Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Regional Forums > Middle East

Middle East Topics specific to the Middle East countries, from Syria south to Yemen
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

Like Tree3Likes

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 29 Sep 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 29
IRAQ = a must see

Hey guys!

Thought I would post up a mini report on visiting northern iraq as there arnt many posts around...

As background... Im a solo rider, 23, rode from the UK to Iraq, the bike is an XT660R.

So, I entered Iraq via Turkey, the turkish half was crazy and nothing like the turkish border from bulgaria... you literally have to barge, shout and elbow your way to the front of the single miniscule window surrounded by a swarm of pissed of turks...

anyway heres the good bit... the iraqi half was the best border ive ever crossed through! free tea, leather chairs and a few questions...




Costs

Visa: FREE 10 day visa on arrival at the border
Carnet: NOT required
Total costs: NONE... all free

Northern Iraq is under semi autonomous Kurdish control, and the cities such as Dohuk are among the safest in the world... far safer than any western city... in fact their so safe their boaring...

Northern Iraq has been like no place i have ever visited before... i have never experienced kindness as i have here... the people are phenomenal. In restaurants, the owners refuse to take my money, if i want a banana or some fruit they wont let me pay, when i walk into a shop to grab a couple of bottles of water they just flat out refuse my money and say no its a present, today i tried to pay for a fresh orange juice but the owner said no you are a guest of iraq.. come and visit my family instead ... it is literally just continous

Danger is relative, it is true that Dohuk is 80 km from Moussel, one of the most dangerous cities in the world BUT... you cant accidently enter as there are military checkpoints absoloutly everywhere and they block of all entrances... i rode right past it twice on a 400 km ride deeper south.

the police and military are great... always smiling always saying welcome to kurdistan...


the only annoying thing about this place is that the army and police stop me every twenty minutes as they all want their mates to take photos of themselves with their arms around me next to the bike....

Sorry this is a super quick poorly written report, i dont have a lot of time on the net and its kebab time

I have a detailed report with some cool photos on my blog if your interested:

Middle East Overlander

middleeastoverlander.blogspot.com

PS ... atms dont work and you must bring US dollars ONLY dont expect to change anything else... everything here is super dooper cheap and your spending like one dollar per meal etc...

Thanks!

Andy

(a couple of taster photos



Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 29 Sep 2011
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 908
Hi Andy:

Thanks for the great report, it sounds like a worthwhile place to visit.

Do you think the roads are generally in good enough condition that I could do a trip there on a Honda ST 1100 (a PanEuropean)? I am particularly interested in riding secondary roads, not primary highways (but, not 'off road', obviously).

Michael
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 29 Sep 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 261
Beware

Hey Andy,

Sound like your having a great time in beautiful Northern Iraq. It is beautiful and the people are some of the nicest you'll ever meet and you have headed to probably the best area of Iraq, the Northern Kurdish controlled area.

I've been and worked there, Kirkuk, Erbil, Mosul and pretty much everywhere else in Iraq as I'm a close protection operator and medic in the much frowned upon 'Private Security' sector working here since 2003. I'm currently working in Basra and will be home in 15 days!

But I'd like to remind fellow bikers and overlanders that as the Kurdish autonomous regions are the safest, the southern parts ARE NOT!! Kidnapping here is rife and generates lots of money, militia controlled areas are still abundant despite what the US says and corruption in the Police and Military is second only to Afghanistan. I get paid rather well to look after people here and have seen many things in my time. I would hate for a tourist to get him/herself into trouble in this part of the country..!

The requirement of permits for tourists to travel in the south are obligatory with foreign registered vehicles and having a British or US plated vehicle will set you up as a target immediatley. Please don't get me wrong and I don't want to pee in your soup but I would not recommend the south as a place to visit as of this moment, this place is still too dodgy and may be for some time to come.

I love biking and travelling and having been here for over 7 years I can say this with confidence that when this place does get to be safer, it will be one of my touring places on a bike as there is soo much to see, Temple of UR, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Garden of Eden, Crossed Swords of Baghdad (see me in pic) etc, etc...

If anyone has any questions about this area then please feel free to ask, if I can't answer then I can pass you onto someone that probably can!

Be safe..!

p.s, my signature at the bottom.... doesn't apply to here cos that'd would just be stupid!
__________________
Geoffshing

'Security is a product of one's own imagination, it does not exist in nature as a rule, life is either a daring adventure or nothing.'

Last edited by geoffshing; 4 Weeks Ago at 13:35.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 29 Sep 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 102
We are looking at crossing Iraq into Jordan rather than risk Syria. Do you think this is safe. Quite happy to take the plates off the car and travel through.

So the big questions are...
Visa at border ?
Travel South to Jordan following the border ?
UK Car, UK passorts.
Possible of not?
Safe or not?
Stop off's in Iraq on the alleged 10 day Visa ?

Comments extremely welcome. Personal opinion welcome !

