Iraq and Kurdistan- between the Tigris and Euphrates – 15 days

Middle East
|
15
days | 3 - 10 people in a group
tour description

history, culture, sightseeing

An exceptional expedition to the places considered to be the cradle of our civilisation. During the tour, we will visit the fascinating heritage sites of ancient Babylon and Assyria and newer ones – dating back to the Arab and Ottoman eras.

We will have an opportunity to see the cultural and religious diversity of Iraq, numerous branches of Christianity, Yazidis, and also Iraqi Sunni and Shia Muslims. We will visit little-known regions of the south Iraq. Furthermore, we will have an opportunity to admire the Ahwar Marshlands and we will take a boat tour along the Shatt al-Arab River. Moreover, we will see some absolutely enchanting mountain landscapes and, last but not least, we will get to know the very hospitable and friendly inhabitants of the Iraqi Kurdistan.

itinerary

Arrival at the Basra  airport and transfer to the hotel. After short rest  we will walk around Basra – a town whose history starts with the first caliphs. At those times, it was a harbour and an important military garrison. Although Basra suffered considerable destruction in the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century, numerous monuments and structures dating back to the Ottoman era can be seen there. In the afternoon, to end our trip, a very special attraction – a motor boat sunset cruise along Shatt al-Arab, i.e. a river formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, flowing into the Persian Gulf. Dinner and night rest at the hotel

L. D.

We will start the sightseeing in early morning. We will set off to the north. To start with, we will visit the unique Ahwar Marshlands. This is an area where people have lived from time immemorial. The culture and traditions of the local inhabitants are exceptional and include many elements from pre-Islamic times. In 2016, the marshland region and the culture of its inhabitants were entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List. After lunch, we will continue our journey to the ruins of legendary Ur. At the beginning, the ziggurat in Ur which might have been a model for the Biblical Tower of Babel. Then we will have a walk among the remainders of a town which was the birthplace of Abraham according to the Bible. In the evening, arrival in Nasiriyah. Dinner and night rest at the hotel.

B. L. D.

In the early morning, we will set off from Nasiriyah to the site where ruins of the ancient Babylonian town of Uruk are located. Next we will go to Kufa, where we will visit the house of imam Ali (the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad). After lunch and a short walk around Kufa we will continue the drive to Najaf, the most important place for Shia Muslims apart from Karbala – a town and sanctuary. We will see (if possible) the place where Imam Ali, the most faithful companion of the Prophet Muhammad, the husband of the only daughter of the Prophet, Fatima, and the fourth caliph, was murdered. We will visit the sanctuary and the town. Dinner and night rest at our hotel.

B. L. D.

In the morning we will drive to the exceptionally well preserved remains of a fortress from the times of Abbasid caliphs, Al Ukhaidir. The fortress was finished in 775 AD but the history of this place dates back to much older times, which is indicated by numerous artefacts from the Sasanian and Parthian times. Next we will go to Karbala – a sacred place of Shia Muslims. The town was founded at the place of death of Imam Hussain ibn Ali – grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, killed at a battle in 680. It is the location of the most sacred Shia sanctuary that attracts thousands of pilgrims, not only from Iraq. Dinner and night rest at the hotel.

B. L. D.

After breakfast, we will set off to see the ruins of the ancient Babylon Visiting the Babylon ruins – we will walk through the reconstructed Ishtar Gate and visit the museum. Another stop on our trip will be the Euphrates shore where one of the most impressive palaces of Saddam Hussein is located. Next we will go to capital of the Persian Parthian Empire – Ctesiphon. The ruins are located on the Tigris shore. Our sightseeing will include a visit to the remains of the palaces of the first rulers from the Sasanian Dynasty. Afterwards, we will go to the excavation site where the. In the afternoon, we will drive  to Baghdad. Dinner at our hotel.

B. L. D.

From the morning, we will start visiting the fascinating city of Baghdad. At the beginning, we will see what is left from the formerly priceless and vast collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Iraq. In the afternoon, a drive through Baghdad – we will see some of the most important sites: the Freedom Square and the al-Shaheed Monument, also known as the Martyr’s Memorial – a memento of the Iran–Iraq War that lead to the fall of Iraq in 1980s.  In the evening, transfer to the hotel, dinner and rest.

