With its snowcapped mountains, ancient cities, and bustling bazaars, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region is worth more than a quick glance. This 10-day journey takes a comprehensive look at the burgeoning, surprisingly up-to-the-minute nation-in-all-but-name.
Our tour begins in Kurdistan’s capital, Erbil, and spends a little more than a week in Iraq, often following the Hamilton Road. The road was named for British engineer Archibald Hamilton, whose informative 1937 book, Road Through Kurdistan, was described as “full of derring-do, dynamite and splendid fellows smoking pipes.” We visit the Mor Mattai Monastery, set on a spectacular perch high above the Tigris and Mesopotamian plain, before moving on to Lalish—a pilgrimage site for the non-Islamic Yezidi people, who believe it to be the birthplace of the universe. Near Dohuk, we climb nearly 150 steps to the 7th-century mountainside Chaldean Monastery of Rabban Hormizd. At Amadiya, we see what remains of the ancient Assyrian fortress, before passing through Iraq’s deepest canyon to Shanidar Cave, once home to Neanderthal skeletons. Among vast and dramatic vistas, from snowcapped mountains to lush valleys, we get closer to the Kurdish people in this journey through their homeland.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1: arrive in Erbil, Kurdistan
- Day 2: explore Erbil citadel, including Chooli Minaret and Qaysari Bazaar; visit Dwin’s Castle
- Day 3: drive to Duhok via Mor Mattai Monastery and Lalish
- Day 4: visit monasteries, palace ruins and Duhok bazaar
- Day 5: to Rawanduz via Amadiya and Barzan
- Day 6: excursion along Hamilton Road
- Day 7: to Sulymania; visit art gallery, bazaar and war crimes museum
- Day 8: explore Halabja, leisure time in Sulymania
- Day 9: drive to Erbil via Koisinjak (Koya)
- Day 10: depart Erbil.