Thinking of travelling to the Caucasus? These places were some of my favourite destinations in Azerbaijan and worth adding to your itinerary.
As far as things to do, this nation offers a diverse mix. Stroll through restored archeological palaces or step back in time at a Zoroastrian fire temple. View petroglyphs thousands of years old or stretch your hiking legs in the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. If you time it right, you can even catch the Formula One Grand Prix race through the streets of Baku.
Explore the distinguished Palace of the Shirvanshah in Baku’s Old City, set against a skyline where modern and medieval unite. Savour grilled sturgeon from the Caspian Sea drizzled in pomegranate sauce. In April for the next few years, you can catch the Formula One Grand Prix race through central Baku’s twisty streets.
Where: Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan
Hike shepherds’ trails between remote villages in the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. Discover a land where food is hearty and views are vast. Women use fresh milk from the family’s cows and goats to churn butter and cheese. Men toast guests with a round of vodka, repeated as often as you can handle it!
Where: Start in the village of Khinaliq. Spend your first night in the quiet community of Qalakhudat and the second night in the cliff-top village of Qriz.
How: Camping Azerbaijan arranges group or private tours along this route and others. They are working with local families and the government to build sustainable eco-tourism in the region.
Before the prophets of Islam and Christianity arrived, the religion of Zoroastrian captured people’s minds. The symbol photographed below represents the Zoroastrian belief that humans can choose between good and evil, with the left wing reflecting bad ideas, thoughts and deeds and the right wing representing the good elements of human nature. This central figure has turned his back on evil. He is surrounded by a large orb - the sun, believed to be associated with fire - which burns easily across Azerbaijan’s gas-rich soils.
Where: Suraxani Fire Temple, a twenty-minute drive from the capital city of Baku
Wander among boulders etched in petroglyphs dated to be around twelve-thousand-years old. At that time, lions and leopards roamed the shores of the Caspian Sea. A modern and informative museum sits at the base of the site to give you a flavour of the cultural history surrounding these artistic designs.
Where: Qubustan Petroglyph Reserve, a forty-minute drive southwest of Baku.
Get more travel ideas through short stories and travel tips in my latest book, Searching for Unique - available at most online bookstores as a paperback or eBook.