B. L. D.

In the morning, we will set off to the one-day trip to Samarra – one of the oldest towns of Iraq. The most important sights will be the remaining structures of the Great Mosque of Samarra, with their most prominent “snail shell minaret”. Construction of the 33 m minaret was started in 848 and finished 851, in the times of Abbasid caliphs. In 2007, the Malwiya Minaret was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List. After lunch, we will continue our journey to one of the most ancient city in Iraq – Mosul  In the evening, transfer to the hotel, dinner and rest.

B. L. D.

After breakfast, a full day tour of the city which was one of the capitals of the Ancient Assyrian. At the beginning, we will visit the Bash Tapia fortress, ruined in 1393 by the Tamerlane army. The fortress was rebuilt in the Ottoman times. Then we will go for a walk through the old town dolls of one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Middle East. We will visit the Cathedral Al. Tahira and the Great Mosque Al. Nuri. Both facilities are under reconstruction as they were destroyed during the ISIS occupation of the city. Dinner and overnight in Mosul.

B. L. D.

In the morning we will depart for Dahuk. En route we will visit the Dayro d-Mor Mataya Orthodox monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the Middle East. Next we will drive to the area of Gaugamela, the site of a famous battle between the army of Alexander the Great and the Persian forces of Darius III. That battle finally decided about the fate of the Achaemenid Empire. We will also see Jerwan where ruins of one of the oldest aqueducts are located. After the walk, we will have lunch at a traditional Kurdish restaurant. After the meal, we will depart for Lalish, one of the most important sanctuaries of Yazidis. It is the place where a tomb of the founder of the Yazidi religion, Sheikh Adi (1070-1162), is located. We will also have a walk through the nearby village and learn about the life of Yazidis. In the afternoon, we will depart for Dahuk. Dinner in restaurants.

B. D.

Breakfast at the hotel. On this day, we will visit Al Quosh – a tomb of an Old Testament prophet living in the 7th century BC. Next we will go to the Mar Mekha Orthodox monastery dating back to the 3rd century and a large Rabban Hormizd Monastery which is a home for over 600 monks. In the mountains near the monastery there are still some hermitages where monks live. After the visit, we will go to the Syrian border to see Christian church on the edge of the Tigris river. We will able to see Syrian village. In Zakho we will see Dalal bridge which was built by Romans. In the afternoon, return to Dahuk.

B. D.

In the morning, we will set off to visit Amadiya, a town founded by Assyrians. There is a fortress located 90 km from Dahuk, at 1,400 m above the sea level. We will admire the Bab Zebar gate and the remains of a fortress located at this exceptional site. We will also see an impressively tall minaret (more than 30 metres high) in Amadiya. The minaret and mosque were built by Sultan Hussein Wali. Moreover, we will see the synagogue and madrasa, founded more than 100 years ago by the University of Cairo. After lunch we will drive near Mount Gera, to see a former residence of Saddam Hussein. In the afternoon we will arrive in Erbil. Dinner and night rest at the hotel.

B. D.

After breakfast, we will visit Erbil, one of the oldest towns of the world, with a documented history of more than 7000 years. To begin with, a citadel constructed on ruins of a Sumerian town called Urbellum or Arbella, which means “four gods”. The streets of Erbil were walked by Abraham, Alexander the Great and many other famous persons. While visiting the fortress, we will see a jewellery museum. Next we will go to a market where we will have lunch at a restaurant. After the meal, we will set off to visit the Choli minaret constructed in the 12th century only from bricks imported from Egypt. At the end, we will visit a monument to one of the most famous Kurdish poets and historians – Ibn al-Mustafi (1169-1239). Dinner in one of local restaurants.

B. D.

Breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Cable car ride to the parking lot. Next we will drive to As Sulaymaniyah. En route we will visit the town of Dokan where we will stop for lunch. In the afternoon, we will arrive in As Sulaymaniyah where we will see the famous Red House – a place of incarceration and tortures in the Saddam Hussein times. Next we will go to a market where we will visit a traditional tearoom. Dinner and night rest at the hotel.

B. D.

We will start the sightseeing in As Sulaymaniyah in the morning from a visit in the Kurdistan museum where we will see collections from different historical eras, including the oldest artefacts from the beginnings of civilisation. After the visit at the museum, we will drive to Halabiyah – a town that fell victim to a gas attack on 16 March 1986. During the attack of the Iraqi army more than 5,000 people were killed, and 10,000 were injured and hospitalised. Despite its tragic past, the town is still inhabited – the Genocide Monument and Museum are currently located there. In the afternoon, we will set off for the mountain regions near the border with Iran. We will visit the Ahmed Awa Waterfalls, where we will have lunch in the mountain scenery. In the afternoon, return to As Sulaymaniyah. Dinner and night rest at our hotel.

