Last Updated on December 27, 2023 by Rikki
If you’re looking for an enchanting outdoor adventure, look no further than the mountains of Azerbaijan. With over half of the country’s territory covered in mountains, there are plenty of stunning trails and fairy villages waiting to be explored.
From the high peaks of Galahudat and the ancient village of Khyalig to the picturesque valleys and waterfalls of Sim and Laza, there are routes suitable for all levels of hikers. So, pack your hiking gear and get ready to be mesmerized by the untouched natural landscapes and the charm of these hidden gems in Azerbaijan’s mountains.
Whilst in Azerbaijan, remember to check out the salt cave health retreat like no other at the healing salt caves of Duzdag.
Fairy Villages and Trails: Five Best Routes in the Mountains of Azerbaijan
If you’re a hiking enthusiast or simply enjoy exploring the beauty of nature, the mountains of Azerbaijan offer some incredible trails and fairy villages that will take your breath away. From the ancient high mountain village of Khynalyg to the picturesque valleys and waterfalls of Laza-Kuzun, here are the five best routes that will transport you to a world straight out of a fairy tale.
If you’re captivated by the allure of fairy trails, there’s another one located in the southern region of Switzerland, near the French border, known for its intriguing legend involving the green fairy and the delightful emerald elixir called Absinthe. This article promises to hold your fascination.
Gala Khudat – Khynalyg – the High Mountain Pearl
Distance/Duration: 8 km/3 hours Starting point in Gala Khudat
My first recommended trail takes you on a journey to the ancient high mountain village of Khynalyg, often referred to as the “High Mountain Pearl.” The trail starts in Gala Khudat and covers a distance of 8 kilometers, which can be completed in approximately 3 hours. The route is clearly marked with signs, making it accessible for hikers of all skill levels.
As you begin your ascent from the village of Gala Khudat, you’ll be greeted by the towering peak of Mount Bazarduzu, the highest peak in Azerbaijan. The trail mostly follows a wide and flat road, offering stunning views of the majestic Gyzylgaya cliffs and the lush Gudyalchay Valley.
Once you reach the village of Khynalyg, you’ll be transported back in time. The village’s unique architecture and cultural heritage make it a living museum of ancient architecture. The houses are perched on cliffs and the local community traces its lineage back to the prophet Noah, preserving their distinct language and traditions.
Take a leisurely stroll through the village, known as the “living museum of ancient architecture,” and witness the craftsmanship of the local artisans engaged in traditional weaving, pottery, and carpet making. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a cup of tea served in a traditional samovar at a local tea house and savor the local cuisine at guesthouses offering authentic Azerbaijani dishes.
From the Village of Sim to the Waterfall in the Enchanted Forest
Distance/Duration: 6.5 km/3 hours Starting point in the village of Sim
My second recommended trail starts from the village of Sim, located in the heart of the Talysh Mountains. Life in this village revolves around beekeeping, cattle farming, and vegetable cultivation.
Sim village is like a page out of Tolkien’s books, with its millennia-old trees and moss-covered rocks creating a surreal atmosphere. The village offers camping facilities and is open to tourists all year round.
From Sim, you can embark on a 6.5-kilometer circular route through the Girkhans National Park. Along the way, you’ll pass through mandarin orchards and catch glimpses of the sparkling Caspian Sea. The highlight of the hike is the Sim waterfall, a magical spot for a refreshing swim after the sub-tropical humidity of the forest.
Chiragli – Javadkhan Peak – Majestic Mountains
Distance/Duration: 13.9 km/5.5 hours Starting point in the village of Chiragli
If you’re looking for a more challenging hike that rewards you with mesmerizing mountain views, the Chiragli – Javadkhan Peak route is the perfect choice. The trail starts in the village of Chiragli, located on the banks of the Ganchay River and at the foot of Mount Goshgar.
The majority of the route consists of gravel roads and mountain trails. The sparse vegetation allows for unobstructed views of the Kyapaz, Goshgar, and Murovdag mountains. Along the way, you’ll come across the monument of Javadkhan, the last ruler of the Gyanja Khanate, which symbolizes the region’s rich history.
It’s essential to follow the trail markers to avoid getting lost and to minimize your impact on the surrounding environment. The route offers several water sources, but it’s recommended to carry enough provisions as there are no places to replenish supplies along the way.
Laza – Kuzun – Picturesque Valleys and Waterfalls
Distance/Duration: 6.5 km/2.5 hours Starting point in the village of Laza
For those seeking a visually stunning and immersive hiking experience, the Laza – Kuzun trail is a must-do. The trail starts from the village of Laza, where you’ll be engulfed in the unique atmosphere of this mountain village.
Laza is known for its hospitality and offers a range of guesthouses and cafes where you can rest and enjoy traditional Azerbaijani cuisine. From Laza, follow the mountain pass covered in lush vegetation during the summer months and snow during winter.
As you make your way along the 6.5-kilometer trail, be prepared for two ascents and descents. The first ascent offers breathtaking views of the lush Gusarchay Valley against the majestic backdrop of Gyzylgaya and Shahdag peaks. The final stretch of the hike takes you through a dense forest, leading to the village of Kuzun, known for its colorful houses and inhabited by the Lezghin people.
Mount Kandy-Kayne – Surreal Landscapes
My final recommended destination takes you to Mount Kandy-Kayne, a place of surreal landscapes that will leave you in awe. As you travel west on the Guba-Baku highway towards the mountain village of Altyagaj, you’ll pass through a valley of breathtaking beauty.
These rolling hills with their psychedelic swirls of red, pink, orange, and chalky hues have earned the nickname “Candy-Kayne.” The colors are believed to be a result of the iron-rich compounds in the mountain rocks that have been exposed over time.
Keep an eye out for tiny fossilized remains of ancient mollusks called belemnites as you walk through this geological wonderland. There are several small hiking routes in the area, and if you have good navigation skills with a GPS system, you can explore the nearby Mount Beybaim or Beshbarmag. Alternatively, you can join an organized tour or hire a local guide to ensure a safe and rewarding experience.
Whether you choose to explore the ancient village of Khynalyg, witness the enchantment of Sim’s waterfall, marvel at the grandeur of the mountains in Chiragli, immerse yourself in the picturesque valleys of Laza, or get lost in the surreal landscapes of Mount Kandy-Kayne, the mountains of Azerbaijan offer a hiking experience like no other.
So, lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in the land of fairy villages and trails.
If you love the outdoors, you might also be interested in exploring the Swiss Absinthe Trail. Check out this captivating route: “Swiss Absinthe Trail – A Fascinating Journey Through the World of Absinthe.”
All the very best, until we meet again in the next article…