Iraq travel info
Syria: 18 days, April- May 07
ARE THE KURDISH BORDERS??
Kurdistan is not a state but a nation, hence not identified
by official borders but it refers to the area where the
Kurdish ethnic group lives. Kurdistan is mainly in the
south- east of Turkey and north of Iraq, but Iran and
Syria are interested as well. The typical question:
Are Kirkuk and Mosul in Kurdistan?
At the time of writting (May07) the answer is NO, but
the Kurdish unofficial border brushes both the town for
click on to enlarge
20th April- 08th May, 2007
How I moved:
buses and shared taxis are the rule, since neither trains nor
domestic flights inside Kurdistan are operative. Private taxis
are quite expensive and often the only choice (if you want to
bypass Mosul or Kirkuk); anyway they get affordable if you can
share with travel-mates.
wonderful temperature in April- May when a sweater
is enough. In winter it gets below zero (no heating in the hotels!)
while in summer it's a furnace. Anyway the mountains can be
a fresh relief!
cheap accommodations ranging from 10$ ot 20$: dull and basic
rooms with shared bathroom, but furnished with TV and satellite,
funny isn't? In some towns just one hotel, but likely you'll
be the only one guest
the people and their hospitality; it's truly great! To breath
the Kurdish pride and see Kurdistan in a unique moment in his
history. I loved the non-existing bribery.
What I disliked:
what is a hassle is at the same time vital for the stability
of Kurdistan and for your safety: I mean check points and questioning
wherever you are (read
the story). We can't blame them though. The worst was the
iraqi-turkish border crossing: four bloody hours!
Iraqi Kurdistan is not for free!. Accommodations are around
15$, eating is a cheap stuff, but transportation can take most
of your budget (Dohuk-Erbil 13$). At the end it turned out hard
to live with less than 45$.
at the time of writing inside Kurdistan it was relatively safe,
while Mosul and Kikuk were off-limits: take into account you
are likely to pass through or very near them.. Things change
quickly up there, so keep updated (LP
thorn tree iraqi section) and travelling outside the Kurdish
region it's a quick way to commit suicide.
your passport always with you and firm nerves when passing around
Mosul. Awareness of where you are, where you can go, and where
you CANNOT GO!!
Print out the
info I collected travelling and in the net!
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT IRAQ
At the time of writing Iraqi Kurdistan was a relatively
stable area, at least compared to the turbulent rest of the
country. This thanks to the massive presence of the Kurdish
army (Peshmerga) that controls the region by hundreds of check
points, in particular on the ways entering the three main cities
(Erbil, Sulaimaniyah, Dohuk). Iraqi Kurdistan is not the heaven
for travellers (definitely not plenty of highlights) and mine
isn't a recommendation to travel there. However if you are interested
in a population who has been struggling to have an international
recognition for years, now it's a unique moment. In Iraq the
Kurdish culture, who has been forbidden by the past regime,
now flourishes as never. You can breathe an atmosphere of hope
and optimism, although the situation is still far from being
resolved. The last but not the least, all the area is characterised
by the amazing Kurdish hospitality, comparable only to the Iranian
one: just this, could almost justify the travel.