Entire Iraq Nowruz Tour
What's it all about?
The second half of the Entire Iraq Nowruz Tour takes us to the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The region has long been known in Middle Eastern literature as ‘paradise on earth’. There’s no better time to visit than the Persian new year festivities celebrated by Kurds around the world.
This part takes us to the world’s most important Yazidi shrine at Lalesh (40 KM from Mosul), before heading north to Duhok, Saddam Hussein’s former palace, Amadiya, Sulaymaniyah and back to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Erbil.
Baghdad - Najaf - Karbala - Babylon - Nasariyah - Samarra - Baghdad - Erbil - Lalish - Duhok - Sulaymaniyah.
March 12th - March 24th, 2022
For Kurdistan, luckily it's visa free for most nationalities including the EU, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If you're not sure if you qualify just ask us and we'll let you know.
For Southern Iraq a new visa on arrival scheme has been announced for citizens of the EU, UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Russia, China Japan & South Korea. If you are not from one of these countries then we will apply for a visa on your behalf. An invitation letter is issued and you can bring this to your local embassy to apply for the visa.
March 12th - Baghdad
- Arrival in Baghdad. Your tour guide will meet you in Baghdad Airport.
- Introductory briefing on travelling in Iraq and a breakdown of the itinerary
- Baghdad tour (depending on your arrival time) – See the Liberation Square monument, which commemorates the establishment of the Republic of Iraq.
- The victory over America Palace and the place where Saddam’s statue was toppled in 2003.
- Dinner and overnight in Baghdad.
March 13th - Baghdad & Ctesiphon
- After breakfast it’s a full Baghdad city tour starting with a visit to the National Museum of Iraq. Reopened in 2015 after notorious looting during the war, it contains various treasure from the Mesopotamian and Babylonian periods.
- 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.
March 14th - Samarra & 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 ancient site of Agargouf Ziggurat.
- Continue south onto the holy city of Karbala, just in time to catch the historic centre at sunset
- Dinner and overnight in Karbala.
March 15th - Karbala and Babylon
- After breakfast we visit Karbala’s famous 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.
- After extensively exploring Babylon, continue onto Najaf. Visit the most important site of Najaf – the Imam Ali shrine for the daily late night ceremony.
- Dinner and overnight in Najaf.
March 16th - Najaf, Nasiriyah and Ur
- In the morning we’ll go for a walking tour of Najaf, including Imam Ali’s house (the very spot where imam Ali was killed) and the grand Kufa Mosque.
- Visit the Wadi-Us-Salaam – the world’s largest graveyard. It is said to contain tens of millions of bodies. Many shiites request to be buried here in one of the numerous catacombs.
- Drive south to visit the Ziggurat of Ur, a neo-Sumerian construction built in 2000 BC.
- 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.
- It is also home to the Maʻdān population who over the centuries have adapted to life on the water. Stop by a traditional house for lunch and tea.
- Continue the journey to Nasiriyah, one of the largest cities in southern Iraq
- Explore the exotic spice market and soak up the atmosphere of this vibrant city
- Dinner and overnight in Nasiriyah.
March 17th - Baghdad
- Hit the road for the drive back to Baghdad.
- Visit the incredible Suffi shrine – a welcome escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
- The Al Shaheed Monument is the martyr’s memorial spot for people who died during the Iran-Iraq War. These days it’s a highly controversial monument, as it was originally built during the Saddam era.
- And of course, Baghdad can’t be completed with a visit to the Flying Carpet Monument, Alibi Baba and the 40 thieves’ monument and the Magic Lamp monument.
- Overnight in Baghdad Hotel.
March 18th- Baghdad - Erbil
- Say goodbye to those joining us for only the Southern part Iraq
- Fly on Iraqi Airways to Erbil.
- Arrival in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Our guide will be waiting to pick you up from the arrivals hall. Transfer to the hotel.
- Time depending we will do a full Erbil tour.
- Walk through the main bazaar and change your money into Iraqi Dinars with the help of our local guide who will find you the best rate. Pick up a few souvenirs or just take in the atmosphere. Stop for Kurdish tea deep in the market.
- Visit the citadel – the oldest continually inhabited place in the world. Visit the central mosque. Take in the views over the city from the top of the Citadel.
- Optional visits to the textile museum, Kurdish museum, Minaret Park & the Jalil Khayat Mosque.
- Rest up in the hotel before going out for dinner on food street – plenty of Kurdish cuisine on offer.
- Overnight in Erbil.
March 19th - 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.
March 20th - Akre - Nowruz eve
- Amadiya – the stunning mountain top village. Walk through the quiet streets and visit the mosque and church here.
- Drive to Saddam Hussein’s former mountaintop palace. You’ll know instantly why he choose this site. Explore the ruins and admire the views.
- We walk to the famous Shanidar cave before stopping at a restaurant for lunch.
- Following lunch, we drive to the mountainous town of Akre.
- Every year thousands of Kurds converge on the surrounding hills to bring in the new year.
- We will witness and partake in an incredible fire show that symbolizes Spring – the season of light.
- Spend the evening celebrating with the locals.
- Dinner and overnight in Akre.
March 21st - Sulaymaniyah - Nowruz!
- Happy New Year!
- 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.
- Take in the Nowruz street festivities and walk around the night market of this historical city.
- Overnight in Sulaymaniyah.
March 22nd - 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.
March 23rd - 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.
March 24th - Departure
- End of the Iraq tour, we can arrange additional accommodation or cheap transport to the airport.
You’ll be in the experienced hands of our legendary English speaking local guide and Rocky Road Travel guide. We visit Iraq regularly, so we know the best spots and have perfected the itinerary accordingly. Your itinerary may change slightly but we will always endevour to go above and beyond with added extras to the itinerary such as stops at local cafe-bars, shisha lounges and amusement parks.
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