B. D.

In the morning we will depart for As Sulaymaniyah. After tree and half hours of drive we will visit spectacular Rawanduz canyon Then we will go along the old Hamilton Road. where we will be able to admire the unspoiled mountain scenery and the engineering skills of the builders of this road. We will stop on the way at the Gali Ali Big Waterfall. In the evening we will drive to  Erbil.  Transfer to the airport.

If the departure is on the next day, overnight stay in Erbil (not included in the price)

B. L. 

Practical information

  • the length of the tour : 15 days in Iraq;
  • start of the trip: Basra;
  • end of the trip: Erbil;
  • the highlights of this expedition: ancient architectural remains of the towns of Ur and Uruk, Babylon Samarra and Ctesiphon. A very important element of the tour will be the sightseeing of Baghdad and Shia sanctuaries in Najaf and Karbala. Another attractive feature of this tour will be the possibility to see the local natural sights and to admire beautiful mountain sceneries. The close encounter with the culture and traditions of Kurdistan inhabitants may prove an unforgettable experience.

The close encounter with the culture and traditions of Iraq inhabitants may prove an unforgettable experience.The tour will be a sightseeing trip to a Middle East area that is historically and culturally exceptional. It will be oriented on sightseeing and cultural tourism. Because of the special nature of the visited places and of the expedition features, the travellers should be able to participate in walking tours of towns and historic sites as well as in short hikes to vantage points or in motor boat cruises. Accommodation is planned in hotels and we will use passenger cars and minibuses for transfers. No long hikes or activities that require strenuous physical effort are planned during the tour. The itinerary was designed to enable best possible viewing of the places away from mass tourism routes, while meeting basic safety standards and ensuring comfort to the travellers. Bear in mind that Iraq and Kurdistan are mostly inhabited by Shia and Sunni Muslims, which means the need to respect cultural differences and adhering to the appropriate dress code.

Depending on the political situation, the length of the tour and the order of visited places may change. In a situation of a serious threat to travellers’ safety, the tour may be cancelled. We will keep you updated as to whether the expedition is possible.

  • Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the planned end of the tour.
  • Visa can be obtained at the airport upon arrival for most for UK and  European Union citizens. If you travel with a passport of a non-EU country, contact the BTP Adventure office
  • You should take with you for the trip a photocopy of your passport (the photo page) and an additional ID document

  • Before departure, we recommend a consultation with a family physician and a tropical medicine specialist.
  • Vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria, viral hepatitis A and B and typhus is recommended.
  • The risk of malaria is very low.
  • We recommend visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries.
  • During our expedition, we will drink only bottled water. You should avoid ice in your beverages and eating raw or undercooked foods. Medical care is at a good level, especially in Baghdad. Medical services are provided for a fee.
  • Because of difficult travelling and accommodation conditions and particularities of the country, good general health and physical fitness are necessary. Please take with you a first aid kit and a sufficient supply of your regular (prescription) medicines, if any. Some useful contents of the first aid kit:
    • insect repellents
    • high sun protection cream (recommended SPF 50)
    • disinfectants, wound dressing materials
    • analgesics and antipyretics
    • anti-diarrhoeals, electrolytes and vitamins

  • Insurance is not covered by the tour price. Having valid insurance is a condition for taking part in the trip. We recommend taking out insurance that will be appropriate for the planned itinerary and for your individual state of health and needs. Please send us the proof of your insurance contract.
  • You can purchase insurance on your own on the website of Axa or any other insurance company: https://www.axa.co.uk/travel-insurance/.
  • BTP Adventure may help you obtain adequate insurance cover. If you want our help, please contact us.

  • The Republic of Iraq is a country characterized by political instability and a major risk of an armed conflict. For the time being, actual terrorist threat and armed conflict risk exist in this country. We design our itineraries so as to avoid places that are potentially most dangerous (some districts of Baghdad and towns where armed struggles continue).
  • Despite the difficult situation, expeditions to southern Iraq are possible and conducted with the adequate precautions.
  • The Iraqi Kurdistan territory, although officially belongs to Iraq, is in fact a separate country. Except for the regions at the border with Turkey and Syria, it is a very calm and safe area. The actual terrorist threat or armed conflict risk is nowadays low. We design our itineraries so as to avoid places that are potentially dangerous (border regions)
  • Owing to the good relations we have with local contractors, we keep following the news to be aware of any potential threats and safety risks. We also recommend you to read the latest news on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
  • During the tour, please take seriously the instructions of our contractors, guides and tour leader.
  • It is very important to respect local customs and abide by local laws and regulations. You will receive the necessary information on an on-going-basis from your local guides and the tour leader.
  • It is strictly prohibited to take photos and make video recordings at military and police installations and at airports. You are also not allowed to take photos where people in military/police uniforms are present!!!
  • Photographing people is possible only when they expressly agree to it. Taking pictures when the subjects have not allowed it often ends up with escalating aggressive behaviours.

