Full Iraq with Fallujah

Oct 23 - Nov 3
12 Days

We’ve finally added Fallujah & Basra to our itinerary, which means that we’ll travel across the whole country, from the very south of the country to the Kurdish lands in the north over 12 days, visiting highlights like the Mesopotamian Marshes, Karbala, Babylon, Baghdad, Mosul, Lalish, Erbil and more.

From visiting the center of Yazidism to the holiest place for Shia devotees, while learning everything about the ISIS legacy, this is the most comprehensive itinerary into the most diverse country in the Middle East.


October 23rd to November 3rd, 2024


12 days

Lead by Leti Lagarda

travelers who joined us say


For security reasons, the order of the itinerary will differ, and the actual itinerary will be shared a few days before the beginning of the trip.

Day 1 – Arrival in Basra

Day 2 – Mesopotamian Marshes

Day 3 – Ziggurat of Ur & Karbala

Day 4 – Al Ukhaidir, Babylon & Saddam Hussein Palace

Day 5 – Full day in Baghdad

Day 6 – Day trip to Fallujah

Day 7 – Samarra, Hatra & Mosul

Day 8 – Full day in Mosul

Day 9 – Mar Mattai, Lalish and Duhok

Day 1 – Arrival in Basra

Flights into Basra arrive in the morning so, after checking in at the hotel, we’ll have almost all day to explore Basra, which will include the Old City, a boat trip over Shatt Al Arab, and the Basra Museum, which was built within the walls of a former Saddam Hussein palace.

Overnight in Basra.

Day 2 – Mesopotamian Marshes

In the morning, 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 named the Marsh Arabs.

On the way, we’ll also stop at the meeting point between Tigris & Euphrates, as well as where is believed to be the actual place of Adam’s Tree from the Bible.

Arrival at the Marshes around lunchtime, followed by a tour around the Marshes.

Overnight in Nasiriyah.

Day 3 – Ziggurat of Ur & Karbala

We will first head to Ziggurant of Ür, one of oldest cities in the world (3800BC) – even older than Babylon – and believed to be the birthplace of Abraham.

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

The best time to visit Karbala is after sunset, which will do while checking out the two jaw-dropping shrines.

Overnight in Karbala.

Day 4 – Al-Ukhaidir, Babylon, Saddam Hussein Palace

We’ll start the day by visiting Al-Ukhaidir, a massive fortress from the 8th century built in the middle of the desert by the Abbasid caliph.

Then, we’ll go to Ancient Babylon, which used to be 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.

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

Overnight in Baghdad.

Day 5 – Full day in Baghdad

The capital of Iraq is a chaotic, yet a lively and fascinating city in the Middle East, packed with historical and cultural sites.

We will start our tour with a traditional breakfast only found in Baghdad and then, we’ll visit the National Museum of Iraq, containing some of the oldest artefacts in the world.

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.

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

Overnight in Baghdad.

Day 6 – Day trip to Fallujah

Fallujah is the Iraqi city that has suffered the most, first with the American invasion, and then with ISIS.

Today, Fallujah can finally enjoy some peace, but it’s also true that most visitors are forced to be accompanied by the local authorities.

Besides American soldiers and ISIS fighters, Fallujah has seen very few foreigners since 2001, so the locals are particularly happy to see international visitors interested in learning about the contemporary of their city.

We’ll go there on a day trip from Baghdad, visiting all the highlights.

Overnight in Baghdad.

Day 7 – Samarra, Hatra & 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 be running into any issues.

The city is famous for holding 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.

Day 8 – Full day in Mosul

Mosul is Joan Torres’ favorite city in Iraq.

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

In 2017, the city was liberated from ISIS, and people 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 all the reconstruction, getting to know kind-hearted locals, and also checking out all the lively bazaars.

Overnight in Mosul.

Day 9 – Mar Mattai, Lalish and Duhok

Early morning, we’ll head for the region of Kurdistan.

Upon arrival at the border/checkpoint, we will say goodbye to our friends from Baghdad, and we’ll be welcomed by our brand-new Kurdish team, who will take care of us while we are in the region of Kurdistan.

