How To Travel Overland To Iraq (Kurdistan)

How To Travel Overland To Iraq (Kurdistan)

By |2016-10-01T23:24:23-04:00December 20th, 2010|"How To" Travel Guides, Iraq|77 Comments

Travel Overland To Iraq - Kurdistan, Iraq
Now that I know you’re interested in possibly wanting to travel overland to Iraq (right?), I thought it might be helpful to provide a detailed guide on how to get there. Sure, there’s always the option of simply flying directly into the regional capital of Erbil, with semi-frequent flights now operating from destinations within both Europe and the Middle East. Such airlines as Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, FlyDubai and Atlas Jet all offer service in and out of Iraqi Kurdistan these days.

However, dishing out $500+ USD for a return flight from Istanbul to Erbil might not be too appealing for those with a budget traveler’s bank account and besides, for those with a little more time or perhaps adventurous spirit, going overland is an option you might want to consider.

I chose to travel overland to Iraq, or Iraqi Kurdistan to be specific, starting my long journey from the city of Aleppo, Syria. And first, I will say that just as traveling to Iraq in general is not for everyone, neither is embarking on the overland adventure to get there. The route from Syria/Turkey to Iraq is not exactly a hot backpacker’s trail, so if you’re looking for comfort, organization, fresh juice and banana pancakes along the way, you may want to go with the flight option instead 🙂

View Syria to Iraq Overland in a larger map

Overland from Syria to Iraqi Kurdistan

Since the route from Syria passes through Turkey as well, this information should be useful for every traveler trying to make their way to the Turkish/Iraqi border, regardless of where you begin your journey.

Stage 1: Getting to Qamishli

Wherever you may be in Syria, you’ll need to take a bus to Qamishli, a low-key, bakery-obsessed town located in the eastern region of the country, right alongside the Turkish border. Buses depart regularly from both Aleppo (5.5 hours) and Damascus (9 hours) and whatever service you choose, it would be ideal for you to arrive in Qamishli before 8:00am, which is the time that the border with Turkey opens for business. I took a night bus from Aleppo and arrived in Qamishli at 6am.

On a side note, you can expect to encounter checkpoints en route to Qamishli, and chances are, the soldiers that question you will then phone ahead and inform the secret police in Qamishli of your arrival. Very few foreigners visit this town and due to some issues with a possible American spy a few years back, the town is a bit on edge. When my bus arrived at the bus station, a driver appeared out of nowhere, asked me if I was Mr Derek Earl and then proceeded to drive me to a hotel to rest for two hours until the border opened. At the hotel, the manager began asking me an odd collection of personal questions, and eventually admitted that he was instructed to do so by the secret police. It was nothing frightening at all, simply a bit odd.

If you arrive in Qamishli after 1:00pm, you’ll have a decision to make. You probably won’t make it any farther than Nusaybin that day, the Turkish town on the other side of the border, as transportation stops running to other parts of Turkey in the early afternoon. So you can either spend the night in Qamishli (ask for Hotel Asia – excellent rooms for $10 USD/night) or in Nusaybin, where prices are going to be higher.

If all goes well, you’ll preferably be crossing the border at around 8:00am and it should take about an hour in total to pass through both Syrian and Turkish immigration. The Syrian side was extraordinarily friendly, even though I spent a great deal of time trying to explain my profession (eventually we all happily settled on “Photoshop man” for some bizarre reason).

Travel Overland To Iraq - Qamishli, Syria

The Turkish side was quite different. Here’s a tip. DO NOT mention the word Kurdistan at all when speaking to the Turkish immigration officers. Tell them your destination is simply IRAQ unless you want to be subjected to one angry immigration officer screaming (with spit flying) at you for a few minutes. (Turkey officially does not recognize Kurdistan and is currently fighting against the Kurdish Workers’ Party in the eastern part of the country.)

