Im planning a trip to the middle east and am trying to weigh up the feasibility of visiting the northern part of Iraq.
The Iraqi embassy say that its safe to travel to (with caution) and its the only part of the country they are issuing visas for.
I would be leaving Tehran and cutting across Iraq into northern Syria spending 2 or 3 days in Iraq itself.
Its really difficult to get information about the area and the best way to travel. Does anyone know anything about this area? Im presuming Id have to hire a taxi the whole distance.
The northern part of Iraq (Kurdish controlled area) is fine. The hazards are no different to any other country that has come through difficult times, however compared with the more southerly region it comes out much safer. You will be able to travel by Taxi or bus. If you are really adventurous you could always try thumbing a lift on one of the many trucks travelling around the place. The locals will be only too happy to help.
Tip: Stay above Kirkuk and Mosul and you will be fine. Erbil and Sulamaniyah are friendly places. Just keep your wits about you.
Thanks for the info.
Are you saying dont go to Kirkuk or Mosul ?
Can you just turn up at the border and wait for a bus or are there taxis waiting there?
Yes, stay away from Kirkuk and Mosul. Keep north of there. Kirkuk and Mosul mark the two most Northern towns in Iraq before you get into the Kurdish area. Mosul is extremely dangerous at the moment. There are still incidents in the Kurdish area, but compared to the south it’s very safe.
I was in the country in 2005 and 2006 working throughout Iraq therefore my views are based on experience of the bad days and may be slightly prejudicial. However, I keep a close eye on what is happening in the area and I have many friends in the country still and they tell me things have not changed, much.
I personally would not go anywhere in the Iraq region below Erbil and Sulamaniyah without a protection team, and being armed myself more to the point. The Iraq region is just not a good place to go at the moment. In any event you will find it extremely difficult if not impossible to get into the country south of Erbil unless you have substantial security arrangements, and necessity. The Iraq Government does not need more bad press with western hostages.
There are lots of buses and taxis waiting in the Kurdish regions.
I would love to go back to Iraq and travel there from a tourist point of view as I am sure my experience would be vastly different and I would lay to rest a number of ghosts, but just not yet Mark. Maybe in two to three years.