“Adventure should be part of everyone’s life. It is the whole difference between being fully alive and just existing.” ― Holly Morris
One of my favourite interviews yet! Amira is a Muslim hiker, its great to read about her experiences within the outdoor community. I can hands up say there is a lot about religion that I have no idea about. This interview is honest and refreshing. Happy Reading!
You can find Amira on Instagram @amira_thewanderlust
1. Can you tell us something about yourself?
My name is Amira I’m 28 years old and I’m from Lancashire. During childhood and early teens, I was always a bit of an explorer.
Travelling has become part of my life, and I now enjoy creating new experiences full of adventure. Being able to embrace different cultures and having that time to open my mind up to new ways of living whilst being able to feel free.
When I’m not travelling I spend time outdoors, mainly hiking and trekking in hills and mountains. My new passion is wild swimming and I want to progress further eventually by trying out paddleboarding.
2. What is the first memory of an adventure you had? And why does it stand out?
For me, it would be when I went solo travelling. I backpacked through Europe and it was the scariest step I took but was the best thing I ever did.
It wasn’t normal for a girl from the South Asian Muslim community to go backpacking. I did get a lot of questions and comments in regards to this but I put those aside and continued to pursue my dream of solo travelling.
I met so many lovely people on my journey and created some amazing memories with them. I was able to learn different languages and I gained a deep sense of satisfaction being able to just explore different places at my own pace.
3. What are three things on your bucket list?
I have such a big bucket list but I will choose these three !!
Backpacking and trekking in south East Asia
2.Northern lights Iceland
3.Voluntary work with Animals in Africa at the conservation centres.
4. Are there any women that inspire your adventures or that you look to for inspiration?
The reason I started hiking was from the influence of my mother. She really encouraged me to get into the outdoors and start hiking. I can remember the first hike we did, I moaned all the way!
But looking back it was the best thing she could’ve encouraged me to do. She is someone I look up to as she was the only South Asian female lady I would see in the mountains. She broke the barriers within our communities to take that step to go into the hills even if there weren’t any other people who looked like she did and that’s what’s encouraged me to get into the outdoors.
5. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Time is a gift! Don’t waste time its so important as you can never get it back once it’s gone. We have to be grateful for each day we are given and make most of the moments.
Reflecting on my younger self I feel I wasted a lot of time and energy with the wrong people and now I only focus on positive energy and being around people who bring out the best version of me and bring me peace.
6. What advice would you give someone who is just starting their outdoor journey?
Just do it and don’t be afraid! It can be daunting if you’ve never done a hike or been surrounded by nature and that’s okay just take small steps. Start off by making a list of small flat walks then increase the miles, then you can start doing some hills and eventually you’ll build up the courage to climb some mountains. Being a POC Muslim hiker I want to give this advice out too, don’t let anything stop you from taking that one step into the outdoor world.
Do not feel deterred from going into the outdoors, exercising and hiking due to your religion and race. Everyone should be allowed to have their space in the outdoors. I believe everyone has the opportunity to make the most out of life and nothing should stop you if it’s something you’re passionate about. You have to find that place that brings out the human in you, the soul in you, the love in you and if that’s the outdoors then go for it!
7. What is the hardest adventure/hike you have done and why?
I would say the hardest adventure I did was jumping off the cliffs in Lake District it was part of an adventure day I booked. I had a fear of standing on the edge and looking down, I took that step and now I love cliff edges and rocky edges it gives me a thrill. Also, bungee jumping was the scariest thing I have done but once I did it the feeling was incredible.
8. What is your favourite thing about the outdoor community?
Such a friendly community, everyone is so kind and supportive. I have had lots of support shown especially via social media which helped me fit in. I would describe the outdoor community as one big family.
9. Is there anything you would change about the outdoor community?
More representation of BAME in the outdoors and more Diversity to be shown within outdoor companies and groups. POC need the support when it comes to the outdoors as a lot of the times you don’t see many POC in the outdoors so it can be quite daunting for a POC to get out there. I feel now a lot of companies and social media are speaking up and I believe if this continues we will see equal opportunities within the outdoors.
10. Is there a sport/adventure pursuit you would like to try? If yes what’s stopping you?
Rock climbing, I have done this once years ago and it’s something I really want to do this year. I feel the only thing that stops me and holds me back is my thoughts on what people would think of my head covering and face covering. I have found a few female groups which do rock climbing so this has encouraged me to take this sport up hopefully this year.
11. Has the outdoors impacted your mental health?
The outdoors has had a positive impact on my mental health. Spending time in forests, hiking in the mountains, and just being outside can lead to significant health benefits.
I feel free and at peace, nature gives me the ability to connect to myself. Sitting in meditation connecting myself to my Lord. Reflecting on these moments created tranquillity and I finally felt at peace, the peace that my mind had longed for.
Mental health is seen as a Taboo within our communities and I feel this topic needs to be spoken about. There are many ways to tackle mental health and one of them is being in touch with nature. We have to find that time to reconnect with ourselves from this busy life we have.
12. What does a typical adventure day look like for you?
So I like to do a lot of planning and researching. Due to my passion for photography, I like to find the most scenic routes so I can capture the moments on my camera and drone. I like to start early and end the day at sunset. Wherever I go I plan my day accordingly to my daily prayers, a Muslim has five daily prayers in which they pray during the day at specified times.
Often when hiking I like to pray alongside the water or once I’ve reached the top of the mountain. This feeling is beautiful connecting with God through nature.
My mum and my friend Asma are the people I venture out with, the day consists of giggles, girly time and plenty of funny and crazy moments.
13. Have you ever experienced racism in the outdoor community?
The usually stares and sniggers are very normal to me now, and I don’t mean a quick glance because I look different but good long stares. Sometimes this does make me feel very uncomfortable but I can’t let this get to me.
Generally, the outdoor community have been lovely to me whether it be in the outdoors or Social media, they are the most welcoming people and very supportive. I have met some lovely people who have supported me and encouraged me throughout my journey so this makes it easier for me. When I am solo hiking there are moments I feel anxious due to my religious clothing as you hear stories on racial attacks, so I try to do solo hikes which are local to me for my peace of mind.
14. If yes would you mind telling my readers about it?
So like I explained above there’s not been a specific moment yet apart from people staring at me. Outside of the outdoor community I have had racial abuse with name calling. It’s sad that this still happens but we have to be strong and carry on and make changes whenever we can .
15. What is the one song you would pick to sum up your time outdoors?
So for religious purposes, I don’t listen to music, I listen to the recitation of the Quran which is the Holy Book for Muslims. When I listen to the Quraan, the words calm my soul and my heart feels at peace, this is how I feel when I am surrounded by nature.
16. Judging from your Instagram you are well travelled, which is your favourite country to hike in and why?
It’s so hard to choose one! The best place for hiking so far would be Switzerland, Madeira Island and Turkey. Switzerland is full of stunning views with the majestic peaks and alpine trees. Madeira has the most incredible views-points, you feel like your walking in the clouds. Turkey has some of the most beautiful hiking trails, the Mountains are flanked by sheer rock walls, deep valleys and canyons and amazing coastal views. The sunrise hikes were magical.