For the first time ever, YPT offers a combo that will take you to both Iraq and Syria. During this combo tour, you will have the opportunity to truly witness what was the forefront of news a year ago by visiting the sites of Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria which were on everyone lips.
During this tour, you will see the impact of the war on Syria but also learn more about the Peshmerga, who were fighting IS on the frontlines.
Our tour begins in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, a prospective new nation protected by the Peshmerga which was at the forefront of the fight with ISIS until the end of the recent war. Despite its significance and proximity to probably the most important war currently raging, Kurdistan offers not only safety, but beautiful scenery, famed in Middle Eastern literature as a paradise on earth, with more than 3500 archaeological sites, and some of the most friendly and welcoming people on earth. The trip takes us to the world’s only Yazidi shrine at Lalish (40 KM from ISIS territory), before heading north to Duhok, the Saddam palace, Amadiya, and then looping around and heading south to Sulamaniyah, and back to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Erbil, checking out lots of cool sights in between.
Back in Erbil, we then fly to Lebanon’s vibrant capital, Beirut and from there will make our way to Syria the next day. This tour is your opportunity to see Syria at a unique point in its history. Until the recent war, the only thing most people knew about Syria was Palmyra and maybe the Krak des Chevaliers, and now Syria’s famous but for all the wrong reasons. But guess what – there’s a lot more to it than you’d expect! Starting with the buzzing old town of Damascus, the streets of which are lined with cool bars and cafes, and young locals smoking shishas and drinking cocktails, we’ll make our way to the war-torn old town of Aleppo, stopping on the way at charming coffee stands and destroyed villages. Shrouded in a coat of destruction, we’ll then visit Palmyra, which now requires special permission to get into, but despite its tragic recent history, is still a breath-taking site. A couple of Assad souvenirs, an afternoon relaxing in a hammam, and no doubt some genuine Syrian hospitality later, we’ll return to Damascus, before ending the tour in Beirut.
For a full-on combo and a complete incursion in the recent war for the Middle-East, why not join our Southern Iraq tour which takes place just before our Iraqi Kurdistan Tour for additional discounts?
Book this combo and your flight between Erbil and Beirut as well as your accommodation in Beirut are included! Those expenses are excluded for those who join only the Syrian Tour. The MEA Erbil-Beirut direct flight often books out well in advance so please make sure to book this tour at least two months before the starting date. If the flight is booked out, YPT reserves the right to change the price of the tour to reflect changes in airfare.
Guests arrive by own means and make their way to the Dynasty Erbil hotel located in the centre of the Christian District of Erbil.
For those that arrive early, we will take a trip to the bazaar to exchange money at the best rates.
We head to the Citadel for sunset, which, although it has seen better days, is still worth a look. We then head into the bazaar where your local guide will help you find some bargains.
In the evening, we head for the welcome dinner, orientation, and drinks at our hotel, where we will review the itinerary as well as welcome our group coming from Southern Iraq.
Overnight in Erbil.
Tuesday October 22nd – Lalish/Alqosh/Duhok
We begin the day nice and early for the two-hour drive to Lalish. This is the most sacred town for the Yazidi people and is extremely interesting. We sometimes encounter Peshmerga along the trip and may have the opportunity to engage in an interesting conversation about the recent war with ISIS.
We then head to the Khanis archaeological site, where it is also possible to have a swim in the fresh water.
Our next stop is at one of the world’s oldest churches built into the mountains in Alqosh. Alqosh is technically part of Mosul and Iraq “proper”.
We head for lunch and a few beers in Alqosh, as luckily it is a Christian town!
Following our slow, late lunch, we drive onwards to Duhok, which is a pleasant old town for our overnight stay.
Walking city tour.
Overnight in Duhok
Wednesday October 23rd – Amadiya/Sarcinc/Rawandas
In the morning, we head to Amadiya, an ancient Jewish city and then to Sarcinc, home to one of Saddam Hussein’s former mountaintop palaces and is truly an amazing site. We spend a few hours exploring and admiring the breathtaking views.
We head to a locally famous cave restaurant for a traditional lunch.
Following lunch, we embark on one of our longer journeys: the four-hour drive to Rawanduz. Stopping along the way for pictures at the Neanderthal “Shanidar Cave” – one of the most important caves of its kind in the world. We will enjoy refreshments here as well.
Walking tour of Rawandas before we head for dinner and drinks.
Overnight in Rawandas in our own cottages for a little cottage party!
Thursday October 24th – Sulaymaniyah
Drive the famously scenic Hamilton road. The road was built by AM Hamilton in the early 1930’s for what he hoped would unify the peoples of the region. Well, in fact, the road has been fought over many times, especially during the war with Iran.
We continue our journey stopping at various waterfalls and mountains for pictures, before getting on the only mountain cable car in the region for breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery.
Lunch at a countryside restaurant.
We take another scenic drive of around 3.5 hours to the second major city of Iraqi Kurdistan, and the most important regarding tourism, Sulaymaniyah. We will be stopping along the way for refreshments and picture opportunities.
In the evening, we take a walk around this historical city before heading into the Christian quarter for dinner and drinks.
Overnight in Sulaymaniyah.
Friday October 25th – Halabja/Tawela/Sulaymaniyah
We take the one-hour drive to Halabja. Halabja was the scene of the mass chemical attack on the Kurdish people, perpetrated by the Baathist regime. Here, we will look at the various shrines to the scene of this atrocity, as well as visit a local museum.
We head to Tawela, the last village in Iraq next to the Iran border, and previously the front line in the Iran/Iraq war. There is also a beautiful waterfall here that we will visit for some relaxation.
Lunch by the border.
We head back to Sulaymaniyah for some leisurely time at Azadi park and bowling centre.
Overnight in Sulaymaniyah.
Saturday October 26th – Sulaymaniyah/Kirkuk/Erbil/Beirut
Free morning to explore Sulaymaniyah with a visit to the famous “Red House” where Saddam imprisoned and tortured thousands of Kurds.
We again hit the road, this time back to Erbil, but instead of taking the short cut, we head through the scenic route, visiting villages and stopping by the ruins of a caravan-serail.
Lunch in a fishing village.
We then complete the scenic two-hour drive back to Erbil, again, stopping for refreshments and photos along the way.
We head to the airport to catch our flight to Lebanon at 5.00pm.
Late dinner and check-in in Beirut, with free time to then explore its nightlife
Overnight in Beirut
*For safety reasons, we chose not to make the Syrian part of the itinerary public. For the detailed itinerary, please send an email to email@example.com*
• Letter of Invitation for Syria
• Accommodation in twin share basis, breakfast included
• Transportation to complete itinerary
• Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the itinerary, except otherwise mentioned
• YPT guide and local guides
• Visa application fees (if needed)
• Single Supplement (€535)
• International transportation to the start of the tour in Erbil
• Tips for the local guides and drivers
• Lunch & Dinner
• Personal Expenses
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.