I thought I would write a more detailed trip report on Iraq seeing as though there's a few of you dudes going! Hope it helps,
So first off in reply to questions
Jpyrek - it's not half half but barely a third, take. Look at the map of Iraq on google maps and draw an imaginary line from the west of Musul from the Syrian border and draw that line Over the top of Musul and then Under Irbil and then continue to the eastern border... That's the north! Musul is Not included!
Pan European - the roads.... Well yeah they are certainly doable, it's just every so often you suddenly ride over that scratched road surface which can make your front tire wobble, also some of them are pretty battered due to heavy military movement, finally there's a lot of road works going on from ukranian companies and so you will have to do a few little stretches of off roaring.... But certainly you will be fine on your bike.... If you came through turkey you will be prepared!
So visiting Iraq... I wouldn't bother going if your hoping for beautiful scenery as you will find more of that in turkey... Also there is no point if your going for bragging rights like 'dude I just totally went there' as it certainly is not dangerous and exciting in that sense.... Despite the worries that your family will push upon you when you reveal your plans!
I would only go if your interested in experiencing Kurdish culture, customs and to experience their unique level of hospitality... And their love for over landing motorcyclists!
that said and done
The tukish border.... I would tackle VERY early or VERY late as it gets busy and the Turks push... On the Turkish half... Obviously ride straight past the three miles of turcks, and even when exiting the Kurdish half always ride to the front of the que as you will be there for hours
The Kurdish half is very easy, there's a few photocopies and stuff but you won't hand over any money at all and someone will help you all the way...
You will get stopped by loads of soldier dudes.... But all they say is welcome to Kurdistan... A tipnis when in turkey... Do not call it Kurdistan but north Iraq. When in north Iraq call it kurdistan
Take USD as they are king, take plenty of it too, don't worry about getting Iraqi Dina IQD before you enter just USD... You can pay for anything with USD, taxi, petrol, fruit, whatever no matter how small and they will give you the change in IQD. I stopped checking the exchange rate after 20 times as I realized how honest they were. Money changers are everywhere or there are banks. Banks tend not to accept or deal with anything other than USD or IQD... There is an ATM in Erbil in the sheriton but I was told it wagon off and the one ATM I did find didn't accept foreign cards... Go prepared with USD
In GBP -
England = 15
turkey = 18
Iraq = 3
So, there are three main cities, Zakho, Dohuk and Erbil.
Zakho is right near the border and an easy place to hang out, tiny city and easy to navigate. It's a good place to sleep if youv just arrived in Iraq and want o get your bearings and also if your leaving early, sleep there and then d the border at first light. If you visit Zakho, ride into the centre and you will reach the main roundabout, on this roundabout there is a shop front in the shape of a huge green apple, you can't miss it! I think it's called the apple bar. If you have just arrived definitely go there. The owners name is Sarbast and he speaks pretty much perfect English and is super helpful! His apple bar sells fresh fruit juice, I had a lot and he wouldn't let me pay, he also put my bike in his front drive way for the night which is gated and locked, so that i could stay in a cheap hotel and not worry about the bike. He took me for a drive around the city at night too. He can help with most things and is a really nice dude
Dohuk is my favorite, bigger than Zakho and smaller than Erbil. Nothing to do there specifically but the people are very cool. There is a hotel called zozik easy to find down the main street, the manager speaks English and let's you wheel your bike into the hotel reception, 20 USD a night include breakfast. Dohuk the bazar is interesting to see, I'd recommend the shisha smoking cafe, just sit in one or a tea shop for two minutes and someone will come and speak to you in English, one of three types of people, either they have studied English, they have lived in an English speaking country or they worked for the us army as a soldier, security, special forces dude or if they're young then they were an interpreter.
From Dohuk you can do excursions to al amidayah which is a village onto of a mountain and a nice ride
Erbil... A big city, people are busy and have that big city mentality.... There's a citadel there but nothing interesting.... Not really much point in visiting. But if you do then you have to go past Musul, and for the love of god don't end up there. There's checkpoints blocking it off so don't worry.... You will ride in close proximity though.... It's about a three hour ride.... Be prepared for countless military stops.... Super friendly soldiers, police that all want photos and close to Erbil you can sometimes get nasty sandstorms.... A tip.... When asked which team you support in kurdistan say Barcelona!
Leaving.... Kurdish side is pretty straight forward... I think you need a ticket which costs 25 dollars, a yellow piece of paper, I saw every vehicle buying one.... But I managed to get through without one, (I'll explain how in the blog)...As I pulled in, two huge helicopters were getting ready to take off, with all the guns attached... Have never seen that at a border before... I think it was yank as they were wearing aviator shades! The turkish side is a pain in the arse!
About half an hour checking through my gear, another half an hour as they wanted identification and the narcotics officer was adamant that there is another form of ID OTHER than my passport... Despite me telling him continuously there isn't.... Then an hours interrogation in a booth with a million questions....
Bang! You just visited northern Iraq!
I have a ton of photos and more details on the stories, people and experiences in Iraq if anyone is interested.... Or bored