Iraq – Kurdistan Region, Zakho – 30 July 2018

I was told by my friends in Mardin that it was possible to visit the Kurdistan Region in Iraq without a visa. As both sides of the border are inhabited by Kurds it was quite safe but not to stray too far inland as the roads are not safe especially for foreigners. So I thought why not hahaha. A quick ride in and out before anyone realised I was even there. The ride was in +40c temperatures and the border crossing going and coming was a nightmare in the heat. Traffic across this border is mainly trucks with only a handful of cars and they have not got it organised, no signs at all so you have to ask and be directed to numerous offices to get various papers stamped.

For the Turkish side you must have a “Passenger List” which is simply a form with your Vehicle Plate Number, Name of Passenger and Passport Numbers but they do not hand out these forms, its BYO hahaha. I was given a form by one of the other travellers in both directions. Everyone was as helpful as they could be while speaking only a few words of English. The Kurdish Customs guy was out to lunch so that added another 30 min to the procedure. On the return journey Turkish Customs wanted to X-ray my bike, apparently the computer told them to do it. The X-ray building is huge and meant to X-ray trucks and when I took my bike there the guys laughed and called someone to make sure it was not a joke. Also at one Booth the Automobile lane was not manned and I rode through without getting a stamp or something and this caused another round of confusion and I had to ride back and forth getting it sorted out. The Turkish side is where the bureaucracy has gone crazy. One advantage with riding a bike is they tell you to ride to the front of the queue.

Once I finished with the border its only 16 km to Zakho and at the first roundabout (Barzan) as you enter the town, it is also the main roundabout you will see the Hotel Nobel. According to the reviews on Google its the best and most expensive hotel in town at US$40 a night. I was given a suite with a Living room, Bedroom and a Kitchen, air-conditioned and the guy at reception spoke English. I was completely worn down by having to wander around in +40c temps when I arrived. I paid for everything in USD which is accepted alongside the Iraqi Dinar.

The main attraction in Zhako is the Dalal Stone Bridge. It has an interesting story, read the Wikipedia article.

 

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