UH 60 Black Hawk
The safest way to travel around Iraq is by air. The bird of choice is the UH 60 Black Hawk. It is fast, manuverable, nimble, has redundant systems, and is a proven work horse.
The Black Hawk carries us around from place to place and gives us very short travel times to deal with. I am very, very grateful that the Army allows us to travel by air.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Adventure Travel
- Historical Travel
Up-Armored All The Way
The only safe way to travel around Iraq right now is in an Armored Vehicle. The only people really coming here are with the US Military and other Coalition Forces, or the UN and some NGO's. Either way, they provide Armored Vehicles for transportation. Another popular means of transport within the country is by helicopter. It's fast, safe, and regular (except when their are sand storms).
The best way to travel around Iraqi Kurdistan is by shared taxi. These wait at bus stations (known as Karaaj in Kurdish) for enough passengers, and once they are full, they set off. Unlike shared taxis in other parts of the Middle East where four passengers are crammed into the back and two share the front seat, things are a lot more comfortable in Iraq, as the driver is only allowed to take 4 passengers, and rules of wearing seatbelts are strictly enforced by the many traffic police on the roads.
Buses also travel on the same routes, but on certain services, these enter parts of Arab-controlled Iraq, and so are not exactly safe for tourists. Some taxis also pass into Arab Iraq briefly, so it is always worth finding out the route before getting in the taxi.
Services between Dohuk and Hewler (Erbil) run on two routes. One passes very close to Mosul, one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq, and if there are any passengers who want to be dropped off in Mosul, the driver might even enter the city. However, most drivers and passengers are not willing to go there, and use a different route via Ain Sifni and Baderash which stays within Kurdish controlled Iraq. Ask for Tariiq Ba'atari.
From Hewler (Erbil) to Slemani (As-Suleymaniyah), again, there are two routes. The direct taxis pass through the outskirts of Kirkuk, another city you don't really want to find yourself in at the moment. You pass through a checkpoint manned by US soldiers in full body armour, but they were happy for me to proceed, so I guess it is safe enough. You stick to the ring road, well away from the city centre, and re-enter Kurdish Iraq after about 15 minutes, but even so it was still an unsettling ride. The alternative route is through the mountains, to the town of Koya, where you change taxis...it's a stunning route, passing the resort of Dukan and crossing a high mountain pass, but it takes longer and you may have to wait some time in Koya for onward transport.
Crossing the border from Turkey
The main point of entry for tourists will probably be the Ibrahim Khalil crossing between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. Crossing into Iraq is relatively easy; you need to get yourself to either Cizre or Silopi (regular buses from Diyarbakir and Mardin, or flights to Şırnak Airport connect with a Turkish Airlines shuttle to Cizre and Silopi), then take a shared taxi or minibus to the border. Silopi is closest to the border, although I have heard things about a taxi mafia operating there...I took a taxi from Cizre with two other Iraq-bound passengers I met on the bus, and it worked out at 20TL per person.
The drivers cross the border many times a week, so know the system well and guide you through it. The Turkish side is simple...pass the officials your passport when asked, and don't mention anything to do with Kurdistan...you're going to Iraq, not Kurdistan. After a few minutes, you'll pass into no-man's land and cross the Habur river.
A huge Kurdish flag flutters over the plush passport control lounge. Your driver will take your passports and hand them in to the first booth, and you'll be told to take a seat until your name is called out. Free tea is brought round on silver trays, help yourself to sugar from the crystal sugar bowls on the marble tables, and relax on the comfy sofas while watching the news on a flatscreen telly...welcome to Kurdistan!
My name was called, and I had to answer a few easy questions about my intentions. It's an idea to know where you want to go (and to know where not to go!), and where you might be staying (I gave the name of a hotel I found in the Lonely Planet guide, which seemed to be good enough). That over, I was stamped into KURDISTAN in big letters, republic of iraq in little letters, and given a free 10 day visa.
The driver then took us through customs and dropped us off at a taxi rank on the Iraqi side, where Iraqi drivers waited to take us on to Zaxo (just up the road), Dohuk (about an hour and a half away) or further afield.
On my second trip, I took a minibus heading to Zakho run by a company based there. They dropped me off on the outskirts of Zakho, from where it was a twenty minute walk into the centre.
Try to arrange with your driver to exchange a little money, as there are no facilities at the border (or maybe there are, but drivers don't like to hang around). Once you get to Zakho centre, there are plenty of exchange booths, but you still need enough dinars to get to Zakho.
Crossing the border into Turkey
After the ease of entering from Turkey, I naively thought it would be the same in the opposite direction. I got a taxi from Zaxo to the border, and was dropped off at the same taxi rank I first arrived at, where Turkish drivers touted for business, offering rides to Silopi, Cizre, Mardin and Diyarbakir. Stick to Silopi, it's cheaper and closer, and there are buses on to the other cities from there. While waiting for other passengers, you'll be sent to the passport office to photocopy your visa stamp and info page. Pass your passport to one official, who will type a few things up, put it on a huge pile of other passports and leave them for another official deal with. After a bit of a wait, you'll be stamped out of Iraq, and the next phase of waiting can begin.
Your driver will drive round to the customs section, where taxis and private cars wait in a loooooooong queue on one side of the road, lorries wait in another loooong queue on the other. You're waiting to have your bags searched in detail by Kurdish customs officials...and chances are you'll wait an hour or two. Cars with women, foreigners or Iraqis can jump the queue if your driver is persistent enough...cars full of Turks are made to wait longer. In my taxi, we had a Turkmen from Kirkuk with an Iraqi passport and two Turkish citizens...only the Turks had their bags searched, and ours were somehow "not seen" by an official who pocketed a fistfull of notes from the driver.
