Federal Iraq Winter Tour

Jan 30 - Feb 7
9 Days
2350

After decades of being pretty isolated from the outside world, Iraq finally decided to open its borders to international travelers, making a dream for many come true.

This is the cradle of modern civilization and the heart of Ancient Mesopotamia, home to Babylon, the City of Ur, and Nineveh, once the center of the world.

The country, however, is much more than just archaeological sites and in this EXPEDITION, we will get deeply immersed into Iraq’s culture, while also learning everything about the ISIS legacy and the people’s struggle to return to normality.

BOOK NOW

January 30th to February 7th

2350€

9 days

Lead by Leti Lagarda

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Itinerary

Note that we always keep the itinerary flexible, and it may be subject to change, depending on the political situation.

Day 1 – Arrival

Day 2 – Baghdad full day

Day 3 – Ancient Babylon + Karbala

Day 4 – Karbala + Nasiriya

Day 5 – The Mesopotamian Marshes

Day 6 – City of Ur + back to Baghdad

Day 7 – Samarra + Hatra

Day 8 – Mosul

Day 9 – Bakhdida (Karakosh) and Erbil

Day 1 – Arrival in Baghdad

The first day is a day to take things easy.

We will be welcoming you throughout the day, picking you up at the airport, and checking in at the hotel.

Once everybody is settled, in the evening we can all go for a drink or dinner but officially, the sightseeing tour starts on day 2.

Overnight in Baghdad.

Day 2 – Full day in Baghdad

The guided tour starts on the second day, a day which we will spend exploring the city of Baghdad.

We will discover the old book market, the leather and copper bazaars, the historical Shabandar café, and all the old city highlights. We will also visit the Martyr’s Monument and, depending on the political situation, we might also try to get into the Green Zone, let’s see.

Martyr's Monument Baghdad
Martyr’s Monument

If open, we will also visit the National Museum of Iraq.

In the evening, we will all go to Dar Al Atraqchi Heritage Cafe, a traditional but pretty modern café and restaurant.

Overnight in Baghdad.

Martyr's Monument Baghdad
Shabandar Café

Day 3 – Ancient Babylon and Karbala

Ancient Babylon was the first great civilization in the world, believed to be the first city to ever reach a population of more than 200,000.

World wonders such as the Hanging Gardens and the Tower of Babel used to be within these walls.

Today, Babylon is an archaeological site, featuring a mind-blowing replica of the Ishtar Gate and an actual Lion of Babylon.

Ancient Babylon Iraq
Ancient Babylon Iraq

We will also visit the former Saddam Hussein Palace, today overlooking the ancient city of Babylon.

After lunch, we will head to Karbala, the holiest city in the world for Shia Muslims, a surprisingly touristic city visited every year by, literally, millions and millions of pilgrims.

We will check out the two jaw-dropping shrines, and spend the night wandering around the lively streets of Karbala.

Overnight in Karbala.

Karbala at night
Karbala at night

Day 4 – Karbala & Nasiriya

There’s so much going on in Karbala that, in the morning, we will take things slowly, wandering around town, checking the places which we probably missed the night before, and then, we will head for Nasiriya, a good 4 to 5-hour drive, with checkpoints included.

Nasiriya is the largest city in southern Iraq, a high-security city, home to the American-built Al-Hoot prison, a maximum-security prison today filled with ISIS fighters. Nasiriya is also the gateway to The Mesopotamian Marshes.

Overnight in Nasiriya.

Karbala shrines
Karbala shrine

Day 5 – The Mesopotamian Marshes

This is going to be one of the most exciting days of our trip, since we will head for Chibayish, home to the Arab Marshes, a wetland ecosystem in south Iraq, an aquatic landscape in the middle of the desert, home to a distinct cultural group called the Marsh Arabs.

Arab Marshes
Arab Marshes

We will spend the entire day getting immersed into their culture by visiting their villages, islands and eating masgouf with them, an old Mesopotamian dish consisting of a giant grilled fish.

In the evening, we will head back to Nasiriyah.

