For those that are considering entering Iraq from Turkey, the situation is (for the time being) as follows.
Make your way to the town of Silopi. Bear in mind that PKK activity is high at present and subsequently there are numerous Turkish military checkpoints, especially along the southern route that passes close to Hakkari. The other route that goes through Siirt is less guarded.
At silopi, it’s a 15 minute drive to the border (harbur). The area is one of dirt and diesel, with thousands of trucks and fuel tankers parked up – not a place you’d want to spend the night, if you can help it.
At the border somebody will put you in a car and drive you across, stopping at all the necessary points to process your paperwork/ visa etc… Photocopies of your passport are required and they’ll do this for you if you don’t have any, but my advice is to bring along at least 6 (three each way) to save time and problems if their photocopier isn’t working.
At the Iraqi end you’ll be questiond about the purpose of your visit and issued with a paper visa. They don’t stamp your passport as this will cause problem with re-entry to Turkey (the stamp says Kurdistan of Iraq, and in the eyes of the Turks, “Kurdistan” is a BAAAAADD word!)
So far, this will have cost you 21USD per person, though it’s your driver that collects the money, not the guy who issues the visa.
All that’s left is the taxi ride into Zakho – about 10 minutes, and this is up to you to negotiate. We were charged 16USD, which seemed a little steep, but then it was 1am so we couldn’t complain. (The border is 24 hour)
If you’re going straight onto Dahuk the ride is between 45 mins and 1 hour, depending on traffic. Within normal working hours you should not be charged more than 15USD for the entire ride from the border to Dahuk town centre. We paid 12USD.
In the opposite direction the crossing didn’t seem so slick, but that was mainly because we didn’t have photocopies of our passports and we needed to fix the broken copier before we could get copies made! Hence my advice to bring your own.
This may not always be the case, but we weren’t searched at all when entering Iraq, but were searched thoroughly on two occasions when coming back into Turkey.
For Turkish destinations, Silopi has a bus terminal for connections around the country but be prepared to wait for many hours for your bus. If possible check timetables beforehand and allow yourself enough time to get there before the bus departs.
This advice applies to American, Dutch and British passport holders definitely, although it’s most likely generic across all nationalities.
As always, DO NOT consider making this crossing without up-to-date and reliable intel.
As of Sunday 3rd July, 2005, latest news indicates that fighting between HPG(PKK)guerrillas and the Turkish military has intensified. See further blog updates for more information or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org