The legal tender in the Republic of Iraq is the Iraqi dinar. Currency exchange is possible at the Basra airport, in most towns, in banks, in authorised foreign exchange points and in hotels. Using payment cards is possible in hotels and in some shops and restaurants. The best foreign exchange rate is for US dollars and euros.Prices in restaurants, hotels or shops are given in US dollars. It is advisable for you to take dollars in small denominations or 100-dollar bank notes issued after 2006.

For current foreign exchange rates see www.xe.com or install xe.com on your phone.

The official language in south Iraq is Arabic, in the Iraqi Kurdistan is Kurdish. The command of English and German, especially among restaurant or hotel employees, is satisfactory. In the case of a group tour, the tour leader will speak English. For self-guided tours, you must speak Arabic, while English-speaking travellers must hire a local guide with a command of English.

Iraq is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. The southern part of Iraq is mostly inhabited by Shia Muslims. We will also visit Sunni regions. Because of cultural considerations and for safety reasons, it is advisable to learn about the recommended dress code. Visiting places of worship, especially sanctuaries in Najaf and Karbala, is possible only to a limited extent.

Women do not have to wear headscarves. When visiting some mosques and other places of worship, women may be asked to put on a chador that may be borrowed free-of-charge at the entrance to the building. You should bear in mind that there are considerable differences between the conservative province and relatively liberal large towns.

Men are not allowed to wear shorts. During official encounters, women do not give their hand to a man, and men do not give their hand to a woman. This custom is still observed in the province but is increasingly abandoned in large towns. Discussions about political subjects should be avoided. Iraqi people are curious about the world and tourists and are ready to take up such conversations.

The Iraqi Kurdistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious area. Most of the inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. Moreover, there are Christians of different Eastern rites and also Zoroastrians and Yazidis living in Kurdistan. Women do not have to wear headscarves. Kurdistan inhabitants have a very liberal attitude toward religious imperatives.

It is very important to respect local customs and abide by local laws. You will receive the relevant information from your local guide or the tour leader.

The tour dates are proposed in periods of the best possible weather conditions at the sites included in the itinerary. The best time for expeditions to Iraq is the period between September and the end of March.

  • South Iraq temperatures rarely exceed +30°C during the day and may fall to about +12°C at night. Rainfalls may occur occasionally and are usually transient. High density of dust particles is a major issue. Sandstorms may appear. In the southern regions – Basra – the air is very humid which increases the sensation of heat.
  • Kurdistan temperatures exceed +25°C during the day and +10°C at night. They may fall to +5°C in the mountain regions. Rainfalls may appear only very rarely during the planned time of the tour.

For detailed information see  https://www.meteoblue.com/en.

There is mobile network coverage practically in the majority of areas included in our itinerary. It is possible to purchase a local SIM-card with an Internet package at the airport or in Baghdad. Before the trip, please enquire with your mobile network operator whether they have a contract signed with operators in Iraq and what the prices of call and SMS roaming are. To avoid a nasty surprise, we recommend disabling mobile data usage.

 

  • Wi-Fi is available at most hotels and restaurants.
  • Additionally, we recommend taking a capacious power bank.
  • Power sockets of type C, D and G. Voltage 220 V, frequency 50 Hz.

