In April of 2015 I took a trip that pushed me further than I’ve gone since I started this journey. Traveling through Iraq was never even on my radar, until a fateful meeting with a native Iraqi while I was in Turkey. This trip was proof that great (calculated) risks bring great rewards, and that you never truly know a story until you hear it firsthand.
Hitchhiking 150 miles across Iraq was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had on the road.
This is the Erbil Citadel. Built 7,000 years ago, it’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
To my surprise, most shops in Kurdistan region of Iraq operate on the honor system. At night, shop owners simply cover their products with blankets. After hours, locals will take what they need then pay the following day.
A young Iraqi girl sits on a quiet city street.
The warm and playful children I met were so friendly…and loved making fun of my mustache.
Once outside the city, lush green grass covers the countryside—a far cry from the desert landscapes I imagined.
Massive red cliffs shot up all around us.
Locals told me that Saddam Hussein’s mountain home, accessible only by helicopter, is located somewhere on this mountain range.
I shot this in Amedi from the roof of an old school, which is now home to 10 refugee families fleeing ISIS. They invited us into their home for tea, and we ended up staying for dinner and some amazing conversation that went late into the night.
My (slightly illegal) campground in the town park.
Rawandiz Canyon… This is now what I imagine when I think of Iraq.