JOIN THE IRAQ GROUP ADVENTURE - MARCH 13-21, 2024
If you want to learn more about a place that's often misunderstood, together with a community of people with the same love for travel, all while exploring one of the most incredible countries in the world…
What will you experience?
Normally we don't give too many details and allow the plan to be a surprise - but with Iraq having so much to offer, we want to make sure you know what you're getting, and get to see all the places on your list!
Click on each day to view more details!
Our team will welcome you with a meet & greet at the airport, and fast track visa service before transferring you to the hotel. After freshening up, we go right into exploring Baghdad with a city tour - depending on your arrival time. This will include statues from the Arabian Nights and iconic monuments.
You will also get your first introduction to the group, and create some first connections to your new travel crew for the next week!
Today the experience truly starts, with an exploration of old Baghdad via Al Rasheed Street, the backbone of the city, and visiting various local markets:
— see traditional handwork at the Copper Market "Al Safafeer", the stationary market "Souq Al Sarai", the famous Book Market Street "Al Muttanabi Street" — one of the most fascinating hotspots for creating peace through learning; and an antique market "Khan Al Mudalal", where you can find curious finds lost in time.
— Talking about stepping back in time: explore heritage sites like Madrasa Mustansiriya and the Abbasid Palace
— A Boat ride on the Tigris River, to see Baghdad from the water.
— Try the local's favorites: the famous Baghdadi grape juice, and a treat at a historical cafe that has been rebuilt since a previous bomb attack in 2007.
— After a delicious and filling Iraqi lunch, you will head to the landmark of Baghdad: the Martyrs Monument, made up of two turquoise half domes.
Today is a big day: you will get to witness first hand some of the most ancient leftovers of civilisation, coupled with Iraq's more recent history.
— Ancient City of Babylon, the rebuilt Ishtar Gate - stepping back in time at the labyrinth, and much more of this extensive site.
— See Saddam's abandoned Palace overlooking Babylon, and get special access to the higher floors closed to the public. Learn about the past regime as the sun sets over the river - a symbol for the end of a chapter.
— Next up is the spiritual city of Karbala: one of the holiest cities for the Shia Muslim community. You will walk between the two holy shrines and receive more explanations about the history and religious significance. At nighttime you will get to enjoy the energy of the city, try local food, sweets, and its famous drink Skanjabeel together with the group!
— Get to see one of the oldest cities known to humans: Ur. This UNESCO world heritage site is thought to be the home of biblical Abraham, a rather big deal, if you ask me! Visit his house, the Ziggurat, and the remains of the ancient city, that used to be the capital of the Sumerians: the most powerful civilisation at the time.
— Arrive at the Iraqi Marshes, and get a first glimpse of a landscape giving such a strong contrast to a country mostly covered by desert!
— Breakfast with a local family, special to this side of Southern Iraq.
— Boat ride along the marshes for you to see floating villages, and the "Garden of Eden". Accurately named, because believe it or not: this is one of the world's largest ecosystems!
— Enjoy a fish for lunch that only exists in the Marshes, and to set the vibe: in a local reed house, then listening to stories of local people who have adapted to life on the water, a unique lifestyle to the Marshes.
— Witness the unique architecture of Samarra, a UNESCO world heritage site, with not one, but two spiral minarets and ancient mosques to explore and learn about.
— After that, you will go to Hatra: originally a strategic point between Caravan trade routes, it later became an ISIS stronghold - which is one of the reasons it is still preserved today. You can see the remnants of their training sites, alongside the one of a kind architecture. A stark contrast.
— From old to new: starting with the historical sites this city has in store for you. Al Nuri Mosque, Al Hadbaa Minaret, and Al Tahira Church, to mention a few.
— Walk through the area to see with your own eyes what you might have seen in the news before: the place where the last, and most intense battle against ISIS took place. Listen to the stories of people that lived here during that time.
— On to the now: you will see the incredible efforts done by the people of Mosul to bring this city, its houses and streets back to life. reconstruction, handwork, and UNESCO committees to ensure it stays true to the old ways. Mosul always has surprises in store, and stories to tell. I can't wait for you to experience this one.
