30 YEARS journeying through the cradle of civilizasion

INFORMATION - BOOK A TOUR

KURDISTAN

Iraqi Kurdistan – Historical/Cultural Tour
(Note: Sample itinerary only -  Actual schedule and sites TBD)

Day 1 – Erbil
Arrive in Erbil, Iraq  

Upon arrival at Erbil International Airport, in the capital of Kurdistan, you will be transferred to your hotel by special taxi which will await you just outside the Customs Hall with a sign bearing your name or that of the company with which you booked. You will meet your guide at the hotel who will assist you with check-in and brief you on the schedule for the day to come. (Note: Late arrivals will meet their guide in the morning at breakfast. Your reservation will be awaiting you at the front desk.   

If you arrive early, enjoy a drink in the lounge while receiving a briefing on your stay in Kurdistan and then enjoy a welcome dinner. (Note: Those arriving late will have a briefing over breakfast in the morning.   

Accommodation: TBA 
Welcome Drink and Briefing 
Meals: Dinner 

Day 2 – Erbil to Duhok
Visit St. Matthew’s Monastery, Lalish & Other Ancient Sites En Route to Duhok  

Buffet Breakfast 6:30 AM in the Lobby Restaurant / Checkout 7:15 AM / Departure 7:30 AM.

Depart Erbil for Gaugamela, site of the famous battle between King Darius III and Alexander the Great.   

Then visit the fourth century Dayro d-Mor Matay Monastery (St. Matthew's Monastery) and tour of one of Christendom’s most important ancient sites in almost continuous operation for nearly 2000 years. 

Then continue to behold amazing Jirwana, the world's oldest-known bridge and aqueduct (from 690 BC). Learn the secrets of one of Assyria’s most famous kings, Sennacharib.   

After lunch of traditional Kurdish fare, visit holy Lalish - pilgrimage site of the mysterious and fascinating Yazidi people. Experience a unique culture amidst its famous shrines and welcoming residents.   

Arrive in Duhok in time for dinner.   
Accommodation: TBD 
Transportation: 4 (+/-) hours 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

Day 3 - DUhOk  

Buffet Breakfast 6:30 AM in the Hotel Breakfast Restaurant / Departure 7:15 AM.

In the beautiful region of Sarsinc near Gara Mountain, explore the ruins of one of Saddam Hussein's ten palaces, once replete with man-made lakes and miles of sandstone steps alongside streams that led into the mountains where rocket emplacements guarded the valley.    

Then 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.     

Lunch at a well-known eatery in Dohuk.

Afternoon we will visit the ancient Zoroastrian site, Chwar Stoon near the scenic Dohuk Dam.     

Time permitting, we will visit the one of two amazing sites: Khanis (a site linked to the Assyrian King Sennacharib) or Halamata Reliefs (requires advanced hiking) also related to Sennacharib.     

Return to hotel for dinner     
Accommodation: TBD 
Transportation: 3 (+/-) hours 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

Day 4: – DUHOK
Head East to Barzan/Rawanduz Via Amadiya  

Buffet Breakfast 6:00 AM in the Hotel Restaurant / Checkout 7:00 AM /Departure 7:15 AM.

Visit 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.  

Lunch in Rezan beside the Great Zab River where fresh fish and other delicacies are served.  

Pass - and, if you choose (time permitting), climb to - the famous Shanidar Cave, where Neanderthal remains were discovered in the 1950s.  

Depending on the time of year, we will travel on the incredible Hamilton Road to Rawanduz – one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century. (Note: In winter we will stop in Barzan and see Rawanduz the following day).  

Accommodation: Rubar Hotel in Barzan (winter) and Korek Resort (summer) TBA 
Transportation: 4 (+/-) hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: TBA

Day 5 – Barzan/Rawanduz  
Optional Hike in Barzan or the Rawanduz Gorge (depending on season)  

Breakfast 7:00 AM / Departure 7:15 AM

Today enjoy hiking in the stunning Barzan region or Rawanduz Gorge. Walk along a trail that through one of the most scenic regions in Kurdistan – you will be led by one of Kurdistan’s best-known hiking guides. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.  

