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Iraq Treasures of the South Cultural Discovery Tour

Journey to the Cradle of Civilization from Ancient Babylon to Baghdad


Visiting Iraq is a journey into the cradle of human civilization. Roam Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers of Euphrates and Tigris, and thread in the footsteps of the world's earliest civilizations. Start in Baghdad, the present-day capital of Iraq, and explore ancient Babylon - home of Mesopotamian kings. Climb the Ziggurat of Ur, believed to be the birthplace of Abraham, and boat through the dreamy Tigris marshlands. Visit Uruk, the world's first city, and discover Najaf and Karbala, centers of the Shia faith. Powered by Arabic coffee or tea, travel back to the very beginnings of the world as we know it.

10 Days

From: $6,795

Join the MT Sobek President on the November 11, 2023 Departure!

Visiting Iraq is a journey into the cradle of human civilization. Roam Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers of Euphrates and Tigris, and thread in the footsteps of the world's earliest civilizations. Start in Baghdad, the present-day capital of Iraq, and explore ancient Babylon - home of Mesopotamian kings. Climb the Ziggurat of Ur, believed to be the birthplace of Abraham, and boat through the dreamy Tigris marshlands. Visit Uruk, the world's first city, and discover Najaf and Karbala, centers of the Shia faith. Powered by Arabic coffee or tea, travel back to the very beginnings of the world as we know it.

Highlights


  • Explore the ancient town of Samarra and marvel at the Arch of Ctesiphon

  • Climb to the top of the 4,000-year-old Ziggurat of Ur at UNESCO-listed Ur

  • Boat through the Mesopotamian Marshes, a dreamy landscape dotted with lakeside villages -- the Venice of Mesopotamia!

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Iraq Treasures of the South Cultural Discovery

Start: Baghdad, Iraq  End: Basra, Iraq

Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.

Itinerary


  • Arrive in Baghdad

    Day 1

    Your MT Sobek guide will welcome you at Baghdad International Airport. Settle into the hotel and relax over a welcome drink, then dine in the hotel restaurant. Guests arriving early will have a chance to get a first glimpse of Baghdad on an optional sightseeing tour.

    Accommodation: Babylon Rotana

    Meals: Dinner

  • Tour Ancient Samarra & Stand Beneath the Arch of Ctesiphon

    Day 2

    After breakfast, journey to the holy city of Samarra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that traces its roots back to 5500 B.C. Explore its historic streets, gardens and palaces, and admire the majestic 9th-century Great Mosque (Al Malwiya Mosque) with its spiral minaret. In the afternoon, head to Ctesiphon, the former winter capital of Parthian and Sasanian empires, and today best known for the monumental remains of the 1,400-year-old palace Taq Kisra, complete with its 122-feet-high Arch of Ctesiphon. Return to your hotel in Baghdad.

    Accommodation: Babylon Rotana

    Activity: Full day cultural touring

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Explore Baghdad & Tour The Iraq Museum

    Day 3

    Delve into the ancient past at the Iraq Museum often called the Middle East Smithsonian for its 28 halls and artefacts as old as 10,000 years B.C. Visit the 13th-century El-Mustansiriya madrassa (school), one of the oldest Islamic institutions of higher learning in the world, and marvel at its ancient water-powered alarm clock that once announced prayer times. Stroll down the bookstore-laden Al-Mutanabbi street, the heart of the city's cultural life, and delight in the symphony of clinking sounds at Souk al-Safareen, the coppersmiths' market. Enjoy dinner at your hotel.

    Accommodation: Babylon Rotana

    Activity: Full day cultural touring

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Discover the Mythical Babylon & Travel to Karbala

    Day 4

    Travel to Babylon, the ancient capital of southern Mesopotamia, and trace the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Tour Saddam Hussein's rebuilt Babylon with its vibrant aqua-blue Ishtar Gate (a reproduction of the original) and compare it to one of his once-opulent palaces just behind the complex. Continue on to Karbala, a holy city for the Iraqi Shia, holding the shrine of the martyred Imam Husayn Ibn Ali (died 680). Return for dinner at your hotel.

    Accommodation: Baron Hotel

    Activity: Full day cultural touring

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Journey to Najaf & See the Holy Places of Shia Muslims

    Day 5

    Today travel to the holy city of Najaf, and along the way stop in the town of Al Kifl to marvel at its 7th-century Kufa Mosque, the holiest place for Shia Muslims. Then continue on to Najaf and after settling in the hotel, discover the shrine of Imam Ali. This masterpiece of Islamic architecture holds the tomb of Imam Ali, the fourth caliph who was the cousin and later son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. In the evening, soak up the buzz of the nearby souk and savor dinner at the hotel.

