Images of the 2003 invasion of Iraq are probably what you are seeing in your head as you tie in three things to associate with the country; war, sand and intense heat.
During my visit, I experienced none of these things and you will not either! Sorry, but there is no sand here.
My experience is solely in the Kurdistan Region in the north. It is important to note that the Kurds are very different from the Arabs, with a different language, culture and lifestyle.
Many different religions including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Yazidis and Zoroastrians all living together in peace.
I will help you reach Iraqi Kurdistan and from there I will leave you in the hands of my good friend, Karwan!
I highly suggest three things:
#1. Plan enough days so that you can visit everything from Dohuk down to Sulaymaniyah!
#2. Set aside the fear you have of traveling here, it is 100% safe. You will encounter more problems in Western Europe than in Iraq.
#3. Bring your perception of what you expect it will be like, then prepare yourself for a shock to what you find that will most certainly be the polar opposite!
There are no visa requirements for US citizens visiting for tourism.
No vaccinations are required to enter Iraqi Kurdistan.
Notice: You may not exit from the Kurdistan Region into Iraq's territory that is governed by Baghdad without an Iraqi Visa.
When I first started looking to visit Iraq, I was not serious in traveling so soon.but out of curiosity one day, I searched to see if there were guides and I found Karwan!
I can tell you that safety is his #1 priority along with being a very welcoming and gracious host to his country. In fact, you will meet only smiling faces in Kurdistan and it is sure to be one of your favorite places in the world!
During the early days of Covid-19 reaching Europe, Turkey shut its air traffic down and stranded us in Erbil. Karwan was willing to help us get into Turkey and onward to Istanbul by land if it came to that. You are in good hands during your visit!