Details of Stage 1:
Bus: Damascus to Qamishli – 250 SP or 500 SP for VIP service ($6 USD / $12 USD)
Bus: Aleppo to Qamishli – 250 SP or 450 SP for VIP service ($6 USD / $11 USD)
Departure Tax: Upon leaving Syria, you must pay 500 SP at the immigration office.
Turkish Visa: Depending on your nationality, you will typically receive a 90-day multiple entry visa that ranges in cost from free to about $25 USD. If you already have a Turkish visa, then you won’t have to pay again.

Stage 2: Nusaybin to Cizre

Once crossing the border into Turkey, you’ll walk a few minutes along a dusty road before entering the edge of Nusaybin, where you’ll pass a couple of laid-back taxi drivers offering to take you somewhere for an exorbitant amount of money as well as a couple of money-changers (nothing official, just men carrying around money).

If you walk up the road for five more minutes, you’ll actually enter the town itself, where you’ll find an ATM on your left and a helpful police booth on your right. Simply ask the policemen, who don’t speak any English, where to find the ‘dolmus to Cizre’.

(Useful Tips: A dolmus is a shared van and is the most common mode of passenger transport in these parts and the word ‘Cizre’ is pronounced ‘Jeez ray’, something I wish I had known at the time.)

The police, and a combination of locals you meet along the way, will guide you to a dolmus stop in the middle of town, from where you can catch a ride to the main ‘highway’ where you will find the vans heading to the town of Cizre. Just keep repeating ‘Cizre, Cizre, Cizre’ to everyone you meet and before you know it, you’ll actually be on your way to Cizre.

Details of Stage 2:
Dolmus: Nusaybin town to the main highway – 10 minutes / 1 Turkish Lira (75 US cents)
Dolmus: Main highway to Cizre – 2 hours / 8 Turkish Lira ($5.50 USD)
Note: The dolmus to Cizre does not leave according to a timetable, only when full of passengers.
Note: The ATM in Nusaybin only dispenses Turkish Lira but there is an ATM in Silopi that dispenses US Dollars.
Note: A private taxi from Nusaybin to the Turkey/Iraq border will cost about $100 USD.

Travel Overland To Iraq - Dolmus to Cizre, Turkey

Stage 3: Cizre to Silopi

Upon arrival in the center of Cizre, simply walk up to someone and say ‘Silopi?’ The person will most likely point to the street where you’ll find a group of vans, each with a different destination written in the window. Locate the one that says “Silopi”, climb in and wait for the dolmus to fill up. Once it’s full, off you’ll go for the short ride to Silopi.

However, keep in mind that the later in the day you arrive, the less chance there will be that you’ll find a dolmus. From what I gathered, most of the vans stop running after 1:00pm, so if you arrive later than that time, you might want to hire a private taxi for the ride to Silopi, which costs around $15 – $20 USD.

Details of Stage 3:
Dolmus: Cizre to Silopi – 20-30 minutes / 2.5 Turkish Lira ($1.75 USD)

Stage 4: Silopi to Zakho

*If you’re starting off in Turkey and not Syria, you’ll simply need to make your way to the town of Silopi as well, which can easily be reached by bus or a combination of shared vans from Diyarbakir or Mardin, two larger cities in Eastern Turkey.

This is the most exciting stage as you’ll finally cross the border from Turkey into Iraq! But of course, it’s not that straightforward, and when you arrive in Silopi, unless you somehow managed to get there before 12 noon, it’s going to be a challenge finding a ride across the border. There are only a limited number of taxis that are properly licensed to make this trip and most of them head off early in the morning, stay in Iraq for the night and return the next day. So once they’ve all gone, you might have to wait until the following morning.

Once in Silopi, ask anyone on the street where to find a ‘taxi to Zakho’, which is the border town on the Iraqi side. The taxi drivers generally congregate on a random street corner in the center of Silopi, right next to a “Bankomatic” ATM machine, and within seconds of arriving on this street corner, someone will ask where you’re headed and the long process of finding a shared taxi to Zakho will begin.

However, you probably won’t have to do much as the staff who work in the taxi office on the corner will begin making phone calls, shrugging shoulders and yelling out questions to every driver that passes by. If you’re lucky, a taxi will soon be found. Of course, once you do have a taxi and driver lined up, the next step is finding more passengers to split the cost with you. Hopefully there will be some local Iraqis waiting to make the same trip or else you’ll have to pay for four seats, which will prove to be extremely expensive.

