Kurdish Iraq is also known as the 'other Iraq'. Whilst Southern Iraq has seen the country descend into chaos and bloodshed since the 2003 War, Kurdish Iraq has flourished with massive economic development and a burgeoning tourist industry.
Suffering for decades under previous regimes, the Kurds now have an increasing amount of freedom and autonomy in Iraq and are extremely welcoming to tourists. The Kurdish region also has some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of the Middle East with huge canyons, beautiful mountains and flowing rivers and waterfalls. The region has long been known in Middle Eastern literature as 'paradise on earth'.
Despite current issues in Iraq and Syria, this region still remains perfectly safe to visit.
This price includes:
- Iraq visa (issued free on arrival at the border)
- 3 star central twin hotel accommodation
- all road transport in Turkey and Iraq
- tours and entry fees
- experienced English speaking Kurdish guide
- accompanied by Western guide throughout the trip
- all breakfasts
- Lunch and dinners
- Flights to Diyarbakir (prices start at €295 from Europe)
- Turkish visa (can be obtained online in advance for £10)
Rooms are on a twin basis and if you are travelling alone we will allocate someone for you to share with if possible. To have your own single room there is an additional cost of €242.
|14 October-21 October 2017||Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan tour||Tour full!|
|22 October-29 October 2017||Iraqi Kurdistan tour||Tour full!|
|22 October-29 October 2017||Erbil Marathon tour||Tour full!|
|22 April-29 April 2018||Iraqi Kurdistan tour||from 1082 €|
|13 October-20 October 2018||Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan tour||from 1082 €|
|21 October-28 October 2018||Iraqi Kurdistan tour||from 1082 €|
|21 October-28 October 2018||Erbil Marathon tour||from 1115 €|
A £150 deposit is taken on booking and can be made by credit card (via Paypal) or bank transfer.
Balance is due 8 weeks prior to departure.
14th October 2017
Arrive in Diyarbakir and check into hotel.
An afternoon tour of South East Turkey's biggest city.
Walk around the city walls, see the Great Mosque, the four legged minaret, the Armenian and Cyriac churches and the two restored caravanseries.
Evening at leisure.
Depart at 8:00 by bus and travel through the ancient city of Hasankeyf.
Travel South before arriving at the border point of Silopi.
Undergo border formalities before crossing into Iraqi Kurdistan. Drive through Zakho before travelling onwards to Erbil, arriving around 20:00.
Evening at leisure.
After breakfast we will take a tour of Erbil.
Early in the day we will see old Erbil visiting the ancient Citadel, the Kurdish Archaeology Museum, the Mound of Qalich Agha and Erbil FC stadium.
Afterwards we will see modern Erbil, visiting parks, malls and shopping areas.
Evening spent at leisure around Erbil.
Drink in one of the tea houses around the city square before heading for dinner at one of Erbil's many restaurants.
Head out to the Christian Ainkawa area later for alcoholic drinks at a bar or club.
After breakfast we travel out onto the famous Hamilton Road.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century, the road was engineered by Kiwi, Archibald Hamilton between 1928 and 1932.
The road snakes through incredible scenery, from gorges, canyons, rivers, lakes and mountains. We will stop along the way at Bekhal Waterfall, Gali Ali Bag Waterfall and also pass through the towns and villages of Shaqlawa, Harir and Soran.
In the late afternoon we will head to Pank Resort, a holiday destination for both Kurdish and Arab Iraqis. As well as breathtaking panoramic views there is also the chance to use a self drive rollercoaster! Afterwards we have the option to head to the Korek Mountain ski resort with a 15 minute cable car ride to the top.
Afterwards we will return to Erbil.
After breakfast we will travel to Sulaymaniyah.
En route we will visit the Qshla of Koya Citadel and the beautiful Dokan Lake where it is possible to take a boat ride. Afterwards we stop for lunch.
Upon arrival in Sulaymaniyah we take a sombre visit to Amna Sukhara, also known as the 'Red Prison'. This was the former Northern headquarters of Mukhbarat (the Iraqi Intelligence Service) and was used by Saddam Hussein's regime for imprisonment and torture of Kurds.
Within the prison is a beautiful memorial made from 182,000 mirrored pieces and 5400 lights. Each piece of mirror signifies each Kurd killed by Saddam's regime and the lights for each Kurdish village destroyed.
Evening spent at leisure.
Today we will visit the town of Halabja. On March 16th 1988, the town was subjected to the worst cases of genocide in Iraq's history.
Over a period of 5 hours, chemical weapons were used against the civilians of Halabja with 5000 killed and up to 10,000 injured.
We will visit the Halabja Monument Museum before driving North to the Ahmed Away waterfall, close to the Iranian border.
Afterwards drive back to Erbil and spend the evening at leisure.
Early morning departure to the remote mountain village of Lalish; the spiritual heartland of the Yazidi people
Afterwards we drive north to the city of Duhok. Duhok is encircled by mountains and the Tigris river.
After checking into our hotel, we will visit the bazaar and huge man made dam before spending the evening socialising with the locals at the Dream City amusement park.
After breakfast we will travel back across the border and to Diyarbakir where we will arrive around 17:00
Depart home or we can arrange an additional night on request for £20.
Is Iraq safe?
Our tours are based strictly in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
This area is a separate entity to Southern Iraq and is perfectly safe for tourists. Kurdish Iraq was unaffected by the 2003 war and has since seen massive economic development taking place. The Kurdish region has a great deal of autonomy with its own government, army, police force and secure border. Foreigners are made to feel very welcome in this region.
Outside of Kurdish Iraq remains extremely dangerous, but our tour keeps well away from these regions (and furthermore, a separate visa is required to enter this part of Iraq). There have been no incidents with foreigners since prior to the 2003 Iraq war.
Despite issues with ISIS in the region during mid-late 2014, they were pushed back from the Kurdish border and the Peshmerga have kept the lines strong and are continuously pushing back further. Bombs are extremely rare in the Kurdish region, but on the occasion that they do happen they have been targeted at government offices and police stations. We monitor the situation daily and would reevauluate the tours should security in the region decline. Please check with us for a current update on the situation.
Is it required to follow the Islamic dress code?
This is not required but it is advised to dress reasonably conservatively. Women do not need to wear a head scarf but they should bring one for entering mosques.
Which flights can I book to get to Diyarbakir?
Turkish Airlines and Pegasus fly to Diyarbakir from Europe with prices ranging from £250-£350. The flights involve a change in Istanbul.
There are also a few options to fly into Erbil, but these prices are much more expensive, usually around the £500-£600 mark. We recommend the Diyarbakir option as you then get to see the Northern area of Kurdish Iraq as well as Kurdish Turkey which is very seldom visited by tourists.