Geoff Hann, one of the world’s best-known tour guides to the most extreme places on earth – Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – has died in a hospital in Baghdad.
The 85-year-old from Brighouse was on tour with his Hinterland Travel company which included Baghdad, Mosul and the ancient cities of Mesopotamia when he suffered a serious stroke. His partner, Tina Townsend-Greaves, set up a gofundme page to bring him home and over £10,000 was raised, but sadly he died before he could be activated.
She wrote: “Geoff Hann has been a traveler all his life. He has taken travelers with him all over the less explored places of the world for 50 years, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria…the list goes on. He has blown up by the Taliban, shot down by the Syrians and caught up in the Iranian revolution.
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“But he always brought everyone home safely. At the age of 85, he was probably the oldest tour guide in the world, one last hurrah to his beloved Iraq before retirement. end of a wonderful journey, he suffered a stroke and is now in hospital in Baghdad, unable to speak, miles from home and alone, we need to bring him back safe and sound.
“Please give all you can, a great explorer, a great traveler and a great man deserves to end his journey at home.”
Sadly, that was not to be the case and she later wrote: “So sorry to tell you all that I have just been told that Geoff has passed away. I have no further details until so I can talk to the Foreign Office tomorrow.”
And today she told ExaminerLive: ‘Geoff passed away on Thursday, a death as bizarre as the life he lived. But sad for those of us who loved him.’ He lived an extraordinary life and was completely unafraid of anything that would make most vacationers run – possible roadside bombs, Kalashnikov-wielding bandits and Taliban attacks.
Since its inception in the 1970s, it has taken tourists to dangerous areas like Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. And he has rarely encountered serious trouble – until 2016, when he was crossing Herat province in August, his group was ambushed by Taliban armed with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.
Five of the 12 holidaymakers were seriously injured. Only luck meant that none of the group – eight Britons, three Americans and one German – were killed.
They were able to dive behind a roadside wall as their vehicle caught fire, before a nearby army and police vehicle came to their rescue.
But Geoff paid no attention to anyone complaining, telling the Mirror: “It pisses me off. How many people go on holiday and get shot by the Taliban? They can eat this story for years!”
He told an ExaminerLive reporter in 2012: “Geoff, who has been organizing adventure holidays for 35 years, said he operated in a niche market, but there was no shortage of holidaymakers wanting something different.
“We take small groups of 10 to 15 people and we take people of all ages, from their late 20s to their 60s,” he said.
“We are staying away from Kandahar and Helmand and going to the northern and central regions and getting a taste of the real Afghanistan that you don’t see on TV.”
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker told ExaminerLive he was sorry to hear of the death of one of his constituents.
He said: “Sadly he died. He was an adventurer who loved it and enjoyed it and wanted others to experience the same.”