‘Danger tourist’ says meeting Taliban was ‘one of scariest moments of his life’

An intrepid Brit, who has made it his mission to visit the "most dangerous" countries in the world, says meeting the Taliban was "one of the scariest moments" of his life.

Danger tourist Ben Frier, 29, purposely goes to "places people don't want to go" and high-risk countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq and and shares his travels with his 180k subscribers on his YouTube channel.

After catching the travel bug on a year out in 2016, when he travelled around South East Asia and Australia, Ben's destinations have become increasingly unusual – from a solo trip to Iraq in July this year, to a run in with the Taliban in Afghanistan last month, which put the fear through the usually unflappable content creator.

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He said: "All of my friends and family told me I was an absolute idiot for going to Afghanistan, and for once I do get it.

"Obviously with the political stuff right now it's very tricky, and people there weren't used to foreigners so the Taliban guards were very sceptical and don't speak English – it was very dangerous.

"When we got there we had to visit the Taliban offices because you need a permit to travel in Afghanistan. It was pretty scary, we were there for three or four hours and things go through your mind.

"The UK have been fighting Afghanistan for many years, so although most of them were friendly, they all had guns and were just staring at us.

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"Then once in Iraq, when I first got there I was completely alone, it was night time and no one spoke English.

"I kind of had a moment where I was like – Oh my God, I'm in Iraq.

"I couldn't get to the hotel, but then a random man came up to me and offered to take me there. I know you're not supposed to get in the car with strangers but I did and thankfully it was fine."

While Ben's friends and family back home in Plymouth think he is an "idiot" for visiting dangerous places, Ben says "99 percent of the people are lovely".

Ben said: "I've been travelling full time since 2018, with the exception of when Covid hit, but it wasn't until a year and a half ago that I figured I'd go to countries people don't go.

"I wanted to see what it was really like, and see for myself how life is out there.

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"The first place I went to like that was Pakistan. Everyone goes to India but no one goes to Pakistan, because we're told it's really dangerous and there's lots of terrorists.

"But it was the opposite – they were the friendliest people you'd ever meet, I had a great time and I've been to Pakistan twice now.

This year, Ben has travelled to Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan.

He spends one month travelling, followed by one month at home in Plymouth before he sets off again, usually on his own, with "just two t-shirts and a pair of trousers" in his bag.

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Ben began his YouTube channel, "Backpacker Ben", in 2018 as a way to fund his trips, which cost him anything between £200 to a staggering £4,000 – which is what it cost him to travel to Afghanistan.

Ben says he wants to show people a different side to the locals.

He said: "I go with an open mind and know for a fact that 99 percent of people in these countries are normal.

"They want to live normal lives but unfortunately grew up in a warzone.

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"The places themselves are absolutely beautiful too.

Although Ben loves travelling, his journeys have been "exhausting and expensive".

He's plans to visit South America and West Africa next year, as well as East Africa in January, before retiring as a tour guide to bring others to "places they wouldn't want to go alone".


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