We ended up in the village of Sulav in the Kurdistan part of Iraq. It wasn’t the initial plan to visit Sulav, but we decided to hitch a ride there after exploring the amazing mountain village of Amadiya. We had enough time to have a look around Sulav, but we didn’t stay over. It seems like a cool place, that may one day become a popular tourist sight, here are a few photos and thoughts on what Sulav offers. It sits in the mountains in a dreamy location, and is a tiny village – it seemed to be just based around one main road!
1. Great Mountain Views
You can see Amadiya from here – it sits proudly and loftily on the top of the adjacent mountain top. Sulav offers really great views.
Take your time to scale the edge of the village and admire the views. They are quite special. While you’re pretty close to the Turkey border, pinch yourself and remember you are in Iraq here. You didn’t expect this, did you?
2. “Souvenir Shops”
Well Iraq doesn’t do souvenirs shops the way the rest of the world does, thankfully. But here in Sulav you can pick up a few Kurdish type souvenirs. Keyrings, badges and flags. A few roadside stalls are probably better for local kids though – toys and sweets are sold.
3. Custom Built Waterfall
They kind of have the makings of a custom built flow of water here in a funky garden leading down from a cafe and hotel. Normally fake things like this aren’t my cup of tea – but the truth is we are in a country which has suffered a regime and where war is still going on – the fact they have developed things like a fake waterfall and miniature park are a healthy thing and a credit to the local Kurds.
4. Makeshift Tourist Resort
Yes, there’s a hotel here. We didn’t go inside, but for sure the fact that you can stay over means that this is a place that wants to be touristy.
There’s a market area which includes a shopping area for food and also some restaurants. I didn’t see alcohol in Sulav, but I;d imagine you can get it somewhere.
6. Proximity to Amadiya
Of course the main reason you came to Sulav was either on route to or on the way back from Amadiya – a really special mountain top village. While Sulav is its very very young and tiny brother, you’ll pass through it on route, so you might as well make a stop here.
7. Friendly Locals
We met a load of friendly people there in Sulav. Some wanted to pose for photos with us – they hadn’t seen foreigners before. Or looked as though they hadn’t!
Even the local Kurdish Police wanted to help us as they knew there wasn’t much public transport. But the icing on the cake was meeting Jehat, who gave us a free lift to Qadash, read point 8 below.
8. Hitch-hiking from Amadiya to Sulav then onto Qadash
It was a big surprise to learn that hitch hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan is not only very safe, but sometimes the ONLY WAY to get from place to place. There were certainly no bus routes.
We hitched a ride from Amadiya to Sulav with a couple of locals. Then after touring Sulav for a bit, admiring the views and realising there wasn’t really a bus network here, we flagged down the cars and a local lad called Jehat stopped for us!
And after meeting Jehat and hopping inside, we bid a fond farewell to the tranquil village of Sulav. If you get a chance it would be pretty cool to spend a night here!
Here are my videos from the village of Sulav:
6 thoughts on “The Mountain Village of Sulav, Kurdistan, Iraq”
First of all with all the bad press that Iraq has received recently it amazing to me that it was so enjoyable. And even in a small village like Sulav they had a souvenir shop. Who knew? But great pictures, I really enjoyed your post and will follow your travels.
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Hi The Funster. Yes Iraq is a top spot for backpacking – much more raw and authentic than places like Thailand and Australia etc. which have been overkilled on travel blogs! At least in my opinion! Safe travels. Jonny
I am a Kurd from Amedi living in the States. I absolutely love this. Kurdish people are friendly and greatly diverse. I am so glad you saw my home. You should also go in to the rebar, which is the little valley that dips between amedi and sulav. If you kept driving past Amedi, you would have even ran into more history. Caves that Jesus Christ walked though, burial sites of prophets.
Hi man, great comment thanks! I loved Iraqi Kurdistan and hope to return to that region someday. Safe travels. Jonny