We will first go to the historical Christian monastery of Mar Mattai, located only 20km from Mosul, and very close to the former front line against ISIS.

Then, we will go to Lalish, the holiest place for Yazidis, a religious group who mainly live across the Middle East, the Caucasus, Turkey, and Russia but Iraq has the largest population.

We will visit their temple and meet the Yazidi community.

Dinner and overnight in Dohuk.

Day 10 – Saddam Hussein Palace, Amedi and Barzan

In the morning, we will drive to Amedi, my favorite town in Iraqi Kurdistan, built on the top of a flat mountain, with incredible views of the valley.

It’s a 5,000-old historical village and believed to be the home of the Three Wise Man, who made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to see Jesus Christ after his birth.

On the way, we will stop at one of the several abandoned palaces that Saddam Hussein had across Iraq.

After lunch, we drive towards Erbil through the most scenic road in all Iraq, stopping on the way in Barzan, a village epicentre of Kurdish nationalism.

Dinner and overnight in Erbil.

Day 11 – Full day in Erbil

Erbil is a 7,000-year-old city, one of the oldest in the world, filled with historical sites and inhabited by some of the most hospitable people in the Middle East, the Kurds.

For sightseeing, this is my favorite capital in the Middle East.

During our visit, we will visit the Old Citadel, the bazaar, Jalil Khayat mosque and, in the evening, we can all go for drinks to the Christian district of Ankawa.

Lunch, dinner and overnight in Erbil.

Day 12 – Erbil & departure

After enjoying breakfast altogether, we will take care of your transfer to Erbil International Airport.

If your flight is later in the afternoon or evening, we’ll also take care of your transfer, no problem.

Gallery of photos


11 nights of accommodation (twin shared)

Private transportation and driver around Iraq

Lunch (not on 12)

Clearance for all checkpoints

English-speaking knowledgeable local guide

International tour leader

Entrance fees to all sites listed in the itinerary

Airport transfer in Basra and Erbil

Fast-track visa service upon arrival in Basra

Not Included

International flights

Visa fees (80USD)


Single supplement. Having your own private room for 11 nights costs €450.

Travel insurance


October 23rd to November 3rd, 2024


12 days

Lead by Leti Lagarda


Which hotels do we stay in?

For security reasons, the name of the hotels we stay will only be shared upon booking your spot. 

Where does the trip start from?

Starting point: Basra

Ending point: Erbil

This means that, ideally, you should fly into Basra and fly out from Erbil.

Both cities have international airports with several connections, especially Erbil.

How does the room distribution work?

The price of the tour includes accommodation in a twin room.

If you are a solo traveler, you will be sharing the room with another like-minded traveler from the group. We always try to group people of same gender and age together but note that this can’t always be the case.

Moreover, in the hypothetical case there weren’t perfect pairs, one of the rooms would be a triple room.

If you want to have your own single room, you will have to pay an additional €450.

How to get a visa?

There is a visa on arrival available at Basra International Airport. It costs $80.

This visa will be valid for both Federal Iraq and Kurdistan.

Which nationalities can get a 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

What about the rest of nationalities, can they join?

If your passport is not on the lucky list, we can get you a Letter of Invitation, with which you’ll be able to apply at your nearest embassy.

How many people will attend this tour?

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

What’s the minimum number of people required for this tour?

All our Iraq expeditions have a guaranteed departure, that’s for sure.

However, in the hypothetical and unlikely case we didn’t reach a minimum number of 8 people, the Western Tour leader would not join, but you’d just be traveling with the local guide.

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 does payment work?

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

All details will be shared upon booking your spot.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, if you want to join any of our expeditions, you must purchase travel insurance, this is non-negotiable, and it must be with IATI

Why do we have to book it with IATI?

Against the Compass has been a partner with IATI for a very long time. We know their CEO, the marketing team and we do a lot of collaborations together so in the unlikely case something happened, we’d know what to do.

Moreover, IATI Insurance covers all the countries where the FCDO advises against all travel.

You may also benefit from a 5% discount if purchasing it from the below link.

Get a quote here to claim your discount

What about the cancellation policy?

Please refer to our Terms & Conditions.