Then you'll wave goodbye to Kurdistan and enter no-man's land, where you'll wait several hours in a queue on the bridge over the Habur river. Plenty time to remember that you've never been to Kurdistan, never met a Kurd and never heard Kurdish spoken. Kurdistan? Oh no, officer, there's no such place! I've just come from Iraq!
Vehicles are checked thoroughly on entering Turkey, as there is a thriving business in smuggling cartons of cigarettes. Each person can bring 3 cartons into Turkey, but every taxi was over the limit...there may be Turkish soldiers parading up and down the bridge, but the drivers are really quite blatant about hiding the cartons in secret compartments in the car. It's a good idea to check your luggage at some point to make sure you haven't suddenly acquired an addiction to tobacco.
Wait...wait...wait... you can get out and wander along the bridge, taking in the views, which really aren't that bad...the river is wide and fast flowing, and the Zagros mountains loom in the background...but no photos. Feeling peckish? An enterprising Turk has set up a stall at the end of the bridge selling simit and tea.
The Turkish side make you wait while each bag goes through an x-ray scanner. Passport control shouldn't take too long if you're papers are in order, although my passport is old-style so I had to be sent to a separate office to be stamped in.
A full 6 hours after starting the border crossing, we were in Turkey and hurtling towards Silopi. Don't leave the crossing until the day before your flight!
The best and may be the only...
The best and may be the only available now is the road way from Jordan...
Currently, all the visitors to Iraq should come by Bus or by taxi from Amman of Jordan... In the eastern part of Amman the Iraq Taxis Park is the best place to hire a taxi, also the bus station is located there....
Traveling by air is very limit now...
Other ways are available now... The road way from syria, by taxis.
Or the sea way from UAE and Bahreen
Getting around, the best thing I suggest you to do there is to hire a care with a driver. Rent a car is not that known there (not sure about that)... but still my advice to hire a care with the driver for cirten days... and you have to infomr the hotel you are living in (and may be than can help you to arrange that) some infomration about your driver.
Zahko to Dohuk
The hotel I was staying at sent a boy up the street with me and he flagged a car down and arranged my ride from Zahko to Dohuk. It seems these shared cars are common modes of transportation and it only cost me about $5 to go from Zahko into downtown Dohuk. There were a couple of checkpoints along the way (leaving Zahko and entering Dohuk) but they were very hassle-free.
Silopi (turkey) to Zakho (Iraqi Kurdistan)
$25 for a car. It is a short distance but there are taxes the driver must pay, so the price is inflated. You can only cross with a car. As soon as you arrive in Silopi everyone will know why you are there.
Do not tell the Turkish authorities you are going to the Kurdish areas. Tell them you're going somewhere else even though they will laugh at you and say you will be killed. Making some fake letters from an 'employer' is what got me in, but I'm not sure if this is necessary.
Do not have any papers in your bags or on your person that refers to Kurdistan or Kurds.
On the Iraqi side (across a small river) the PKK customs point will give you a paper to keep in your passport. In May 2004 they did not stamp passports.
since december 2001,there is...
since december 2001,there is a regular flight with jordanian airlines amman-bagdad;also charter flights with Gulf Falcon:damas-bagdad and beyrouth-bagdad;formaly,the best way was a bus from amman,abdali station:amman-bagdad,16 hours to reach bagdad,you might stay 7 hours at the border,you will probably have to bear an AIDS test at the border,which will cost you 50$;
you can try a collective taxi:amman-bagdad;
the border with iran is now open;
if you travel with an agency or tour-operator,they will take you in charge from amman to amman;
at the iraqi consulate in amman,you can get a tourist-visa to iraq,provided of course that you have never heard of israel in your life
Because of the embargo on Iraq...
Because of the embargo on Iraq by UNO. there is no Air lines working there so the viseters must come accroce Iran Or Syria OR Jorden the Distant is about 900 KM between Baghdad tehran the same with Amman and Dimiscus
Also there is see line between UAE.& IRAQ from Dubai to Basrah Nowadays
the indevidual or groups must contact any Iraqi tourist company mention his all particolars mention the nerest Iraqi Embassy to his place so that send visa to that embassy , then he must go and stamp visa, In burder must Pay for his resedance and transport at least 350 Usd for 6 nights with the guide
There are still many US cars...
There are still many US cars from the 60s and 70s. Chevy + Ford limousines and trucks are dominating the street sceneries.
At the moment it's more than difficult to travel through Iraq individually. I was on tour with my people in this old bus.
Getting to Iraq is a very...
Getting to Iraq is a very problem in these days. As long as it is not allowed to enter the country by plane you have to arrive in Jordan at Amman airport and then travel to Baghdad by car.
From Amman to Baghdad it normally takes some 12 hours! including entry formalities - but this is fust an 'about time'.
The streets are of a very good quality but the distance itself is the problem. From Baghdad to the border at Rutba it is more than 570 km + 352 to Amman: makes a distance of mor than 920 km!
Travelling in Iraq is much easier than to enter the country. The bus system is not in it's best shape but it still exists. Taxis are quite affordable and available where ever you go. Of course, the best is if you rent a car - may be from Amman. But I don't know whether it is easy or difficult to travel around in an own car?!
Fly if possible. The spots shown on the map represent where I traveled to and stayed for periods of time.
Al Tahariyat Square, Baghdad, 0101, IQ
Good for: Business
48 Hashemi Street, Downtown, Amman 11844, Jordan (Formerly Jordan Tower Amman)
Good for: Business
I have not accommodated personally in this hotel,but the entrance of it was truely a state of...more
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