Rawanduz Gorge & Korek Mountain
Yezidi Temple at Lalish
At a Glance
9 days/8 nights
2022 Guide Price (Variable depending on group size)
Mar-Jun / Sep-Nov
Sulaymaniyah Airport (ISU)
Erbil Airport (EBL)
Arrive in Sulaymaniyah, transfer to accommodation and evening meal together.
Sulaymaniyah, also called Slemani (or Suli by the locals), is a city in the east of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, not far from the Iran–Iraq border.
Begin the day by wandering one of the largest bazaars in the Middle East, getting lost in tangles of alleyways selling everything from gold jewelry to live chickens. At the center point of Suli, the Grand Mosque makes for distinctive landmark in the heart of the bazar.
From the bazar, explore Amna Suraka museum, the 'Red Prison', and learn of the suppression of Kurdish culture and history by Saddam's Ba'athist regime.
Close the evening with a ride up to the top of Azmar mountain via the cable car at Chavy Land amusement park for
sunset, tea and kebabs atop the mountain. Dress warm!
Halabja is a city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the capital of Halabja Governorate, located about 240 km northeast of Baghdad and 14 km from the Iranian border. It is home to the sobering Halabja memorial erected in memory of the victims of the Anfal (Kurdish genocide).
The high Zagros mountains for a backdrop to the city of Halabja, making it a perfect gateway to the remote villages of Tawella and Byara. The final frontier before Iran, these tiny villages are home to beautiful and remote mountain farms. Straddle the irrigation canals that separate Iraq from Iran, with a foot in two countries at once!
On the return journey to Sulaymaniyah, enjoy a relaxing moderate hike up to Ahmad Awa, one of Kurdistan's most notable waterfalls.
Lakes & Mountains
Depart Sulaymaniyah for the journey north to the mountain playground for the Kurds. En route, brave the scaffolding steps up to Qisqapan ancient cave, a Zoroastrian Tomb, carved into the cliff face overlooking the green Chamy Razan valley.
Stop for a lunch of fresh fish caught from Dukan Lake, a man-made reservoir above the resort town of the same name.
Admire the passing scenery all the way to Shaqlawa, our stop for the night. Famed for regional produce -- honey, sweets, dried fruits and nuts -- Shaqlawa is where Kurds head for weekend picnics and family getaways.
The famed Hamilton Road -- a marvel of engineering -- passes begins just past Rawanduz, where the deepest gorge in the Middle East will leave you breathless. Countless rivulets and waterfalls plummet into the depths from the cliff faces carved between the highest peaks in the region, with houses clinging precariously to the canyon edge!
Around the corner, the tourist complex surrounding Bekhal Waterfalls
is always host to lively dancing, traditional music, steaming tea and grilled kebabs. Shop for souvenirs in the many gift shops -- including one shaped like Noah's Ark!
Just when the views seem like they can't get better, take the daring 15-minute cable car journey to the summit of Korek Mountain where our Alpine lodge accommodations offer sweeping views of the entire district.
Exploring the North
Begin the scenic drive north with a visit to Shanidar Cave. Archaeological research in this cave confirms it as one of the oldest sites for evidence of prehistoric man in the region.
Perched in the valley running parallel to the Turkish border, Amedi is a picturesque tabletop mountain town, encircled by ancient city walls. Walk through the city gate where legend states the Wise Men of Christmas fame departed for the journey to Bethlehem.
At the final frontier with Turkey, visit the historic town of Zakho -- once referred to as 'Little Jerusalem' and a former home to a large contingent of Kurdish Jews. Cross Pira Delal, a picturesque, ancient stone bridge across the River Zab.
End the day in Duhok, the capital city of Duhok Governorate.
Steep yourself in history today with visits to some of Kurdistan's most sacred sites. Cross the threshold of Lalish Temple in your bare feet as you discover the inner sanctum of this little-known faith. Tie a knot in the prayer scarves of the main hall, or cast for good luck in the hall of oil jars. Almost certainly, you will be invited for a glass of tea and conversation in the open-air courtyard.
Further down the road at a bend in the river, stumble across the ruins of King Sennacherib II's summer palace on the Ninevah plains. With a little imagination, you'll appreciate the wealth and splendour of the former Babylonian empire kings.
Complete a circle back towards Duhok with one more stop at Alqosh, a Christian village on the Nineveh Plains. Alongside the famous mountainside monastery of Rabban Hormizd, the recently restored tomb of the prophet Nahum can be found in the heart of the town.
Mosul OR Akre (Access-Dependent)
Visit Mosul today, access dependant (federal Iraq visa and clearance with local authorities required). Mosul's destruction in the fight against ISIS was nearly total, but hope still rises from the rubble. Witness the reconstruction efforts and regeneration of the historic downtown core, and hear the church bells and call to prayer be issued anew from mosques and churches being rebuilt across faith lines.
Akre is known for its celebrations of Newroz, or the Kurdish New Year. With its iconic castle overlooking the town, a procession of fire-lit torches wends up the pathway every March for this celebration of Spring. Enjoy a photographic exploration of Akre's markets and vistas.
Erbil & Departure Day
Explore the ancient citadel of Erbil, presiding over a covered market and fountain-filled plaza. Round out your knowledge of Kurdish culture at the Kurdish Textile Museum, featuring an array of gorgeous carpets and traditional costumes.
Enjoy a final lunch overlooking the plaza before returning to the hotel to pack and prepare for an evening departure from Erbil Airport.
Why not link this tour with an extension to Southeast Turkey, or add extra days at the beginning in Baghdad and Federal Iraq? Inquire about changes, modifications or extra days.
All ground transport between cities and sites
English-speaking guides and entrance fees to sites
Meals, snacks en route, bottled water
Visa Fees (30-day Kurdish visa free on arrival for most citizens. Note: a federal Iraqi visa, not a Kurdish visa, is required for the day trip to Mosul.)
Minimum 2 participants required for departure.
10% deposit required to secure your booking (refundable up to 30 days in advance of departure)
Join this tour!