Saudi Arabia and Iraq Winter Combo Tour

Start
Nov 10, 2024
Jeddah
End
Nov 26, 2024
Basra/Baghdad
Duration
17 days
Price
US$4995.00

TOUR OVERVIEW



This tour will showcase the best of two of the Middle East’s most prominent countries. Saudi Arabia and Iraq are in the same region, however they have vastly different histories and cultures. ​

Starting in the modern Red Sea city of Jeddah we will head north through the Ancient Nabatean wonders of Al Ula and Ha’il, before exploring the huge modern and relatively new city of Riyadh. From here we will then fly up to Baghdad which is certainly not a new city.

In Iraq we will explore the wonders of Mesopotamia and experience life after the recent conflicts in the country. We will explore the religious centres of Najaf and Karbala before making our way down to the UNESCO marshes in the south.

This trip will show you two very different countries that are both changing at a lightning-fast pace. Now is a unique time to explore both these countries as they both begin to blossom!


View the full itinerary


This tour is made up of the Saudi Arabia Rock the Kasbah Tour, and the Iraq Winter Tour , which can also be done separately.




If you like the look of this tour but the dates don't work for you, or you'd like to do part of the tour, please get in touch and let us know. All our tours are able to be split into smaller sections, we're always scheduling new tours and your dates might work for one of them, or we can always organise an independent tour.




INCLUSIONS:

Accommodation in twin share at roughly 3 star hotels/guesthouses, breakfast included

Transport, beginning in Jeddah and ending in Riyadh, and beginning in Baghdad and ending in Basra

Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the itinerary

Welcome dinner and farewell dinner in Saudi Arabia, lunch in the marshes in Iraq

SAIGA guide and local guides


SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $895

OPTIONAL EXTENSION, RETURN TO BAGHDAD: $100



EXCLUSIONS:

Visa fee

Meals other than those stipulated

Transport to Jeddah at the start of the tour, from Basra at the end of the tour, and between Riyadh and Baghdad in the middle of the tour

