Iraq isn’t called the cradle of civilization for nothing. Between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers many legendary cities flourished thousands of years ago. From Ur, to Uruk, and the famous Babylon, we will venture in this historical journey through time and modern day Federal Iraq, with monumental Baghdad and Samarra, and the religious epicenters of Karbala and Najaf. If the combo weren’t tempting enough, throw in the Marshlands were locals have lived on the water for centuries, a unique ecosystem in the Middle East. Come for the history, and fall for the food, the people and the culture! Whatever the reason, make sure you don’t miss this Expedition!
Day 1: Baghdad.
- Meet and greet, fast track visa and vip transfer from the airport to the hotel.
- We’ll continue by exploring the exciting capital of Iraq, Baghdad. We’ll visit some of it’s landmarks before sunset and then go for the best traditional dinner in town to kickstart our Expedition and new travel family in the right way.
- Overnight in Baghdad.
Day 2: Old Baghdad.
- We’ll start the day early with a thick-cream and pastry breakfast (Qaimer and Kahi). Old Baghdad tour via Al Rasheed street, visiting various local markets such as the copper market “Al Safafeer”, Souq Al Sarai, Books market “Al Mutanabbi street” and antiques market “Khan Al Mudalal”.
- Our morning will continue by visiting heritage sites such as Madrasa Mustansiriya School and the Abbasid Palace. From there, we’ll hop on a boat and ride the Tigris river.
- We also will grab a treat from both Al Shahbender cafe and Haj Zbala Juice shop for lunch.
- After lunch start heading to Salman Pak: Visiting Taq Kasra “the Arch of Ctesiphon”, the largest single-span vault of unreinforced brickwork according to the world history of architecture, served as a royal capital of the Parthian and Sasanian Empires. We can enjoy the sunset from there and go for dinner, shisha and tea.
- Overnight in Baghdad.
Day 3: Babylon.
- Early in the morning, we’ll head to Babylon, a UNESCO world heritage site. We will see the historical city, rebuilt Ishtar Gate, procession street, the foundations of the real Ishtar Gate, special entrance to the old temples, the lion of Babylon, the maze, southern & northern palaces,
the place where Alexander the Great passed away.
- From there we will drive up the hill to explore Saddam’s abandoned Palace, with special access to the upper floors.
- In the afternoon we will explore two historical sites: Birs Nimrud, visiting The Ziggurat of Borsippa known as the “Tongue Tower”. Many think it is the biblical “tower of Babylon”. This was an important ancient city of Sumer and has a religious edifice in honor of the god Nabu, and the tomb of Ezekiel. This site is special due to its shared history and importance for both Muslim and Jewish devotees. We will then drive to Najaf and check into the hotel that has a view of the Najaf Sea.
- At night, we will walk to the area of the shrine of Imam Ali and will have the chance to visit the grand bazaar of Najaf.
- Overnight in Najaf.
Day 4: Najaf & Karbala.
- We will start the day visiting “The Valley of Peace” the largest graveyard in the world. We will then drive to Karbala visiting Al Aqiser Church ruins, one of
the oldest in the Middle East and Iraq. Visit Al-Ukhaidir Fortress, which represents Abbasid architectural innovation in the structures of its courtyards, residences, and mosque.
- On arrival to Karbala, we will check-in our hotel with a view for the golden domes. At night, we will walk to the area between the two shrines of Imam
Hussain and his brother Abbas, with more explanation about the battle of Karbala and why this is a pilgrimage site for Shia muslims.
- It’s a city best explored at night, and we will enjoy the energy of the city, having local food, sweets and its famous Skanjabeel drink.
- Overnight in Karbala.
Day 5: Nasiriyah.
