Barzan Region, Kurdistan, Northern Iraq
Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
68Trip End May 09, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
From Erbil we head north – past the Khanzad Hotel the first road on the left is the one that leads toward the Khanzad Castle and then up the hill to Masif. Through small villages with simple homes of hand hewn and sundried clay bricks, single light bulbs and herds of goats and cows, children play and adults mingle. The women are usually covered in abayas, although many of the Christians are dressed western style. Our happy bus of assorted Lebanese teachers, wives and children, Kurds, and three Americans makes its way toward the most Northern Region in Iraq for an Easter weekend picnic/sightseeing trip.
Villages each have pretty decent open markets selling vegetables, fresh Kurdish bread, cell phones, clothing and hardware
After about an hour, a couple checkpoints and snack/smoke stops and the busy town of Shaqlawa we see Korek Mountain in the distance. The bus almost makes a wrong turn, but with a short back up and change of direction we make a correction and head to the right and through canyons covered in velvety green with ancient trees seemingly growing out of solid rock. The scenery is rugged, clean and undeveloped. The first stop brings us to Kali Ali Gorge waterfall, the scene of the beginning of the Kurdish revolution against Saddam. The water pours over the rocks dropping about 6 – 8 stories into a river. Photos to follow.
Continuing on about an hour we arrive in a small village where we are joined by a local Kurdish man familiar with the area. He leads us down the road a piece and toward a tree filled, shady picnic spot bordered by a stream – perfect!
The Lebanese sponsored our picnic and Alisar was the main instigator and planner. We feasted on chicken, beef and lamb kabobs, fresh tabouli, salads, watermelon, fresh bread, hummus and totally enoyed ourselves with activities
Stunningly beautiful canyons, boulder filled fields, meandering cows, light green springtime greens, amazing moonscape feelings stream past our windows. We saw many wild horses feeling their springtime oats. Who would have guessed Iraq had so many beautiful vistas. The simplicity and austerity were profound. It is illegal to cut down trees in Barzan. This was the province that Saddam had thought would work well to build canyons and drown the Kurds. We passed the famous Neanderthal cave, Shandeher and will have to go back for further exploration. Mahmoud told us that it was used by the Pesmerga during the revolution. It will be worth a totally separate trip. This is on the order of the Grand Canyon and equally as stunning, although not as big in size. We passed goat herders and their campfires, villages, farms and fields.
The bus was filled with dancing and songs and much clapping. The babies didn't cry once and joined in the dancing and singing! It was an entertaining day with the bus arriving back in Erbil at 9:00. If you are in Iraq… this is a “must do” trip!