If you’re in no rush, you can also spend the night in Silopi, wake up early in the morning and find a shared taxi without any problem. I got lucky when I arrived, as there were four other locals waiting to go to Iraq and after 30 minutes, a taxi was located. And then a few minutes later, we were waiting in the below line at Turkish immigration.

Travel Overland To Iraq - Silopi, Turkey, Border with Iraq

Once your taxi ride to Iraq begins, here’s what to expect…

  • You’ll hand over your passport to the taxi driver who will keep it with him until you reach Iraq.
  • A ten minute drive from Silopi to the Turkish border, where you’ll wait in a long line of vehicles for your exit stamp. (Average wait time is 1.5 hours)
  • A five minute drive to the Iraqi border where you’ll enter the large immigration hall. Your driver will hand your passport to an immigration official and then you’ll take a seat in one of the comfortable chairs and wait until your name is called out. Once you hear your name, you can collect your passport, although foreigners typically have to answer a few questions about why they’re visiting Iraq before getting the stamp. (Average wait time is 1 hour)
  • You’ll pass through a very thorough Iraqi customs inspection as well as 3 heavily-guarded checkpoints within a distance of about 300 meters.
  • You’ll finally arrive at the “Garaj” in the Iraqi town of Zakho, where you’ll find shared taxis to other destinations within Kurdistan.

Details of Stage 4:
Money: Silopi is your last chance to get cash as there are no ATMs in Iraqi Kurdistan. Your best bet is the Garanti ATM located on the main road a block down from where you catch a taxi to the border. This ATM dispenses cash in either Turkish Lira or US Dollars, both of which can easily be exchanged for Iraqi Dinars once you cross the border.
Shared Taxi: Silopi to Zahko – 2-4 hours / 20 Turkish Lira or $15 USD or 20,000 Iraqi Dinars. This official price is based on four people sharing the taxi.
Iraqi Kurdistan Entry: Citizens of the US, Canada, EU, Japan and Australia receive a free 10-day visa upon arrival. All other nationalities must obtain a special Iraqi Kurdistan visa from an Iraqi Embassy or Consulate before arrival or else you will not be allowed entry.

Travel Overland To Iraq - Amediya, Kurdistan, Iraq

Stage 5: Zakho and Beyond…

Welcome to Iraqi Kurdistan!

If all went according to plan (which most likely will not happen at all), you’ll arrive in Zakho by 3pm, just in time to catch one of the last shared taxis of the day to either Dohuk or Erbil. However, if there aren’t any shared taxis available, you can always spend the night in Zakho and catch a taxi the following morning, although, this would waste a valuable day of your Iraqi visa. It would be far better to spend the night in Silopi and cross the border early the next day.

Details of Stage 5:
Shared Taxi: Zakho to Dohuk – 1.5 hours / 8000 Iraqi Dinars or $7 USD (based on 4 passengers)
Shared Taxi: Zakho to Erbil – 3.5 hours / 30,000 Iraqi Dinars or $25 USD (based on 4 passengers)
Zakho: If you need to spend the night in Zakho, it will cost about 5000 Iraqi Dinars for a taxi from the “Garaj” to the center of town, where you will find a selection of budget hotels.

And that’s all it takes to travel overland to Iraq from Syria/Turkey! Although, don’t forget that you’ll have to make this exact same journey in reverse once it’s time to leave 🙂

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  1. Jonathan Roine Carl Enqvist November 12, 2019 at 2:48 am - Reply

    How do you think this border crossing would be now in 2019?
    Guessing Northern Syria is not a safe bet to cross from at the moment?
    Noticed this article is quite old now, and the situation has changed, so.
    But from Turkey it would still work, I guess.

    • Derek November 12, 2019 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Even back then crossing from Northern Syria was not possible as you would have to cross into regular Iraq near Mosul, which was very dangerous even when I was there. The only real way to do it is through Turkey.