Accommodation and any other services before or after the tour

Personal expenses such as souvenirs or any optional activities

Any COVID related expenses



TOUR HIGHLIGHTS


Explore the vibrant old city of Jeddah

Take in the spectacular natural wonder of Wadi Al Disah

Explore the sister city of Petra, the ancient Mada’in Salih

Get a first hand view of how Saudi Arabia is modernising



Itinerary
Day 1Sun Nov 10
Riyadh
  • You will meet your Saiga guide in the hotel lobby and then begin your city tour of Riyadh.
  • We will take in the sites of Riyadh, the amazingly modern capital of the Kingdom. Here we will visit Masamak Fort and the infamous 'Chop Chop' Square, as well as the local Souq which is a heaven for collectors of cool antiques and souvenirs.
  • After a quick lunch, we will head out to view the ‘Edge of the World’, out in the desert. The Edge of the World is a viewpoint that sits at the top of a mountain range outside of Riyadh. This is possibly one of the most incredible views of the entire journey.
  • We will have a dinner, weather permitting, and then return to Riyadh where we will have the night to unwind and look forward to our week ahead.
  • There may also be a chance to go up to the Kingdom Tower viewing platform which offers bird's eye views of Riyadh.
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Day 2Mon Nov 11
Jeddah, Tabuk
  • We will head to the airport in the morning to catch a domestic flight to Tabuk, which lies in the far north of the country near the border with Jordan.
  • We will then drive to the awesome Wadi Al Disa where we will check into our farmstay. Along the way we will have a chance to stop and see some awesome desert scenery.
  • We will explore some of the surrounding areas in time for an epic sunset over the mountains.
  • Dinner and overnight at farmstay.
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Day 3Tue Nov 12
Wadi Al Disah
  • We will be up early for a journey into the wilderness of Saudi Arabia to see Wadi Al Disah. This is one of the most spectacular sights in all of Saudi Arabia and is still relatively unknown by outsiders. This amazingly beautiful area is home to canyons and palm trees and provides for some unreal photo opportunities.
  • Here we will learn about the amazing history of the region, which shares close links with other sites such as Wadi Rum and Petra in Jordan.
  • After a full day of exploring the valleys, we will arrive back at the farmstay where you will have a free evening.
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Day 4Wed Nov 13
Wadi Al Disah, Al-'Ula
  • Leaving Wadi Al Disah we'll head to Al-'Ula, which will take approximately 3.5 hours, through stunning rocky landscapes. We'll arrive and settle into our accommodation before heading out to visit Al-'Ula.
  • The walled city of Al-‘Ula was founded in the 6th century BC, an oasis in the desert valley, with fertile soil and plenty of water. It was located along 'Incense Road', the network of routes that facilitated the trading of spices, silk and other luxury items through Arabia, Egypt and India.
  • Walking along the narrow passageways of Al-'Ula, you'll feel like you're stepping back in time. It's phenomenal to think the last residents moved out in the 1980s! This maze of densely built mudbrick houses, many of which are more than 2000 years old, will amaze you. Sadly it won't be here for long though as it is slowly disintegrating.
  • In the evening we'll do some stargazing in the remote desert where we will also enjoy a group BBQ dinner. (Note: be sure to bring warm clothes for stargazing as the desert can be very cold at night.)
  • Around 11pm we will arrive back at our accommodation where we will rest up for the night.
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Day 5Thu Nov 14
Al-'Ula
  • Today we'll visit the Hegra. Possibly the most famous archeological site on the Saudi peninsula. The site is similar to that of Petra in Jordan, due to them both being built during the Nabatean Empire, however, until recently was much harder to get to due to visa restrictions.
  • Visiting the Nabatean tombs of Hegra as well as the many wonderful rock formations in the area such as Elephant Rock, this ancient city carved into solid rock is definitely a highlight of Saudi Arabia.
  • For sunset, we will head out to an amazing lookout that gives a great view over the region including part of the old town of Al-'Ula as well as amazing rock formations.
  • In the evening you will have free time to roam around Al-'Ula town where you can enjoy a sunset dinner and explore Al-'Ula old town.
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Day 6Fri Nov 15
Al-'Ula, Medina
  • In the morning we will drive to Medina (approximately 3.5 hours), the second holiest city for all of Islam.
  • We will begin a city tour where we will learn about the history of Islam and get close to the second-largest mosque in the world.
  • Non-Muslims are not allowed inside the mosque, but any Muslim guests will be allowed to visit.
  • At sunset, we will head towards the mosque to watch people file in for the evening prayer. On any day there can be easily over 200,000 people entering the mosque at the same time.
  • Free evening for group dinner.
  • Overnight in Medina.
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Day 7Sat Nov 16
Ha'il, Jubbah, Riyadh
  • In the morning we will take the high-speed rail from Medina to Jeddah which will take approximately 2 hours.
  • The high-speed rail connects Medina to Mecca and has become vital for transporting pilgrims between the two holy sites. Non-Muslims can only ride the train from Medina to Jeddah.
  • We will arrive in Jeddah and check into our hotel.
  • We will head out for an afternoon walk along the corniche where we can taste some of Jeddah's amazing seafood for dinner.
  • Overnight in Jeddah.
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Day 8Sun Nov 17
Riyadh
  • We start today with a city tour of Jeddah, showing you both the old and new of this vibrant city.
  • We will visit the Jeddah Corniche which runs along the Red Sea, as well as introducing you to the old part of Jeddah, the Al Balad District, where we will see some of the most iconic historical architecture in Jeddah. This area is host to numerous cafes and small museums as well as the old Souq.
  • A quick photo stop by the world's second largest flag pole ! (It overtook the Baku flagpole in 2014 and then was overtaken by a flagpole in Egypt in 2021.)
  • We will also see the distant Jeddah Tower, which is eventually to be the world’s tallest building. Later, we will finish up at the Floating Mosque, another one of Jeddah’s must see attractions.