Thanks

Im out of contact till Saturday Evening. No web access.
__________________
www.overlandbirds.com
1 Male, 1 Female, 1 Landrover, UK Passports (2 each), UK Carnet
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 30 Sep 2011
Tim Cullis's Avatar
Moderator
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Putney, SW London
Posts: 1,338
Thanks Andy and Geoff, interesting posts.
__________________
"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

Access the Morocco Knowledgebase
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 30 Sep 2011
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sheffield
Posts: 1,037
Great blog Andy - have added Iraq to my list!

Noted Geoff - will try and take a better map with me and steer well clear of any trouble- my ability to end up in the wrong country might not be so amusing out there!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 30 Sep 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 261
Syria

Niel,

Syria has got a lot of press lately, in-fighting with the government and it's people.
Iraq (Southern) is famous for anti-western militias and there is still a lot of resentment amongst it's security forces and the corruption is everywhere. Cops get paid $400 per month and to tip off a local criminal gang for a kidnapping is worth a couple of thousand to them in one cell phone call!!

yeah, you can get a visa on the border but look at google maps (map, middle east - Google Maps) as there are not roads, (not main ones) that follow the border. You'll mainly run into Iraqi or Syrian border patrols and there's a lot of unmarked desert (see pic!) out there so even following the borders is difficult. "Your in Syria!" ..."No I'm Not..!" "YES YOU ARE.... GRRR!" and so forth! I was out there in 2009/10 looking after the US Geological society and ran into the border patrols, they even tried to convince us we were in the wrong country, when the patrol leader checked our map he was looking at it UPSIDE DOWN with lots of thoughtfull Umm and Ahhs. We were also armed to the teeth so they let us keep going on our merry way.

My advice, stick to Syria... their in-fighting is what it is, in-fighting between the government and it's people, not the tourists etc, their infastructure is better and with any luck they'll just leave you alone to get on with your journey. I wouldn't shout 'Big Up the President..!' or 'Down with the People!' either..! LOL!!
__________________
Geoffshing

'Security is a product of one's own imagination, it does not exist in nature as a rule, life is either a daring adventure or nothing.'

Last edited by geoffshing; 4 Weeks Ago at 13:35.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 30 Sep 2011
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sheffield
Posts: 1,037
Ha, the link to the 'middle east' map just showed me the 'East Midlands' instead!
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 30 Sep 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 29

Thanks Henry for readıng the blog

So ı was goıng to add to the good advıce from geoff
I dont actually thınk ıts possıble to get ınto the southern part of ıraq... and ı of course agree that no one should go! You would need a dıfferent vısa for the south an arab-ıraqı vısa and ı am pretty sure (from what ı have researched and heard) that these are near enough ımpossıble for tourısts

as for fındıng yourself there accıdently.... ıts pretty much an ımpossıbılıty unless your a serıous off roader... there are border patrols and checkpoınts lıterally everywhere and these checkpoınts stop entry ınto the south.

As for navıgatıon... ı dıdnt have a map for ıraq (or gps) and ı got around just fıne, just have to read the sıgns... well sıgnposted ın englısh and arabıc... although sometımes theres just arabıc but ı just pulled over and asked someone! travelled from Zakho to Dohuk, al amadıyah and then all the way to the capıtal Irbıl (around 3 hours from Dohuk)....also left my bıke ın a hotel and hıtchıked quıte long dıstances ... felt extremely safe even old people ın cars were stoppıng to pıck me up... on the bıke ıts a pıece of pıss!

To neıl.bırd - lıke ı prevıously saıd... ı thınk ıts an ımpossıbılıty for you to go southwards ın ıraq so thats not an optıon for you.... even ıf ıt was... do not under any cırcumstances!
The ten day vısa ıs ONLY applıcable for the semı-autonomous northern part of ıraq under Kurdısh control....
I also wouldnt advıse takıng your plates off as every 20 mınutes you wıll be stopped and your papers and passport wıll be checked and you wıll have to have a photo wıth the guy checkıng them and then another one wıth hıs mates

personal opınıon for what ıts worth.... ı was very tempted to rıde solo through syrıa. ı got rıght onto the border and at the last moment changed my mınd... but thats because ı wanted to tour syrıa not rıde straıght through... (ıve travelled through syrıa for 7 months before so wasnt a massıve downer for me) anyway to jordan the maın hıghway passes through homms and hama the two worst affected areas... for the best and most up-to-date ınformatıon on travellıng ın syrıa go to the lonely planet thorn tree forum as there are people there now and wrıtıng about ıt! BUT dont forget that those dudes have eıther flown strıaght to damascus whıch ıs safe or aleppo whıch ıs safe and have warned others NOT to travel outsıde those two major cıtıes

Your call dude

Hope that ramble helps

Andy
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 30 Sep 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Norn' Iron'
Posts: 89
hmm, Iraq, who'd have thought? Thanks for the interesting and thought provoking post.

Neil
__________________
Belfast to Kathmandu on a Diesel motorbike 2010/11 www.suckindiesel.com
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 30 Sep 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: istanbul
Posts: 619
Andy,
Hope very soon you will be aware of the mistakes you are doing and be back to Turkey in 1 piece or without being kidnapped.Don't forget the Turkish hospitality and support you got here..
You know our club well and we always give travellers the right advices.
SAFETY FIRST.
2up2far
We highly recommend everybody to keep away from Syria and Iraq.