For climatic and cultural reasons, loose garments will be most appropriate: long trousers, long skirts, long-sleeved shirts, which can be easily washed and will quickly dry. The most comfortable footwear for the tour will be lightweight boots. Palladium brand boots are recommended. Wearing open sandals is possible. Hiking boots are not necessary. The following are worth taking:

  • sachet for documents and money
  • wet wipes for body cleaning and antibacterial gels
  • polar fleece jacket or warmer blouse, especially useful at evening and night times
  • head cover and sunglasses – mandatory, the sun is no joke!
  • comfortable summer clothes, useful during practically the whole trip
  • light T-shirts/shirts
  • useful odds and ends: torch, Swiss Army knife, sewing kit (usually is not needed but is not heavy and does not take much place), chargers, mug (for special occasions); inflatable neck pillow, useful on the plane and during car rides; small wallet for the local currency; books to pass the time on flights and car rides

Price

Price depends on number of participants. Please refer to list below:

  • £ 6490 p/p  – group of 3
  • £ 5690 p/p  – group of 4
  • £ 4990  p/p  – group of 5
  • £ 4790  p/p  – group of 6
  • £ 4390  p/p  – group of 7 – 8
  • £ 3490  p/p  – group of 9 10
Price includes

During the expedition, we will travel by passenger cars or minibuses. Depending on the daily agenda in the itinerary and the current situation as regards traveller safety, we will spend 4 to 8 hours travelling every day. Speed depends on the road surface conditions, terrain characteristics and number and length of stops. Moreover, our itinerary includes motor boat cruises on Ahwar Marshlands in the southern region of Iraq and a voyage on a small cruise ship on the Shatt Al-Arab River.

We are not able to guarantee a uniform accommodation standard at each of the planned sites during the stay in Iraq. Our priorities are your comfort, safety and appropriate location. We always place emphasis on the support of local community when selecting the sites for our accommodation. In general, rooms will be assigned on the assumption of two people sharing a twin room (rooms with individual bathrooms). The surcharges for single rooms are quoted in the “Price” section.

  • Two overnight stays in 4-star hotels are planned during the trip.

Meals are included in the tour price, as specified in the itinerary. B – breakfast, L – lunch, D – dinner. Breakfasts will be usually offered in hotels. We will go for lunches and dinners to local restaurants. The cuisine of southern Iraq is a typical for Middle East – very tasty and varied. For information about the local costs of living see https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/.

Services of local guides and security guards – if necessary

Admission tickets for the visited sites and national parks

The price includes the cost of tips and porters’ fees.

Trip preparation, visa mediation, the invitation (if it is would be necessary) to obtain a visa

Price does not include

Costs of the main flight to and from Iraq

Costs of flight tickets are not covered by the tour price. BTP Adventure does not directly arrange and buy tickets for international flights. However, we may suggest the best connections and airlines. For this purpose, contact us by e-mail or call us.

Iraqi visa cost for UK and UE citizen is 75 USD

Expedition participants should arrange insurance on their own.

Insurance is not covered by the tour price. Having valid insurance is a condition for taking part in the trip. We recommend taking out insurance that will be appropriate for the planned itinerary and for your individual state of health and needs. Please send us the proof of your insurance contract.

You can purchase insurance on your own on the website of Axa or any other insurance company: https://www.axa.co.uk/travel-insurance/.

BTP Adventure may help you obtain adequate insurance cover. If you want our help, please contact us.

Meals other than those listed in the final itinerary.

Personal expenses and souvenirs.

Surcharge for a single room: 450 £

supplementary payment for the additional accommodation  In the case of  arrival or departure on a different date,

FINAL NOTES


We will keep updating the detailed information on the safety and final itinerary of the tour. Before you decide to submit the booking form, please learn about the current political and sanitary situation in Iraq and Kurdistan.

It is possible to organize an individual trip without a tourguide, please contact the office.

Trip to Iran can be combined with trips to Iran and  Pakistan  If you are interested, please contact the office.

The planned expedition is an exclusive proposal prepared on the basis of our experience and knowledge of the local peculiarities and major sightseeing attractions of Iraq and Kurdistan.

We are committed to ensure the best possible and safe and, as far as feasible, comfortable travelling through this little-frequented and extremely interesting country with a fascinating history.


With any questions please contact BTP ADVENTURE.

dates & prices
05/11/2022 - 19/11/2022
04/03/2023 - 18/03/2023
23/04/2023 - 07/05/2023
08/10/2023 - 22/10/2023
05/11/2023 - 19/11/2023

3490 £ Per Person for 9 - 10 person group

It is possible to shorten the tour to two options

  • South Iraq 9 days from Basra to Mosul.
  • Iraqi Kurdistan 9 days start and end in the city of Erbil

If you are interested, please contact the office to arrange the route and the price of the trip.

We can arrange a self-guided tour – if you are interested, please contact the office.

Trip to Iran can be combined with trips to  Iran or  Pakistan and . If you are interested, please contact the office.

you can find price for the group in description
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