Part 1/3: Photo Journal

 

This trip has been about a year in the making.  I have, at this point, a well documented obsession with Kurdistan.  It has an often-hard-to-define charm, some sort of invisible charisma.  That very magnetism was one of the leading factors in my actively seeking to return.  I knew there was still so much more to be seen, and this trip is the culmination of that ambition to explore wider reaches of this amazing country I had either passed through briefly or not yet seen altogether.

I hope this post, or I guess this string of 3 posts (as this is part 1/3; only covering days 1 and 2 of 6 total) helps convey that truth.  I don’t need to convince myself any further of the merits and beauty of this place, but I still find myself having to take that approach with others, who when hearing that I live in northern Iraq/Kurdistan try to contextualize it within shallow ISIS jokes or complete and unshakable closemindedness.

So to keep this simple, I’ll let the photos explain my passion for this place, and I’ll explain only as much as I need to.  These photos are from many of the different vistas and highlights I had over my 1700 kilometer trip that at various points crossed over three of Kurdistan’s four governorates.

Enjoy!

I left Duhok Saturday morning, October 31st,  passing through familiar terrain and towns I’ve now been to a few times; including Zawita, Sarsink, and Amedi.  Five kilometers east of Amedi, I was exploring new ground for myself.

Ten kilometers east of Amedi, approaching Dereluk. The canyon of the Great Zab River, emerging from Turkey and into the Sapna Valley,  is visible on the far left.
Ten kilometers east of Amedi, approaching Dereluk. The canyon of the Great Zab River, emerging from Turkey and into the Sapna Valley, is visible on the far left.
The Great Zab River between Dereluk and Sheladiz.
The Great Zab River between Dereluk and Sheladiz.
The highway followed the Great Zab River for about 100 kilometers
The highway followed the Great Zab River for about 100 kilometers
Leaving Sheladiz, heading for Barzan
Leaving Sheladiz, heading for Barzan
Lush green landscapes in the Sapna Valley
Lush green landscapes in the Sapna Valley
Deep in the Sapna Valley
Deep in the Sapna Valley. The road briefly climbed to a bluff overlooking the Great Zab as it wound through an impassible canyon stretch. Once the canyon faded and the valley reopened, the road switchbacked down to the flood banks below.
Leaving the hillside town of Barzan
Leaving the hillside town of Barzan
Approaching the town of Welati Jori
Approaching the town of Welati Jori
The Great Zab River. In the far distance is one of the mouths of Rawanduz Canyon and its massive sheer cliff face
The Great Zab River. In the far distance is one of the mouths of Rawanduz Canyon and its massive sheer cliff face

The Great Zab River

The Great Zab River passing through a narrow canyon out to the plains of Nineveh near Erbil
The Great Zab River passing through a narrow canyon out to the plains of Nineveh near Erbil

I spent the night in Shaqlawa at the end of Day 1, having ridden 270 kilometers.  Day 2 was Shaqlawa-Souleymaniyah.

Shaqlawa morning, looking northeast towards Sisawa
Shaqlawa morning, looking northeast towards Sisawa
Approaching Sisawa after leaving Shaqlawa
Approaching Sisawa after leaving Shaqlawa
Partly overcast skies making a pastel landscape near the town of Sisawa
Partly overcast skies making a pastel landscape near the town of Sisawa

I took many deliberate detours over the course of 6 days, on the second day I took an hour to drive through Rawanduz Canyon. I revisited Rawanduz a few days after, but wanted to catch a quick glimpse of one of the major tourist destinations of Kurdistan.

One of the many mouths of Rawanduz Canyon
One of the many mouths of Rawanduz Canyon

After Rawanduz I kept my route more direct…. And by direct I mean taking every long looping back road possible.

West side of Korek Mountain
The west side of Korek Mountain

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Riding down an unnamed road in an unknown valley
Riding down an unnamed road in an unknown valley

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Riding south over the Ranya Plains towards the town of Hawija
Riding south over the Ranya Plains towards the town of Hawija
Riding south over the Ranya plains approaching the town of Hawija
Riding south over the Ranya plains approaching the town of Hawija
Looking east over the Ranya Plains. The mountains in the far distance form part of the Iran-Iraq border.
Looking east over the Ranya Plains. The mountains in the far distance form part of the Iran-Iraq border.
The Ranya Plains
The Ranya Plains
Looking east over the Ranya plains to the town of Hawija
Looking east over the Ranya plains to the town of Hawija
Ten kilometers north of Dokan
Ten kilometers north of the town of Dokan, twenty kilometers south of Hawija.
The town of Dokan, sitting along the Small Zab River, which like the Great Zab drains into the Tigris River near Kirkuk.
The town of Dokan, sitting along the Small Zab River, which like the Great Zab drains into the Tigris River near Kirkuk.
Ten kilometers south of Dokan, heading towards Souleymaniyah, the second largest city of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Ten kilometers south of Dokan, heading towards Souleymaniyah, the second largest city of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Back on unnamed roads in backwater stretches.
Back on unnamed roads in backwater stretches.

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Approaching Souleymaniyah, visible in the distant right of the photo
Approaching Souleymaniyah, visible in the distant right of the photo.
Sunset in Souleymaniyah
Sunset in Souleymaniyah.
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2 thoughts on “Part 1/3: Photo Journal

  1. All I can say is that you truly chose the right subject for your major in college.
    It is obviously a close one to your heart, and you are doing it justice. God bless!

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