Expedition with the professional photographer to the antiquities of Mesopotamia and to Marsh Arabs


April 17 - 24, 2023

Tour Iraq

tour to Iraq trip to Mesopotamia expedition to Bagdad Mosul Basr Samarra Marsh Arabs tour to Middle East Kurdistan Syria Babylon, expedition Marsh Arabs, tour Mosul

Mesopotamia - mainly modern-day Iraq is a trove of treasures of the ancient culture of the Arab world, like a mysterious child of early civilizations.

Nobody can be indifferent to these beautiful cities, majestic mountains and various archaeological sites which are absolutely considered to be the masterpieces of the ancient world.

Visiting the glorious Baghdad city, the Sassanian Ctesiphon, the ruins of Babylon, authentic markets, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, mosques and ziggurats - is incredible exiting expedition where you are able touch the cultural heritage and the great religions of humanity.

We meet Marsh Arabs with their fascinating stories about the Great Silk Road, discover traditional cuisine and take lots of amazing pictures during the boat and road trips.

©️ MZUNGU EXPEDITIONS / Alex Kolbov, 2022
Drone pilot and director: Alex Kolbov aka Mzungu


Dates: April 17 – 24, 2023

Duration: 8 days / 7 nights

Number of participants: 8 – 12



Day 1. April 17, 2023 (Monday). ARRIVAL IN BAGHDAD

Evening or night arrival in Baghdad airport. Pick-up from the airport and transfer to the hotel for resting. Overnight in the hotel 4* in Baghdad.

* Recommended flight from Moscow to Baghdad:
- flight from Moscow to Baghdad with Turkish Airlines with connection in Istanbul, departs from Moscow at 14:40 on April 17, arrives in Baghdad at 0:50 am on April 18,
- flight from Moscow to Baghdad with Turkish Airlines with connection in Istanbul, departs from Moscow at 20:35 on April 17, arrives in Baghdad at 5:00 am on April 18,
- or flight from Moscow to Baghdad with Egypt Air with connection in Cairo, departs from Moscow at 17:05 on April 17, arrives in Baghdad at 3:20 am on April 18,
- or flight from Moscow to Baghdad with Qatar Airways with connection in Doha, departs from Moscow at 17:55 on April 17, arrives in Baghdad at 3:15 am on April 18,
- or any other flight from Moscow or from another city with arrival in Baghdad in the afternoon of April 17 or in the night from April 17 to April 18.

Accommodation included: Shanashel Palace 4*
Meals included: no

Day 2. April 18, 2023 (Tuesday). BAGHDAD – CTESIPHON – BAGHDAD (80 km)

After breakfast, at 9 am leave hotel to explore Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Visit to Liberation Square, one of the main squares in Baghdad. This square played an important role in some of the revolutions, marches and uprisings that took place in the city of Baghdad. Then we will have a short boat trip over Tigris river and cross the river and Al-Mutanabi street. Al-Mutanabbi Street is considered the oldest cultural market for the people of Baghdad where the trade of books of all kinds and fields flourishes.
Al-Qishla is one of the heritage buildings of Baghdad, which is located in the building of the Al-Muwaffaqia School. Its construction dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century AD, during the Ottoman era. Visit Al-Mustansiriya School – an ancient school that was founded in the time of the Abbasid state in Baghdad in 1233 by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustansir Billah.
Then we walk through the Old bazar and also see the Copper Market. Then we will have some rest to drink the traditional Iraqi tea and dried lime tea in Al-Shabander, one of the most famous old cafes in Baghdad.
After lunch, around 2 pm go to Ctesiphon. It was an ancient city, located on the eastern bank of Tigris. Ctesiphon served as the main capital of Persia. Today it is famous for its archway, which is considered the second large single-span vault of unreinforced brickwork.
Around 5 pm we visit Al-Kadhimiya is one of the important neighborhoods in Baghdad and enjoy the beautiful night market. It also includes the Al-Kadhimiya holy shrine (golden dome). The tomb of Imam Musa Al-Kadhim and his grandson, Imam Muhammad al-Jawad, one of the most prominent Muslims and the seventh imam of Twelve Shiites.
Dinner at your choice and overnight in the hotel 4* in Baghdad.

