Full Iraq: Federal Iraq + Kurdistan

Feb 29 - Mar 10
11 Days
2590

This is the most complete expedition into Iraq, where you’ll travel from southern Iraq to the Kurdish lands in 11 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.

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February 29th to March 10th, 2024

2590€

11 days

Lead by Oriol López

travelers who joined us say

Itinerary

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

Day 1 – Arrival in Baghdad

Day 2 – Babylon, Saddam Hussein Palace and Karbala

Day 3 – Karbala, Ziggurat of Ur & Nasiriyah

Day 4 – Mesopotamian Marshes

Day 5 – Full day in Baghdad

Day 6 – Samarra, Hatra & Mosul

Day 7 – Full day in Mosul

Day 8 – Mar Mattai, Lalish and Duhok

Day 1 – Arrival in Baghdad

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

Since the bus will already be available, we’ll certainly organize something in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Baghdad.

Day 2 – Babylon, Saddam Hussein Palace and Karbala

Ancient Babylon 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.

Ishtar Gate

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.

Lion of Babylon

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

Saddam Hussein Palace 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.

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

Overnight in Karbala.

Day 3 – Karbala, Ziggurat of Ur & Nasiriyah

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

Visit Karbala

Before Nasiriyah, however, we will enjoy sunset Ziggurat of Ür, one oldest cities in the world (3800BC) – even older than Babylon – and believed to be the birthplace of Abraham.

Nasiriya is the largest city in southern Iraq, a high-secured 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.

Ziggurat of Ur
Visit Ziggurat of Ur

Day 4 – 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 named the Marsh Arabs.

Marsh Arab in Iraq
Marsh Arab women in Iraq

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.

After lunch, we will head back to Baghdad.

The Arab Marshes

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.

Chaotic Baghdad

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.

Martyr's Monument Baghdad
Martyr’s Monument Baghdad

Day 6 – 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.

Samarra expedition
The twisting minaret
Local people in Samarra

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.

Hatra
ISIS Graffiti
ISIS Graffiti
camels in Hatra
camels in Hatra

Day 7 – Full day in Mosul

Mosul is Joan Torres’ favorite city in Iraq.

Mosul

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.

Rebuilding Mosul
Rebuilding Mosul

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.

Saddam Hussein Mosque
Saddam Hussein Mosque

Day 8 – 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.

Mar Mattai Monastery
Mar Mattai Monastery and a priest

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.

We will finish our day in Dohuk, one of Kurdistan’s main cities.

Dinner and overnight in Dohuk.

A Yazidi woman
A Yazidi woman in Lalish

Day 9 – 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.

Amedi

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.

Peshmerga Mural

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.

roads in Kurdistan
The road connecting Amedi and Barzan

Day 10 – 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.

Kurdish people
A Kurdish man in Erbil old city

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.

Erbil, Kurdistan
Erbil main square

Day 11 – 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.

Included

10 nights of accommodation (twin shared) in 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 and Erbil

Fast-track visa service upon arrival in Baghdad

Not Included

International flights

Visa fees (80USD)

Dinner

Single supplement. Having your own private room for 10 nights costs €450.

BOOK NOW

February 29th to March 10th, 2024

2590€

11 days

Lead by Oriol López

FAQ

Which hotels do we stay in?

These are the hotels we always stay but not that once in a while, they might be subject to availability.

How does the room distribution work?

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 wanted 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 Baghdad 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.

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 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.

What about the cancellation policy?

Please refer to our Terms & Conditions.