  2. Leyla October 2, 2014 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    I just wanted to leave you a compliment for spending so much time to write all these very useful details. I am, myself an Iraq living abroad, and wanted to enter Iraq through Turkey and was looking for information on the border between Turkey and Iraq and I found your post. It is really very kind of you to exert so much effort to share your experience with other people willing or thinking to go to Iraq. You posted this information back in 2010 and people are still writing to you regarding this post.

    For me, I do not think I will travel by road especially that I am carrying my luggage of around 30 Kg and I must get on and off different vehicles. Thus it was still useful to read it and decide not to take that way this time.

    I also wanted to comment on one of the posts, where the participants said that now it is different and there are many airlines going to Erbil. I am currently looking for a cheap flight from Europ to Erbil, they all exceeded 1000 $, the Austrian charges 1550 Euro! So okay, airlines go to Erbil, but they are very expensive.

    I hope that one day in the near future, you and other travellors would say that Baghdad is safe to visit!! I am not sure if this going to happen at all.

    All the best


    • Wandering Earl October 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Hey Leyla – Thank you for the comment and I really hope as well that Baghdad will one day become a great place to visit! You never know what will happen but of course, plenty of things need to change first. As for the flights, check out Pegasus Airlines as I know that they often offer very cheap flights to Erbil.

      • Leyla October 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm - Reply

        Hi Earl,
        Thanks for your kind words regarding my hometown; Baghdad. And thank you for suggesting Fly Pegasus, I am currently looking at this opion.

        Kind regards,

  3. Sam August 18, 2014 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Hey Earl, Amazing post

    As of now how safe is Silopi? Is it safe to travel to and stay at?



    • Wandering Earl August 19, 2014 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      Hey Sam – I’m not too sure at the moment actually as I don’t have much information coming in from that area at this time. If I hear anything though, I’ll let you know.

  4. Jonny Blair January 8, 2014 at 4:00 am - Reply

    This is an excellent post Earl – your venture way back then into Iraqi Kurdistan is to be commended. As a long term backpacker and traveller, I have only just recently visited Kurdistan – it is now a lot cheaper to fly in and out than it was back then. Qatar Airlines operate flights to Doha and Dubai now and even Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Amsterdam are now direct options! If we take the definition of “traveller” to be “going to places where there are no other travellers” (which I believe is real travel), then this is one of the best travel blog posts out there. Safe travels! Jonny

  5. Tim Ottevanger December 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Interesting post. Have you any up to date information about crossing from Turkey into Iraqi Kurdistan by private car (UK registered)? I am interested in visiting a friend in Sulaymaniyah.

    • Wandering Earl December 15, 2013 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Hey Tim – I’m not too sure about taking a private car across the border. I don’t think I know of anyone who has done that and have never seen any information about such a trip. With that said, you can always email the KRG government and ask. They are usually quite quick to respond to emails.

  6. Jonny Blair December 7, 2013 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Great detailed post here Earl. We’ve decided to do the easy option for once and are flying in to Erbil airport. Considering leaving overland to Turkey though. We are in Iran right now and the amount of bus companies that now offer direct buses to Erbil and Sulimaniyeh is incredible. We’ve met a few other backpackers who went to Iraq recently too and raved about it. Will let you know how we get on. Safe travels. Jonny

  7. […] Region (Iraqi Kurdistan), I’ve got news for you! The days of being forced to use the taxi mafia to get across the border are over! Instead, you can travel across the border in style on a […]

  8. […] list. In fact, just the other day I was reading a blog post that prompted me to add Kurdistan to my travel list. Reading and researching is a great way to plan or get ideas and inspiration, but actually […]

  9. Samuel Joynson January 30, 2013 at 6:35 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Fantastic page – really very useful! I am considering travelling from Diyarbakir to Erbil in April 2013 with two friends, and am still torn whether or not to go due to security concerns in Turkey. As three British citizens, the British foreign office advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to the region, whilst some of the other western foreign services advise against using public transport in the region (I am not quite sure why?). We have previously travelled in locations ranging from the West Bank to Kosovo so we are relatively experienced in off the beaten track locations, but have never yet been somewhere with a foreign office warning against it. What were your experiences of security in south eastern Turkey (did it feel safe?/have you heard any particularly concerning stories?), and what would be your recommendations? I really appreciate your help and look forward to hearing from you soon! Keep up the fantastic travel writing!


