Iraq- Mesopotamia-Kurdistan

Mesopotamia
The present situation in Mesopotamia has improved vastly this year and we have successfully operated several tours. We have added some previously off limit sites to our itinerary, notably Nimrud and Assur and explored Tikrit more thoroughly. The palaces of Saddam are included and many other sites. Geoff continues to lead most of the tours and maintains his links with the country and its people. Our 2014 series dates are published here and we continue to expand our site visits.

Turkey, North Iraq Kurdistan and North West Iran
We first began to explore the Kurdish World in depth in 2007 and operating via Turkey and Iran. Now we include the Kurdish region with all our tours but emphasising the Kurdish area in particular with our May departures that enter the Iran region and our combined September Kurdistan and Mesopotamia Iraq departures.

All bookings and deposits made in in the calendar year prior to departure will attract a ground tour discount of 7%.

Tour dates

9 and 16 day tours
2014 - March 9th, April 6th, May 11th, September 8th, October 13th, November 10th.

We combine these two tours incorporating highlights including Babylon for the 9 day tours with the 16 day tour carrying on south to Basra to include more of the Sumerian ancient sites such as Uruk and Ur.

South Eastern Turkey, Kurdistan Iraq and North western Iran
2014 - 22 days - May 3rd.

Turkey, Kurdistan Iraq and Mesopotamia
2014 - 21 days combined tour - September 2nd.




Mesopotamia and Kurdistan Iraq

Costs and style of accommodation and meals will, at first, be subject to constant change - but our policy is, as always, to keep costs down as much as possible for our clients and to see as much as can be fitted in the time available. For a real experience of ancient, historical, modern or recent history combined with all those fascinating facets of religious history, past and recent then three weeks is required, but for those without the time to spare, our 9 day tours gives a taster of the delights of Iraq. We will also offer glimpses of Saddam residences where possible.

* as dedicated friends of Iraq and wanting to contribute our share to the future of the country, we ask all interested travellers, for now and in the future, to send into us your names and contact details so that we can update you regularly as to the travel opportunities in Iraq. Email - hinterland@btconnect.com

9 day Tour
Day 1 Arrive Baghdad, afternoon excursions. Overnight Baghdad
Day 2 Baghdad city tour - National Museum, Khadiman Mosque, Mirjan Mosque, Tel Harmal, School and Souk, Overnight Baghdad.
Day 3 Drive to Samarra Mosque and Minaret and Palace. Visit Tikrit and Saddam Palace, then to Erbil, provincial capital of Kurdistan Governorate . Overnight Erbil.
Day 4 Visiting Der Mar Benham Monastery, the Assyrian site of Nimrud and Der Mar Matti Monastery. Overnight Erbil.
Day 5 Return to Baghdad via the site of Assur and the magnificent site of Hatra ,City of the Sun. Overnight Baghdad.
Day 6 Baghdad excursions, including Ctesiphon Arch and Argagouf Ziggurat. Overnight Baghdad.
Day 7 To Babylon and Borsippa- Mesopotamian ancient cities and to Shrine city of Kerbala. Overnight Kerbala.
Day 8 Return to Baghdad via the Shrine city of Najaf and Kufa. Overnight Baghdad.
Day 9 Depart from Baghdad.
Basic costs from £2,050 plus flights and visas.


The Marshes


16 day Tour
Day 1 Arrival Baghdad, afternoon excursions. Overnight Baghdad.
Day 2 Baghdad city tour- National Museum, Khadimain Mosque, Tel Harmal( Sumerian cite), Souk, Palace and School. Overnight Baghdad.
Day 3 Depart North to Samarra Minaret and Palace , then Saddam's Tikrit ,then Erbil famous for its City mound . Overnight Erbil.
Day 4 Erbil city, Visit Mar Benham Monastery, Assyrian Nimrud then Der Mar Matti Monastery. Overnight Erbil.
Day 5 South again. Visiting ancient Assur and magnificent Hatra . Overnight Baghdad.
Day 6 Baghdad excursions, Ctesiphone Arch , Argagouf Zigguret. Overnight Baghdad.
Day 7 To Babylon, city of Nebuchadnezzar, Sumerian Borsippa and overnight at the Shrine city of Kerbala.
Day 8 Drive to Ukhaider Castle via At Tar caves, Christian Church and monastery . Overnight Kerbala.
Day 9 Visit El Khifal and then Kufa and overnight in the Shrine city of Najaf where Imam Ali is buried.
Day 10 Ancient Sumar, visiting Nippur and Uruk, that most important site and possibly Larsa .Overnight in Samawih
Day 11 Today UR, famous for the Royal tombs and its Ziggurat, then Eridu and Tel Ubaid Back to the 6th millennium. Overnight in Nasiriya.
Day 12 We visit the marshes for a short visit, and Qurna where the Tigris and the Euphrates meet and Overnight in Basra.
Day 13 City tour and excursions on the Shatt al Arab. Overnight in Basra.
Day 14 Return to Baghdad by road. Visiting Ezra's tomb en route. Overnight Baghdad
Day 15 Baghdad city excursions. Overnight Baghdad
Day 16 Departure from Baghdad.
This is the bare bones of our schedule but we do change some days to add sites etc. Basic costs (and all tours include accommodation and some meals) from £2,850 plus flights and visas.