In the afternoon, we will return to the Resort to relax or explore the area. Perhaps visit some of the nearby towns, resorts, and villages.  

Enjoy dinner at the resort's restaurant, an incredible blend of culture and cuisine.  

Accommodation: TBA
Activity: 3hours  /3 miles (+/-) - “moderate” hiking 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (picnic), Dinner: TBA

Day 6 – Sulymaniya  
Travel to Sulymaniya via Dokan  

Breakfast 6:30 AM / Checkout 7:00 AM / Departure 7:15 AM  

Travel to Sulymaniya, stopping in the beautiful town of Dokan for lunch and, if you wish, some pleasant Kayaking.  Proceed to Sulymaniya.  

Time permitting, we will enjoy the sunset from Goizha Mountain high above the city.  

We will dine at a famous “Suly” Restaurant  

Accommodation: TBA
Transportation: 3.5 (+/-) hours
Activity: 2 hours kayaking (optional)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner: TBA

Day 7 – Sulymaniya 
Visit Halabja & Red House   

Buffet Breakfast 7:00 AM / Departure 8:00 AM.   

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. Then walk up a winding pathway in beautiful Ahmed Awa to a waterfall and enjoy shopping for crafts along the way. Ride a horse, if you wish, in the village below. Ahmed Awa was the village below the trail where several hikers got lost, wandered into Iran, and were jailed for several years. Please stay with your guide.  

Time permitting, we will then visit a village (Byara) on the Iranian border where you can straddle two countries.  (Note: pay close attention to your guide at this village regarding where you can walk and where you cannot).

Return to Sulymaniya and lunch in Sulymaniya at one of the city’s well-known local eateries.  

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 182,000 Kurds who Saddam Hussein "disappeared" during his bloody reign of terror and lights representing the 4500 villages he destroyed.    

Dinner will be taken in one of Suly's finest dining establishments.  

Accommodation: TBA
Transportation: 4 (+/-) hours  
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Day 8 – Return to Erbil  

Breakfast at the hotel 7:00 AM / Checkout 8:00 AM / Depart 8:15 AM.

Visit the Sulymaniya Museum, Kurdistan's largest and Iraq's second-largest antiquities collection. Learn of issues around preserving Kurdistan's antiquities.  

Depart for Zarzi Cave – an ancient site of the culture who first settled and domesticated animals between 18,000-8,000 BC. It is also the site of a Median burial tomb ca. 550 BC.  

Stop in Koi Sinjaq, an ancient caravanserai (hostel on the ancient Silk Road). It is currently undergoing a massive reconstruction.  

Usually, we eat lunch at a famous fish restaurant near Lake Dokan – we will call ahead with orders. The restaurant also serves other local cuisine if fish is not to your taste. (TBA)

Upon arrival in Erbil, check into the hotel.

Afternoon, possibly visit the Erbil International Equestrian Club – If you desire, you can ride one of the amazing horses – Kurds are the most famous horsemen in the Middle East.  You can also spend the afternoon shopping in the Bazaar, an antique shop or just wandering around the city.  

Dinner at one of the most luxurious restaurants in the Middle East.  

Accommodation: Erbil International Hotel-Erbil, Iraq
Transportation: 3 (+/-) hours 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: TBA

Day 9 – ERBIL
Explore the Cultural Treasures of Erbil  

Breakfast 7:00 AM / Departure 8:00 AM.

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 and then browse the Qaysari Bazaar for jewelry, carpets, antiques, and delicacies.     

Time permitting, briefly visit 12th-century Choli Minaret, one of Erbil's most famous landmarks.     

Lunch at a well-known restaurant.

Return to hotel and prepare for a wonderful farewell dinner.

Accommodation: TBA 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: TBA 

Day 10: ERBIL / Depart

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

Meals: Breakfast

As we say in Kurdistan, “You will be upon my eyes!”