    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 9:26 am - Reply

      Hey Sam – As for my experiences, I felt completely safe from the moment I crossed the border from Syria into Southeastern Turkey. I used the public minibus system that they have to take me from town to town until I reached the border area and everyone I met was perfectly friendly. I didn’t have any issues at all. Of course, that was my experience and I can’t tell you whether or not it would be the same for you. But I do know plenty of people who have traveled through that region en route to Iraqi Kurdistan and I’ve yet to hear of any trouble.

  10. Edward October 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Wandering Earl. This post was a good way to ease some of my concerns going thru the northern border from Turkey to Iraq. It was probably the longest travel from departure to arrival (flight from TX to NY, train ride to NJ, flight to Zurich, flight to Istanbul, flight to some bordering airport in Turkey, 3 hour taxi ride across the border, and finally a personal car ride to Dohuk). Whew.

    Ultra friendly locals. Very generous. Very selfless. Would I do it again? In a heart beat.

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:37 am - Reply

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it in the end Edward! I would also do that trip over again myself 🙂

  11. Stirling October 2, 2012 at 5:05 am - Reply

    I just moved to Ankara, and I’ll be traveling in/to northern Iraq in two weeks… This guide will be VERY handy… CHEERS!

  12. […] Still others use their writing excellence in championing their cause. You'll find D from Dtravelsround speaking on responsible tourism among her many other informative work. Wandering Earl talks about his experiences in lands largely foreign to Western tourists, highlighting his kidnapping in Pakistan as well as his experiences in Iraqi Kurdistan. […]

  13. Jessica May 24, 2012 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Hi Earl, as much as I don’t think my parents would ever approve of me venturing off to Kurdistan, your posts are very interesting and helpful, so thank you. Hopefully one day I will get the chance to visit this place, despite how risky it is. But I think that if I go with another adult, and be careful, I’ll be fine.
    Thank you again.

    • Earl May 24, 2012 at 7:33 am - Reply

      Hey Jessica – In reality, Iraqi Kurdistan is not a risky place to visit at all. You won’t hear of any traveler who has visited this region and been robbed or attacked or dealt with any type of crime or hostility. Like I mention in the posts, this is one of the safest places I’ve ever been in twelve years of travel. The issue is that it is difficult for most westerners to believe that to be true after growing up in a world that generally assumes all of the Middle East is a dangerous place to travel. Once you visit this region, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about 🙂

      And when you look at crime or danger statistics, you’ll find the streets of most cities in the world to be far more dangerous than Iraqi Kurdistan, including most cities in the US!

  14. Caroline December 22, 2011 at 9:51 am - Reply

    My husband has just been given an order of deportation back to the Kurdistan region after coming here in 1993 as a 12 year old. I have always lived here in the US (32 years) and we have 3 children together. Would you consider it safe for our family being unfamiliar with the area there now to relocate there permanently?

    • Earl December 22, 2011 at 10:12 am - Reply

      Hey Caroline – In terms of safety, it will absolutely be fine to relocate to Kurdistan. It’s one of those places where as soon as you arrive you’ll find yourself shocked at just how safe it feels. The lifestyle will of course be quite different than what you’re used to, but again, safety, especially if you live in one of the main cities, should really be of little or no concern.

      • Caroline December 22, 2011 at 11:26 am - Reply

        Thank you! Much more reassured after reading other articles =)

  15. […] How to Travel Overland to Iraq (Kurdistan) Starting in Syria, Earl presents a step by step guide to getting across the border, via Turkey, into northern Iraq. […]

  16. G.Isik May 10, 2011 at 6:25 am - Reply

    And kurdistan is safe ,kurdistan is not like southiraq or afghanistan . -) kurds are indoeuropean people ,too. -)


  17. G.Isik May 10, 2011 at 6:21 am - Reply

    hi Earl, im a kurd from Kurdistan/Kurdia ,thanks for your posts . 🙂

    greets to EU and USa. -)

    • Earl May 10, 2011 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      @G. Iski: Thank you for your comment and I look forward to hopefully spending some more time in Kurdistan in the future. I do agree that this region is significantly safer than many others and I had a great time on my first visit.