21/22 days Combined Tour Turkey, Kurdistan Iraq and Mesopotamia 2nd September.
Day 1 London to Istanbul to Diyarbakir (flights).
Day 2 Diyarbakir city tour.
Day 3 Cross into Kurdistan Iraq travel to Dohuk.
Day 4 Excursions, Ain Sifni, Lalish Temple of the Yezidi, Batavian Gorge for Assyrian Reliefs.
Day 5 Travel to Erbil . City tour or Mar Matti Monastery.
Day 6 Travel to Sulaimaniyah via Rawanduz.
Day 7 Excursion to Halabja.
Day 8 Visit Assyrian Nimrud, overnight Erbil.
Day 9 Travel via Mar Benham and Samarra to Baghdad.
Day 10/11 Baghdad excursions.- Ctesiphon Arch etc.
Day 12 To Babylon, to Borsippar and Kish - Sumerian cities to Holy Kerbala.
Day 13 To Ukheider, Al Tar Caves to Kerbala.
Day 14 To El Khifal the shrine of Ezekial, Kufa, and The Shrine city Najaf.
Day 15 South into Sumeria . Ancient Nippur and Uruk to Nasiriya.
Day 16 We visit the Sumerian sites of Ur, then Eridu and Tel Ubaid to Nasiriya.
Day 17 We skirt the Marsh Arab area to Basra.
Day 18 Basra city and excursions.
Day 19 Return to Baghdad.
Day 20 Baghdad excursions - overnight Baghdad
Day 21 Depart Baghdad
Basic costs from £3,500 plus flight and visas

Ground tour costs - these are subject to change. However our costs will include all ground transport, group airport transferes, internal flights, site entrance fees, tour guide, Hinterland Travel tour leader, some local guides, guards if necessary, Hotel accommodation, breakfast and dinner in Mesopotamia only.

Not included - International Flights, individual airport transfers and airport hotels (if required), travel insurance, visas, main meals (subject to change), main meals in Turkey and Kurdistan Iraq until Day 8 as above.

Flights - At the moment these are subject to great change. Flights into Baghdad at present travel via Amman, Damascus, Istanbul, Bahrein etc.We need to have our clients arrive on a single day and mostly together for visa arrangements. We will advise group flights and these can be arranged through IKB of London www.YoushouldTravel.com. Please note in these developing years of travel resuming into Iraq there are constant changes with flights, schedules, prices, taxes etc.. We cannot be held responsible for these changes.

Note. This is a very packed tour and we see much more than the brief description given above. Obviously there is the utmost interest in the most recent events and we shall do our best to see what is available, such as any Saddam Palace vacant of troops and the events around Tikrit. Hotels have been badly treated by all concerned so our tour will be very varied in the quality of hotels that we can use. This state of affairs will improve. Until there is a completely stable situation everywhere in Iraq our schedule will be subject to changes in order of visiting places and sometimes having to omit sites. We hope always to replace those sites with something of interest. We are always looking to add sites in any event.

Note. For those with less time available we can arrange for you to travel on just part of the tour. This has to be a feasible logistical section and individual travel transfers at the individuals extra cost. Please enquire.



22 days South Eastern Turkey, Kurdistan Iraq & North Western Iran. 4th May 2014
Our focus is the Kurdish ethnic areas of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Certainly Kurdistan Iraq has been little explored in the travel field and has not been linked as we are now doing.

