KURDISTAN

the part in Iraq

Through the fertile, mountainous and war-thorn region of Northern Iraq

> Journeying all over the Kurdish region of Iraq <

"Why would you go to Kurdistan? Is it even a real country?". As we started planning the journey this was the typical questions we would face. Knowing that Kurdistan is completely unique, we feel privileged to be ambassadors for this slice on earth. We have traveled extensively in Kurdistan and it is easy to see and sense that the Kurds form a distinctive community in the Levant and greater Middle East. They seem united through race, culture and language, even though they have no standard dialect. They also adhere to a number of different religions and creeds, although the majority are Sunni Muslims. Another striking characteristic is that they are - seriously! - among the most friendly and hospitable people on Earth.

The Kurds are one of the indigenous people of the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands in what are now Northern Iraqy, southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran and southwestern Armenia. Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit this mountainous region, and they make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East. From 1920 to 1923, an independent Kurdistan existed, but in 1923, the land split up between the two countries that are Iraq and Turkey today. Since then, the Kurds have struggled to build an independent nation, but they have yet to obtain a permanent nation state.

 

On leg one of this journey we start in the Iraqi part, which is one of the most fascinating destinations in the Middle East. It boasts the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, the oldest bridge and aqueduct ruin, several Neanderthal cave sites, and countless citadels, shrines, churches, mosques, ancient temples, and city bazaars. Add in splendid nature such as the biggest gorge in the entire Middle East and towering mountains. It's simply a traveler's and photographer's paradise. 

Continue to  leg two of this journey where we venture into the remote, less affluent and extremely rural regions of Kurdistan in Iran and Eastern Turkey.

 

If Middle East adventures excites you, check our pages on travels in Syria and greater Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea, and a long trip on the Hippy Trail through Turkey and Iran.

Selected pics:

 

 

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© Anders M. Pedersen & Jakob M. Pedersen

All photos have been taken by Anders & Jakob.

    Smarkoli Lake outside Erbil

    We hooked up with a local driver who would take us across Iraqi Kurdistan. During the journey we would pay for the gasoline as well as accomodation and food for the driver. Oh, a small fee for his 24-hour service as he would drive us wherever we wanted to go. It was an advantage that he knew how to take all the shortcuts and although he did not speak English (and our Arabic is very basic) it went fine.