Along Silk Road Tour
Tour type: Adventure, General, Historical, MountainsPrice: $875.00Duration: 10from January to December

Day 1

Arrival to Baku. Meeting at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Free time

Day 2

The first half of the day will be spent primarily exploring the historical centre of Baku city, its Old Town - 'Icheri Sheher'. You will see the highlights of Icheri Sheher including the Palace of the Shirvans (the most striking example of the medieval palace structures in Azerbaijan, dating to the middle of 15th century); Maiden's Tower (the ancient, eight storey fortress originally built as a fire beacon); visit Dzhuma Mosque, antiques and carpet shops.

Have a lunch in a national restaurant and have a taste of traditional Azeri cuisine.

After the lunch proceed with sightseeing tour in the modern Baku: Martyr's Cemetery, located on the higher slopes of the city's west-end, this is the best place for viewing the Baku city and the Bay of Baku. You will have a walk in Naberezhny park and along Baku Boulevard, one of the largest in the Europe. Whilst there you can get a boat to make trip along Baku Bay. You will be introduced with the interesting facts and legends of the largest lake in the world better known as Caspian Sea. Returning to the hotel.

Day 3

Breakfast. Leaving for a tour in Absheron Peninsula. The third day will be spent primarily within the Greater Baku, where you will be taken to main sites on the Absheron Peninsula. You will be taken to Ateshgah - the Fire Worshippers' Temple located in the village of Surakhany. It was built on land where natural gas burned eternally by Zoroastrian believers who travelled from the province of Multan in India to worship. These ancient fires are believed to have given Azerbaijan its name, which is thought by some researchers to mean the 'Land of Fires'.

After a lunch you will visit an ancient castle dated XIV AD at Mardakyany settelement. The castle was apparently built for defense by the Shirvan shahs. Actually, there are several well preserved ancient castles scattered across Absheron Peninsula and all dated XII-XIII AD (one in Amirajan and Nardaran areas and two at Mardakyany).

 On this day you will also visit Yanar Dag (Fire Mountain). The word 'Yanar' in Azeri language means "burning", and "Dagh" - "mountain". And this is real a burning mountain - not metaphorically, but literally. There used to be a lot of similar places in Absheron where natural gas was coming out from the earth to the surface, but with the start of mass extraction of oil and gas in Absheron these places started to disappear. At present, this is the only place of this unique natural phenomenon left in Azerbaijan. After that we will head to Mir Movsum Aga Mosque in Shuvelan village. Mir Movsum Aga (“The Boneless One”) was a holy man who was believed to have no bones. Many miracles are attributed to him. As you can see from the photographs the exterior is a rich, patterned blue. Every internal surface is mirrored, though unfortunately photography is forbidden in the interior, so you will just have to take visitors word for how overwhelmingly beautiful it is. 

Our today's tour ends with a visit to Heydar Aliyev Center - a cultural center that includes the Auditorium (convention center), a museum, exhibition halls, administrative offices. The project center has been designed by renowned British architect Zaha Hadid. Entry ticket is around 8$ per person.

Then return to your hotel and have free time. Those who interested can be transferred to nightclubs and places of interest. At summer time we will ensure you have the opportunity and time to visit white sandy beaches and enjoy the warm waters of Caspian Sea.

Day 4

After breakfast at about 07:00-08:00 am start the way to Galagyg village where you will stay at a traditional local house of ordinary Azeri people leaving in mountainous area. This is going to be unforgetable experience, a real touch of genuine Azeri culture, old traditions, true hospitality, all that enriched with amazing views of Caucasus. On your way you will stop to check two-storied Deri Baba mausoleum (15th century) and Seven Domes mausoleum both sites located in Shemahka.

The ancient town of Shemakha is located at the foothills of the Big Caucasus Mountains Chain. The general elevation of Shemakha is 800 meters over the sea level. One of the most ancient oriental trading cities, it claims to be the city of Kmakhia mentioned by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolomy in his book 'Geography'.

The architecture of Diri-Baba is in harmony with the picturesque environment - the landscape of rocks and green trees. The building of the mausoleum is a masterpiece of Shirvan architecture school, the beautiful creation of ancient craftsmen. The monument is under protection of the state. Seven Domes mausoleum it is ancient cemetery of members of Royal Shirvan Shakh dynasty located with a good view for all city.

