Soaring Mountains & Alpine Lakes In Gomi Felaw, Iraqi Kurdistan
Soaring Mountains & Alpine Lakes In Gomi Felaw, Iraqi Kurdistan was originally published in June 2020
Not too far from the scenic Haji Omaran border crossing with Iran, little-known Gomi Felaw sits just a short jaunt from the town of Choman, right along the legendary Hamilton Highway. In all honestly, Gomi Felaw is the most beautiful place I visited in Iraqi Kurdistan last year- which is a pretty big title, considering that Iraqi Kurdistan offers countless gorgeous sites like Amedi, Alqosh, Lalish, Barzan, and so on.
Gomi Felaw is an area set on the fringe of the Halgurd-Sakran Mountains with a perfect alpine lake seemingly on the edge of the world, teetering at the valley’s periphery and surrounded by emerald-green grasses and a flowering tree. Across the valley is a ridge of snow-capped peaks that seem to loom over as you explore the lake.
How To Get To Gomi Felaw
Getting to Gomi Felaw is easiest if you have your own transport. I had contacted Haval Qaraman just prior to my arrival from Iran. I assumed that he was already booked with clients (he was), I asked him about contact information for drivers I should consider hiring for a couple of day trips.
He handed me over to his cousin, but without first offering to take me on a family excursion on a day he had scheduled himself off of work. He was taking his family to Gomi Felaw and Barzan that day and insisted I join them. I had never heard of Gomi Felaw, but this place was so stunningly gorgeous that I am beyond happy that I took the Qaraman family up on their offer.
By rental car: Yes, you can rent cars believe it or not, and drive yourself around Iraqi Kurdistan. From the Hamilton Highway, just outside of Choman, you’ll turn onto a dirt road heading to the east.
This dirt road meanders on, but it will lead to just below the lake where you can park and walk the last bit of the way up. Do be careful along the road as there was a section where the road had eroded badly and sluffed off down a steep hill leaving an extremely narrow, barely wide enough section for a vehicle to pass.
By shared taxi: It’s not possible to get all the way to Gomi Felaw by shared taxi, but you can get to Choman easily by shared taxi. Head to the Garage Diana in Erbil and you’ll find the shared taxis/minibusses waiting to fill up. The journey will cost 6,000 IQD. From Choman You’ll need to continue on foot, try to hitchhike (easy to do on a weekend), or tire to hire a taxi if you can find one.
On foot: From Choman to Gomi Felaw you can easily just walk along the dirt road all the way there. It’s about 9 kilometers each way. You could do some trekking beyond Gomi Felaw into the Halgurd-Sakran National Park, but it is advisable to hire a local guide as this area was landmined during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Spending time in Erbil? Check out my Erbil Travel Guide
What To Do At Gomi Felaw
This place is absolutely gorgeous! You’ll find a lot of people from Erbil and other nearby towns especially on weekends, picnicking around Gomi Felaw (my observation was that picnicking was a national sport in Iraqi-Kurdistan). You can hike up the hill behind the lake for even more stunning views of the lake from above and the mountains in the distance.
Have Any Questions About Visiting Gomi Felaw?
Ask in the comments section below. I recommend picking up a copy of Bradt Iraq to kickstart your Iraqi Kurdistan travel planning!
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