- We’ll head south to Samawa. After a 3 hours drive, we will arrive in time for lunch. Then, we will visit the UNESCO world heritage site, Uruk which is an ancient city of Sumer that played a leading role in the early urbanization. Writing may have originated in Uruk around 3300 BC. Evidence from excavations such as extensive pottery and the earliest known tablets of writing. Uruk is the home of the legendary king Gilgamesh, who ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC also who is the hero of “The Epic of Gilgamesh”.
- From there we will continue to Nasiriyah and check-in to our hotel, go out for dinner and shisha in the city’s corniche.
- Overnight in Nasiriyah.
Day 6: Marshes.
- We will drive to Chibayesh and have a marshland experience. Local breakfast in the mud house with a local family, followed by a sightseeing tour in numerous floating villages – the Gardens of Eden (birds, fishes, buffalos, reed, plants, and meeting the people of Ahwar). It is one of the largest ecosystems in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site.
- After the tour, the lunch will be a meal of a special kind of fish in Iraq which lives only in the marshlands. The lunch will take place in the reed house – Al Mudhif. Stories from local people “Al Madan” who have adapted to life on the water over the centuries.
- After lunch, we will drive to the historical city of Ur to visit the Great Ziggurat of Ur, a UNESCO world heritage site and the former capital of Mesopotamia during the Sumerian time. The site includes Abraham house, Sholgi palace, and the oldest arch of its kind in the world at the entrance of Dub-Lal-Makh temple. We also can witness one of the most beautiful sunsets. After sunset, drive back to Baghdad.
- Overnight in Baghdad.
Day 7: Samarra.
- After breakfast we will head to Samarra to visit the beautiful Abbasid caliphate architecture and artistic relics, twisted minaret, lake
palace, and the great mosque of Samarra. This historical city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Back to Baghdad for the national dish of Iraq, the grilled fish – Masgouf for late lunch.
- At night we will have free time for dinner, tea and shisha.
- Overnight in Baghdad.
Day 8: Goodbye & Fly out
- After breakfast, Check out of the hotel. According to flights time on Day 1 and 8, we will visit the town of Fallujah passing by the famous
prison of Abu Ghraib and explore the modern side of Baghdad.
- Transfer to the airport.
HotelsShared rooms in very comfortable 3-4-star hotels.
TransportPrivate vehicle and driver.
Entrance FeesAll entrance fees to sites on your itinerary.
Local GuideKnowledgeable guide to give us all the historical and cultural information you might require.
Visa SupportWe'll help you navigate the visa prior to our Expedition.
Most nationalities have visa on arrival since last year, but check with us if you aren’t sure.
Wander Expedition doesn’t book flights for you and is ultimately not responsible for your flight connection, but we can offer guidance and support when you research the best options for you. You will be flying to and from Baghdad.
We will work with the best local crew and fixers who will help us navigate the checkpoints and prepare all the necessary permits to make our Expedition as smooth as possible for you.
This Expedition is for everyone looking to have a fun time, explore an off the beaten path destination, make new travel friends and memorable travel stories. Iraq is probably the most well-rounded destination in the Middle East, offering great cultural depth, amazing food, hospitable locals and historical sites.
Wander Expeditions is not a traditional travel agency where the first to pay is the first to go. We take you to stunning destinations, but we know the people you share it with is even more important when you travel. That’s why we have a refined selection process where we filter and vet candidates to ensure that groups are fun, balanced, diverse and interesting! We make sure candidates are on the same page and share our values of being fun, flexible and fearless, so we can guarantee everyone will have an amazing experience. We create travel families, so #trusttheprocess. Halfway through our process, we share the price with all pre-selected applicants. It only takes 15 min to apply, so you literally have nothing to lose! What are you waiting for to join the Wander Fam?
how to join?
If you want to be one of the fortunate people selected for our Iraq Expedition:
- Make sure the dates work with you before you start the selection process.
- SAY YES and complete our online application form below.
- Once you’ve applied and signed up to Wander Expedition, we’ll update you as you move on in the selection process. Check your Spam folder regularly in case the automated emails go there!