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Rosita Forbes



Rosita Forbes was born in 1893 and later married a soldier with whom she travelled to India, China, Australia and South Africa. During the first world war she worked as an ambulance driver and received two medals for her war services from the French government.

Forbes had the gift of the genuine traveller:  she lived and mixed with the locals, frequenting bazaars and making friends with the Arabs, Afghans, Indians, Tadjiks, Usbegs and Kazaks. After a visit to England, Forbes travelled to Morocco and then went to Abyssinia where she made a travel film entitled From Red Sea to Blue Nile.

Later she visited Persia and in 1930 travelled through Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Transjordania. Her other travels took her to South America, Russia and from Kenya to the Gold Coast.

Rosita Forbes was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society.


Forbidden Road - Kabul to Samarkand

Rosita Forbes

ISBN 159048102X 


Forbes was justly famous for her travels in perilous portions of the world. In fact the intrepid Englishwoman had been making a habit of visiting remote, and absurdly dangerous, places for years. During the 1920s she rode a camel across the Libyan deserts in search of a lost city, ventured to dozens of other forbidden places and written a long list of bestsellers.

Afghanistan had been invaded many times. Alexander the Great had marched his Greeks through her mountains. Genghis Khan and his hordes had cantered through her streets. More recently the mighty British Raj had flown warplanes over the isolated hermit kingdom. Yet none of these military men ever disarmed the Afghans as effortlessly as Rosita Forbes.

She started in Peshawar, that charming, mostly lawless city that sits like a pigeon egg at the base of the nearby Khyber Pass. Forbes of course had to venture into the city’s old bazaars, investigating rumours of “the secrets of Peshawar that all men know.” Yet her desire lay beyond the cultured sin of this infamous border town. So it was that in 1935 the intrepid traveller hired a driver and car, threw her bags in the back, pulled on her gloves, set her stylish hat firmly in place, and climbed aboard, bound for Kabul, Mazar-I-Sharif, and ultimately faraway Samarkand.

What followed was one of the most delightful journeys of the adventure-filled 1930s, for nothing escaped Forbes’ observant eye. She spoke to nomads, dined with royalty, and uncovered enough stories to fill two books. Luckily her photographs and the best stories are still gathered here, in  “Forbidden Road”. The delightful book is still fresh, still charming, just like its beautiful adventuress of an author.


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The Secret of the Sahara:  Kufara

Rosita Forbes

ISBN 1590481011 



In a world full of macho, early twentieth century male explorers, lovely Rosita Forbes stood alone. The famed English woman went everywhere, and saw everything, in any perilous portion of the world that met her fancy. For example, though Afghanistan was supposedly closed to outsiders, the elegant Rosita hired a car, and had herself chauffeured from Kabul to Samarkand in style.
In need of new adventures, the intrepid female explorer decided to penetrate the infamous wastes of the Libyan deserts. At stake was an interview with the mysterious leader of an obscure Muslim sect. Yet more important to Rosita was the need to discover, not some minor potentate, but the legendary lost city of the Sahara, Kufara.

What followed can only be described as a classic 1920s adventure complete with a dashing Egyptian noblemen, a cast of notorious camels, and their noisome crew. And though “Secret of the Sahara” is full of the political observations and interesting interviews that made Rosita a justifiably famous travel writer, the ever-dashing English woman also regales her reader with poetic passages about the beauty of the desert world she had wandered into.

Here is Rosita Forbes at her best, speaking to nomads, dining with desert royalty, or uncovering enough stories to fill two books. Luckily the best tales are still gathered here. “Secrets of the Sahara” remains a delightful work, still fresh and charming after all these years, just like its beautiful adventuress of an author.


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