Accommodation included: Shanashel Palace 4*
Meals included: breakfast

Day 3. April 19, 2023 (Wednesday). BAGHDAD – BABYLON – KARBALA (175 km)

After breakfast, check-out from the hotel. Head to the ancient ruins of Babylon – cradle of Mesopotamian civilization dated 18th - 6th centuries BC, with the Hanging Gardens of Semiramida, that was supposed to be attached to the Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar. Appointed as Seven Wonders of Hellenic World, have a presence in various literature sources but its physical existence has never been proven.
Saddam Palace, nowadays Museum, perched on top of Babylon, as the palace was inspired by the Babylonian palace of King Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon Theater, one of the most important Hellenistic monuments in the city of Babylon. Specialists differ in determining the date of this building. Some of them say that Alexander the Great ordered the construction of the theatre, and some of them mention that Antiochus IV is the one who ordered it to be built for the Greek community to encourage them to hold sports. Despite the destruction of the external structure, the Directorate General of Antiquities excavated the foundations, and then the building was completed with modern bricks over the original plan.
Early afternoon visit Borsippa Ziggurat. According to the Talmud, this ziggurat is believed to be the Tower of Babel found in the Torah. It is believed that this ziggurat was for the worship of the goddess Nebu, the god of writing and wisdom at the Babylonians, who was the son of the god Marduk.
Lunch in the abandoned but still very charming palace of Saddham Hussein with the view on Babylon.
Go to Karbala.
Check-in into the hotel 4*. In the afternoon visit Imam Abbas shrine that contain the tomb of the Al-Abbas B. Imam Ali was one of the greatest Islamic and historical characters. He reflected the real brotherhood trait during Al-Taff battle when he sacrificed himself to protect his family, in addition to granting his palms for the sake of defending the Islamic values and idealism of Ahlul-Bayt, which Yazid was seeking to alter. Imam Hussein shrine contain the tomb of the imam Hussein. He is the second son of Imam Ali and the second grandson of the Messenger of Allah Muhammad after his brother Imam Hassan.
Dinner at your choice and overnight in hotel 4* in Karbala.

Accommodation included: Awlad Al Hassan Hotel 4*
Meals included: breakfast

Day 4. April 20, 2023 (Thursday). KARBALA – AL-CHIBAYISH – NASSIRIYAH (485 km)

Very early breakfast and around 6:30 check-out from the hotel. Head to Al-Chibayish. Arrival in Al-Chibayish before noon. Lunch time: we have the famous masgouf (fish grilled using reeds instead of woods) inside one of the houses built by reeds only called "almutheef".
Visit to marshes of Iraq, the largest wetlands in the Middle East. They not only provide habitat to hundreds of bird and fish species, but they are also home to thousands of Marsh Arabs, returning more and more to their historical heartland after draining of the Marshes during and after the 1991 uprisings in Iraq.
The Marsh Arabs, also referred to as the Maʻdan are inhabitants of the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands in the south of Iraq. Comprising members of many different tribes and tribal confederations, they developed a unique culture centered on the marshes' natural resources. The society of the Marsh Arabs was divided into two main groups by occupation. One group bred and raised water buffaloes while others cultivated crops.
We stop to have some rest and drink the traditional tea and meet the locals, have some chat with them talking old stories.
Then we will take a boat trip using the old traditions boat called "shakhtura" through the maze of marshes. Visit 2 or 3 different nomadic camps of Marsh Arabs. Taking pictures.
Short drive to Nassiriyah city. Dinner and overnight in beautiful hotel in Nassiriyah city.

