Travel The White Silk Road
Afghanistan is a paradise for those with a love of the mountains and mountain people. The Hindu Kush mountain range bisects the country and is one of the least explored ranges in the world. The opportunities for adventurous ski touring, trekking and climbing are almost unlimited. The mountains are also home to a number of peaceful minority groups in Afghanistan. The Hazara of Bamian, the Wakhi of the Wakhan and the Kyrgyz of the Afghan Pamir are all extremely hospitable and live in a world far removed from the troubles affecting the rest of the country.
In 2010 we arranged for a group of climbers to make first ascents of 3 unclimbed peaks and in 2011 we were the first company to take ski tourers to Afghanistan. We are now offering a full range of outdoor mountain activities in Afghanistan.
The combination of skiing or trekking little known or brand new routes and an immersion into the timeless Afghan mountain culture is a heady mix. We like to call it a trip along The White Silk Road.
Afghanistan has only one ski shop and no ski lifts so if back to basics skiing is what you are into then look no further. Afghanistan is a ski tourers paradise. Snow and mountains are in abundance, and opportunities are only limited by the ability and imagination of the skiers.
Untamed Borders was the first company to bring ski tourists to Afghanistan and we have intimate knowledge of three regions that are perfect for ski touring.
We also arrange packages for those wishing to compete in the annual Afghan Ski Challenge.
Famed for its giant Buddhas, the nearby lakes of Band e Amir and the Hazara people – descendants of Genghis Khan’s armies, Bamian sees a small influx of tourists each summer. Now it is also a winter destination with expats from Kabul visiting for snow-filled activities at the weekends. The Koh e Baba (old man mountain) range offers almost limitless options for skiing day trips, as well playing host to Afghanistan’s only ski race – The Afghan Ski Challenge. We also offer skiing on the frozen lakes of Band e Amir. Bamian is home to Afghanistan’s only ski shop as well as locally trained guides to assist beginners with the basics of ski touring.
The main road between Kabul and the north of Afghanistan winds up through the Salang Pass. A series of Russian built tunnels, the roofs hanging with icicles in the winter make this an atmospheric one-day trip from Kabul. The Salang is the Kabul expats playground. This huge bowl has many ski touring options and provides majestic views of the Hindu Kush range. Its relatively small size makes up for the fact we gain much of the altitude by driving up and that we finish the day with a cold beer in Kabul.
Tucked away in the far north east of Afghanistan is the Wakhan corridor. A finger of land wedged in between China, Pakistan and Tajikistan. It really is one of the most remote regions in all of Asia and perfect for ski tourers looking for the ultimate in expeditions on glaciers, crossing high mountain passes and ski mountaineering.
Afghanistan is not short of snow, mountains or helicopters. However, to date no one outside the military has ever combined the three. We have the contacts, guides and knowledge to make it happen. Just get in touch and we’ll give you a quote.
The Hindu Kush offers a huge array of trekking options. Due to the vulnerability of our guests whilst trekking and the risk of land mines we stick to the Bamian, Wakhan and Afghan Pamir regions.
Bamian has a number of fabulous day hikes and 2, 3 or 4 day treks in the mountains of the Koh e Baba range. The routes we travel pass 1500 year old Buddhist stupas, lapis lazuli blue lakes, natural arches, 1000 year old forts, isolated towers, hot springs, ice caves and ancient steps carved into the rock. As well as the incredible scenery we offer opportunities to stay in villages with local families to experience the cultural landscape of Afghanistan.
The Wakhan and Afghan Pamir are some of the most isolated regions in Asia and offer the ultimate in trekking in Afghanistan. A three-week trip to Chaqmaqtin Lake will take you through the steep-sided Wakhan corridor into the vast expanse of the Afghan Pamir, inhabited by the last of the Kyrgyz nomads. They are the last of the Central Asian nomadic peoples that roamed the steppe for Millennia. Collectivisation under the Soviet regime in the rest of Central Asia pushed the Kyrgyz into this small pocket where they still herd their yaks and live in felt yurts.
For those who prefer to tackle journeys such as these on horseback we can arrange horses for guests on all our trips. Riding to the lakes of Band e Amir in central Afghanistan or deep into the Wakhan and Afghan Pamir is a link to the equine past of Central Asia.
We use horses and donkeys to carry skies, tents and other equipment as well as horse dung for fuel on our longer trips to eliminate the use of the sparse wood supplies in the mountains of Afghanistan.
We don’t want to stop there. We have potential projects in the running that mean Untamed Borders will be the first company to run kayaking trips in the Panjshir valley and Paragliding in Badakhshan. If you want to blaze a trail and would like expert guiding, information or support in Afghanistan then get in touch and we can turn your dream into a reality.
In total we run seven fixed date itineraries in Afghanistan:
The Marathon of Afghanistan – Bamian Valley: Autumn 2017
You can also contact us and arrange something bespoke for yourself or a group.