The North of Iraq is a fascinating region with an incredible blend of millenary cultures, religions and ethnicities. It offers unparalleled mountain sceneries and off-the-beaten path monuments with some of the best food in the Middle East! We’ll explore the strife of the Kurds through decades under Saddam’s oppression and how they most recently vanquished ISIS. The perfect all-round travel experience!
Day 1: Road to Duhok
- We begin the day nice and early for the two-hour drive to visit Saint Hormizd Monastery churches built into the mountains in Alqosh, where monks used to hide in caves. Alqosh is technically part of the Iraqi province of Mosul, but is de facto in the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
- We then head to Lalish, the most sacred town for the Yazidi people. Yazidis are very endogamous and unique, and while being ethnically Kurdish, they differentiate themselves greatly in terms of religion with the Sunni majority in Kurdistan. Yazidism is a separate monotheist religion that can only be found in these northern regions of Upper Mesopotamia. This minority has been persecuted and oppressed for centuries.
- Khanis, the craddle of civilization in Kurdistan. A settlement built by Assyrian King almost 3000 years ago.
- Overnight in Duhok.
Day 2: Road to Amedi
- We will visit Saddam’s ruined summer house and currently a peshmerga (local kurdish fighters) camp. A good chance to meet first hand a few of the heroes that overthrew the IS.
- From there, we’ll head to Amadiya to see its beautiful old mosque, the synagogue ruins and the ancient gate built in 2nd century BC.
- We’ll finish the day exploring Shanadar Cave, a prehistoric wonder where neanderthal bones and utensils have been found.
- Overnight in Soran.
Day 3: Exploring Hamilton Road
- Hamilton road widely regarded as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century, the road was engineered by New Zealand-born Archibald Hamilton between 1928 and 1932. The road snakes through incredible scenery, from gorges, canyons, rivers, and mountains. We will stop along the way at Gali Ali Bag Waterfall, old Hamilton road, Rawanduz canyon, Bekhal waterfall, korek mountain ( cable car) and pank resort.
- While exploring these northern Iraq mountains we’ll head to Akre Town and visit Khanzad castle.
- Overnight in Erbil.
Day 4: Road to Sulaymaniyah
- Visit the town of Koya to see the ruins of the old caravansary and ancient bazaar. From there, we’ll explore Qshla Castle Dokan Lake.
- To finish our day of exploration, we’ll head up to Goyja mountain at sunset to see amazing view of Sulayimanyah city and the spectacular scene of Kurdistan’s second largest city by night.
- Overnight in Sulaymaniyah.
Day 5: Tracing the Iranian border
- We take the one-hour drive to Halabja, scene of the mass chemical attack on the Kurdish people, perpetrated by the Baathist regime, and we’ll visit the monument of Halabja and the mass cemetery.
- We head to Zalm village, the last village in Iraqi Kurdistan before the Iran border, and previously, the front-line in the Iran-Iraq war. We’ll stand a few metres away from Iran visit a very beautiful nearby waterfall.
- In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Grand Mosque and enjoy some free time in the market in Sulayimanya.
- Overnight in Sulaymaniyah.
Day 6: Sulaymaniyah.
- After breakfast, we visit the Red Prison, the infamous building where Saddam’s regime imprisoned thousands of Kurdish civilians, exposing them to the worst tortures. It’s been turned into a museum full of exhibits about the strife of Kurdish people as well as the war with the IS.
- After that, we’ll explore the city and make our way back to Erbil.
- Overnight in Erbil.
Day 7: Erbil.
- We’ll wander the city of Erbil, capital of Kurdistan, from the stunning Jalil Khayat mosque to the ancient citadel of Erbil, one of the oldest settlements in the World, with some evidence of occupation dating back to the 5th millennium BC.
- In our itinerary, we will also cover Minaret Park, Shanadar Park, the mesmerising Old Bazaar and the bustling money exchange Street.
- Farewell dinner in the Old City and overnight in Erbil.
Day 8: Goodbye & Fly out
- After breakfast, the saddest moment of any Expedition: saying goodbye!
Donation to Afghan Refugees$50 donation to support our Afghan Guides seeking refuge
HotelsShared rooms in 4star hotels (when available).
GuidesExpert local guide and fixer.
TransportPrivate minibus and driver.
Entrance FeesAll entrance fees to sites on your itinerary.
It’s visa free for most nationalities! But please check with us.
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 Erbil International Airport.
Kurdistan is one of the safest destinations we’ve traveled to in Wander Expedition! It’s a fantastic first experience in the Middle East and we will be accompanied by a local crew at all times, which will help us interact with locals and have the best possible experience.
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. Kurdistan is the perfect first step into the Middle East, offering great cultural depth, amazing food, hospitable locals and a diversity in the outdoors. It’s also one of our most affordable Expeditions and a great way to visit Iraq.
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