Snow picking in Kurdistan’s summer
In the summer heat, over 45 degrees Celsius (113 F), tourists drive three hours from Erbil to Pirje for snow fighting. That is a summer activity no one wants to miss.
Located amongst the heights of the Sakran Mountains, Pirje offers tourists snow all year round, even in July and August, the hottest two months in the Kurdistan Region.
The natural resort is the source of water for Choman town and its surrounding villages. The water comes from melting snow and underground water reservoir.
“After cooling ourselves down, enjoying the cool air and the freshwater, we will take some snow home for mastaw (yoghurt drink),” Mabast Ismael, a local tourist from Erbil, told Kurdistan 24. “It feels so good to play with snow in the middle of a hot summer.”
At the base of Qarad Mountain, tourists enjoy a little river of melting snow. Its water freezes hands and feet. The valley between Qarad Mountain and Sakran Heights is covered with snow all year round.
“Because of the mountains, the sunlight does not reach the valley, so much of the snow remains all the time,” noted Kamaran Rasul, a local from Choman town. “The snow attracts the tourists, besides the cool air and fresh water in the area.”
Fifteen minutes away from Choman town, Pirje’s road is not promising, filled with holes, bumpers and difficulties. Besides, tourists, even the elders and children, start walking in the snow.
“We ask the government to fix the road, it will be easier for tourists to come and enjoy this piece of paradise on earth,” said Mariwan Kawa. “This touristic place needs to be developed and then it will be number one in the world.”
During the hottest time, the temperature in Pirje resort does not pass 15 degrees Celsius, making it a magnet for local, national and international tourists.
“In Baghdad, we did not believe when we heard that there is still snow in Kurdistan,” said Awad Hajeel, a tourist from Baghdad who came to Pirje with his family, parents and grandparents. “But once we got here we were shocked. We could not enjoy it enough; it is incredible and thank God that we have a place like this here in Kurdistan.”
Due to snow melting, a small tunnel has been made, tempting tourists to go under the snow cover and take a picture. Locals warn people not to do that as it is not safe.
“I ask people not to go under the snow covers because they might fall and it will be dangerous,” noted Rasul. “Tourists are free what to do, but we know better, going in it is not safe.”
Edited by NA