James Willcox is one of the founders of Untamed Borders, a travel and logistics company that offers bespoke trips and small group adventures to some of the world’s most interesting and inaccessible places. Specializing in cultural, trekking, marathon and skiing trips, Untamed Borders offer some of the most unique itineraries in the travel market today. Operating in the Middle East, East Africa and Central Asia, Untamed Borders takes over 250 guests a year to unusual and largely unvisited areas of the world. Traveling in small groups and using local guides, the Untamed Borders mission is to add positive benefit to the countries and communities they visit.
Some of James’ more notable achievements include pioneering ski tourism in Afghanistan and Iraq, organizing marathons in Afghanistan and Somaliland (the first mixed gender sporting events in the history of those respective countries) and more recently, arranged the logistics for Michael Palin’s travel documentary in Iraq.
While James, our guest on episode 264 returns to the show to briefly re-visit his one way ticket to 300 years into the future somewhere in the mountains, the focus of our conversation here is his most recent adventure through Afghanistan. James covers logistics, security, changes he has and hasn’t witnessed in the country over the course of numerous visits, etc.
Plus, among other unforgettable experiences, James highlights camping out at the the 65m-tall Minaret of Jam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which remotely stands alone in western Afghanistan, in all its 12th century magnificence.