When You Can’t Go to Iran… Go to Iraq Instead!

I’ve been looking forward to my two-week tour of Iran, from Tehran to Shiraz, for well over six months. Unfortunately, things are not always meant to be. Seven of the eight Americans on my tour are not able to get visas right now. There is some speculation on why this is the case – but it’s not something I will get into right now as it really doesn’t affect the outcome. None of us can go to Iran right now.

Shortly after finding out about the recent developments, one of the other people who was no longer going to be able to participate in the tour to Iran and I decided we needed to come up with a kick-ass backup plan. It took some flight planning and talking with guides as well as people who have traveled to the region, but we ultimately decided we would be traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan instead!

Kurdistan is roughly defined as the geo-cultural region where the Kurdish people form the majority of the population and currently spans today’s country borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. We will be flying into Erbil, part of Iraqi Kurdistan, and traveling around the region for nine days in total.

Iraqi Kurdistan gained autonomous status from the Iraqi government in 1970 and continues to operate as such.

Since this trip has required quite a bit of last minute planning, we are still not locked in to what we will be doing while there. The only things that are set as of the time of writing are our flights in and out of Erbil. We are in contact with a tour guide and are discussing various options for a few days of tours.

While this isn’t the trip I was planning to go on, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to visit one of the lesser-visited regions of the world – as I always am. I’m looking forward to sharing more about what we are planning to do while there as well as the details about my visit after I return!

If you’ve been to Iraqi Kurdistan – I would love to hear your thoughts on the region as well as any recommendations you might have!

10 Comments

  1. I had the same issue with my Iran visa last year. I was going with a tour group and all 4 Americans (including me) did not get the visa on time. Oddly enough, however, we did get the approval a week after the tour. Odd I know.

  2. Your trip plans and trip reports are always exciting, but I’m curious as to how you go about planning trips that if not overtly in/near war zones, are nontheless known to be hostile to foreigners, especially Americans. If nothing else, I’d imagine that avoiding kidnapping must be top of mind.

    Perhaps you’ll write a post that discusses this, since you obviously have experience that the “Rick Steves” tourist does not have.

    1. Thanks for the comment Broc! I’ll definitely work on writing up a longer answer – but in short: I find that people overall are not really hostile to Americans, or foreigners in general. There is a lot of political propaganda that makes us think that is the case! The people of Kurdistan, in particular, are [said to] actually very friendly toward Americans, though I’ll be able to confirm that in a few weeks!

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