Meet your tour leader and fellow pioneers at Istanbul Ataturk airport before we depart on the 10am Turkish airlines flight direct to Baghdad.
Arrival and meet up with our local guide and fixer who will give an introduction on travelling in Iraq and a breakdown of the itinerary for our stay
Dive by the victory over America Palace and see the square where Saddam’s statue was toppled in 2003. All on the drive in from the airport.
Overnight in the high security“Baghdad Hotel”. Complete with swimming pool, gym and bar!
Wednesday May 1st – Day 2 – Baghdad – Ctesiphone
It’s a Baghdad city tour day and we kick things off with a visit to the National Museum.
Visit the incredible and well renovated Al – Mustansariya School. This is commonly known as the oldest school in the world.
Walk through the adjoining copper market. A wonderful place for souvenirs and photography
We drive an hour outside of the city to the ancient city of Ctesiphone. These days all that’s left is the palace archway which is the largest single span vault of unreinforced brickwork in the world
Back to Baghdad for a feast and overnight.
Thursday May 2nd – Day 3 – Samarra– Abu Ghraib – Baghdad
Up early for the drive north to Samarra. We pass through multiple checkpoints along the route driving by many villages recently destroyed during fighting against ISIS.
Samarra is famous for its Minaret (also known as the Great Mosque of Samarra). We will climb the spiralling staircase all l the way to the top for the 360 degree view. Not for the faint hearted!
Drive back to Baghdad and head straight to Abu Ghraib. No not the prison which is long gone but it’s abandoned and ancient site of Agargouf Ziggurat.
Continue on south to Iraq’s holiest city of Karbala
Dinner and overnight in Karbala
Friday May 3rd – Day 4 – Karbala – Babylon – Najaf
Up early for some Karbala sightseeing taking in the must see Al Abbas mosque and Iman Husayn shrine
Drive to Babylon, once the largest and most important city in the world. We tour the ancient ruins with our local expert and see what’s left of the hanging gardens.
Saddam Hussain Palace – Perched right on top of Babylon, the dictator made sure he had the best view of the site. We spend some time exploring the looted remains of one of his many former palaces.
We drive to Najaf, the third holiest city in Shia Islam. We’ll take in its most important site – the Imam Ali shrine
Dinner and Overnight in Najaf
Saturday May 4th – Day 5 – Najaf – Marshes – Basra
We wake up early for a walking tour of Najaf, including Imam Ali’s house (the very spot where imam Ali was killed) and the Kufa Mosque.
Drive south to the Mesopotamian Marshes. We’ll take a boat trip through the maze of marshes stopping by local villages for tea. The marshes once engulfed a whole swathe of Southern Iraq with numerous floating villages. Today the receding waters have led most families to change their livelihood but we’ll still see the few that remain.
Visit the Adam and Eve tree AKA the tree of knowledge in the village of Qurna. Legend has it that Eve ate the apple from this very tree in the Garden of Eden.
Drive onto Iraq’s southernmost city of Basra
Dinner and overnight in Basra
Sunday May 5th – Day 6 – Basra
We’ll visit the Ashar and Shanashil Al Basra area to catch a glimpse of the old Basra: old style merchant houses with balconies leaning over the narrow streets.
We take a cruise across the Shatt Al Arab river and see some shipwrecks from the Iran-Iraq War from the 80s.
Just like most places in Iraq, Saddam Hussain also built a grand palace in Basra. And of course, we’ll visit it.
Iraq’s biggest football stadium is in Basra. Iraqi’s love their football and are even more proud of the 60,000 seater Basra sports city stadium!
If you’re a train fanatic then this one is for you; we’ll take the only active railroad in Iraq; the night train from Basra to Baghdad.
Monday May 6th – Day 7 – Baghdad
Early arrival into Baghdad train station. The station itself a real highlight so we’ll take some time to get some breakfast and take photos here.
Visit the incredible Suffi shrine, a welcome escape from the city’s hustle and bustle
See the Liberation Square monument, which commemorates the establishment of the Republic of Iraq.
The Al Shaheed Monument is the martyr’s memorial spot for people who died during the Iran-Iraq War. These days it’s a highly controversial monument, as it was originally built during the Saddam era.
And of course, Baghdad can’t be complete with a visit to the Flying Carpet Monument, Alibi Baba and the 40 thieves’ monument and the Magic Lamp monument.
Departure and end of the tour
Those continuing onto the Kurdistan tour will take the evening flight to Erbil