  • Afterwards we will return to the hotel where you will have the afternoon and evening to explore Jeddah. We'll probably head back to the Al Balad District at night, as it comes alive (as does most of the country) once the sun goes down.
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Day 9Mon Nov 18
Jeddah, Baghdad
  • Today we will fly between Jeddah and Baghdad (flights not included).
  • Free time in Jeddah and Baghdad for the rest of the day.
  • Overnight in Baghdad.
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Day 10Tue Nov 19
Baghdad
  • Today we’ll be exploring Baghdad and getting familiar with Iraq. We’ll begin the morning by visiting the National Museum.
  • We’ll then pay a visit to Al-Mustansariya School, which used to be the most important university in the Islamic world.
  • No trip to Baghdad is complete without a visit to the famous Almutanabi Street, also known as Book Street. This is where we will also pop in for a tea at the iconic Shabandar Café.
  • After a refreshment we will then check out the super cool copper market.
  • In the afternoon, we will see some of Baghdad’s most impressive monuments such as the Al Shaheed monument (the big blue half domes that you’ve no doubt seen plenty of photos of), Liberation Square and the Save the Iraqi Culture monument.
  • In the evening we’ll have dinner at one of Baghdad’s charming and delicious restaurants.
  • Overnight in Baghdad.
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Day 11Wed Nov 20
Baghdad, Samarra, Baghdad
  • We begin the day with a road trip to visit the majestic Great Mosque of Samarra with its spiral minaret.  The minaret is a UNESCO world heritage site and this used to be one of the largest mosques in the world during its time as the former capital of the Abbasid empire.
  • We then head to the Virgin Palace with its huge pool. The size of this palace will give you an idea of how important this city once was in the 9 th century.
  • We then pay a visit to the Al-Askari shrine which was built in 944 CE and is still one of the most important Shia shrines in the world.
  • Return to Baghdad for a free evening.
  • Overnight in Baghdad.
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Day 12Thu Nov 21
Baghdad, Babylon, Karbala
  • We hit the road again this morning, this time headed for Karbala!
  • On the route we will visit the remains of the ancient city of Babylon, which has now been heavily reconstructed.
  • We will also visit one of the infamous palaces of Saddam Hussein. There are several of these palaces across the country, all of which are in varying degrees of disrepair, and this is likely to be a highlight for most of you.
  • We will then visit the legendary city of Babylon. It is certainly impressive to walk the same streets that the rulers of one of the most prominent ancient empires once did, and where Alexander the Great died.
  • We will get the chance to walk through a reconstruction of the glorious Ishtar Gate – constructed of vibrant blue tiles and adorned with depictions of fantastic animals.
  • We will then proceed to Karbala, one of the most important holy cities for Shia Muslims. This is also the site of one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, where every year hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims come to mark the holy day of Ashura.
  • Overnight in Karbala.
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Day 13Fri Nov 22
Karbala, Al Kifl, Kufa, Najaf
  • In the morning we head out in the direction of Najaf, another one of Islam’s most holy cities.
  • On the way we will stop off in Al Kilf, which holds an important and unique pilgrimage site, the tomb of Ezekial. This spot is important for both Muslims and Jewish peoples. It has a Jewish shrine enclosed in a mosque which can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.
  • We then continue on to Najaf where we visit the Shrine of Imam Ali who was the cousin of the prophet Mohammed. Here we’ll learn about the split between Shia and Sunni Muslim history. Some people believe Noah and Adam from the Bible are also buried here.
  • In the evening we will explore the old souks of Najaf and enjoy some of the city’s great food.
  • Overnight in Najaf.
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Day 14Sat Nov 23
Najaf, Ur, Nasiriya
  • We continue our journey into the ancient world where we will visit one of the world’s oldest city states, Ur. This city is said to date back to 3800 BCE and was once one of the most important cities of the ancient world.
  • Here we will visit the gigantic Ziggurat or Ur, which is a giant stone temple built in honour of their moon God, Nanna.
  • In the afternoon, we will head to Nasiriya where you’ll have a chance to explore at your own pace.
  • Overnight in Nasiriya.
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Day 15Sun Nov 24
Nasiriya, Marshes, Basra
  • Now we make our way somewhere really special – to Iraq’s amazing marshlands. We will spend the day navigating the wetlands by canoe, exploring the amazing and incredibly unique culture and ecosystem that exists here.
  • Here we will meet the Ma’dan people, otherwise known as the ‘marsh Arabs’. The Ma’dan have lived the same way in the marshes for 1000s of years and maintain the same way of life today.
  • The marshlands here are said to be the inspirations for the garden of Eden because of its amazing beauty.
  • Afterwards, we continue on to Basra, where we will have dinner.
  • Overnight in Basra.
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Day 16Mon Nov 25
Basra
  • Today we will explore Basra, the second largest city in Iraq.
  • We’ll begin by exploring the beautiful old houses of Basra from the 16 th and 17 th centuries. These houses are now crumbling and falling apart but show the once former glory of the city.
  • Later in the afternoon, we will head to the magnificent Shatt al-Arab river for a sunset boat ride.
  • We will then head out for dinner and drinks for our last night in Iraq.
  • Overnight in Basra.
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Day 17Tue Nov 26
Basra, End of Tour, (Optional return to Baghdad)
  • Today is the end of the tour. There are flights directly out of Basra to some Middle Eastern destinations, or you might like to stay and explore some more of Basra by yourself. Please let us know if you need help with any of that.
  • Optional extension: return to Baghdad - $100
    • If you'd like to join us for this, we'll drive all the way back to Baghdad today, stopping along the way for photos and food/drink breaks. It will take roughly 7 hours, and we'll arrive back in the capital in the evening.
    • If you'd like to spend the night let us know and we can either arrange it for you or give you some pointers.
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