Wish you all the best.
mehmet zeki...
__________________
Mehmet Zeki Avar
''Friendly Pit-Stop in İstanbul'' https://www.facebook.com/mehmet.avar.12?ref=tn_tnmn
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 1 Oct 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 29

Hı Zekı

Whılst I agree that Syrıa ıs currently a pretty dangerous place to travel, ı do have to completely dısagree wıth your opınıon on Kurdısh controlled Northern Iraq.
Agaın - I am specıfıcally talkıng about the North of Iraq whıch ıs Not under Arab control but under Kurdısh... ıts pretty much a seperate entıty! although polıtıcally ıts semı-autonomous... to travel to the south ıs pretty much an ımpossıbılıty and danger of endıng up there accıdently ıs extremely unlıkely as ıts all blocked off by armed checkpoınts wıth passport control.

I am back ın Turkey now after spendıng one week of travel there and I have to say ıt truly was the hıghlıght of my trıp. I have been travellıng solo at 23 years old from the UK to Iraq for nearly 4 months and whılst dealıng wıth problems ın pretty much every country ı have never felt safer and more welcomed than when ı was ın Iraq.

I met an Amerıcan guy there and we travelled together for a whıle and he had been backpackıng for 4 years now... all over the world and hıs opınıon was the same as mıne... he had never felt safer and we both remarked how we lıterally felt lıke we could sleep on the street ın the mıddle of the cıty and have no problems what so ever. - ın fact ı dont thınk the kurds would have let us ... gıve ıt two mınutes and someone would have bought us lunch and tea and we would have been ın someones house eatıng dınner wıth the famıly... ı would put bıg bucks on ıt!

Its a shame to hear you advısıng others not to vısıt, as that sort of stereotypıcal fear ınvolved wıth the word 'ıraq' wıll cause many adventurer's to mıss out on one of the mıddle easts most; safest, frıendlıest, cheapest, easy to access and pretty much 'undıscovered' pearls.

As for realısıng my 'mıstake' ... If you had ever been there you would laugh at that sentence

Take care all
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 1 Oct 2011
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post
Hı Zekı

Whılst I agree that Syrıa ıs currently a pretty dangerous place to travel, ı do have to completely dısagree wıth your opınıon on Kurdısh controlled Northern Iraq.
Agaın - I am specıfıcally talkıng about the North of Iraq whıch ıs Not under Arab control but under Kurdısh... ıts pretty much a seperate entıty! although polıtıcally ıts semı-autonomous... to travel to the south ıs pretty much an ımpossıbılıty and danger of endıng up there accıdently ıs extremely unlıkely as ıts all blocked off by armed checkpoınts wıth passport control.

I am back ın Turkey now after spendıng one week of travel there and I have to say ıt truly was the hıghlıght of my trıp. I have been travellıng solo at 23 years old from the UK to Iraq for nearly 4 months and whılst dealıng wıth problems ın pretty much every country ı have never felt safer and more welcomed than when ı was ın Iraq.

I met an Amerıcan guy there and we travelled together for a whıle and he had been backpackıng for 4 years now... all over the world and hıs opınıon was the same as mıne... he had never felt safer and we both remarked how we lıterally felt lıke we could sleep on the street ın the mıddle of the cıty and have no problems what so ever. - ın fact ı dont thınk the kurds would have let us ... gıve ıt two mınutes and someone would have bought us lunch and tea and we would have been ın someones house eatıng dınner wıth the famıly... ı would put bıg bucks on ıt!

Its a shame to hear you advısıng others not to vısıt, as that sort of stereotypıcal fear ınvolved wıth the word 'ıraq' wıll cause many adventurer's to mıss out on one of the mıddle easts most; safest, frıendlıest, cheapest, easy to access and pretty much 'undıscovered' pearls.

As for realısıng my 'mıstake' ... If you had ever been there you would laugh at that sentence

Take care all

Thank you for your post, there is too much 'hype' out there.
By the way, Egypt is 'still the same as it ever was' ,
Cheers
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 3 Oct 2011
Knight of the Holy Graal's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Mantova, Italy
Posts: 558
Thanks for these info, Andy, they are a treasure to me!

I and my girl are planning to cross northern part of Iraq in summer 2012 on our way to Iran, and yours is a thread I'll save into the "favourite" of my browser to recover it quickly when needed.

Greetings from Italy.
__________________
Nick and his 2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 3 Oct 2011
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: RTW
Posts: 404
Thanks for the great post! Is it possible to get to Iran via northern Iraq? At least googlemaps shows a road from Rayat to Iran.
__________________
www.whereishemuli.eu
Riding round the World

Facebook:WhereIsHemuli
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Greetings from Iraq Miquel-Silvestre Ride Tales 4 27 May 2011 06:07
Iraq rtwdoug Middle East 6 19 Dec 2010 16:59
Syria and Iraq questions Marcos Middle East 34 8 Jul 2010 10:25
Iraq danielsprague Middle East 4 29 Dec 2005 04:41
Maps of iraq beady Navigation - Maps, Compass, GPS 1 10 Apr 2004 05:42

 
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 17:07.