Our Commitment to Responsible travel
Our Commitment to Adventure
Untamed Borders is the antithesis to the mass-market travel industry. We take individuals and small groups to destinations that generally see very few visitors and we work closely with local people from those regions. This allows our guests to have a more authentic experience of the regions, people and cultures they meet. When our guests visit a Yazidi shrine, dance at a Kalasha wedding or spend time with Afghan shepherds they are getting a 100% genuine experience.
Our Commitment to Community
Because we mainly visit places that receive few tourists we have a special responsibility to these regions and the people in them. We only travel in small groups, we use local guides and we encourage lots of interaction between our guests and the people of the places we visit. This approach ensures as much money as possible reaches the local community by utilising locally owned restaurants, accommodation, shops and hiring local people as guides, drivers and translators. We believe in trying to make every guest interaction a cultural exchange. A trip is only truly successful if both the people we guide as well as the people from the region we guide have a positive experience.
Our Commitment to the Environment
Every trip, whether you like it or not, has an impact on the (local) environment. We need to eat, drink and sleep somewhere and preferably move around to explore the region. We are working hard to reduce the environmental footprint of our trips to an absolute minimum. Whenever possible we travel by local transport. During our trekking expeditions we adhere to the leave-no-trace policy and ensure we are always responsible for our waste – “take only pictures, leave only footprints” is the aim.
Our Commitment to Safety and Security
As well as offering some incredible adventures for the intrepid traveller, some of our destinations offer equally unique risks and dangers. We take our guests security very seriously, staff frequently check safety reports and ensure they are aware of any potential problems. We take advice from many sources ranging from governments and independent security advisers to tribal chiefs and bus drivers. All of which allows us to make your trip memorable for all the right reasons.
Our expeditions visit some of the world’s remotest mountain, desert and jungle regions. These journeys require careful planning, including a thorough risk assessment. Our trekking guides are among the most experienced mountain professionals in the field. They all hold their Wilderness First Aid award or equivalent. Each expedition leader on our group trips will carry a satellite phone. We also ensure that all our local staff is well equipped for the task.
How have we committed to adventure?
We started running these adventurous trips because we love exploring new corners of the world ourselves! We are continuously nosing through the atlas to identify exciting new regions to travel to. These are some of our “firsts” in adventure travel:
- The first travel company to offer ski trips to Afghanistan since 2011 and Iraqi Kurdistan since 2017.
- In 2012 we were the first travel company to guide international travellers in Mogadishu for 25 years and organisers of the first commercial trip to Puntland, Somalia since the 1990s.
- The first travel company to guide international travellers to Chechnya and Dagestan in 2012
- Untamed Border’s team member Jan Bakker wrote the first guidebook to trekking in Tajikistan
- Responsible for co-organising the Marathon of Afghanistan, the country’s only mixed gender sporting event
- Responsible for co-organising the Somaliland Marathon, the country’s only mixed gender sporting event
- Responsible for arranging Afghanistan’s first commercial kayaking trip in 2016
- Responsible for co-organising the Iraq Ski Rally, Iraq’s only ski race
- Arranged communications for the Silk Road Mountain Race – an unsupported non-stop single stage 1600km mountain race through the Tien Shan Mountains.
How have we shown our commitment to the communities and people we visit?
We are proud that by taking travellers to the challenging destinations we travel to, we contribute to a better mutual understanding of one another’s culture and values. And our visit does provide a much needed income for our guides. Here are the social initiatives we have supported:
- Worked with local tourism development programs in the Wakhan and Bamian regions of Afghanistan, including receiving a letter of commendation from the governor of Bamian province.
- Co-organised the Marathon of Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s only mixed gender sporting event.
- Co-organised the Somaliland Marathon – Somaliland’s only mixed gender sporting event
- Co-organised the Iraq Ski Rally
- Training and mentoring of local guides and partners, including supporting the training of Tajikistan’s first ever female mountain guides.
- Using local guesthouses and drivers as much as possible, ensuring local communities benefit financially as much as possible.
- Assisted with flood relief in Pakistan in 2010 and 2015
- Gave funding and equipment to refugee schools near Peshawar
How have we shown our commitment to the environments we visit?
- All campsites are set up with a designated toilet area and human waste is buried at least six inches deep and 200ft from water, the campsite and any trails. Toilet paper is carried out
- Biodegradable soap is used for washing dishes and washing is carried out 200ft away from streams or lakes, where possible, and dishwater is then strained and scattered.
- All guests and local personnel are reminded to leave what is found, which includes; not removing or disturbing cultural/historical structures and artefacts, not building any man-made structures, leaving flora/fauna as one finds them and avoiding introducing/transporting non-native species to the local area.
- Respect for wildlife ensuring any animals are observed from a distance (never following or approaching them), never feeding wildlife, storing food and trash securely, and ensuring we do not alter/interrupt their natural behaviours in mating, nesting, raising young or hibernating.
- We travel in groups of less than 8 guests when in remote wilderness regions in order to reduce our impact on the environment.
- We protect riparian areas by camping at least 200ft away from lakes and streams where possible, we also used designated locations to camp each year to reduce our impact on the landscape. Good campsites are found, not made. We never alter a site to suit our purposes.
- We carry out all our trash and leftover food.
- We minimize our use of campfires, which can cause long-lasting impacts on the environment. Any fires that are made are protected by mounds or rock rings. All wood and coals are burnt to ash, the campfires are completely extinguished and then the cool ashes are scattered. As much as possible we use a lightweight stove for cooking.
- When available we utilise any existing trails, created by man or animal, and avoid straying away from them in order to reduce footpath erosion and our impact on the land.