— New Years in Kurdistan is unlike anything I have ever seen before: dozens of men and women run up and down a mountain holding torches, illuminating the sky past sunset. A symbol for the passing of dark times - and the beginning of spring. This was my personal highlight experience of the trip.
— Besides, you will also learn about the cultural diversity of Kurdistan, and its unique political position: The Kurdish are a peoples group that have historically been oppressed, and always searched for a degree of independence and representation. They have not received it anywhere, but here in Iraqi Kurdistan.
— More on the diversity of Kurdistan, and different groups of people: visit the Yazidis' holiest city: Lalish, and see a glimpse of their traditions passed along only by word of mouth, from generation to generation.
— Explore the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan: Erbil. You will see the local market bustling with people and a hundred colors, and the old citadel a UNESCO site, and of course - try their delicious food!
Meet your team:
Why choose Destination Chaser?
At Destination Chaser we combine unforgettable adventures for the traveler, with giving back to the communities that we are fortunate enough to be hosted by. This Socotra trip is one of our favorite combinations, with the most of the profit going towards conservation of wildlife, and supporting local communities. Thank you for being part of this movement!
What flights should I book?
Flying into Baghdad Intl. Airport (BGW airport code). Arrival March 13, 2024. Can arrive anytime, but preferably in the morning.
If joining the full experience, including Kurdish New Year: Departure from Erbil Intl. Airport (EBL airport code) March 21, 2024 ideally in the evening, or next day (we will gladly arrange an extra hotel night, and airport transfer).
If joining only the 8 day trip, and not joining for the Kurdish New Year celebrations: Departure March 20, 2024 anytime. Flying out from Erbil (EBL) or Baghdad (BGW) - both have multiple intl. flight connections.
How does the payment work?
To secure your spot, you can pay a deposit by credit or debit card of 20% of the trip price, which is non-refundable, as it is to secure services on ground that have their own cancellation policies and are funds we do not keep - but we will always try out best to refund whatever possible, as we understand sometimes plans can change and things happen!
3 months before the start of the trip we will send you another payment link for 40%, and the remainder most likely in cash upon arrival - this is so you have more flexibility with covering the cost and don't need to pay everything at once. Let us know if you need a payment plan, we are happy to help!
BONUS: if you have a points program you can collect points from our trips as we are under the “travel” category!
Other payment options such as PayPal, or bank transfer, are available too if you prefer.
💵 What will I get?
... and what's not:
✔️ Personal airport pickup and drop-off, and visa fast-track service
Intl. flight to Baghdad, and out of Baghdad or Erbil
✔️ All transportation on ground in Iraq
Personal travel insurance (9$-40$)
✔️ Experienced, knowledgeable and fun local guides
Including a female guide to facilitate entrance to the holy sites for females.
Personal expenses (for souvenirs, for example) & tips
✔️ Entry tickets to mentioned sites, and special access, permits, etc.
Visa (cost depends on nationality, most can purchase this for $75-80 upon arriving)
✔️ All accommodation on a shared basis of 2 - twin rooms (we believe this is an essential part for people to make friends on the adventures!) in 3* hotels in Baghdad, and 4* hotels in other cities
Most lunches ($5-15)
✔️ Breakfasts & dinners, plus some snacks
✔️ Bottled fresh water throughout the trip
✔️Logistical services including logistical team members, and a cameraman
What about the visa for Iraq?
Iraq has a visa on arrival system if you are from these 40 countries:
UK, USA, France, Russia, China.
EU Countries: Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Gibraltar, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia.
Countries with strong economic ties with Iraq: Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway and Hong Kong.
You will need your passport in all Iraqi checkpoints and hotels. Make sure it has at least six months validity on your arrival date, and an empty page in your passport for the Iraqi visa sticker.
Make sure you have no stamp on your passport from the region not recognized by Iraq: Israeli entity.
Any more questions?
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
With love, Andi