With Iraqi government troops and Kurdish Peshmerga forces currently conducting hand-to-hand urban warfare with ISIS in Mosul, you might think that Iraqi Kurdistan is a no-go war zone.
You’d be very wrong.
Last October, Young Pioneer Tour’s Shane landed in Erbil, northern Iraq on the very day the offensive to recapture Mosul had started. Our inaugural Iraqi Kurdistan tour had begun.
“Landing in Erbil that day on a short flight from Istanbul we didn’t really know what to expect,” he reflects. “A mother of one of my fellow travelers, who will remain unnamed, had written a strongly worded email to me on the day politely advising us not to travel there. I largely shrugged this off with a broad smile but I have to admit, it did make me reconsider my life choices for a split second. How the heck was I supposed to know a massive offensive on the largest city in Northern Iraq would begin that very day.”
“Anyway we landed, transferred to the hotel and had drinks in a bar that could well have been transplanted from Khaosan Road in Bangkok. It went a long way to putting us at ease and set the tone for the rest of the tour. It was also very welcome, after having just spent a week in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“The next morning we set off into the countryside visiting small villages with incredible hospitality. We passed by military convoys headed for the frontline through stunning landscapes and checkpoints manned by friendly troops. At the end of each long day we relaxed in large cities of modern infrastructure with cheap beer, tasty Kurdish Biryani and killer fun-fairs.”
Here’s a glimpse of what they saw…
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