We travel to remarkable destinations, rich in natural beauty and culture and steeped in fascinating history and current affairs. Yet these are also places which are rarely visited by foreign tourists.
Sometimes this is simply due to a lack of knowledge about why or how to travel there, sometimes due to concerns surrounding security.
However, what unites them all is that there is more to the places we travel to than is commonly known or understood.
ISHKAR trips are accompanied by a 'master' to give our travelers a genuine and unparalleled opportunity to not just see a destination, but to engage more deeply with the country and its culture.
We travel with award-winning photojournalists, internationally regarded artists, Olympic athletes and conservation experts.
Through their experience, our masters provide unique insights and perspectives, helping travelers develop their skills and gain unforgettable experiences.
We travel in small groups of curious and critically minded travelers.
We interview everyone who applies to our trips to make sure that each group is made up of a well-matched and eclectic blend of people.
The trips are often over-subscribed and we work hard to select groups of travelers who will work well together. Our trips attract both solo travellers and couples.
WE are uncompromising
Ensuring our traveller's safety is at the heart of what we do. We only travel to areas that meet the stringent criteria of our in-depth risk assessments, and where we have an established and strong network of local partners to ensure our security and provide the most up-to-date security information.
Our Head of Travel, Zanna Baker, is a former British military officer, and we consult with a wide range of on the ground experts to ensure the safest possible trip.
Read more about our approach to security here.
What we are not
We are not promoters of war-tourism
ISHKAR was established to challenge 'war tourism' and every form of 'poverty tourism'. Although we often travel in countries that are, or have been, affected by conflict, our trips are designed to surprise, inform and inspire, revealing sides to these countries rarely seen in the news.
Similarly, we are conscious of not orientalising, or exoticising our destinations — we endeavor to show places as they are and not how people might fantasize them to be.
Those who join ISHKAR trips are open-minded and ready to have their pre-existing notions challenged.
We are not an adventure travel company
While many of our trips may be adventurous, 'adventure' is only a small part of what makes up an ISHKAR trip. Our trips attract those that are keen to have their perspectives challenged, not their physical limits (though, depending on the trip, that might well happen too!).
- Photography |MC Brown
Explore the Northern and Southern Kivu regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the award-winnning photographer, and former DRC resident, Michael Christopher Brown.
- Photography |M Paley
- May 2021
Explore the soaring peaks and fascinating history of the Hunza valley in northern Pakistan for 12 days, with National Geographic photographer, Matthieu Paley.
- Trail running |L Bartholomew
- Sep 2021
In September 2021, world leading trail runner Lucy Barthomolew will be leading a pioneering trail running camp on the shores of a high altitude lake in Afghanistan.
- Back-country Skiing |S Husaini & A Farhang
Venture into the remote Koh-e-Baba mountains of central Afghanistan, and ski with Afghanistan's national ski champions during a 10 day winter trip to Bamiyan.
Edmund le Brun
Edmund has lived and worked in Afghanistan since 2013. He first fell in love with the region when he was 18, spending 12 months living in Xinjiang, a Chinese province which borders Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor. Edmund is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, having been part of two pioneering (and calamitous!) expeditions to raft previously un-rafted rivers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Among other adventures, he has cycled from London to Istanbul and traversed the Taklamakan desert by bike. Edmund is a graduate of Oxford University and a Forbes 30 under 30 for social entrepreneurship.
Flore de Taisne
Prior to founding ISHKAR, Flore worked for the French Embassy in Damascus, and Samuel Hall in Afghanistan where she consulted for organisations such as the UN and the World Bank. Flore has travelled widely across the Middle East and Central Asia, and travelled across Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan by foot and horse in 2012. Flore holds a BA in History from King’s College London, and a Joint Masters from LSE and Sciences Po in International political economy and economic policy, where she was an Entente Cordiale Scholar. She is a Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship.
Head of Travel
Zanna is a former military officer who worked as a regional security, cultural and political advisor covering Mali, Niger and Somalia. Zanna was part of the pioneering Ice Maiden team – the first all female team to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone. Zanna is experienced in the mountains and holds a high level first aid qualification for remote environments.
Ernesto’s passion for Afghanistan was born when he led an avalanche prevention programme with the skiers of Bamiyan on behalf of the NGO, Alpistan. Ernesto’s diverse range of previous experiences include working for UNDP in Samoa, learning traditional skills of Oceanic navigation in the Pacific Ocean, and gaining an MA in Photojournalism from the University of the Arts of London. He has climbed ten peaks over 4000m peaks in the Alps, including Mont Blanc via Arête du Diable, Liskam and Grand Combin.