Kani Bast: The highest waterfall in the Kurdistan Region
Sandwiched between two mountains, Kokha and Sheikh Nasir, the Kurdistan Region’s highest waterfall has become a natural tourist attraction.
Locally called Kani Bast (“frozen waterfall”), the waterfall is fifty meters high, making it the highest among the waterfalls of the Kurdistan Region. It is 1,700 meters above sea level.
The name comes from the fact that its water freezes in winter.
Kani Bast is located between Choman town and Soran city. To reach the waterfall, you have to drive to Qasre subdistrict until the dead end where you have to park your car and start walking. But not for long. It is just a ten minute walk through both Kokha and Sheikha Mountains.
The waterfall attracts hundreds of tourists each year, especially in summer time.
“We have come by bus, after we parked over there, we had to walk to reach the waterfall,” said Jabir Mohammed, a tourist from Baghdad. “It is incredible!”
The water is fresh, coming from the springs and mountains in the rugged mountainous areas of Balakayati area.
“The water is so fresh, so cold, it just freezes your hand and feet,” Mohammed told Kurdistan 24. “I bet you could not stay longer than ten seconds in the water. It is that cold.”
The waterfall is surrounded by trees and flowers. Its temperature will not exceed 20 degrees Celsius in summer.
“I was here last year in August, we were burning in the city heat, but here it was like 15 degrees,” said Shayda Akram, a local tourist from Erbil. “Now, in June, it is even colder, that is why I love it. Getting here is a bit hard, as you have to be careful not to fall. But it is not that bad, it is doable.”
Tourists complain about the road and think that it can be better.
“The government can fix the road and can build a small bridge,” added Akram. “If this was in Europe, it would have been a famous attraction by now. But even now, it is not too late, it can be developed.”
Kani Bast is so special that it is depicted on the 50,000 Iraqi dinar note.
“I am proud of this waterfall and we were delighted that the Iraqi government chose it to put it on the 50,000 dinar note,” said Khalid Rasul, a local resident from Qasre subdistrict. “This could be one of the wonders of the world if it was developed.”
If it was developed into a touristic place, Rasul noted, it would provide jobs for the many young people.
“This natural wonder can change our life one day, it just needs a good plan,” Rasul added.