All of Explore Mesopotamia Tours are specially designed for each customer. We just need general information about when you wish to come, how many will be in your group and what you are most interested in seeing or doing. We will then send you a proposed itinerary and work with you to revise it to meet your specific needs and desires.
By booking a tour with Explore Mesopotamia, all guests agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you have any questions regarding these policies please contact Us before booking a tour.
Explore Mesopotamia Terms and Conditions
A note to all passengers re COVID-19
Please note: all passengers arriving at Erbil International Airport are currently required to have a PCR Test (Covid-19) which shows a negative result. The test must have been taken within the previous 48 hours prior to arrival. With this test you will be allowed to tour the country with no restrictions or need to quarantine. You can also get a test upon arrival at Erbil International Airport if it is impossible to get one before you depart. Contact us for details.
A test may be required prior to departure from Kurdistan depending on the requirements of your next destination and the airline you will be flying on. There is no requirement from the KRG – it is solely up to your ongoing airline. If needed, Explore Mesopotamia staff will make all arrangements for this test. We work very closely with the Airport and government health care officials to have the latest information and best procedures to make your journey safe and as easy as possible.
The procedures of our company are designed to best serve and protect the client. Please note that we will, in addition to those listed, incorporate any other rules imposed on travelers by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), if any. These may include remote temperature checks, or the wearing of protective gear such as masks in public (these are not currently in place or mandated). We will update the client of additional requirements should they arise.
The following practices are in effect until there is a safe and effective vaccine against the virus. At that point, many of the precautions listed below will no longer be needed or may be relaxed. Please note, these are not suggestions but are mandatory for all Explore Mesopotamia guests. You safety and that of those in your group is our primary concern.
Protocols In Effect As Of July 24, 2020
• Alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be available on transfer vehicles and at meals
• Masks will be worn when there is a group transfer or shuttle, and where distancing is not possible
• Where possible, social distancing of more than 6 feet will be maintained including while hiking and during group gatherings as well as during visits to sites, particularly those located indoors
• Our guides will wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after handling any guest items including luggage as well as food preparation or distribution including picnic makings
• We will not provide shared snacks (e.g. trail mix, nuts, shared chocolate bars
• We will avoid passing objects of interest around during talks, and instead hold items up to be viewed
• We will avoid unnecessary physical contact, including cheek-to-cheek kisses, handshakes, high-fives, and lending a hand when not absolutely necessary
• Our guides will cough into an elbow or tissue (not into hands), and we expect the same of guests
• We will clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in common areas (e.g. vehicle seats, door handles, steering wheel, etc.)
• We will respect and follow the required sanitation protocols put into place by local government agencies
During our welcome orientation, our guests will be informed of these additional policies:
• Do not share sunscreen, food, utensils, cups or water bottles
• Avoid touching mouth, nose, or eyes as much as possible throughout the trip
• Cough into your elbow or tissue (not into hands)
• Let your Guide know immediately if you are feeling ill.
• Maintain social distances of 6-feet or more while visiting sites or hiking with non-household members and during group gatherings
• Utilize a mask at all times when the group assembles such as at orientation meetings, in the vehicle, or gathering at sites for information from Guides, or for lectures.
• On the first day of your adventure, your Guide will meet with the group in an orientation. He will provide details regarding the daily operations of the trip, including health and safety protocols for all participating. At that time, your Guide will individually ask each guest to provide updated information on any COVID symptoms using the questionnaire you filled out one week before arrival. All guests will also be required to have their temperature checked at the orientation and throughout the trip before boarding the vehicle in the morning or time of the first day's departure.
• A guide, via a no-contact infrared thermometer, will administer the temperature check. If your temperature is 100.4 or higher and you exhibit other COVID-19 symptoms, you will be asked to quarantine from the group to implement further testing and to notify health authorities to administer the next steps. If it is determined that you must cease traveling on the trip, we will provide a "Future Travel Credit" to you for the portion of the journey not experienced. Screening for temperature and COVID symptoms will be administered to all participants, including guides and guests throughout the trip.
Protocols if Traveler Exhibits COVID-19 symptoms during a trip
If a guest or Guide exhibits COVID-19 symptoms at any time during an Explore Mesopotamia trip, the following protocols will be administered. The following are the standard Explore Mesopotamia guidelines for all trips concerning those who display symptoms of COVID-19.
