What Really Happened With The American Hikers In Iran?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The travel community collectively felt a pang of anger and sadness with news this weekend that the two American hikers who have been held in Iran for over two years now, Shane Bauer, 28, and Josh Fattal, 29, were sentenced to jail for eight years for illegal entry and espionage. Though the lawyers for the hikers intend to appeal, there is little indication the Iranian government intends to back down in their transparent effort to use Shane and Josh as mere pawns in a high-level game of diplomatic brinkmanship.

For a little background as to what exactly happened those fateful few days in July when three friends decided to head out on a trail from Iraqi Kurdistan to visit the famed Ahmed Awa waterfall near the Iranian border, Outside magazine has this piece where author Josua Hammer attempts to follow in their path as best he can.

What he finds is a border easily crossed into due to little to no markings, a beautiful landscape beckoning adventurous travelers, and an unfortunately tragic — yet thankfully rare — example of the dangers faced for extreme travelers.

. . . [W]henever their ordeal ends, it serves as a frightening reminder of the political fault lines that often run along the world’s geographical boundaries. The trio’s imprisonment has drawn new attention to the dangers of adventure travel in an era when conflict zones can turn overnight into trendy destinations, guidebook writers can’t keep up with expanding appetites for edge-of-the-world experiences, and gung-ho vagabonds venture into places where having a U.S. passport can put you at risk.


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