I was blessed with near perfect weather on Days 1 & 2, something I wasn’t lucky enough to have on Day 3. Fortunately it didn’t affect any of my photos- and in fact enhanced them- as the incessant intensity of the wind (a constant battering of unseasonably chilled air from the nearby 3000+ meter peaks at a sustained 50-70 kph with gusts that I estimated at 120 kph) meant that I was lucky to have perfectly clear air and visibility to great distances in all directions.
I was cold as hell on day 3, but a frigid day-long shiver is ultimately a small trade-off for fantastic photos.
I was only ten minutes outside of Souleymaniyah when I realized it would be a day to bundle up and save as much body heat as possible.
The long and slow descent from Garu Manjal eventually dropped me off on the main highway connecting Erbil-to-Soran-to-Iran. This highway, known as the “Hamilton Road,” was the brainchild of nineteenth century British engineer Archibald Hamilton. He dreamed of building a road connecting the Persian plateau and southwest Asian interior to Mesopotamia and the Eastern Mediterranean. This highway is considered one of his crowning achievements, and one of the greatest successes of civil engineering in the last century. I would end up taking this road all the way back to Soran where I’d spend the night, but not before detouring through what is probably the most famous stretch of the Hamilton Road, Rawanduz Canyon….
On Day 5 I would get a lot closer to the impressive Welati-Ciya, as well as the international border it lies on.