Rawanduz is situated in the north east of Kurdistan close to the borders of Iran and Turkey. Hiking in the canyons of Rawanduz can’t fail to make any trekker happy with these lush green breath-taking views.
The famous Gali Ali Beg
The Gali Ali Beg waterfall is about 2 hours drive from Erbil. It’s located at the intersection of two rivers, the Rawandoz Sidakan. This mountain resort is pretty popular in the summer but we were there in November so there was only one guy running the cafe with his young sons keeping warm with a makeshift fire on a BBQ stand.
The water is pretty powerful coming down from the mountain, I got a little close and got soaked! We had chai with the family from the cafe and he would not take any money, we had to chase his young sons around to put it in his pocket. That’s the Kurdish hospitality!
Fun fact: The Gali Ali Begis waterfall is featured on the 5,000 Iraqi Dinar note.
View the canyons of Rawanduz
The countryside as you head towards Rawanduz is pretty dramatic with snake like rivers moving between the canyons. You are honestly spoilt for chose with viewpoints. The honey sellers were shivering away in the cold hoping to get a sale of their tasty natural products.
Check out Bekhal Waterfalls
Bekhall waterfalls which is really a summer tourist resort to showcase one of the area’s great natural landmarks. Near the base of the mountain, you can can find shops and food stalls. In the summer people can be seen paddling on the steps at the top of the waterfall, it didn’t have the same appeal in the low temperatures of November.
Hiking in Rawanduz
We stopped off at the ski resort of Korek Mountain for a spot of lunch… yes, you guessed it, kebabs! It was nice and quiet owing to the fact that there was no snow on the mountain yet.
Rawanduz, about 10 km east of Bekhall waterfalls, is a town perched at the edge of a gorge overlooking the majestic mountains. We hiked for around 3 hours in total at the bottom of the canyon. It was a gentle hike apart from a steep slippy incline to cross. Unfortunately, due to the rain we would’ve slid straight down into the gushing river below. It was at that point we decided to turn back to avoid any mishaps.
Rawanduz: The Essentials
Where to stay: There are 2 main resorts in Rawanduz which are Korek Mountain Resort and Pank Resort.
Money: The currency is Iraqi Dinar and I’d advise to take cash from the ATM before you leave Erbil, not many places will accept cards.
Best time to visit Kurdistan: Summer gets pretty hot. Expect temperatures soar to 45-50 degrees between May to late September. The colder months are from November to March, serving up rain and some snow. In mountains the snowfall will be much heavier.
Is it safe to visit Kurdistan?: We need to realise that Kurdistan is a different ball game than Arab Iraq. The last bomb, was over 5 years ago in Kurdistan and they are doing everything possible to prevent ISIS entering their state which has a semi-autonomous parliament. The crime rate is very low in the country.