
Those travelling to Mogadishu will depart on the same day from Hargeisa to Mogadishu.

You will be accompanied by experienced English speaking Ethiopian guides for the length of the trip in Ethiopia plus a Somali guide in Somaliland


The trip includes:

    • Accommodation
    • Ground transport
    • Three internal flights (Addis Ababa to Mekele / Mekele to Addis Ababa / Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa)
    • International flight from Hargeisa to Addis Ababa (or Hargeisa to Mogadishu if the guest is joining the Mogadishu add-on)
    • Guiding
    • Breakfast
    • All meals and camping equipment when in the Danakil Depression

The trip does not include:

    • Ethiopia visas ($50 each. You will need to get two if you return to Addis Ababa at the end of the trip)
    • Somaliland Visa ($50 in Addis Ababa)
    • Hargeisa airport departure tax ($41)
    • Other Meals
    • Insurance
    • Entrance fees
    • Flights
    • Drinks

Cost: US$3275 per person

To reserve a place on this trip we need a deposit of US$400 per person.
If you have any questions about this trip or about Ethiopia in general please contact us. Or if you are ready to book this trip, please go to the booking form.

Flights:
We do not directly arrange international flights to Ethiopia. We strongly suggest flying with Ethiopian Airlines as we can secure much cheaper internal flights if you have used Ethiopian Airlines to fly into or out of Ethiopia at the beginning or end of the trip. See cost differences above.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Mail: untamedborders@rtwexperts.co.uk
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966

Visas:
Ethiopian visas are available on arrival at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa. They cost US$50 or equivalent in euros. You will not be able to use pounds sterling or other currencies. Note that you will need to get an Ethiopian visa on your entry back to Addis from Hargeisa.
There are very few countries in the world where you can obtain a Somaliland visa. Contact us for details. They can also be obtained on day 1 in Addis. Cost is US$50.
There is also a $41 departure tax at Hargeisa airport.

Food:
Breakfast is included on this trip. Other meals will be paid for by yourself. Whilst out on the Danakil Depression you will be provided with all meals.

Difficulty/comfort:
Difficulty – In the Danakil there is a three hour hike up the volcano on rough ground. Some of the Tigrayan rock churches are in difficult places where a walk or a scramble are required to reach it.
Comfort – Good mid-range accommodation except for the Danakil Depression where we either camp or stay in a crude hut.

Accommodation:
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on you sharing a twin room.
There will be camping in the Danakil Depression.

Transport:
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Whilst on the Danakil Depression you will be in a 4×4. If anyone else leaves for the Danakil at the same time you will join up and travel in a convoy.

Guides:
On this trip you will be accompanied by experienced English speaking  Ethiopian guides for the length of the trip in Ethiopia and a Somali guide for the time in Somaliland. We will also work with local guides in each region to help ensure you get the most out of each trip.

Security and Risks:
The Danakil Depression is an area that comes with a measure of risk. The region has seen occasional violence in the past. Guests will be accompanied by Ethiopian security for their entire length of stay in the Danakil Depression. We feel we have the contacts and experience to guide in this region safely. We do monitor the situation closely and we listen very carefully to advice from the foreign office and from our friends in the areas we visit. Our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.

Somaliland is not an internationally recognised country. Currently Somaliland is secure and has, by and large, escaped the trouble that has blighted Somalia to the south. However, the government takes security there seriously and you will have a soldier with you when outside of any town.

Also, please be aware that the Danakil Depression is one of the hottest places on earth. Heat stroke is a real risk and those with heart conditions are advised not to travel.