Blogs from North, Iraq, Middle East


Middle East » Iraq » North » Arbil March 22nd 2019

Karl May once wrote adventure novel called Durchs Wilde Kurdistaneven though he had never been there before. We went to the center of that area in nowadays Iraq, straight to the mountains. Is Iraqi Kurdistan really wild? Let´s see. I like seeing places where there is almost impossible to meet tourists. Because of that you are able to get to know locals better - too see who they truly are. Also, you will have a unique travelling experience. Nowadays, everybody can travel everywhere. Massive tourism is killing "spirit "of countries that is often hard to see. Luckily, there are still places that you can discover or re-discover. Mountain range Zagros can be considered to be one of these places. These mountains take big part of today's Iraq and Iran. And we stood right ... read more
Before the start
View to Halgurd
Iran mountains

Middle East » Iraq » North » Arbil July 22nd 2018

My day started at 4am not much point in going back to sleep when I needed to be at the airport in an hour, so I packed a few more things, took out the garbage and headed down to the cab rank. Twenty-five minutes later I had cleared immigration got my US$ and settled in till departure. The flight departing before mine was going to Bagram in Afghanistan and was full of American servicemen, I was sitting there amongst Africans wondering why they were going to Iraq when it dawned on me they were catching the flight after mine. A little after 7pm I headed through the gate and out to the bus, I positioned myself right near the front door as I had seat 2C and figured I could be seated before the rabble realised ... read more
Mat Mattia monastery
Mat Mattia monastery
Mat Mattia monastery

Middle East » Iraq » North September 2nd 2013

A quick video of travelling overland from Tabriz in Iran, through Iraqi Kurdistan to South-Eastern Turkey. Places include Urmia Salt Lake, North-Eastern Kurdistan, Erbil, Mardin, Savur and Diyarbakir. As ever, let me know what you think! Love Ross x ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » North September 1st 2013

Once more, I found myself heading towards the unknown, with all manner of scenarios playing through my head. I’d never planned to visit Iraq on this trip, but after talking to one of my Iranian friends and doing a bit of research, it seemed that there were a few cities in Iraqi Kurdistan that would be safe to visit. My curiosity got the better of me, and I set off on a detour through Northern Iraq en route to Turkey. Obviously I didn’t want to put myself in too much danger, and so did a bit of research before leaving. There are a few Kurdish controlled cities in the north of Iraq that are well protected and safe to visit – Sulaimanya, Erbil and Duhok. Two cities that were really not safe to visit were Mosul ... read more
Snow-capped mountains in Choman, Iraq
Hitch-hiking with this guy!
Sign to all the places you don't want to go...

Middle East » Iraq » North » As Sulaymaniyah February 20th 2013

“If you go to Kirkuk, you will be shot,” came the glum assessment from any Kurdish man who spoke about the infamous city a mere one hundred kilometres south of Erbil. If English was not spoken, then the responder would instead clench their hand in the shape of a gun and pretended to fire imaginary rounds into my chest. The message could not be clearer. Not that I ever intended to visit Kirkuk, but my journey to the cultural centre of the Kurdish Region of Iraq, Sulamaniyah, had two routes. The shorter and more direct path skirts the edge of Kirkuk, a journey dissuaded by all nowadays, whereas the longer and more scenic mountain route was unanimously favoured. To avoid being within shooting range from Kirkuk, I travelled to Koya by bus, prior to changing to ... read more
Corridor within Amna Suraka - Sulamaniyah, Kurdish Region of Iraq
Proud father and son - Dukan, Kurdish Region of Iraq
Smart looking boys at Amna Suraka - Sulamaniyah, Kurdish Region of Iraq

Middle East » Iraq » North » Arbil February 16th 2013

In the Middle East, the visitor is seen as a gift from God. But like any gift, the reaction to its receipt is related to its frequency; the more regular the gift, the less enthusiastic the response. The Middle East bestows the most hospitable of welcomes on visitors, and since I never met or saw any other foreign tourist during my ten days in the Kurdish region of Iraq, it meant that all latent hospitality was poured upon me. As is usual with my first day in any location, I approach it through the eyes of someone observing, rather than immersing. Despite this cautious approach, the response was remarkable. On the second day, I removed that last veneer of caution and strode forth; the reaction was extraordinary. Returning to the Qaysari Bazaar I searched for Erbil’s ... read more
Fishing in the mountain range - Kurdish Region, Iraq
Shoe seller in the Qaysari Bazaar - Erbil, Kurdish Region, Iraq
Very cute girl attends a wedding - Sami Abdulrahman Park, Erbil, Kurdish Region, Iraq

Middle East » Iraq » North » Arbil February 13th 2013

Images of charred remains, bloodied bodies and wailing survivors filled my television screen. BBC World was reporting yet another bombing in Kirkuk. I looked down at my computer screen where the payment page for my flight to Erbil in the Kurdish Region of Iraq was displayed. Erbil is a mere 100 kilometres from Kirkuk. I glanced again at the violent images on the screen, “Damn it,” were the only words to issue from my mouth. The mouse hovered above the payment button and with a slight movement of my finger, the button was clicked. I was going to Iraq. Travelling to Iraq was the intention, but upon arriving at Dubai airport a few days later, I met with an unexpected and frustrating opponent – airline bureaucracy. “Do you have a letter from the Iraq Ministry of ... read more
Woodsmith and his wares - The Qaysari Bazaar, Erbil, Kurdish Region, Iraq
Old man in the Qaysari Bazaar - Erbil, Kurdish Region, Iraq
Young man in the Qaysari Bazaar - Erbil, Kurdish Region, Iraq

Middle East » Iraq » North » As Sulaymaniyah October 15th 2010

10,000 dinars we paid for the 2 hour trip,from Erbil to Koya, 3 checkpoints again and very thorough, we waited a long time on the 2nd one and the 3rd one we have to come to the office, but all is well, scenery is same, dry barren landscapes with a trickle of trees, dramatic colors though and we ascend some mountains and come down a few valleys. in Koya the taxi driver dropped us off some intersection and told us to walk the rest of the way to the taxi stand for Sulaimaniyah and we suspect because we refuse to take him om his offer to drive us all the way for an inflated price. We asked for directions from many people, shop owner, street cleaning guy and finally some soldiers on the street, who pointed ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » North » Arbil October 13th 2010

Woke up early to leave for the next city, Erbil, about 180 kms away is the capital of Kurdish Iraq. I have to wake up reception, still sleeping at 9am, paid my bills and he wrote me a place I can stay in Erbil. Walked to the share taxi stand next to the bazaar, I paid 15,000 dinar and waited half an hour to get more people before we set off. 3 hours more or less we drove into dry desolate landscape, brown and arid at this time though there is already a chill in the air as it is now autumn, I noticed a number of checkpoints and we got checked 3 times, most soldiers can't read Roman letters and they thumb through my passport meticulously and asks where I am from as if my ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » North » Dohuk October 11th 2010

Ever since my friend Audrey told me of her trip to northern Iraq in the spring, it stuck to my mind that it's one of the possibilities when I get to the Middle East, armed with an old copy of the LP from my friend Juan de Argentino I set out on a dreary late morning from Batumi, Georgia, where I took a share minivan to cross into Turkey in Sarpi, one guy tried to boot me out of my seat in the van, claiming the seats are numbered and where I was sat is seat #9, I pretend not to understand him until he got on my nerves when he called the driver to butt in, I told them show me where the numbers are posted which is nowhere to be found, when I started ... read more

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