    Accommodation: Royal Eagle Hotel

    Activity: Full day cultural touring

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Roam Uruk, the First City on Earth

    Day 6

    Head to Samawa, a city on the banks of the Euphrates River that holds the archeological site of Warka, also known as Uruk. Explore the magnificent remains of this ancient Sumerian city that thrived around 2900 B.C. and was supposedly the first city on earth. Continue to the busy hub of Nasiriya, one of Iraq's largest cities and the capital of the Dhi-Qar province. In the evening, feel the city's pulse on a stroll through its bustling souk, then enjoy a local dinner.

    Accommodation: Sumerian Hotel

    Activity: Full day cultural touring

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Explore UNESCO-Listed Ur & Climb the Ziggurat of Ur Temple

    Day 7

    Tour the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ur, an ancient Sumer city believed to be the birthplace of Prophet Abraham. Climb up the steep stairs to the Ziggurat of Ur, a splendid temple dedicated to the lunar god Nanna and built the same way as the biblical Tower of Babel. After lunch, head to Nasiriya's lively bazaar for a dash of local buzz and a quest for souvenirs, from mabhara incense lamps to artisanal copperware and traditional sweets.

    Accommodation: Sumerian Hotel

    Activity: Full day cultural touring

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Journey by Boat to the Mesopotamian Marshes

    Day 8

    Spend the day on the Tigris River, venturing into its dreamy marshes by boat. Navigate between islands of reeds and lakeside villages inhabited by Marsh Arabs, and take in the resplendent beauty of this unique aquatic environment inside a desert. En route to the town of Basra, stop to soak up the beauty of the Paradise of Aden (Garden of Eden) where Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet.

    Accommodation: Horizon Hotel

    Activity: Full-day boat tour

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Explore Basra & Watch the Sunset over Shatt Al-Arab

    Day 9

    Wander around the old city of Basra, once known as the Venice of the East for the Ottoman Shenashil Houses, traditional 19th-century residences that line its canal. Think back to the city's glory days as you explore one of the villas that was owned by a wealthy Greek merchant — a rare showcase of a bygone era. Wrap up the journey with a boat ride on Shatt Al-Arab, the river created by the Tigris and Euphrates merging, and soak up one last splendid Iraq sunset. Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight.

    Accommodation: Horizon Hotel

    Activity: Full day cultural touring with sunset cruise

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Depart from Basra

    Day 10

    After breakfast, transfer to Basra International Airport for your homeward-bound flights and bid farewell to Iraq.

    Meals: Breakfast

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Dates & Prices


  • 2023
  • Go Private
  • Go Custom
  • Inclusions

2023

Scheduled Dates


The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.

  • Jan 03 - 12, 2023
    $6,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$700 single supplement
    Check for Availability
  • Mar 01 - 10, 2023
    $6,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$700 single supplement
    Available
  • Sep 27 - Oct 06, 2023
    $6,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$700 single supplement
    Available
  • Nov 11 - 20, 2023
    $6,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$700 single supplement

    Special Details

    Join the MT Sobek President!

    Available
  • Dec 02 - 11, 2023
    $6,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$700 single supplement
    Available

Go Private

Go Private


Gather your favorite travel companions to share an MT Sobek adventure on an easy-to-book Private departure.

Choose from the selection of dates below for your group or if your preferred date is not available, we'll create a departure just for you.

Call or email us to get the ball rolling.

*Private trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit.

Call for Private Trip Pricing

800-974-0300

Take Over One of These Dates


Make Your Own Dates in These Months


Go Custom

Create Your Very Own Adventure


Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.

When to start planning? Earlier is always better when designing a custom trip. More time allows for better availability of preferred accommodations, guides and your desired activities. Ideally, start the conversation with us at least 6 months before you want to travel. If you are looking for a custom trip that departs within three months, chances are greatly diminished in securing requested accommodations and the best guides.

*Custom trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit once an itinerary is agreed upon.

Start Planning

Inclusions

Price Includes


  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include


  • International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert


800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Your Guides


The best people to immerse you in a destination are the ones who live there, which is why we feature local Adventure Guides on our trips. Here are a few that you might meet on this adventure.

Shayan Barzani

Shayan Barzani

Shayan Kamal Barzani was born in Iran in 1995. In 1998, he moved to Iraqi Kurdistan to live with relatives. He has a degree in computer science from Cihan University. He is currently writing a book about "Shanidar Cave", the Neanderthals, and their brief history in Kurdistan. He is passionate about revealing the secrets of his nation to the people of the world, a gracious host and knowledgeable guide.

