Amira Patel, a British-Indian from Lancashire, England, is an adventurer, and content creator who now runs hiking tours for Muslim women only. Patel loves the outdoors and found her passion for hiking during her teenage years. She is a Muslim who is a travel enthusiast and has set out on a mission to make the travel space more accessible and inclusive for women of color, especially for Muslim women who lack representation in the international travel community.
Aside from her goal of hiking some of the top-rated trails in the UK, Patel loves to practice her faith when out in the wild. She does this by taking a walk along niqab (face veil), which holds a lot of religious significance for many Muslim women. Patel believes that her connection to God is what drives her to experience different adventures and helps her overcome the racism she faced during her travels.
To inspire and encourage more Muslim women to travel, Patel posts regularly about her long trips in the UK on her Instagram page, Amira the Wanderlust. Instagram is a favorite among travel bloggers and influencers. In recent years, black, Indigenous, and people of color influencers have taken to social media to encourage their peers to travel.
“I came across a lot [women of color] “Travel lovers are on Instagram and when chatting with them, I have learned that they have been traveling for many years,” Patel told Passionfruit. “Despite my personal experience and from speaking to them, I can say that our travel experiences are different from our white counterparts but things are gradually changing, and I hope we can all travel without any racial differences in the coming years.”
Most recently, Patel created The Wanderlust Women, a group for Muslim women looking for outings and adventure. Wanderlust Women has so far organized a few short, female-only hikes around Lancashire and recently successfully conducted a Ramadan walk during which all participating women walked while fasting to celebrate the spirit of the Muslim holy month.
“As we are [were] In the holy month of Ramadan, we organized our first ever business the breakfast to rise. the breakfast It’s breakfast time, so we did a pre-breakfast walk and then had a great long walk in the mountains. The the breakfast “The hike has been a huge success for us and we plan to stage many more such hikes in the future,” Patel said.
Patel has been fond of traveling for years. “My mum always motivated me to push my limits and try the hiking challenge. That’s how my interests naturally started to lean towards hiking,” Patel said. “I still try to pursue other adventure activities too, like kayaking, wild swimming, and rock climbing. I recently started cycling and seeing my growing interest in it, looks like I will be taking many cycling trips in the near future.”
Patel aims to be a role model for the Muslim woman who loves to travel. She wears the niqab at all times during her travels to show others that they can continue to travel without feeling constrained in their choice of clothing. The niqab has been an essential part of her identity since she was young and she feels more comfortable wearing it. Whether she’s hiking, kayaking, or climbing a mountain, you’ll always find her wearing her face veil.
“My union has never given me any trouble, no matter how hard my adventure activity is,” Patel said. “It always attracts a lot of people’s attention, which for the most part is just a curious look. I used to feel uncomfortable with the interest when I first started traveling but now, I am very used to it and take it like a professional.”
During the early years of her travels, Patel had a hard time finding women in the travel community who would look like her and would dress her up. One reason is that the influential travel community has historically been dominated by white travelers. However, things are slowly changing, with diversity and inclusion becoming a priority across all industries. Even clothing brands like Nike make sportswear that better serve diverse audiences, including the burkini for Muslim travelers. Similar sportswear brands can encourage Muslim women to pursue travel and outdoor activities by creating more modest clothing that demonstrates that modesty and strenuous activity are not mutually exclusive. Patel attests to that.
“Most of the time, all the attention my unionist attracts is mostly a curious look from people who wouldn’t expect a girl dressed like me to do adventurous activities or travel alone,” she said.
However, in 2021, the Asian community in the UK saw a 300% increase in hate crimes. As a result, Patel said she’s become more careful when outdoors: “I’m always very careful on solo outings after several incidents of race attacks in the UK, and for that reason, I only climb on my own to nearby places I know well.”
Through social media and the outside community in the UK, Patel has found like-minded people who appreciate her story and how she practices her religious beliefs while traveling. With Wanderlust Women, you hope to create a community for women where everyone can share tips, learn from each other, and plan group activities together. In just two years, the group Wanderlust Women has gained popularity among the UK’s Muslim and travel communities, and Patel hopes to continue building a space dedicated to mobile Muslim women.
“I want to inspire and encourage more Muslim women to start traveling and break all the stereotypes we often associate with,” she said.
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*First Published: June 16, 2022, 1:32 PM CST
Rahma Khan is a travel writer and freelance journalist from Pakistan based in Vancouver, Canada. Her travel blog uses thesaneadventurer.com to share stories of her travel adventures and travel experiences as a woman of color. Her work has been published in CondeNast Traveler, Matador Network, Eaters and Independent UK, among others.