  18. Mir N. May 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    hey there , i live in Kurdistan – Erbil n thank you for this information , it’s really good , And i’m really glad that all of you came to Kurdistan .

    • Earl May 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment Mir! I really do hope that more and more people decide to visit Kurdistan in order to enjoy the same rewarding experiences as I was fortunate to have…

  19. […] guide and outline of the costs involved by reading this post I recently wrote about my experience traveling to Kurdistan from Syria. ENTRANCE FEESThere really aren’t too many actual tourist sights in Iraqi Kurdistan, so […]

  20. R March 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm - Reply


    I’m currently living in Damascus and looking to do a ten day trip starting next week. Right now the choice is between E. Turkey-Amenia-Georgia-Azerbaijan or Kurdistan. I wanted to get your opinion, and specifically if you think a visit to Kurdistan right now is worth the safety risk, in view of an alternative trip to the Caucasus.

    Cheers R

    • Earl March 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      Hey R – I personally think that Kurdistan is safe as I was just there in December and had no problems at all. However, every traveler is different and depending on how you travel or your experience, you may not find it as manageable as I did. But in terms of my visit, I had a hard time believing that Kurdistan was involved in violent situations on 3 of its borders. It was so quiet and peaceful when I was there. The problem is that there is always a risk, even if it is a tiny risk, of one of these conflicts escalating into something bigger. But in general, Kurdistan really is a safe place for foreigners to travel to.

  21. Edward January 31, 2011 at 9:05 am - Reply

    I’ll be going to Kurdistan,, departing March 21, 2011. Can i ask you a few questions once I get the details of my destination? Thank you.

    • Earl February 1, 2011 at 12:25 am - Reply

      Hey Edward – Sure thing. Send me any questions you may have about Kurdistan whenever you’re ready!

  22. matt January 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    i live in kurdistan and will do the reverse trip to damascus. Thanks for the detailed information. Very helpful. It sounds easier to get to Syria than Iran, so this made my decision for me.

    • Earl January 31, 2011 at 12:53 am - Reply

      Hey Matt – Thanks for the comment and it really is quite an easy journey (relatively speaking of course) to get to Syria from Kurdistan. I had also heard that the trip to Iran was a completely different story so I think you’ve made a good choice. Let me know how it goes as I also find it interesting to hear about other people’s adventures in such regions of the world!

    • Iran Travel Blog January 31, 2011 at 12:59 am - Reply

      Hey Matt,
      I will be happy to see you here in Iran too. I live here and work as a tour guide. Also, I am open to any questions regarding traveling to Iran and provide any tourist services possible.
      Have a great time in Syria,
      Rahman Mehraby
      Destination Iran Travel & Tours

  23. Jennie January 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl!

    I’m so glad I just happened to find your blog when I googled “aleppo-qamishle”! Thanks for the very useful information – I plan on doing the same trip from Aleppo to Kurdistan in late February, alone. Is it okay if I contact you for further info on email? I really look forward to my trip!!
    Best regards,


    • Earl January 15, 2011 at 5:37 am - Reply

      Hey Jennie – Thank you for leaving a comment and I’m happy to hear you managed to find this post! Definitely feel free to contact me at any time with any questions you may have about the region or anything else that comes to mind. I could talk about Syria and Kurdistan all day!

  24. Iran Travel Blog January 12, 2011 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Hi Earl. I appreciate your good intention for making people familiar with Iran and its attractions. I will be happy to help if there’s anything you think I can do.

