Entire Iraq Spring Tour
The second half of this trip takes us to the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Northern Iraq offers not only safety, but stunning mountain ranges with more than 3000 archaeological sites and some of the most friendly and welcoming people on the planet.
The trip takes us to the world’s most important Yazidi shrine at Lalesh (40 KM from Mosul), before heading north to Duhok, Saddam’s former palace, Amadiya, Sulamaniyah and back to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Erbil.
Tuesday April 14th - Baghdad
- Meet your Rocky road tour leader and fellow travelers at Baghdad airport in the afternoon. Due to the high-level airport security formalities, we will have to wait for each other and all meet before we leave the airport as one group.
- Meet up with our local guide and fixer who will give an introduction on travelling in Iraq and a breakdown of the itinerary for our stay.
- Dive by the square where Saddam’s statue was toppled in 2003. A short drive from here to our hotel.
- Overnight in the high security “Baghdad Hotel”. Complete with swimming pool, gym and bar!
Wednesday April 15h - Baghdad
- It’s a Baghdad city tour day and we kick things off with a visit to the National Museum.
- Visit the incredible and well renovated Al–Mustansariya School. This is commonly known as the oldest school in the world.
- Walk through the adjoining copper market. A great place for souvenirs and photography.
- We drive an hour outside of the city to the ancient city of Ctesiphone. These days all that’s left is the palace archway which is the largest single span vault of unenforced brickwork in the world.
- Back to Baghdad for dinner and overnight.
Thursday April 16th - Karbala
- Hit the road and drive north to Samara. We pass through multiple checkpoints along the route driving by many villages recently destroyed during fighting against ISIS.
- Samara is famous for its Minaret (also known as the Great Mosque of Samara). We'll climb the spiral staircase all the way to the top for the 360 degree view. Not for the faint hearted!
- Drive back to Baghdad and head straight to Abu Ghraib. Not the prison which is long gone but it’s abandoned and ancient site of Agargouf Ziggurat.
- Continue on south to Iraq’s holiest city of Karbala.
- Dinner and overnight in Karbala.
Friday April 17th - Najaf
- Up early for some Karbala sightseeing taking in the must-see Al Abbas mosque and Iman Husayn shrine.
- Drive to Babylon, once the largest and most important city in the world. We tour the ancient ruins with our local expert and see what’s left of the hanging gardens.
- Saddam Hussain Palace – Perched right on top of Babylon, the dictator made sure he had the best view of the site. We spend some time exploring the looted remains of one of his many former palaces.
- We drive to Najaf, the third holiest city in Shia Islam. We’ll take in its most important site – the Imam Ali shrine.
- Dinner and Overnight in Najaf
Saturday April 18th - Basra
- We wake up early for a walking tour of Najaf, including Imam Ali’s house (the very spot where imam Ali was killed) and the grand Kufa Mosque.
- Drive south to the Mesopotamian Marshes. We’ll take a boat trip through the maze of marshes stopping by local villages for tea. The marshes once engulfed a whole swathe of Southern Iraq with numerous floating villages. Today the receding waters have led most families to change their livelihood but we’ll still see the few that remain.
- Visit the Adam and Eve tree AKA the tree of knowledge in the village of Qurna. Legend has it that Eve ate the apple from this very tree in the Garden of Eden.
- Drive onto Iraq’s southernmost city of Basra
- Dinner and overnight in Basra
Sunday April 19th - Basra
- We’ll visit the Ashar and Shanashil area to catch a glimpse of the old Basra. Think old style merchant houses with balconies leaning over the narrow streets.
- We take a cruise across the Shatt Al Arab river and see some shipwrecks from the Iran-Iraq War from the 80s.
- Just like most places in Iraq, Saddam Hussain also built a grand palace in Basra. And of course we’ll visit it!
- Iraq’s biggest football stadium is in Basra. Iraqi’s love their football and are even more proud of the 60,000 seater Basra sports city stadium!
- If you’re a train fanatic then this one is for you; we’ll take the only active railroad in Iraq - the night train from Basra to Baghdad.
Monday April 20th - Baghdad
- Early arrival into Baghdad train station. The station itself a real highlight so we’ll take some time to get some breakfast and take photos here.
- Visit the incredible Suffi shrine - a welcome escape from the city’s hustle and bustle
- See the Liberation Square monument, which commemorates the establishment of the Republic of Iraq.
- Say goodbye to those joining us for only the Southern part Iraq
- Evening flight on Iraqi Airways to Erbil.
- Welcome dinner and drinks in Erbil and meet up with those joining us for the Kurdistan tour
- Overnight in Erbil.
Tuesday April 21st - Duhok
- We begin the day with a two-hour drive to Lalesh. This is the most sacred town for the Yazidi religion. We’ll tour the temple, meet the locals on pilgrimage here and learn about their recent dark history with ISIS.
- Our next stop is at one of the world’s oldest monastery’s. Algosh is built into the mountains and is technically part of Mosul and Iraq “proper”.
- We head for lunch in Algosh town.
- Following lunch, we’ll drive on to Duhok and check into our downtown hotel.
- Walking city tour around the bazaar.
- Overnight in Duhok.
Wednesday April 22nd - Rawandas
- In the morning, we head straight to Amadiya – Saddam Hussein’s former mountaintop palace. You’ll know instantly why he choose this site.
- We walk to the famous Shamarda cave before stopping at a restaurant for lunch.
- Following lunch, we embark on one of our longer journeys: the four-hour drive to Rawandas.
- Walking tour of Rawandas and our resort before heading for dinner and drinks.
- Overnight in Rawandas.
Thursday April 23rd - Sulaymaniyah
- Drive the famous Hamilton road. The road was built by AM Hamilton in the 1930’s for what he hoped would unify the peoples of the region. It linked Iran with Iraq and was an engineering marvel of the time.
- We continue along stopping at various waterfalls before getting on the only mountain cable car in the region for breathtaking views of the surrounding valley.
- We drive a further 3 hours to the second major city of Iraqi Kurdistan – Sulaymaniyah. We will be stopping along the way for snacks and drinks.
- In the evening, we walk around the night market of this historical city.
- Overnight in Sulaymaniyah.
Friday April 24th - Sulaymaniyah
- We drive one hour to Halabja. This was the scene of a chemical attack on the Kurdish people, perpetrated by the Baathist regime towards the end of the Iran/Iraq war. Here we’ll tour the memorial and mass grave sites.
- We head to Tawela on the Iran border, and previously the front line in the Iran/Iraq war.
- Lunch by the border.
- We head back to Sulaymaniyah for some leisurely time at chavi land funfair.
- Overnight in Sulaymaniyah.
Saturday April 25th - Sulay/Erbil
- Free morning to explore Sulaymaniyah and do some shopping.
- We again hit the road for the long trip back to Erbil.
- Lunch in a village near Kirkuk.
- On arrival in Erbil we head straight to the Citadel for sunset. We then head into the bazaar where our local guide will help you find some last minute bargains.
- Farewell dinner in the christian district.
- Overnight in Erbil.
Sunday April 26th - Erbil
- End of tour, we can arrange additional accommodation or cheap transport to the airport.