Marsh Arab
Marsh Arab

Day 6 – The Ziggurat of Ur and Back to Baghdad

In the morning, we will visit Ur, one of the oldest cities in the world (3800BC) – even older than Babylon – and believed to be the birthplace of Abraham.

Then, we will take the long ride to Baghdad.

In the evening, we can all go for dinner or drinks, and discover the modern part of Baghdad.

Overnight in Baghdad.

city of Ur Iraq
Ziggurat of Ur

Day 7 – Samarra, Hatra and Mosul

Samarra is a city controlled by a Shia Militia, a city practically impossible to visit for independent travelers but thanks to our expert local guides, hopefully, we won’t run into any issues.

Samarra Minaret
The twisting minaret

The city is famous for the spiral minaret of Malwiya, a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the most famous landmarks in Iraq, absolutely stunning.

Then, on our way to Mosul, we will stop in Hatra, a very well-preserved ancient Mesopotamian city, located in the middle of nowhere, and also a former ISIS training camp. We will have the chance to see actual ISIS graffiti.

Overnight in Mosul.

ISIS graffiti Iraq
ISIS graffiti in Hatra

Day 8 – Mosul

Mosul is the second most important city in Iraq and one of the oldest cities in the world, the place where ancient Nineveh was found.

In 2017, the city was liberated from ISIS, and people have already started to come back.

Yes, we will explore the war-torn old city and all its destroyed buildings, but we will also discover Mosul’s most human side by witnessing the reconstruction, getting to know kind-hearted locals, and also checking out all the lively bazaars.

Overnight in Mosul.

Reconstruction of Al Noori Mosque
Reconstruction of Al Noori Mosque in Mosul

Day 9 – Bakhdida and Erbil

On the last day, we will all head to the city of Bakhdida, the largest Christian town in the Middle East, visible in the abundance of churches, liquor shops, and independent women.

We will wander around town and also visit a restored Catholic church that was burnt down by ISIS. The Pope visited it in March 2021.

Then, we will drive to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The tour finishes upon arrival in Erbil.

A priest from Bakhdida
A priest from Bakhdida

Included

Travel Insurance that covers travel in Iraq

8 nights of accommodation (twin shared) in the hotels mentioned in FAQ

Private transportation and driver around Iraq

Breakfast and lunch (not on day 1)

Clearance for all checkpoints

English-speaking knowledgeable local guide

Entrance fees to all sites listed in the itinerary

Airport transfer in Baghdad

Fast-track visa service upon arrival in Baghdad

Not Included

International flights

Visa fees (75USD)

Dinner

Single supplement. Having your own private room costs $50 per night.

BOOK NOW

January 30th to February 7th

2350€

9 days

Lead by Leti Lagarda

FAQ

Which hotels do we stay in?

These are the hotels where we always stay but note that once in a while, they might be subject to availability.

How to get a visa?

There is a visa on arrival available at Baghdad International Airport. It costs $75

Which nationalities can join these tours?

Basically, all nationalities which are eligible to the visa on arrival:

All European Union passport holders, and also the United States (yes, Americans can travel to Iraq), United Kingdom, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland

Do I need PCR or COVID vaccine?

They only ask for the vaccine certificate.

Where does the trip start from?

We start in Baghdad and we finish in Erbil. This means that, ideally, you should fly to Baghdad and fly out from Erbil.

Both have international airports with loads of connections.

If you are coming from anywhere in Europe, the best is to come via Istanbul (either Pegasus or Turkish Airlines), and those coming from the American continent, also have the option of coming via Doha or Dubai.

Is it safe?

The situation is getting better and better by the day, plus we will be traveling with a group of local experts who know the latest security updates. Moreover, we will always stick to the stable areas of Iraq.

For more information, check my Iraq safety guide.

How many people will attend this tour?

We will be a group of maximum 12-13 people.

How does payment work?

In order to secure your spot on the tour, we require a 500€ deposit.

Then, the remaining amount should be sent no later than 60 days before the departure date.

Methods of payment will be shared upon booking your spot.

What about the cancellation policy?

Please refer to our Terms & Conditions.