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Iraqi Kurdistan is a historically and culturally rich region with a turbulent legacy, but opportunities for travel here do exist. Join MT Sobek on a brand-new exploratory adventure through this minimally touristed area, experiencing first-hand its past glories and present struggles. Behold ancient Erbil - the world's oldest continuously inhabited city, tour third-century monasteries, the world's oldest-known bridge and aqueduct ruin, a biblical prophet's tomb, a mysterious Yazidi Pilgrimage site, explore Neanderthal Shanidar Cave, and learn about the moving history of Halabja. With expert guides leading you every step of the way, this is a unique chance to explore a spellbinding region of Iraq.

  • Experience ancient citadels, sacred monasteries, and holy villages, including mysteries of the Yazidi village of Lalish where visitors must remove their shoes to tread on the sacred ground

  • Journey through untouristed regions and experience the mystery - and warmth - of the local people

  • Via hiking, kayaking, and caving, immerse yourself in Kurdistan's incredible landscapes and unspoiled beauty

  • Arrive: Erbil, Iraq
  • Depart: Erbil, Iraq
  • Duration: 10 Days
  • Group Size: 6-14 Guests
  • Minimum Age: 16 Years Old


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  • Day01

    Arrive in Erbil, Iraq

    Upon arrival at Erbil International Airport, in the capital of Kurdistan, meet your guide outside of customs and transfer to the hotel. Have a drink in the lounge while receiving a briefing on your stay in Kurdistan, then enjoy a welcome dinner with the group.

  • Day02

    Explore the Cultural Treasures of Erbil

    After breakfast, tour the 7,000-year-old Erbil Citadel - the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth, currently under UNESCO-funded restoration. Once a Sumerian city, journeying Abraham allegedly passed through here, and Darius III fled here after facing defeat by Alexander the Great. Explore the citadel's famous Kurdish Textile Museum, then browse the food market and Qaysari Bazaar for jewelry, carpets, antiques, and delicacies. After a lunch of local cuisine, briefly visit 12th-century Choli Minaret, one of Erbil's most famous landmarks. Dinner is at the hotel's fine restaurant.

  • Day03

    Visit Lalish & Ancient Sites En Route to Duhok

    Depart Erbil for fourth-century Dayro d-Mor Matay Monastery (St. Matthew's Monastery) and a tour conducted by the monastery's monks, then continue to Gaugamela, site of the famous battle between King Darius III and Alexander the Great. Behold amazing Jirwana, the world's oldest-known bridge and aqueduct (from 690 BC). After lunch of traditional Kurdish fare, visit holy Lalish - pilgrimage site of the mysterious and fascinating Yazidi people - for a unique cultural experience amidst its famous shrines and welcoming residents. Arrive in Duhok in time for dinner.

    • Accommodation: Rixos Hotel
    • Transportation: 2.5-hour private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day04

    Take a Day Trip to Alqosh

    Today visit Alqosh, the tomb of Old Testament prophet Nahum (7th-century BC), and ancient monasteries and churches carved into the mountains, including Rabban Hormizd Monastery, founded around 640. After lunch, in the beautiful region of Sarsinc near Gara Mountain, explore the ruins of Saddam Hussein's ten palaces, replete with man-made lakes and miles of sandstone steps alongside streams that led into the mountains where rocket emplacements guarded the valley. Return to hotel for dinner and an evening of local entertainment at one of Duhok's finest restaurants.

    • Accommodation: Rixos Hotel
    • Transportation: 1-hour private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day05

    Head East to Rawanduz & Korek Mountain Via Amadiya

    Leave for the ancient fortress city of Amadiya and its 100-foot-high minaret, pass by a third-century synagogue, and visit an ancient Egyptian madrassa reportedly founded by the University of Cairo centuries ago. Continue to Barzan, stopping at the Mullah Mustapha Memorial to learn about Kurdistan's most famous leader. Pass - and, if you choose, climb to - the famous Shanidar Cave, where Neanderthal remains were discovered in the 1950s. Travel the incredibly engineered Hamilton Road to Rawanduz, where one of the world's longest cable-car lifts carries you to the famed Korek Mountain Resort.

  • Day06

    Hike in Rawanduz Gorge

    Today enjoy hiking in the stunning Rawanduz Gorge. Walk along a trail that borders the gorge, through a rocky valley crouched between the Korek and Bradost mountains. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. In the afternoon, return to Korek Mountain Resort to relax or explore the area. Enjoy dinner at the resort's restaurant, an incredible blend of culture and cuisine.

    • Accommodation: Korek Mountain Resort & Spa
    • Activity: 3 hours/3 miles hiking with negligible elevation gain and loss
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day07

    Travel to Sulymaniya & the Amna Suraka

    Travel to Sulymaniya, stopping in the beautiful town of Dokan for lunch. Upon arriving in Sulymaniya, visit the infamous Sulaymaniyah's Amna Suraka, or Red House. The cavern-like entrance of this prison turned museum is covered with tiny mirrors representing the more than 185,000 Kurds who Saddam Hussein "disappeared" during his bloody reign of terror. Visit Sulymaniya's bazaar, famous Sha'ab teahouse, and, time permitting, Goizha Mountain to enjoy a spectacular view for hundreds of miles to the Iranian border.

