Memorable Kurdistan

By Phyllis Schlesinger
This item appears on page 32 of the November 2013 issue.

The most memorable trip I have taken is the tour “Exploring Iraqi Kurdistan,” from Adventures Abroad (Blaine, WA; 800/665-3998), April 13-21, 2013. Including breakfasts, dinners and very good accommodations, the land price of the 9-day tour was $3,390 plus $600 for the single supplement. Airfare from New York was $1,390.

The Kurds were friendly and welcoming to us. Even the checkpoint guards were friendly as they waved us on. We never felt as though there was any threat to our safety. 

While visiting bazaars, we were not harassed to buy things; the vendors were friendly and offered us food and candy to taste. In Erbil, we were invited to join in the tenth-anniversary celebration of the Kurds’ freedom from Saddam Hussein. They seemed overjoyed to have Americans at the event. 

Our tour leader, Karwan Bahjat, answered any and all questions — and we had plenty! We visited Amna Suraka prison, where Saddam Hussein tortured Kurds, and also the town of Halabja, the site of Hussein’s use of gas on civilians and animals. We shared the joys and sorrows of the people we met and found the Kurds to be remarkably resilient. 

Among other sites we visited were the Citadel in Erbil and the ancient Abbasid Bridge that crosses the Khabur River, close to the Turkish border.

Our driver, Aras, helped prepare a wonderful picnic of kebabs, and for another picnic Karwan’s wife prepared a traditional dish called yaprakh, a delicious mix of stuffed vegetables and lamb.

If you enjoy learning about a different culture and being in the midst of welcoming people, this is the trip for you.


New York, NY