    Hey, it’s great to see you in person here in Iran. I look forward to seeing that day Earl.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran Travel & Tours

    • Earl January 12, 2011 at 11:48 am - Reply

      Thank you so much for your offer of assistance Rahman! I also look forward to the day when I travel through your country, and now that I read your post about Iranian food, I hope I will have a chance to visit sooner rather than later 🙂

  25. Iran Travel Blog January 11, 2011 at 10:14 am - Reply

    These days the social media are the best solution to make sure a travel destination is safe enough for you to travel or not. Blogs are also such a perfect place to connect with those who could tell you about their experience.

    Such step-by-step guide could easily help backpacking travelers find their ways out in a destination like Iraq or other places.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran Travel & Tours

    • Earl January 12, 2011 at 8:03 am - Reply

      Hey Rahman – Thank you for commenting and I also read your comments over at Anil’s blog, earlier. I couldn’t agree with you more that blogs offer a unique method of spreading the word about travel destinations that many people would never consider. I’d love for this post/guide to help even one person explore this part of the world!

      Perhaps one day I’ll be able to do the same with Iran!

  26. Shawn January 5, 2011 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Thanks for your writing! I am planning on visiting Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan mid March for Newroz/Nûroj with a friend that has been there many times. My question is that I will be entering Turkey on my Croatian Passport and then my American Passport for Iraq. I am a dual citizen. I am doing this to avoid the Visa charges. If the taxi guy takes your passport for the Exit part and give it to the authorities for your Entrance? How do you suggest I tell them I want to Enter on my American one? Just tell them when they call my name? My friend told me that they like Americans so I am thinking I will just tell them then. Suggestions?

    • Earl January 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Shawn – You shouldn’t have any problems at all. Just give your Croatian passport to the taxi driver at the start so that this passport will be stamped out of Turkey. Then tell the driver you want to change your passport and hand him the US one for your arrival into Iraq. And you are right in thinking that it would be better to use the American passport for Iraq as you will have no problems at the border. If they do call your name and ask where your exit stamps are from Turkey, simply show them the stamps from your Croatian passport.

      The borders are a lot more laid back than it seems and as soon as the Iraqi officials see your US passport, they’ll probably want to spend a few minutes chatting with you about where you live and whether or not you know their cousins who live in the US too!

      I’m always excited to hear about other people who will be visiting this region. It’s such a unique destination and I have no doubt that you’ll love every minute of your stay (almost every minute maybe, some minutes will leave you scratching your head in utter confusion!). If you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email and I’d be more than happy to help out as best I can…

  27. Cam January 3, 2011 at 6:20 am - Reply

    Great detail as usual Earl! Should I ever return to the Mid-East I’ll definitely bookmark this info. Cheers!

    • Earl January 3, 2011 at 11:45 am - Reply

      Thanks Cam. It’s always good to know that perhaps one person will use this guide in the end!

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  29. Zab December 27, 2010 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    For years I have always been incredibly apprehensive of going places where, mainly the media, discourage us from travelling and experiencing the facts for ourselves. Your recent blogs on Iraqi Kurdistan have made me think again.

    • Earl December 29, 2010 at 4:26 am - Reply

      Hey Zab – I’m honored to hear that these posts have made you rethink your apprehensions about the region. I’ve found that over the years, rarely has a ‘dangerous’ country, as labeled by the media/government, lived up those expectations. Time and time again I find warmth and generosity where I’ve been told I would find threats and hatred.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

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  32. joshywashington December 23, 2010 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    crazy detailed post! Very nice work, have you ever thought of leading small groups of intrepid travel bloggers?

    • Earl December 24, 2010 at 5:25 am - Reply

      Hey Joshy – Actually, oddly enough, I have thought about that idea! I’m currently working on setting up such an operation in which I’ll offer small informal tours to Kurdistan. Once I work a few things out, details will be shared here sometime around mid-January!

