It’s fair to say there’s not many countries that have gone through the recent troubles that Iraq has; from Saddam’s rule to the Gulf War and US-led invasion in 2003, to civil war, ISIS and becoming a battleground for Iranian-US competition.
But YPT has been running tours to Iraq for 5 years now and it is one of our favourite destinations. We work with expert local guides and keep tight security on all of our tours – though we do this by keeping a low-profile and being flexible with itineraries as they are happening rather than having armed escorts at all times, thus making the tour more meaningful in its interactions with local environments and people.
With the relaxation in visa requirements, now is a great time to visit Iraq!
On this page we will be refering to Iraq proper, and not the unrecognised country of Iraqi Kurdistan – for more information on Kurdistan click here. But we can of course combine tours to both from Baghdad for a Whole Iraq experience.
What can you do in Iraq?
Iraq is a land filled with interesting ruins from ancient times but also many holy cities of Islam. We can also bring you for a boat ride on the Mesapotamian Marshes and city and market tours. You will be surprised by the freedom we have there!
Baghdad is the first stop for most travellers. While traces of Saddam Hussein have been airbrushed from the country, we will get you to meet people who have lived through the Saddam era to hear what it was like, as well as seeing all the main sights of course. As well as all the sights of Baghdad including Liberation Square, the ancient site of Abu Ghraib (not the prison!) and the Alibaba Flying Carpet Museum, we arrange visits to the nearby Great Mosque of Samarra, famous for its minaret.
Islamic Interest Tours
Iraq is the second most important country for Shiite Muslims, has a wealth of mosques and shrines, and YPT can of course arrange Islamic interest tours.
Ancient History Tours
But Islam is of course relatively recent history. As the cradle of Western Civilisation, Iraq is filled with ziggurats, temples and cities such as Babylon dating from ancient days. Young Pioneer Tours can arrange projects related to academia and can facilitate travel in Iraq for documentarists, conservationists, ethnologists, archaeologists and historians both to put you in touch with local experts but also to start field research projects.
For those who are interested in Ancient History but are not necessarily professionals, a visit of the National Museum of Iraq, located in Baghdad is certainly a must!
Located near Basra, the Mesopotamian Marshes are Southern Iraq’s best offer at wildlife sighting. We can arrange boat rides around the marshes where you will see a plethora of birds and plants but also see the local people who live in huts along the marshes.
Overland Tours of Iraq
It is possible to enter Iraq from the Kuwaiti border which is located near Basra. Contact us if you are interested in such a project. We can also arrange overland tours of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan and we recommend doing it in that order rather than the opposite for visa purposes. From Iraqi Kurdistan, one could also go to Iran. At the time being, Young Pioneer Tours does not deem it safe to go between Syria and Iraq overland.
Getting in and out of Iraq
Trips can start from either Baghdad or the land border in Basra and you can visit almost all cities of Iraq including: Najaf, Samara, Karbala, Babylon, Mosul and Tikrit. Another possibility to avoid the relatively crowded Baghdad airport is to fly in and out of the country via Najaf, which has quite a few international flights.