• Immediately physically distance the guest (s) who tested positive from others and require them to maintain distance, and wear a mask for the remainder of the trip, or until a potential evacuation
• One Guide, or liaison, will be assigned to this person to provide care, monitor symptoms and manage quarantine or evacuation
• COVID testing to be administered as soon as possible. While the test is processed, the guest will self-quarantine at local hospital or lodging
• Report positive symptom test of a guest with management and other guests on the trip. Facilitate COVID tests as appropriate to all on trip
• If conditions warrant, for example, multiple members of trip experience symptoms, the trip may be truncated, and all participants will be tested and quarantined or evacuated depending on the requirements of local authorities at the time of travel
• A post-trip communication will occur with each guest to assess health within one week of the trip end date
The preferred arrival/exit site for all guests is Erbil International Airport (EIH). Explore Mesopotamia has relationships with EIH airport administrators/staff that can sometimes assist if any difficulties arise upon arrival. If requested, it is possible to enter/exit via Sulaimaniyah International Airport, but this may incur extra charges for transportation, as Explore Mesopotamia is an Erbil based company.
Explore Mesopotamia takes no responsibility for guests until they have officially entered into Kurdistan. We are not responsible for, nor do we have any influence over the political situations in other countries/regions (such as Turkey, Iran, Jordan, or in South Iraq, which is controlled entirely by Baghdad). We do not facilitate entry into Kurdistan by land crossings such as the Kirkuk and Mosul checkpoints, or Turkish, Syrian, or Iranian borders. We will meet passengers choosing to enter via these portals on the Kurdish side of the border/checkpoint. Passengers may opt (and some do) to enter Kurdistan through a portal other than EIH, but Explore Mesopotamia will take no responsibility for difficulties that arise at these points of entry nor is it possible for us to intervene in any way to facilitate entry through these points. Passengers attempting land crossings may be delayed or denied entry due to reasons such as a current security situation or other concerns on the part of authorities – some with and someone without apparent reason. The guest may then be required to seek another point of entry or, most likely, return to a major city and book a flight to EIH. Costs associated with these delays or necessity to re-route, or any delays in the tour are not covered in the tour cost. It is especially noted that attempts to cross into Kurdistan from the Mosul checkpoint often result in delays or refusals of entry.
Visas regulations for Kurdistan (current status as of May 22, 2020)
Countries that do not require a visa: USA, UK, all EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Canada, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Norway, Switzerland, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus- Greece, Czech Republic, and Ireland. This list can change. Please contact us for the latest update.
All other countries require a visa to enter Kurdistan, which can take up to three weeks to process. The cost is relatively high ($2-300+) and varies from time-to-time. Our company does not profit from visas. A visa broker must post a bond for the applicant, and the amount covers the broker's fee and government charges. Please request the latest information when making a booking. We only facilitate visas for those who have booked a tour with Explore Mesopotamia.
Note: The Iraqi Embassies and Consulates often do not provide accurate information regarding visas or the lack of necessity for visas to Kurdistan. Please do not rely on information from other sources apart from our company as we stay up-to-date daily on the current requirements.
There will be a briefing held by the Guide when the guests have arrived—usually the first evening. Subject to availability at the time, each passenger will receive a welcome kit including:
· Kurdistan Tour Guide– the only comprehensive Guide to the region
· Personal hand sanitizer (Extra hand sanitizer is available upon request)
· Two washable masks. Masks must be worn on the bus and at all tour group meetings or group visits to sites unless the site is outdoors and social distancing can be maintained. Masks are not required in public in Kurdistan (at this time) but can be worn if the client chooses to do so. Extra masks are available from your Guide upon request.
· New one time use socks that can be worn in religious sites that do not allow shoes such as the Lalish Temple and Mosques.
· A few postcards, which can be mailed by your Guide if you wish to send them from inside Kurdistan. However, please note that it may take a great deal of time to be delivered when posted in Kurdistan – sometimes as much as six months to a year or in a few cases - never. Sometimes, the mail is delivered swiftly, but it is a risk. If you are in a hurry or need a certain form of delivery, it is best to mail them outside of Kurdistan as the postal system is still "under construction".
· Several other items that may be useful during the tour, depending on availability at the time.
Please note that some seasons are heavily booked; some as much as a year or more in advance and early booking is advisable.
* At the time of booking, a $250 deposit per passenger or full payment is required to secure the dates. Any waiver of this deposit by individual passengers or travel agencies must be obtained in writing by Explore Mesopotamia at the time of booking.