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After breakfast, transfer to Basra International Airport for your homeward-bound flights and bid farewell to Iraq.

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Activity Level


This trip is rated activity level 2. This cultural discovery adventure includes 4 to 6 hours of sightseeing each day. You need to be in good physical condition and able to walk comfortably for this length of time.
Learn more about activity levels here.

Activity Snapshot

Day 2

Full day cultural touring

Day 3

Full day cultural touring

Day 4

Full day cultural touring

Day 5

Full day cultural touring

Day 6

Full day cultural touring

Day 7

Full day cultural touring

Day 8

Full-day boat tour

Day 9

Full day cultural touring with sunset cruise

Accommodations


Relax at the 5-star Babylon Rotana in Baghdad and the best available hotels in each city-all with Western-style rooms and most modern amenities.

Babylon Rotana
Babylon Rotana

This 5-star urban retreat is located in one of Baghdad's most desirable districts and a vast range of modern touches, designed with comfort in mind, awaits. Spacious accommodations feature contemporary furnishings and in room technology to keep you connected. Also includes air conditioning, flat screen TV, mini-fridge and tea and coffee making facilities, bathtub/shower, large work desk and in-room safe. This property is an alcohol free environment.

Royal Eagle Hotel
Royal Eagle Hotel

A warm welcome awaits you at this modern hotel only five minutes from Shrine of Imam Ali. Spacious and clean rooms are elegant in style with modern furnishings. Each has a modern bathroom with toiletries and a hairdryer. All rooms are equipped with flat screen TV and multi satellite channels, free Wi-Fi, and facilities for making tea and coffee in room. Other benefits include concierge and 24-hour butler service.

Sumerian Hotel

Located only a short drive from the impressive ancient monument, the Ziggurat of Ur, the Sumerian Hotel offers guests simple accommodations with traditional touches and modern amenities. Guests will enjoy the elegant gilded lobby and comfortable guest rooms that feature cool tiled floors, air conditioner and fan, and modern touches such as a mini fridge, coffee and tea maker and hairdryer.

Horizon Hotel
Horizon Hotel

Designed to maximize your comfort, this 4-star luxury property offers premium amenities such as 24-hour room service and soundproofed rooms that feature generously sized beds. Other amenities include private bathroom with bidet, bathrobes and slippers, air conditioning, work desk, a dining area and flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and free Wi-Fi. The Horizon also has a fully equipped health club with sauna.

Baron Hotel
Baron Hotel

Dedicated to providing you convenient services and amenities, this 5-star hotel offers guests spacious and comfortable beds, private bathroom with vanity and modern western touches. Each room is equipped with centralized air conditioning, flat screen 42' LED TV with satellite channels, coffee table and chairs, writing desk, mini fridge, electric coffee and tea maker and in-room safe.

Weather


Iraq is generally dry year-round with spring temperatures in the 60-80°Fs and fall temperatures in the 70-100°Fs.

 
Jan
Mar
Sep
Nov
Dec
Baghdad 
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
Baghdad
61
39
75
50
104
71
74
48
63
42
Basra 
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
Basra
65
44
81
56
108
74
79
54
68
46
Karbala 
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
High
Low
Karbala
62
43
77
54
105
79
74
54
64
45

FAQs


Who will meet me on arrival?

Our MT Sobek representative at the Baghdad International Airport.

Is it safe for Americans to travel to Iraq?

Yes. We are constantly monitoring the situation on the ground in Iraq through our team there and their high level contacts. The safety of our travelers is of the utmost importance to us and we wouldn\'t offer this trip if we were concerned about safety. We register each trip departure with the State Department and the US Embassy in Baghdad for added safety. In 2019 we operated our first commercial group tour to Iraqi Kurdistan. Prior to that, we sent our MT Sobek Middle East Program Director to scout, assess and familiarize for safety and quality.

Do I need a visa for Iraq?

Yes. Americans can get a visa on arrival at the airport in Baghdad. It costs $75.

What airlines fly into Baghdad and out of Basra?

Turkish, Qatar, Emirates and other European airlines fly this route.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Guest Reviews


"Great experience every time with some of the most knowledgeable guides in their fields. We always come home with wonderful memories of the people we meet and things we see."

Bob J.
MT Sobek Guest

"I have taken 12 trips with MT Sobek. Each has left a positive imprint on me-widening my view of the world and its peoples."

Jane B.
MT Sobek Guest