Travelling duo set up holidays to the most unlikely

Published Date: 26 October 2010
AFGHANISTAN isn’t the first place people usually consider when they start thinking about booking their summer holidays…

But a pair of Sheffield adventurers insist there is a peaceful corner of the war-torn country that offers the perfect getaway.

Mike Griffin, aged 25, has just launched a travel company with pal Ollie Kilvert that will take people to some of the most remote parts of Central Asia.

“The Wakhan Corridor in north-east Afghanistan is very, very different to the rest of the country,” Mike told The Star.

“The Taliban never really established a presence there. It is a beautiful place, with some amazing trekking.”

Mike and Ollie, also 25, hope their company ‘Be Travellers’ will open people’s eyes to the beauties of far-flung places like Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and remote corners of China and Pakistan.

Mike said: “Our unofficial slogan is ‘Be Travellers, Not Tourists’ and this is the concept behind everything we are doing. Independent travel is very rewarding but fraught with risks and uncertainties.

“Our goal is to keep the spirit of freedom and discovery in independent travel while removing the potential problems.”

Mike met Ollie, a geography graduate, while they were both studying at Sheffield University.

The pair fell in love with Central Asia during the Mongol Charity Rally in 2008, an 8,000-mile charity drive from Durham to Ulan Bator. After qualifying as a science teacher, Mike taught at Penistone Grammar School and the The Meadows in Chesterfield. But apart from the odd bit of supply teaching, he now spends his time planning the company’s first trips.

From next June their first tours will be set off to Central Asia, including a journey through the ancient Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, a month-long trekking tour to the Wakhan Corridor and an epic overland journey navigating the two highest paved roads in the world through Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Pakistan.

Ollie worked in public relations before he left at the beginning of the year to focus on the launch.

“I was working long hours, stuck in an office,” he said.

“But between studying and working I’ve always maintained my pursuit of discovering far-flung places, so starting up a travel company focusing on such exciting destinations is like a dream come true for me.

“I’ve been lucky enough to broaden my travel horizons and explore areas many people wouldn’t normally venture to, so I’d love to give other intrepid travellers the chance to experience the beauty of place like Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan for themselves.”

The lads did a recce last April to Kyrgyzstan, where they were some of the only foreigners to witness the country’s political revolution first-hand. But Ollie said despite the upheaval they felt completely safe.

“The uprising was isolated to certain parts of the city and the people there made sure we were kept out of it.

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