* Full payment is due 45 days before departure. Any payment not received within 30 days of departure will result in the cancellation of all reservations. There is a $100 per passenger re-booking fee – subject to availability. Please make payments on time to ensure the availability of hotels, etc. and to avoid any re-booking fees.
Tour price includes:
· Best available hotels in Kurdistan per the itinerary chosen by the client. Accommodation is based on double occupancy.
· All meals inside Kurdistan at best available restaurants, including bottled water and soft drinks at meals and on the bus.
· All tours including entrance fees
· Transportation including air-conditioned bus, airport transfers and professional driver (all hotel and food expenses for driver included)
· Experienced Local Guide who will take care of all logistics on the tour (all hotel and food expenses for Guide included)
· Gratuities (porters, waiters, etc.), except for traditional tips to the Guide/Driver, which are optional and entirely at the discretion of the guest.
· Luggage transfers
· Special security where required to be determined by Explore Mesopotamia
Options at additional cost (please contact us for details):
· Single accommodation
· Experienced Tour Scholar who will accompany the tour in Kurdistan from beginning to end and lecture on all sites and other subjects as required (such as local politics and economy). All hotel and food expenses for Scholar are included.
· Special Security, if requested above that typically supplied by Explore Mesopotamia. Explore Mesopotamia has relations with top tier security firms which handle all special requests for our company. We do not accept any liability for extra security options. These type of precautions are rarely requested and seldom needed and are usually employed by VIPs whose company or sending agency require such added security.
Tour cost does not include:
Visa fees, alcoholic beverages (unless stipulated in the itinerary), long-distance telephone calls, laundry, room service or other personal items and airfares to and from Kurdistan and travel insurance
We urge all guests to acquire trip cancellation insurance before departure for the tour. Failure to do so may result in significant personal loss.
Cancellation: 60-31 days before departure will result in a loss of deposit.
Cancellation: within 30 days before the date of the departure will result in loss of the entire tour cost.
Note: Within this 30-day window, Explore Mesopotamia does not offer cash refunds for any reason beyond the control of Explore Mesopotamia. At 30 days, our company begins to incur expenses for the client, which, in many cases, is not refundable to us. It is also virtually impossible for us to book another tour on such short notice. Hence late cancellations result in significant loss to Explore Mesopotamia.
Travel credits for certain circumstances: In certain instances, beyond the control of either Explore Mesopotamia or the client, up to a two-year credit may be issued at the sole discretion of Explore Mesopotamia. For example, in the case of the outbreak of a COVID-19 type pandemic, war, airport or border closures due to political or other reasons, natural disasters or what are commonly referred to as "Acts of God", force majeure, or issues not in the control of the company or due to any fault or decision of the client. This credit can be used on any tour within two years as long as the tour group is of similar size to the tour initially booked. The credit can also be used toward a smaller tour, but the client must pay the difference in cost. The larger the group, generally, the less expensive the tour as there are many shared expenses. Travel Credits are not transferrable. Travel credits will not be given for cancellations that would typically be covered by Trip Cancellation Insurance. This includes normal health issues or other personal emergencies or a decision not to travel at the time of the booking for any reason.
Cancelled Trips: Explore Mesopotamia reserves the right to cancel any trip due to inadequate enrollment or other cause that makes the trip unfeasible for us to operate, but will inform you at least 45 days before departure. In such a case, a full refund will be given. However, Explore Mesopotamia is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by members preparing for the trip (e.g. non-refundable advance purchase air tickets, visa fees if applicable, clothing, equipment, or medical costs). Do not purchase your air tickets before confirming your tour with Explore Mesopotamia.
Delays: The cost of delays is not included if any trip is delayed due to bad weather, road conditions, transportation delays, government intervention, sickness, or other contingency for which Explore Mesopotamia cannot make provisions.
Unused Services: No refunds will be given for unused hotel rooms, meals, activities, or other arrangements for any reason whatsoever. Land Cost is quoted as a package, and credits are not given for services not used.