      Thank you for the boost of confidence with you comment 🙂

  33. […] How to Travel Overland to Iraq (Kurdistan) at Wandering Earl […]

  34. Bryan December 23, 2010 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Dude…. Awesome.

    • Earl December 24, 2010 at 5:09 am - Reply

      Haha…thanks Bryan! Perhaps you’ll put this guide to good use one day 🙂

  35. Maria Staal December 21, 2010 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Hey Earl, even though I have no plans to visit Iraqi Kurdistan anytime soon, this is still a fascinating post!
    I greatly prefer travelling overland to flying and it’s great to read about such trips.
    Have you ever thought about writing a book about your adventures in the Middel East? I’d buy it in a heartbeat! 🙂

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:49 am - Reply

      Hey Maria – Unfortunately, the book ideas are piling up and my free time is diminishing! Hopefully I’ll get to it one day though, especially now that I know I’ll have at least one interested reader 🙂

  36. Erin December 21, 2010 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Wow, ridiculously detailed and useful post! I’ll refer back to this when we end up in the Middle East.

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:47 am - Reply

      Hey Erin – Glad you found the post to be useful and it’s good to know that there are a few travelers out there who might be making this very same journey!

  37. sam December 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Holy crap Earl, you ceratinly didn’t mistakenly end up in Iraq. Enjoy reading your posts while I divert myself away from my real work.
    Also, it sounds like you should’ve just rented a zip car! haha. take care

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:46 am - Reply

      Hey Sam! No, that was no mistake at all. It had been on my list for a while and since I was already in the region, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to travel there. If you’re up for a business venture, zip car Iraq seems like a good one. Although I certainly wouldn’t drive around that region myself. One wrong turn and you could end up in a part of the country where foreigners should not be at all. And that would be unfortunate!

      Thanks for following along. Hope everything is well back in NJ!

  38. Andi December 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Wanta go again!?! 😉

    Question: do you think it would be as easy for a female as it is for a male?

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:41 am - Reply

      Hey Andi – Funny you should mention going again 🙂 I have some plans in the works that I’ll talk about on here soon.

      And I do think it would be quite easy for a female traveler as well. It’s quite a relaxed region of the world and the people are overly respectful and honest, so I can’t imagine you’d have to deal with any major hassles. So I guess you’re thinking of going??

  39. Michael Hodson December 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    I love the detail here. So helpful. I’ll be doing this trip in late Feb or early March. Will have to report back to you and tell you how it went. Thanks!

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:39 am - Reply

      Hey Michael – Definitely let me know how the trip goes! Chances are that with this information to read, you’ll have a much less confusing journey than I had, although, in that part of the world, you can always expect surprises to be thrown your way. Regardless, this trip was one of the highlights of all my travels and I’m sure you’ll feel the same as well.

  40. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alan Perlman and others. Alan Perlman said: RT @WanderingEarl: New at How To Travel Overland To #Iraq (Kurdistan) […]

  41. Harebeat December 20, 2010 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Thanks a lot! Excellent guide, indeed!

  42. Adventurous Kate December 20, 2010 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Excellent guide, Earl! Great details and information (Photoshop man, hahaha). Next time I want to give my parents a heart attack and stroke simultaneously, traveling overland to Iraq definitely seems like a sweet choice. 🙂 Hell of an adventure.

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:36 am - Reply

      Hahaha Kate! You’re exactly right, traveling to Iraq does typically lead to heart attacks for the traveler’s parents, so perhaps you’re better off staying put in SE Asia for now 🙂 Keep on enjoying your travels!

  43. Phil December 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Photoshop man,
    I don’t know if I will be making this trip anytime soon, but I really appreciate the detail you put into this guide.

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:33 am - Reply

      Hey Phil – I had a feeling this guide wasn’t exactly going to be useful for too many people 🙂 But thank you for reading anyway!

  44. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World December 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Even though it’s highly unlikely I’d be making this trip, I still enjoyed this post. Will definitely make my past and future land border crossings seem tame by comparison. Heh, maybe I won’t whine so much then, I’d be like ‘At least it’s not like I had to do what Earl did to get to Iraq!’ :p

    • Earl December 22, 2010 at 5:25 am - Reply

      Hey Jill – It sure does make most other border crossings seem relatively straightforward! And I’ll be whining less as well when I cross in and out of other countries in the future 🙂

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