Accommodation included: Somerion Hotel 4 *
Meals included: breakfast, lunch

Day 5. April 21, 2023 (Friday). NASSIRIYAH – UR – BAGHDAD (360 km)

After breakfast very short drive to visit Ziggurat of Ur. The ziggurat is the most distinctive architectural invention of the Ancient Near East. Like an ancient Egyptian pyramid, an ancient Near Eastern ziggurat has four sides and rises up to the realm of the gods. However, unlike Egyptian pyramids, the exterior of Ziggurats were not smooth but tiered to accommodate the work which took place at the structure, as well as the administrative oversight and religious rituals essential to Ancient Near Eastern cities. Ziggurats are found scattered around what is today Iraq and Iran, and stand as an imposing testament to the power and skill of the ancient culture that produced them.
Back to Baghdad. Late lunch.
Visit famous statue of Shahryar and Scheherazade, represented by the famous story of the Thousand and One Nights. Where we see Scheherazade standing with her hand raised, telling her stories on Shahryar.
Save the Iraqi monument, that looks like broken and crumbling cylindrical stone column representing Iraqi culture. On his side, there is a group of hands and arms surrounding him as an expression of their attempt to support him so that he does not fall. Visit Al- Adhamiyah, one of the important neighborhoods in Baghdad and enjoy the beautiful night market, that also includes the Mosque of Imam Abu Hanifa al-Numan, a jurist and Muslim scholar, and the first of the four imams among the Sunnis.
Dinner and overnight in the hotel 4* in Baghdad.

Accommodation included: Shanashel Palace 4*
Meals included: breakfast

Day 6. April 22, 2023 (Saturday). BAGHDAD – SAMARRA – MOSUL (415 km)

Early breakfast and visit very impressive monument of dedicated to the Iraqi soldiers who died during the Iran-Iraq war. A monument in the form of a drop of water split into two.
Drive to Samarra. In medieval times, Samarra was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate and is the only remaining Islamic capital that retains its original plan, architecture and artistic relics. In 2007, UNESCO named Samarra one of its World Heritage Sites.
Visit Samarra spiral minaret, one of the prominent distinctive landmarks of Iraq because of its unique shape, the ascending spiral conical design.
Kasr Al Mashouq – an archaeological historical Abbasid palace built in the ninth century, and one of the most important monuments in Iraq because of its archaeological value. It is the palace mentioned by historians in the name of the "Al Mashouq" which means the lover.
If time permits, we will also visit the mosque Jami Abu Dalaf, that is similar to the spiral minaret of Samarra mosque, but of smaller size and less visited.
Then head to Tikirt (Saddam's birth city) and having a lunch.
Drive to the extreme north of the country, to the city of Mosul.
Dinner and overnight in Mosul at Plaza Hotel.

Accommodation included: Plaza Hotel
Meals included: breakfast

Day 7. April 23, 2023 (Sunday). MOSUL – BAGHDAD (400 km)

After breakfast explore Mosul. Mosul and its surroundings have an ethnically and religiously diverse population: Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, and other smaller ethnic minorities comprising the rest of the city's population. Sunni Islam is the largest religion in this part of Iraq, with a significant number of Christians though.
Mosul is considered to be among the larger and more historically and culturally significant cities of the Arab World. Together with the nearby Nineveh Plains, Mosul is one of the historic centers of the Assyrian people.
At the beginning of the 21st century, from June 10, 2014 to July 10, 2017, it was controlled by the terrorist organization Islamic State. After the Fatah military operation, IS lost control of the city and its surroundings. In 2014, before the seizure of Mosul by the Islamic State, about half a million residents fled from the city.
Today Mosul is ruined, resembles Mogadishu a number of year ago.
We visit the wall of Nineveh and Nergal gate (the gate which had been blown up by ISIS), visit Clock church and Al-Nouri Mosque (next to each other), visit the shrine of Prophet Yunus.
Drive back to Baghdad. Late arrival.
Dinner and overnight in the hotel 4* in Baghdad.