Upon booking a tour, an invoice is sent via email to the client. Prices are in US dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment can be made by any of the following:
Assumption of Risk
Adventure travel involves hazardous activities, some in remote areas of the world, with a risk of illness, injury or death which may be caused by forces of nature, animals, insects or flora, the negligence of Explore Mesopotamia, or other persons and companies known or unknown, or of the willful or criminal conduct of third parties. Weather conditions may be severe, adverse or unpleasant. Medical services or facilities may not be readily available or accessible or consistent with standards in the United States or Europe during some or all of the time during on a trip and that when available may not be of the quality, which exists in the United States or Europe. To partake of the enjoyment and excitement of an adventure travel trip, participants must be willing to accept the risks and uncertainty involved as being an integral part of the adventure. Participants must accept and assume full responsibility for any and all risks of illness, injury or death and agree to hold harmless and release Explore Mesopotamia both from claims of third-party negligence and claims concerning negligence on the part of Explore Mesopotamia.
By booking a tour with Explore Mesopotamia, the guest/client implicitly and without reservation agrees to the following waiver of liability and all of the terms of booking including Explore Mesopotamia's cancellation and booking policies.
Waiver of liability
Explore Mesopotamia does not own or operate hotels or other lodging facilities, airline, vessel, bus, van or other transportation companies, food service or entertainment providers, etc. utilized for any tour. All such persons and entities are independent contractors. As a result, Explore Mesopotamia is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such person or entity, or of any other third party.
Without limitation, Explore Mesopotamia is not responsible for any injury, loss, or damage to person or property, death, delay or inconvenience in connection with the provision of any goods or services occasioned by or resulting from, but not limited to, acts of God, acts of government, force majeure, acts of war or civil unrest, insurrection or revolt, strikes or other labor activities, criminal or terrorist activities of any kind, or the threat thereof, overbooking or downgrading of accommodations, structural or other defective conditions in hotels or other lodging facilities, mechanical or other failure of airplanes or other means of transportation or for any failure of any transportation mechanism to arrive or depart timely or safely, financial insolvency or cessation of services by suppliers, dangers associated with or bites from animals, pests or insects, marine life or vegetation of any sort, dangers incident to recreational activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, hiking, bicycling, fishing, camping, 4×4 Jeep/ATV tours, hot air ballooning, para gliding, parachuting, mule riding, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, hiking, etc., sanitation problems, food poisoning, lack of access to or quality of medical care, difficulty in evacuation in case of a medical or other emergency, illness, epidemics, pandemics, or the threat thereof or for any other cause beyond the direct control of Explore Mesopotamia. In addition, the client (s) booking a tour with Explore Mesopotamia releases Explore Mesopotamia from its own negligence and assumes all risk thereof.
Explore Mesopotamia reserves the right to change hotels or other features of the trip's itinerary if Explore Mesopotamia believes it will enhance the safety, comfort or enjoyment of the journey.
Explore Mesopotamia is not responsible for the closure of any site on the itinerary due to reasons beyond its control. We will endeavor to the best of our ability to substitute a similar site if such a situation arises.
Please let your Guide know if there is anything special you would like to acquire on your journey and he/she will do his best to help. If you make purchases that you wish to ship, the only reliable shipping companies are DHL, UPS and FedEx. DHL is the most reliable but very costly. It can cost hundreds of dollars to ship a small package or even an envelope. Your Guide can assist you if you need this service.
All guests are provided with free bottled water both on the bus and in restaurants. Extra bottles can be obtained from your Guide for room use if requested. While drinking local tap water is safe in many places in Kurdistan, we recommend only drinking bottled water as bacteria differ from place to place, and unfamiliar bacteria can cause stomach issues.
Safety and security
The safety and well being of our clients is our first concern. We believe profitability is a long-term issue and that our reputation for the care of our clients brings long-term success. Our staff receives training in basic first aid and is intimate with the nearest and best medical facilities on the tour route should the need ever arise. Each guest should have medical travel insurance before arrival that would cover the cost of any significant medical expenses, including evacuation. These situations, while very rare, can be very costly and are not covered by the tour cost.
Each of our vehicles is inspected and disinfected twice daily. Cleanliness is paramount. Our staff works with hotel staff to ensure rooms are safe and clean before the arrival and during the stay of our guests. We are not in control of hotel procedures but have chosen hotels that are committed to working with us to make the guest experience the best it can be. If the guest discovers issues with the hotel, whether from a cleanliness perspective or with any of the hotel staff, we request the guest bring the matter immediately to the attention of the Guide, and we will do our utmost to correct the situation.