    • Accommodation: Grand Millennium
    • Transportation: 3.5-hour private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day08

    Visit Sulymaniya Museum & Halabja

    Visit the Sulymaniya Museum, Kurdistan's largest and Iraq's second-largest antiquities collection. Learn about the issues around preserving Kurdistan's antiquities. Depart for Halabja, one of the Kurdish villages attacked by Saddam's chemical weapons in 1988 that killed at least 5,000 people and injured an estimated 10,000. Today the city lives again - testimony to the Kurds' amazing resilience - and the Halabja Museum and Memorial Cemetery is both fascinating and moving. Gaze on the beautiful Ahmed Awa waterfall where we'll have a simple picnic lunch. Return to Sulaymaniya and freshen up in your hotel. A festive farewell dinner will be taken in one of Suly's fine dining establishments in the city.

    • Accommodation: Grand Millennium
    • Transportation: 1.5-hour private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day09

    Kayak on Dokan Lake & Return to Erbil

    After breakfast at the hotel, depart for Dokan Lake for some pleasant kayaking. Enjoy lunch around the lake. On the way back to Erbil, visit Koi Senjaq, an ancient caravanserai (hostel on the ancient Silk Road), and old Jewish silver bazaar. Upon arriving in Erbil, check into the hotel and get ready for a wonderful farewell dinner.

    • Accommodation: Erbil International Hotel
    • Activity: 2 hours kayaking
    • Transportation: 2-hour private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day10

    Depart from Iraq

    After breakfast at the hotel, have one final opportunity for a Q&A before departing for the airport and your flight home.

    • Meals: Breakfast
Want to extend your adventure?
Contact our Regional Specialists for more travel ideas!

Upcoming Departures

  • AvailableOct 22 - 31, 2021
View More Departure Dates

Got Questions?
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Erick Malver

Erick Malver

MT Sobek Regional Specialist

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Iraqi Kurdistan Adventure with Richard Bangs Map

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Why take this trip with us?

Reason #01

MT Sobek has been trailblazing edgy and unknown destinations for 50 years and creating exploratory adventures that few other companies run.

Reason #02

You will be in the company of expert guides who have over 25 years' experience leading groups in the Middle East and in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Reason #03

We have successfully operated trips throughout the Middle East, including to Iran, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

Meet Our Guides

Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.

What To Expect

  • Activities

    Cultural touring by private van and on foot, with easy walks to discover ancient towns and historical wonders.

  • Lodging

    Elegant resorts with spacious rooms and modern amenities. Includes two nights at the stunning Korek Mountain Resort.

  • Climate

    It's temperate and dry. Temperatures range from the low 50's to mid-70's F in March and from the mid-70's to low 100's F in September.


  • Who will meet me on arrival?

    Our MT Sobek representative at the Erbil International Airport.

  • Is it safe for Americans to travel to Iraq?

    Yes. We haven't operated a commercial group tour to this area yet, making this trip exploratory in nature, but we have sent an MT Sobek Program Director to scout, assess and familiarize for safety and quality.

  • Do I need a visa for Iraqi Kurdistan?

    Americans can get a free, 30-day visa on arrival at the airport in Erbil.

  • Will we be entering a war zone traveling to Iraq?

    No, as you will be traveling to the semi-independent Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI), where there is a blossoming tourism industry and functioning economy.

  • Do I have to fly to Baghdad to get to Erbil, where the trip starts?

    No! Numerous European and Middle Eastern airlines have direct flights to Erbil. No need to connect in Baghdad.

  • What additional safety precautions do you take?

    We register each trip departure with the State Department and the US Consulate in Erbil for added safety.

Dates & Pricing

Pricing Dates

Scheduled Dates

  • Available
    Oct 22 - 31, 2021

Customize Your Trip

Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!

$6,995 Price per person

Additional Cost

  • $715 Single Supplement

Price Includes

  • Expert leadership from experienced adventure guides
  • Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • Meals as noted in the daily itinerary
  • Potable water and snacks throughout
  • All tips and gratuities for support staff with the exception of your lead adventure guide(s)
  • 1 glass of wine or beer at welcome and farewell dinners
  • All necessary kayaking gear
  • All group entrance fees, activities, and ground transportation
  • Arrival and departure day airport transfers

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare, any airport taxes, or excess baggage charges
  • Optional tips to your lead adventure guides
  • Personal expenses such as medical immunizations, phone calls, laundry, or souvenirs
  • Airport transfers if arriving outside of Day 1 or staying after the trip ends
  • Optional travel protection


  • "Wow, I had a wonderful time in Iraqi Kurdistan and Balin is a fantastic guide! The mountain scenery is really exquisite, but it was the local people who drove this trip for me."

    Marilyn A.

    MT Sobek Guest, Iraqi Kurdistan Adventure

  • "Iraqi Kurdistan is an amazing country with a fascinating and ancient history. Balin Zrar is an extraordinary guide with excellent knowledge of his country's stories and customs."

    Mary G.

    MT Sobek Guest, Iraqi Kurdistan Adventure

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