The story of Alex: “I went backpacking in Iraq – and I loved it”

It can sound nuts, but I couldn’t think of a better adventure to do as a backpacker

People tend to relate the term ‘backpacking’ with places like Europe, South East Asia or, occasionally, South America. However, have you ever thought about how many stunning places in the world people never consider while planning a trip? 

Alex did. He set out to one of the most infamous yet beautiful countries in the world – Iraq.

Since the very beginning, the trip was a proper adventure. He entered the country on a minivan, driving across the border of Turkey and Syria, which needless to say… it’s one of the most conflictive areas worldwide. The views could basically be summed up in armed guards, armed guards and… armed guards. Just everywhere.

But let’s go back to even before they managed to get into the country… How did they plan it?

Well, first of all, finding a travel buddy was certainly not easy. We can all agree that unless you’re a risk junkie, Iraq is not currently the most appealing place to go.

And your good friend Google won’t help you if you try to convince someone to go with, as you will find nothing but negative comments about the country.

Fortunately enough for Alex, he could find on internet a fellow traveller who was keen on joining him on the adventure. Now there was no excuse to not go.

What were their impressions about the country?

First impression: Surprisingly calmed 😌

They got this impression since the very beginning, when they landed on their first city in Iraq – Zahko. They were extremely surprised about how safe and calm it looked. No destroyed buildings nor screwed roads… it really was a completely normal city.

Second Impression: Cheap as chips 💰🍟

For a couple of bucks you could literally have 2 people lunch. And for a 4 hours drive? $30 per person – Now we are talking! 

Third Impression: Locals behaving like… actual Locals ❤️

They definitely didn’t experience that common situation of being offered a 100 things to buy per minute just because they were tourists. The locals didn’t really care about them. Not in a bad way, they were just absolutely normal around them – they had their own things to do so why waste a minute with a random bloke on the street just because he’s a western guy?

No one tried to rip them off. No one waved at them like they were from a different planet. No one followed them to check out what they were up to.

Although they were most likely the only tourists in the entire country, the locals just didn’t really care about them – they were just living their normal lives, no big deal.

The only locals they actually got close to were the ones they made the effort to interact with – and no matter who the person was, from a gun shop owner to a kebab restaurant cook, they all seemed genuinely honest.

Forth Impression: How Safe the country was (Yes, safety) ✅

They obviously recognize how scared they were before starting the trip. It’s not easy to ignore the fact that everyone is telling you that you’re nuts and you’re gonna die on the trip. However, the most rewarding part of the trip was actually to see how safe the country is. 

Of course, like in any other place, if you are in the wrong place and time something bad can happen to you. However, in general terms, they never had a single safety issue. Even while driving from Zhako to Erbil. Imagine to drive 4 hours across Kurdistan, the considered no-man’s land, through countless armed checkpoints and still – not a single issue there. 

It doesn’t really look like a bad plan now hey? You can find more information about his adventures across Iraq on his website FindingTheFreedom. 

We know what you are thinking – it looks awesome but it is still sketchy to just show up there alone. But just take a minute and realise that you might actually have friends’ friends in Iraq, and you don’t even know it!

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