When groups are more than three persons, a small bus is used to transport the guests. Three or fewer passengers are transported in Land Cruiser type vehicles where seating is more confined. In all but a few of these cases, groups of three or fewer travelers are related or close companions, hence distancing is not an issue. Seating arrangements on buses will aim to give each passenger the maximum amount of room possible. Each guest will be assigned a seat for the duration of the tour. Couples or traveling companions will be seated together if they wish, and single travelers will have one place between them and the next passenger if space allows, and they desire to have this space. There is no guarantee that spaces can be provided, as the tour buses are, by law, small in Kurdistan (maximum 24 passengers), as some sites and inner cities cannot be traversed with larger buses. Our standard group size is limited to 15 passengers unless the sending agency requests a larger group, in which case, the sending agency should inform the guests that seating may be more confined than is usually the case. We are not responsible for spacing in these cases but will still endeavor to do our best to make the client as comfortable as possible.
We are in constant contact with members of the government and receive regular/daily briefings on the security of the region. If for any reason, we deem a part of the itinerary to become unsafe, we will re-route the tour or alter the itinerary accordingly. Kurdistan and Iraq are "Adventure Destinations", and those visiting the region should understand that while Kurdistan is considered the safest region in the Middle East, no place is 100% secure. Southern Iraq is less secure than Kurdistan and those joining tours to South Iraq should be aware of this. However, we only use the best hotels in South Iraq and go to great lengths to avoid any area that may experience disruption or unsafe circumstances. Please note that itineraries are subject to change if the Guide determines it is unsafe to continue as planned. Please read the attached liability waiver. Upon booking a tour, clients agree to liability waiver and all terms of booking, including the cancellation policy.
Apart from its Custom Tours, Explore Mesopotamia Tours is also the agent for several large Adventure Tour Companies in the USA, Europe, the Far East, and Australia. If you prefer to travel in a larger group on a scheduled tour, we can introduce you directly to the companies we represent. This may be a more economical way to book as the larger the group, generally, the less expensive the tour becomes. Keep in mind that these companies have fixed schedules and itineraries, and you will need to fit into their schedule rather than design your own. Contact us for more details on this option.
Medical and health
Other than Covid-19, there are no specific health issues in the areas we visit at this time. We advise tour participants to carry necessary medications in their carryon in case of lost luggage. Some medicines are unavailable in Kurdistan. Persons with medical problems must make them known to us well before departure. The trip leader has the right to disqualify anyone at any time during the trip if he or she feels the trip member is physically or mentally incapable or if a trip member's continued participation will jeopardize the individual involved or the group. Refunds are not given under such circumstances. Hospital facilities are often unavailable, and evacuation can be prolonged, complicated, and expensive. Explore Mesopotamia assumes no liability regarding provision of medical care.
Explore Mesopotamia assumes no liability for loss or damage to baggage in transit to and from an Explore Mesopotamia trip or while on an Explore Mesopotamia trip. We recommend purchasing the supplemental travel protection plan.
Explore Mesopotamia may take photographs and video of its trips and by booking a tour with Explore Mesopotamia, participants grant Explore Mesopotamia permission to do so and for it to use same for promotional or commercial use without payment of any compensation to the participant. Notwithstanding, Explore Mesopotamia will seek to respect the wishes of any guest who does not want his/her photo or image taken, but no guarantee is given or warranted.
Please make sure your insurance covers the cost of the inland tour as well as costs of international travel. Failure to acquire insurance can result in a personal loss, as Explore Mesopotamia does not issue cash refunds within 30 days of departure for any reason. Some prefer to take the risk rather than purchase insurance, but it is at their own risk should they choose not to opt for insurance or if their insurance does not cover any particular circumstance. For your information here is a link to an informative article published by Conde Nast regarding Travel Insurance and issues that may arise. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/best-travel-insurance
Our company does not directly sell insurance or profit from the sale of insurance but below are companies we know that may be able to help. Many seasoned travelers have their preferences and companies they have dealt with in the past. The following list is not exhaustive. The following are listed only as a service for those who do not have their providers.
Venue for resolution of disputes
Explore Mesopotamia's primary place of business operation is in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The relevant legal authority or courts in Erbil, the capital of the KRI, will, in accordance with the rules and regulations governing Tour Companies operating in the KRI, decide any disputes arising from any tour conducted by Explore Mesopotamia. This applies to all tours, whether conducted within or without the KRI. By booking a tour with Explore Mesopotamia, the client agrees to this venue and will not pursue the resolution of any dispute in any other venue.
(All information is kept confidential)