Eastern Turkey
Day 1 Depart London via Istanbul to Diyabakir.
Day 2 Full day in Diyabakir.
Kurdistan Iraq
Day 3 Drive via Mardin to Border, crossing into Kurdistan Iraq via Zakho to Dohuk.
Day 4 Full day in Dohuk and surrounding country visiting Lalish and Yezidi village of Ain Safni and the Assyrian reliefs at the Bavian Gorge/canal.
Day 5/6/7 Departure for Erbil (Howler). Our circuital road route (due to present Iraq crisis) takes us very close, if not across, to the Battlefield of Gaugamela where Alexander finally broke the Persian King and effectively his Empire and we cross the Greater Zab river most probably where Alexander also crossed. In Erbil we visit the Citadel, Museum and Markets. Also we intend to visit the Monastery of Der Mar Matti outside of the city. When we leave Erbil we travel to Sulamainiye either cross country via Dokhan or via Kirkuk depending on the security situation. We intend to visit or find the site of Jarmo. A pre pottery Neolithic, 6,000 B.C. village.
Day 8/9/10 From Sulamainiye we visit Halabja and the notorious prison Amna Suraka. Traveling on via Dokhan Lake we stop at Rawanduz - historically important and marvellous country. Now for 2008/9 we extend our tour to travel further north possibly to visit Sharindar cave and also the Amadiyah Castle before stopping at either Dohuk or Zakho.
Day 11 Given the present political /security situation we travel back across to Turkey and Cizra, ending our almost endless day, travelling through marvellous scenery to Hakkari. The actual crossings into Turkey are subject to change at moment.
Iran
Day 12 We cross into Iran and stay at Miandoab.
Day 13 This day see us visit the marvellous ancient site of Takht e Soleiman( the throne of Soleman). Surrounded by city walls with a volcanic lake in the centre, this is great history .After we travel to the heart of Kurdish Iran and stay in Sanandaj.
Day 14 Kermanshah, is our next large city and here are the Sassanian Grottoes. The Rock inscriptions at Bistoun , first deciphered by Rawlinson are not far and we also stop to see The Temple of Anahita en route to Hamadan, that once Royal Persian City.
Day 15/16 Turning north we travel to Takestan and Zanjan visiting the great Mausoleum of the Mongol Sultan at Soltaniyeh en route. Our next stop is at Ardabil where we see the magnificent Shrine of Sheik Safi od Din, founder of the Safavid dynasty. Also the famous Adabil carpet originated from here.
Day 17/18 Tabriz, a pulsating trading Turkic City is where we are and its bazaar is well worth the hours spent in there, carpets and yet more carpets. The famous Blue Mosque is close by and the museum a delight.
Day 19 We finish our Iran section tour with an Armenian Christian day. Jolfa, the Church of St Stephen and Kara Kelisa (near Maku), the Church of St Thaddeus. Magnificent, isolated. We cross to Dogubayazit in Turkey for the night.
Turkey
Day 20/21/22 Two nights in Van with excursions around the lake, the Seljuk tombs and Akdamar Island, with its Armenian Church. Van was the centre of that slight;ly mysterious Empire of Urartu circa 800 B.C contemporary with the Assyrians. We depart on the morning of day 22 on tour completion.
Note We can cut the tour to suit individual arrangements -
(1) avoid Iran
(2) departure from Hamadan to Tehran and complete tour (15/16 days) or extend to include Esfahan/Shiraz apply for quotes.
The ground tour cost from £3,500

Included in this cost - all ground transport (hired local transport in each country), accommodation and breakfast, local guides for Kurdistan Iraq and Iran, Hinterland Travel Tour Leader, listed excursions, border entry taxes.

Not included - International flights, airport transfers and any hotels associated with flight arrangements (where required), main meals, visas, single room supplements, insurance, site/camera entrance fees and any extra site guides.

General Information For the above tour we will be travelling around on a mixture of hired vehicles but mostly by minibus. We expect to have Kurdish /Farsi speaking guides with us for Kurdistan Iraq and Iran. The Hotel accommodation is based on twin room occupancy, the standards will vary enormously. Single rooms, when available, will require a single supplement. For this particular tour we will all have to be tolerant of local conditions and accept flexible arrangements.

Special Note. All passports must be acceptable to each country that we travel in as several sections of this tour travel across, and through, politically sensitive areas.

Other information

Each tour is led by a Hinterland Travel tour leader in addition to the English speaking Iraqi interpreter tour guide. All land transport is by local Iraqi vehicles. Note - everything is subject to change without notice. At the present time (2013/2014) armed security guards are provided with each group. All passports must be acceptable to the relevant authorities, in Iraq, Jordan and possibly Syria and or Turkey and or Gulf States. Note - everything is subject to change without notice.

Some important points

We have an open age policy - as long as you are fit and healthy. We do ask clients over the age of 75 to supply us with a letter stating that they are fit to travel. We travel around by Iraqi road transport, comfortable air conditioned coach or minibus with an Iraqi driver. Bottled water is carried at all times on the vehicle. The Hotel accommodation is based on twin room occupancy. The standards will vary enormously from 1/2 to 4/5 star rating. Many of the hotels have been undergoing refurbishments after the neglect and damage of the past years this is being completed and they are now opening up again for business. Single rooms will be sought for clients so wishing but when available there will be a charge. The group size will be a maximum of 15 to 20 clients, average group 12 persons comprising of all ages, mostly English speaking.

A deposit of 350 per person is required to book any tour. Special group arrangements for Iraq are welcomed but have to fit into current security requirements.