Azerbaijan - Land of Fire


Azerbaijan - Land of Fire

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 8 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Baku

Arrive in Baku and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Sapphire Hotel or similar. 

Day 2 – Baku - Absheron Peninsula

Explore Azerbaijan’s capital, including the medieval fortress of Icheri Sheher, the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and the 15th century caravanserai among other sites. From Baku we head to the Absheron Peninsula to visit the ‘flaming mountain’ of Yanardag, continuously alight with burning underground gases that seep through holes in the earth’s surface. We then visit the Gala Museum, the ‘fire-worshippers’ temple of Ateshgah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and continue to the medieval fortress at Amirjan before returning to Baku for the night. OvernightSapphire Hotel or similar. (BLD) 

Day 3 – Baku – Lahij – Gabala

Today we will travel west to Gabala city. En route we visit the Diri Baba Mausoleum in Maraza and the Yeddi Gumbaz Mausoleum at Shamakha. We continue across the Muganly Pass, with great views of the mountains along the way. We have a stop at Lahic village, a historical ethnographic reserve with local people producing handcrafts and carpets. There are also metal engravers, ancient mosques, baths and beautiful cobbled streets with original apartment houses in this ancient mountain settlement. From here continue to Gabala city. Overnight Qafqaz Caravanserai (BLD)

Day 4 – Gabala-Sheki-Kish

This morning we set off from Gabala to Sheki. The delightful town of Sheki is one of Azerbaijan’s highlights. An important centre on the Trans-Caucasian trade routes, it was an independent khanate up until the 1820s and evidence of its former grandeur is not hard to spot. The splendid Khan’s Palace was built in 1762 without the use of any nails and is elaborately decorated with ornate patterns on its exterior. There are also a number of old caravanserais and mosques to explore. Sheki is a delight to wander around, with winding streets and traditional houses giving the feeling of yesteryear. From Sheki we take a trip to the nearby village of Kish with its interesting Albanian church. Overnight Sheki Saray Hotel or similar (BLD) 

Day 5 – Ganja – Naftalan

We head to Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second city. Upon arrival visit the local bazaar, the 17th century mosque of Shah Abbas and the unique ‘bottle house’ a local building decorated with nearly 50,000 bottles. Our final destination for the evening is Naftalan. Overnight Chinar Hotel or similar. (BLD) 

Day 6 – Naftalan-Gobustan-Baku

This morning we discover more about Naftalan and the oil for which it is famous. There is the option to have a 15 minute oil bath before we then depart for Gobustan. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, Gobustan is rich in archaeological monuments with over 6000 rock engravings dating back as far as 40,000 years. The petroglyphs depict ceremonial dances, battles, warriors, boats and many other scenes, as well as more recent Roman ‘graffiti’ from the 1st century. But Gobustan is equally well known for its natural phenomena – mud volcanoes that simmer and belch muddy bubbles from their cones, an incredibly atmospheric place and probably unlike anything you will have seen before. Azerbaijan is home to more than half of the mud volcanoes in the world with nearly 400 of them within its borders. Roughly every twenty years one of them explodes with great gusto, showering tons of mud over the surrounding area. Overnight Sapphire Hotel or similar. (BLD)  

Day 7 – Baku

Our last day in Azerbaijan. We visit the History Museum for an insight into the various cultures and civilisations that have held sway here. We also visit the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and noted for its distinctive architecture and flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles The rest of the day is free for you to explore. Overnight Sapphire City Hotel or similar. (BLD) 

Day 8 – Baku

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


Nakhchivan Extension (DAY 8 of the tour becomes Day 1 of the extension)

Day 1 - Baku to Nakhchivan

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Nakhchivan city. Nakhchivan is Azerbaijan’s enclave separated from the majority of the country by Armenia. On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel to drop off your baggage. We begin by exploring some of the surrounding sites. Visit the 12th century Momina Khatum mausoleum and the tomb of Yusuf Ibn Kuseyir in Nakhchivan city itself. After lunch visit Alinja Fortress - one of the strongest defensive constructions of the XII century. During Teymur’s attack on Nakhchivan in 1386, 1392 and 1399 the fortress served as a headquarters for the Atabayler dynasty. Return to Nakhchivan city for the night. Overnight Hotel Tabriz.

Day 2 - Return to Baku

After breakfast, we head to the Garabaghlar Mausoleum in Nakhchivan’s north west as well as the Duzdagh salt mines. After lunch, return to Nakhchivan city and visit Ashabu – Kahf Caves, the history museum and the carpet museum. There is lunch at a local restaurant before we transfer back to the airport for your flight back to Baku.

Note: You accommodation is not included in Baku on the return. You may book a late flight departing from Baku or we can arrange an extra nights hotel if needed.