Accommodation included: Shanashel Palace 4*
Meals included: breakfast

Day 8. April 24, 2023 (Monday). BAGHDAD – RETURN FLIGHT

After breakfast transfer to the airport to catch return international flight. Can stay free day in Baghdad with evening departure from Iraq.

* Recommended flight from Baghdad to Moscow:
- flight from Baghdad to Moscow with Turkish Airlines with connection in Istanbul, departs from Baghdad at 5:50 am on April 24, arrives in Moscow at 13:50 on April 24,
- or flight from Baghdad to Moscow with Egypt Air with connection in Cairo, departs from Baghdad at 4:20 am on April 24, arrives in Moscow at 16:05 am on April 24,
- or flight from Baghdad to Moscow with Qatar Airways with connection in Doha, departs from Baghdad at 13:15 on April 24, arrives in Moscow at 7:55 am on April 25,
- or flight from Baghdad to Moscow with Emirates with connection in Dubai, departs from Baghdad at 11:05 on April 24, arrives in Moscow at 20:30 am on April 24,
- or any other flight from Baghdad to Moscow or to any other city with departure from Baghdad any time on April 24 or in the night from April 23 to April 24, but no earlier than at 1:00 am on April 24.

Accommodation included: no
Meals included: breakfast

* The program can be changed or delayed according to the conditions of the trip, depending on the arrival and departure time, traffic restrictions, authorities' decisions, or under any other circumstances.
Cost includes:

• Accommodation in hotels 3*/4* as per the program (in TWIN / DBL rooms)
• Breakfasts and traditional lunch in Al-Chibayish
• Drinking water throughout the whole trip
• Pick up transfer from inside the airport and returning to airport, airport taxes
• All transfers according to the itinerary by big comfortable bus, with local experienced driver
• All sightseeing as outlined in itinerary, entry fees
• Boat trip in Al-Chibayish
• All permits,
• Facilitation with visa
• English speaking local guide throughout all trip
• Russian- and English speaking team leader professional photographer throughout all itinerary.

Cost excludes (to be additionally paid):

• International flight ticket to Baghdad roundtrip (from 500 USD)
• International medical insurance
• Visa on arrival fee 77 USD (another visa cost for the countries out of list the countries citizens of which are eligible for VOA)
• Lunches and dinners
• Tips for local team
• Personal expenses
• Single accommodation

To take with:

• long sleeve wear set, wear set for hot weather
• very light jacket for cool nights of airplane
• comfortable trekking or running footwear, light footwear (sneakers or slippers)
• cap/hat
• scarf for women for visiting Mosques and Shrines (the one also be provided by our team)
• big backpack/bag for luggage (not more than 80 liters capacity), suitcase is also suitable
• small backpack for radial walks for personal stuff and photo-, video cameras (20-25 l)
• PCR COVID test negative result taken no more than 72 hours before arrival (requirement may be changed)
• sunblock cream
• sunglasses
• personal hygiene items
• personal medical kit (analgesics, antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, intestinal, multivitamins, rehydrone, court plaster, your personal medications)
• photo and video camera, (drone is not allowed),
• batteries and power bank

Tour to Novaya Zemlya

Baghdad - is like a fairytale city illustrated in the famous collection of «The Thousand and One Nights». The historic International trade center along the Great Silk Road.

Exceptional architecture of ancient cities - Ctesiphon, Chibayish, Nasiriyah and Karbala.

Famous Copper market and Mutanabbi Street with its mind-blowing colorful bookstores.

Boating along one of the great rivers of Mesopotamia - the Tigris. Varying perspective shots with beautiful landscapes.

Meeting Arabs of the Marshlands, tea ceremonies, mudhifs and national cuisine.

Ziggurat of the god Nanna - the building with no straight lines in it, which creates unique optical illusions.

Samarra - place of the original settlements of the first farmers. Parthian-Hellenistic temples and the ruins of the wall, gates and palaces.

Remains of the walls of ancient Nineveh, Saddam Hussein's Palace and, of course, the mysterious ruins of biblical Babylon with the famous Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

  • 1
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  • 2
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