The "Afghanistan Top Ten" from Secret Compass

In celebration of Secret Compass' upcoming expedition to Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, the adventure travel company reveals its Afghanistan "Top Ten." Featuring interesting tales and good news from the region, it will inspire adventurers to visit this remote, wild and hard-to-access corner of the world.

Bristol, United Kingdom, July 22, 2015 --( On 20 July 2015, a Secret Compass expedition team departs for Afghanistan to explore the Pamir Mountains in the Wakhan Corridor, the country’s newest national park.

To celebrate, pioneering adventure travel company Secret Compass sought out interesting tales and good news to feature in its ‘Afghanistan Top Ten’.

1. NGO: Skateistan
With skateboarding as its vehicle, Afghan NGO Skateistan is succeeding in building trust, confidence and life skills in young people through its projects in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

2. Film: The White Silk Road
This film follows three pioneering Australians who take snowboarding to the desolate Bamiyan Province. En route they discover incredible mountains, landscapes and hospitable communities.

3. Olympics: Taekwondo Triumph
Afghanistan won one medal in London’s 2012 Summer Olympic Games: a Taekwondo Bronze for Rohullah Nikpai. In total they sent six athletes to compete in four different events.

4. National Sport: Buzkashi
Buzkashi (goat-dragging) is Afghanistan’s national sport, in which horse-mounted players attempt to drag a goat or calf carcass towards a goal. There are efforts to make it an Olympic sport.

5. Bamiyan: A buddha returns
In June 2015 in the Bamiyan Province, a Chinese couple successfully projected an image of the tallest Buddha statue into the space it used to occupy, generating cheers from local onlookers.

6. Mining: Lapis Lazuli
Jewel-quality Lapiz Lazuli is mined in just one place, Sar-i-Sang in north-eastern Afghanistan. It was used for Tutankhamun’s funeral mask and was ground up to paint Michelangelo’s finest robes.

7. Art: World's first oil paintings
New analysis suggests that the world’s first oil paintings are the Buddhist murals in caves in the Bamiyan Province. Dated circa 650 AD, they predate finds in medieval Europe by over 100 years.

8. OSCARS: Buzkashi Boys
A film shot in Kabul was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at the 2013 Academy Awards (the Oscars). This coming-of-age story follows the story of two best friends dreaming of a better life.

9. Exports: Flying carpets
In trade terms Afghan carpets and rugs certainly fly, accounting for 45% of Afghanistan’s total exports. This is followed by dried fruits and medicinal plants, which together make up a further approx. 43%.

10. New National Park: The Wakhan Corridor
Providing protection for Afghanistan’s rare wildlife (snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, lynx and Himalayan ibex), the new Wakhan National Park is 25% bigger than Yellowstone. Government and community managed, it provides livelihoods and improved services in one of the world’s poorest regions.

Kerry O’Neill, marketing director with Secret Compass, said, “Our annual expedition to the Wakhan Corridor is popular with adventurous travellers who see beyond the headlines of known hotspots and who want to experience the real Afghanistan for themselves.

“Our expedition team will meet nomadic Wakhi and Kyrgyz communities as they explore the plains and traverse the remote high passes of the Pamir Mountains and newly accredited national park.”

O’Neill concluded, “Normal people can achieve the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places, and that’s the aim of every Secret Compass expedition. Our trips aren’t guided tours; they’re challenging and satisfying and they’re what experienced adventure travellers seek.”

Expedition Fact Box
· Dates: 20 July – 10 August 2015 (21 nights)
· Team size: 12
· Cost: £3,099 ground costs only (all incl. except international flights)
Style: an often high-altitude trekking expedition in the Little and Big Pamir Mountains

Notes to Editors

Secret Compass Expeditions
Secret Compass is a pioneering expedition company creating world-first experiences for teams of like-minded adventurers. Through group and bespoke adventures, Secret Compass helps each team member achieve the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places. Founded by ex-British Army Parachute Regiment officers, its expeditions reach the planet’s most remote regions in the spirit of exploration’s earliest pioneers.
Press enquiries: 0207 096 8428

Secret Compass TV and Film
Secret Compass provides expert pre-production and in-country location management services to the TV and film industries. Clients to date include the BBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet and Channel 4, in countries from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, South Sudan to Siberia.
Secret Compass
Kerry O'Neill
0203 2398 038