On the road to Baghdad

Safety and security might be the main concern for ordinary Iraqis at the moment, but a small adventure travel operator from the UK is preparing to take a host of intrepid tourists into the war torn state.

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By  John Irish Published  September 11, 2003

A group of intrepid tourists are set to embark on a two-week tour of Iraq after a UK adventure travel operator confirmed that a trip to the former Baathist state would go ahead in October

Hinterland Travel, which first started operating tours to Iraq in 1972 attempted to return in March after a nine-year absence due to UN sanctions, but was forced to postpone due to the US-led invasion.

“I personally visited Baghdad six weeks ago to check out what’s going on and how it’s going to be,” Geoffrey Hann, general manager of Hinterland Travel told Arabian Business. “I’m quietly optimistic, but events have overtaken us slightly on that.”

Until the recent attacks on the United Nations headquarters in Iraq, Hann was preparing to travel in September, but due to family worries, several people dropped out, meaning that the trip was uneconomical.

However, a month on, interest appears to have picked up with 5-7 people now pencilled in for the October trip.

At a cost of £1300 (approximately US $2070) each traveller will be able to take in some of the wonders of Mesopotamian, Islamic and modern day Iraqi history.

Although the itinerary is partly dependant on how things develop on the ground, Hann is keen to include the shrine cities of Kerbala and Najaf, the biblical landmarks of Babylon, Nimrud and Ur as well as including Abbasid history in the form of Samara.

“All our clients have historical interest. They’ve also got an interest in the fact that the country is being rebuilt and that’s extremely fascinating,” says Hann.

“You’ve got to remember that the western governments, Britain and America chose to do this and the people of those countries are standing on the sidelines watching this happen. We want to know what’s being done and are very interested in knowing how it’s being done,” he adds.

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