Summer Vacation in Northern Iraq and Pakistan with Marc Weitz

This program was organized by Rich Mayfield, Member #1211.


View of Nanga Parbat Mountain and the Raikot Glacier from Ferry Meadows, Pakistan.

Northern Iraq and Pakistan aren’t people’s usually choice for summer vacation, but for Marc Weitz, their edgy reputation and chance for adventure hit the spot. Hearing about these places on adventure blogs and being recommended by the British Backpacker Society convinced him that they were now great places to travel. Not only were they safe but amazing.

No one likes being called a terrorist. Iraqis and Pakistanis are aware of their international reputation and go out of their way with kindness to show foreigners incredible hospitality. Northern Iraq is not the Bagdad Iraq with all its troubles. Northern Iraq is controlled by the Kurds who do a great job with security. They were still an American ally when Marc was there, and they loved seeing an American in their midst. The country is full of ancient temples & cities, cool waterfalls, bazaars, some good hikes, and the nicest people you have ever met. (Marc never drank so much tea!) Marc talks about visiting an ancient Yazidi Village, beating a new hiking path through a canyon, and hitchhiking across the country.

Making Friends at the bazaar in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Equally, the security in Pakistan is much improved and they want tourists. If you ever wondered what it feels like to be a Hollywood star, walk the streets of Peshawar, where people will run out of shops to take selfies with you. Marc rented a car and drove the famous Karakorum Highway himself from Islamabad to the Chinese border, passing through Abbottabad, crossing The World’s Most Dangerous Bridge™, taking a harrowing jeep ride on a mountain road just wide enough to accommodate it with a thousand-foot drop, and doing several mountain treks through stunning scenery, glaciers, valleys, and villages oozing with thousands of years of culture. Yes, there is wifi, but if you’re wanting to reminisce of the days of yore when travel used to be a challenge, Pakistan is the place.

Marc’s stories will fuel an intense desire to flee lockdown and see a place just opening for tourists. Hurry up and go before everyone figures out that these places are safe!

Posing with a Pakistani Ranger at the famous India-Pakistan border crossing at Wagah.

Marc Weitz is an attorney, writer, and traveler based in Los Angeles and Paris. He’s traveled to 117 countries and all 50 states. In the last year, he’s taken the Trans-Siberian Railway in winter, driven to the Arctic Ocean in Alaska, and visited Chernobyl. Marc is a former president of the Adventurers’ Club and winner of their 2018 Adventurer of the Year award. He’s authored three novels, his latest called He Who Fights with Monsters, about a billionaire who starts a charitable organization to assassinate corrupt world leaders. Like everyone else, he’s currently stuck at home on lockdown.