Sunday, January 9, 2011

Iraqi Kurdistan is one of very few places

20 Best Trips of 2011

Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary destination for your next vacation? Check out these 20 top trips, hand-picked by National Geographic Traveler editors as the best of 2011. Where do you want to go this year? Share your travel plans—real or ideal—below.
  1. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  2. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
  3. Sardinia, Italy
  4. Tasmania
  5. Fjord Norway
  6. Uruguay
  7. Shimla, India
  8. Messinia Region, Greece
  9. Dominica
  10. Namibia
  11. Laos
  12. Kodiak Island, Alaska
  13. Scottish Highlands
  14. Tunisia
  15. Palawan, Philippines
  16. Black Sea Coast, Crimea
  17. Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec
  18. Shikoku, Japan
  19. Papua New Guinea
  20. Kurdistan Iraq

Kurdistan Region of Iraq is considered an oasis of peace and stability in a historically volatile region,

the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northeastern Iraq is drawing a growing stream of curious Western visitors to its ancient cities, snowcapped mountains, and bustling bazaars. 

The 2010 expansion of Erbil International Airport—located in the provincial capital and main commercial center—has improved access to the region and helped fuel tourist infrastructure development. Recent advances include construction of several new luxury and business hotels and additional escorted small group tours focused on Kurdish ethnic heritage and historic sites.

Experienced guides such as Hinterland Travel and Kurdistan Adventures lead 8- to 16-day cultural tours. Highlights include Erbil’s historic citadel and Grand Mosque, the ruins of Salahaddin’s Fortress in Shaqlawa, and the Jarmo Neolithic village archaeological site (7,000 B.C.) located in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. Some itineraries include excursions into Kurdish ethnic regions in eastern Turkey and northwestern Iraq.

Dalal Bridge in Zakho

Photograph by Lonely Planet Images, Alamy

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