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Mr B 06-11-2013 02:00 AM

What about Iraq?
Just asking, has anyone read any reports of touring in Iraq, I am here working as a contractor and from what I have seen, from the air, the country has some amazing potential for back road traveling. But I never see any Ride Reports? Everyone I have met is super nice and respectful and I only wish I had my bike here and the time to venture north. I understand there are dangers here in Baghdad, but would think up north would be the place to go.
Just wondering.....

pzs 06-12-2013 01:07 AM

You could be the first to post a ride report.... Adventure before dementia, or maybe death which ever comes first. Go on what are you waiting for.

chris98vf 06-16-2013 09:53 AM

I'm a contractor in Afghanistan and I see the same thing. If it weren't for the IED's this would be the worlds largest off road park. Unfortunately with all the Russian mines and now Taliban IED's this place won't be safe to ride for a century or two.

amzouri 07-10-2013 06:36 PM

Must be accompanied by a highly experienced Arab
All have fully....

puzzel 12-12-2013 11:08 AM

The only problem with north part of Iraq is that it's really hard to buy a bike here.

Since January I live in Erbil, which is capital of Iraqi Kurdistan - autonomous region in the north Iraq (basically everything going north from Mosul/Kirkuk).
Region is safe, there is absolutely no danger to travel inside Kurdistan. A lot of countries (all EU, USA, Canada and few others) have "visa on arrival" which you can get at the airport or on the border. This visa allow you to travel for 15 days across Kurdistan only, you cannot go to other parts of Iraq. It's important to remember about it when you plan to go from Turkey border to Erbil, google maps will always suggest road through Mosul, but you are not allowed to go there (I know people who did it, again soldiers were friendly, but you loose a lot of time on explanation at the checkpoint) and it's not that safe as Kurdistan.

Traveling is very easy. There is a lot of checkpoints, but soldiers are usually lazy and friendly. I traveled quite a lot by car and after few trips you master the "hand wave" and they don't even stop you. Even if they do, they are friendly and very often (especially far from the capital) want you to go out from the car to take a picture ;) I met & hosted a lot of hitchhikers from Europe, bicycle travelers and they all were positive about Kurdistan.

Kurdistan is different than Iraq in every way. There is a lot of nice views, google pictures from Rawanduz, Soran, Shaqlawa, Duhok, Dokan lake and the capital - Erbil. I I'm considering for next year to go home (Poland) buy a bike and come back on it. Then I will spend every weekend for trips.

Concerning time when to come. Now it's too cold I guess, max 5 C during the day and sometimes below 0 during the night. Even worse in the mountains, where is snow. In the summer (July/August) temp reaches 50 C. The best time to visit is during the spring. From middle of March all the way to June. 21st of March is a big Kurdish holiday - Newroz, new year's eve in Kurdish calendar. It's warm enough, so everyone is going out of town to Shaqlawa or Rawanduz for campings, etc. Everything is nice and green. Autumn is ok with temperatures, but everything is burned by the sun so it's closer to desert and air is very dusty.

wow, that's a looong post for a first entry to the forum ;)
Anyway, if you would like to plan trip, I'm sure it's worth it. For now I'm planning to stay littlebit longer in Erbil, so if you need some help, advise with the route or just ask some question about Kurdistan, write me and I will try to help.
If you need a place to stay, there is a lot of people using Couchsurfing so there is a big chance you can find it.

And I found one article about riding here:

IvanRUS 12-20-2013 03:09 AM

Hello puzzel!
There were reports in the press that there is no longer a special visa to Kurdistan, Iraq only visa from Embassy.
(I plan to travel from Turkey to Jordan). :(((

puzzel 12-20-2013 12:13 PM

Hello IvanRus
For UE nothing has changed, you'll get visa on arrival. But for Russian passports I think you need to apply for visa before. I'm not sure, so it's better to check. I googled two sources for you:
Russian consulate in Erbil:
KRG department of foreign affairs:

Write to them and everything will be clear. Press is not a valid source in those cases.

But definitely if you want to go all the way to Jordan you need Iraqi visa, not only Kurdistan (everything to the south from Mosul/Kirkuk is not KRG anymore). South Iraq is still not a safe place to travel, so think twice before you go. Especially when there is also unstable situation in Syria.

Stay safe!

bens109 03-05-2014 03:18 AM

We traveled through the Kurdish region last year from Turkey down to Erbil then east to Iran. Entry visa was very easy though they did a rather long check of vin numbers and filled in multiple form before they let us clear customs. Navigation was a little trickier than some places and the roads were horrible especially coming in to Erbil at night. Lots of armed check points but everyone was friendly.

Nanuq 03-05-2014 03:31 AM


puzzel 03-05-2014 09:12 AM


Originally Posted by bens109 (Post 23618108)
Navigation was a little trickier than some places and the roads were horrible especially coming in to Erbil at night.

About that, I think the best for Iraqi Kurdistan is Sygic (for iOS or Android), if you have it on your phone it will show you all the roads, even small ones, new parts of Erbil which did not existed 1-2 years ago.

Mr B 04-01-2014 01:47 PM

It has been almost I year and I am back in the US now, still thinking I would want to try some sort of Iraq to Normandy type trip, kind of bucket list type thing. Think I will try and learn the language too. I enjoyed my year in Iraq, I went to make some money and accomplish a few goals financially. Feel bad for all the folks trying to live and work in Baghdad and southern Iraq...Lots of fighting when we departed very close to our compound at the airport. Unfortunately the only time I saw anything but the airport was when we fly to Amman or Dubai, as we were not allowed off base.
Maybe someday someone will develop a tour guide type business and bring groups to Erbil and explore the moutons of Northern Iraq.

puzzel 04-02-2014 12:44 AM


Originally Posted by Mr B (Post 23832560)
Maybe someday someone will develop a tour guide type business and bring groups to Erbil and explore the moutons of Northern Iraq.

Everything is here already. There are few companies in Europe who are organizing trips to visit Kurdistan in general. Or if you are already here there is couple toud guides to take you around the city.
And mountains... we are going almost every weekend, sometimes 2 days trips. So, don't wait till "someday" and come here now when it's still not developed to the maximum, means cost less and you can enjoy wild nature, not trash and queues to go to the top of the mountain ;)

XtreemLEE 04-02-2014 01:07 AM

After watching youtube videos of some poor fucker getting his head sawed off for going on the internet and drinking alcohal, I think I wont ever go there and amazingly don't even want to... Maybe its because I like my head attached to me body:thumbup

puzzel 04-02-2014 01:20 AM

That would suck, you're right ;)

But I'm sure it didn't happen in north part of Iraq (Kurdistan), here everyone drinks alcohol (not only expats, majority are locals ;)) and internet is free as in europe... slow, but free ;)

South Iraq, yep... if you are not travelling with armored guards don't go.

paddyhannen 04-11-2014 09:36 AM

mid east issues
hi gents im in oman lookin to do a loop through all of the usual suspects, seeing alot of the same you are( large rideable gaps through media bullshit warzones)
It'd be good to see how the visa stuff and CDP's work round here, ive found a couple of bikes in dxb i can play with. not keen on a guided tour so much, rather go on my own or with other privateers

any thoughts?

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