If you’ve never had a mountaintop experience in your life, you should visit the stunning village of Khinalug in Azerbaijan. It is a remote and very peaceful village on top of the Quba Rayon Mountains in the northeastern part of the country, strategically located away from the busy metropolis of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. You’ve been to the beach and sunbathed under the tropical sun. Now, it is time to climb one of the picturesque mountains in the Caucasus region and get to experience a truly restful holiday.
Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, is located at the center of Russia to the north, Georgia and Armenia to the west, Caspian Sea to the east, and Iran to the south. It is an oil-rich country that could have been as rich as Dubai and other oil-rich Middle East kingdoms if it did not go on a 70-year hiatus under Soviet control. It regained its independence in 1991 and opened its doors to international tourism in 2000. Today, the country is making strides in its attempt to return to its pre-Soviet glory. Its major tourist attractions are historical landmarks and natural wonders; the village of Khinalug is both.
Clearly the highest and most remote village in the country, Khinalug is more than 5,000 years old and is one of the most constantly inhabited places in the planet. There are reasons for that. Living here is simply amazing. The weather is perfect (although at times temperatures could drop below zero), the air is fresh, everything is rich and green, the view is breathtaking, and its elevation had protected it from many attempts of enemy invasion in the past.
The mountaintop village may be more than 170 kilometers away from the capital city but getting there is so easy. There are several non-stop trips from the capital to the mountains. These are all-inclusive road trips that include meals, guides and accommodation when traveling overnight. The more adventurous tourists can rent a car in the city and drive all the way. There are no public buses to the mountains.
When in the village, there are three things you should do: hike, buy a shepherd’s cap, and relax and take in the view. Khinalug is the top hiking destination in Azerbaijan, and that is saying a lot as the country has so many picturesque mountains and hills to climb.
Hiking, camping or simply stepping outside is a must in this part of the world. In fact, going from one point to another in the mountaintop village requires people to hike one way or another since there are no forms of transportation whatsoever. The village is quite small to begin with.
While hiking, you get to see a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains, as well as the caves, cemeteries and a waterfall between the mountains.
Two, buy a shepherd’s cap, the most telling and most important souvenir from this part of the world. While in the village, the wool headgear will keep your head warm and protected; as you go back home to your own country, it becomes a very interesting conversation piece.
And finally, after a tiring hike or as you wake up in the morning (if it’s not too cold), take a sit outside and enjoy the view. What you can see on Khinalug you cannot see anywhere else so let your eyes feast well.