Baku and the land of fire

oil drills, 1001-nights palaces, mountain hamlets, mud VOLCANOES, holy flames and the caspian riviera

Baku – Qobustan – Absheron – Sumqayit  – Nardaran – Xinaliq – Sheki – Ganja


Tour dates

Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the ask-us button below and we will match your preferences with the relevant scheduled group departure. If you are unsure about the month you wish to travel in, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will provide you a range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours! 

Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.


ITINERARY

Beware: this is a tour with a strong focus on multiethnic cultural heritage and Soviet history. If you are more into classic attractions (i.e. mosques, ruins, palaces, temples and museums) and/or natural wonders (gorges, lakes and gentle slopes alike), we can easily design a bespoke itinerary according to your own specific preferences. Get in touch for more details on our tailored routes in Azerbaijan

DAY 1 - Baku

  • In the morning you will meet your tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel (exact hotel address and meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email; private airport pickup and shuttle service available for a small additional fee).
  • Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Azerbaijan
  • Baku walking tour: Old Town, Maiden's Tower, Shah's Palace, Azerbaijani Parliament, Caspian Promenade, Soviet-era buildings.
  • Traditional Azerbaijani lunch
  • Boat ride in the Baku bay and chillout afternoon to enjoy the slow pace of Azerbaijani daily life. 
  • Dinner and overnight in Baku

DAY 2 - Absheron Peninsula

  • We'll devote the entire day touring the surreal badlands and the odd sights of the Absheron Peninsula: Yanar-Dag burning rocks, Atashgah fire temple, Artem Island, Soviet resorts, oil drills, fishing villages and ancient Shia mosques.
  • Seafood lunch in one of the many villages and hamlets dotting the peninsula.
  • Visit to Sumqayit with a glimpse of the post-apocalyptic areas surrounding the town. 
  • Dinner and overnight in Baku

DAY 3 - Qobustan and the Southern Riviera

  • Visit to the Qobustan area: active mud volcanoes, perfectly preserved petroglyphs and stunning views over the coast.
  • Quick lunch in a typical Azerbaijani roadside restaurant. 
  • Drive along the Southern Riviera: long sandy beaches, industrial archeology, Soviet relicts and lots of weird hidden gems.
  • Dinner and overnight in Baku

DAY 4 - Sheki

  • We'll Baku in the morning and head for the historical city of Sheki, home to glorious palaces, ancient mosques, narrow alleys, colourful markets and labyrinthine caravansaries.
  • After an historical tour of Sheki old town and a glorious lunch in one of its atmospheric chaikhanas, we'll head to the village of Kis to admire a well preserved Caucasian Albanian church and discover more about the culture and the traditions of the Udins, the last Albanians of the Caucasus. 
  • Dinner and overnight in Sheki

DAY 5 - Zaqatala and Qax

  • Today we'll head north to the high peaks of the Greater Caucasus to visit Zaqatala and the namesake province, a region of superb natural beauty and intricate ethnic dynamics.
  • We'll tour the Soviet and pre-Soviet city centre and the bustling central market, where you'll be able to observe and interact with the different ethnicities of the region: Lezgins, Tsakhurs, Tabassarins, Akhvaks, Avars, Dargins and - of course - Azerbaijanis all coming together to one place to sell, buy and trade everything imaginable from smelly onions to rusty utensils. 
  • After lunch we'll visit the Avar mountain village of Car and then head down to the ancient city of Qax, a stone-and-wood traditional town with a seizable Georgian minority. 
  • Dinner and overnight in Qax.

DAY 6 - Ismail and Shamakhi

  • Early the morning we'll hike to the holy waterfall of Ilisu and after a picnic brunch in the fresh breeze we'll drive back down south to the beautiful valleys of the Ismaili Province.  
  • There we'll shortly paid a visit to the village of Ivanovka, inhabited mainly by the Molokans, a religious and peaceful Russian orthodox sect following a strict traditional lifestyle, kind of the Amish of the former USSR
  • We'll then head to the ancient city of Shamakhi to visit the crumbling old mosque and the massive and now abandoned Soviet astronomic observatory located in the hilltop village of Pirkuli
  • In the late afternoon we'll eventually head back to Baku where we'll enjoy a well-deserved night of gastronomic pleasures. 
  • Dinner and overnight in Baku

DAY 7 - Krasnaya Sloboda and Xinaliq

  • In the morning we'll leave Baku and head north along the Caspian coast
  • Besides the routine stops food and photography we'll break the drive at the holy mountain of Besh Barmag, a five-peaked rock cliff rising abruptly from the desert steppes of northeastern Azerbaijan, in the bustling and multi-ethnic frontier town of Quba and at the curious community of Krasnaya Sloboda, the last place in the country inhabited by a Jewish majority and - by extension - the very last Shtetlekh (pre-Holocaust Jewish-majority urban localities) in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union
  • After a kosher lunch in Krasnaya Sloboda we'll head to the mountains of Greater Caucasus and after a scenic drive across green pastures and whitewater streams we'll reach Xinaliq, a remote mountain hamlet surrounded by breathtaking sceneries. 
  • The village of Xinaliq is inhabited by an historically isolated population said to be one of the oldest distinct ethnicities in the Caucasus and speaking their own language; the mountain area itself, comprising even more remote villages, is, instead, mainly inhabited by the Lezgins, a Sunni muslim ethnic group with its roots in the neighbouring republic of Dagestan
  • Dinner and overnight in Xinaliq

DAY 8 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations  

  • After enjoying a last lavish Xinaliq-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.  
  • For those flying out: we will arrange transfer to Heydar Aliyev International Airport for your flight back home.
  • For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the local train/bus station.
  • End of the tour. 

PRICE

4 to 9 participants: 1100 € 


The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euros/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.

The price does not include: international flights, transport to and from the airport of arrival/departure (35 euros/ride), meals, drinks and tips, visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.

The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility.

Please note: It’s advisable to arrive in Baku one day before the actual tour begins. You should notice, however, that you’ll have to take care of your accommodation for any day and night preceding the actual start date of the tour. Without any additional charge we will readily and gladly reserve a room for you at our hotel of choice and you’ll be able to pay for it by cash or credit card once you check-in. If your flight lands on the same day as the tour begins and you prefer to rest a bit before going out sightseeing, you will then meet your tour guide and the rest of the group at the designated hotel in the late afternoon. 

Airport pickup in Baku is available for just 35 euros per ride.


WHERE THE HECK AM I TRAVELLING TO?  

BELOW YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENT TOUR STAGES MARKED ON A MAP OF THE REGION YOU ARE GOING TO EXPLORE WITH US

CLICK HERE FOR SOME NICE PICTURES AND MORE INFO ABOUT THIS DESTINATION

POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THIS ITINERARY INCLUDE

Dagestan Unveiled and/or Caspian Depression