Then final leg of the journey beforу Galagyg is Ismayilli, which is one of the most beautiful corners of Azerbaijan lying at the foot of the Great Caucasian Mountains - the land of rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Three climatic zones are represented at the same time in this region, ranging from snowy mountains to hot planes. The itinerary crosses Lagich village famous for its skilful craftsmen. Lahij is a historical and architectural reserve with no hint of modern times. The only communication with an external world is a bumpy dirt road. Village population consist of Persian-speaking people. Village is located at the height of 1211 m, on the left bank of the river Girdimanchay. This village is inhabited by hereditary braziers, tanners, engravers, potters, and blacksmiths, metal and wood carvers. During the excursion you will see the bridge connecting two villages, the stone water-pipe of the 16th century, and specimens of dwellings of the 19th century with wall paintings, Museum of regional studies where ancient carpets and brass articles are kept. You will be shown ancient mosques, baths, water pipes and waste systems of the medieval period that operate until nowadays.

The dirt road to Lahij winds up the Girdimanchai river gorge from the vineyards outside Shemakha, crossing the torrent on a flimsy bridge and skirting the sheer walls on narrow, roughly hewn ledges. Ice and snow cut Lahij off from the valley for weeks at a time in winter. The drive up to Lahij is as stunning as dangerous, animals appear out of nowhere in winding roads that hug the cliff face that plunges down into the valley below. You will remember forever the forests of this land, its rivers and springs, curative air of the mountains. A short tour there followed by transfer to nearby Galagig mountainous settlement.

Accommodation in the private house in Galagyg. Taste homemade breakfast and dinner with home-made bread, cheese, butter, meat & poultry. Good chance to see the way of life of ordinary Azeris in remote rural area.

Day 5

Departure for Sheki through Nij village where you will visit 18th century Albanian church.

After checking Nij landmarks you will be taken to ancient Sheki where you scheduled to arrive at around 12:00 noon. Check in to "Yuhari Karavansaray", the hotel which was used by Great Silk Route travelers on their way to Europe.

Sheki is one of the most famous and ancient places of Azerbaijan. Situated 700m above sea level like an amphitheatre surrounded by mountains and forests of oak trees this ancient city was long famed as a silk centre and an important stop on the Great Silk Route. Sheki is long famed as a silk centre and an important stop on the Silk Road. Sheki still has the site of a huge factory that was once the Soviet Union's largest silk plant (such a big factory was naturally named after Lenin...). Unfortunately this factory is closed now.

The tour will be started from visiting 18th century Khan's summer palace with magnificent frescos (one 24 m long) and exquisite stained glass work (northern part of the city). Sheki History museum with artifacts from several periods, but notorious for pieces relating to silk manufacturing and trade.

On this day you will visit also sweet shops of Sheki, a lot of souvenir shops and workshops where make exquisite stained glass work named Shabaka and workshop of national musical instruments.

Also you will visit the Albanian church located in nearby Kish village. Legend say that church was built in 78 AD, but the researchers place it a few centuries later.

Upon your return to the hotel and having a local style dinner you will have a free time with an opportunity to enjoy a scenic view of Caucasus mountains.

Day 6

After breakfast leave Sheki for Qax and Ilisu.  Arrival at 12:00 to Qax center. There you will see the ruins of 18th century Russian church and Georgian Ortodox church. Then start way to Ilisu, the ride should take around 30 minutes. Visiting there 18th century Sumug Tower, ruins of 17th tower, ancient mosque and a bridge dating from the 18th century remain. After finishing tour in Qax and in Ilisu drive back to Sheki. Free time.

Day 7

After breakfast leave Sheki for the second largest city in Azerbaijan - Ganja. Arrival at 13:00 and check-in to Ganja Hotel. Short rest. After the lunch start the tour exploring Ganja. Visit local bazaar, Juma Mosque built in 1606 by the known scientist and architect Sheykh Baga-ud-din, Ganja Gates (X-XI c.), ruins of 17th centuries bath-house and Caravansaray, the Alexander Nevski church (now the puppet theatre!) and a 19th century Orthodox church near the university, famous bottle house (a two-storey building decorated with about 50.000 glass bottles), and Historic Museum of Ganja. After tour have a dinner in one of the local restaurants.

Day 8

Start your way back to Baku. Approaching Baku you will stop at Gobustan reserve. This is an open-air museum littered with Neolithic rock drawings. Just 65km south of Baku, Gobustan has some 4000 inscriptions that go back 12,000 years (with some 2000 year old Latin graffiti to boot). The well-preserved sketches display ancient populations travelling on reed boats; men hunt antelope and wild bulls, women dance. The famed Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl returned many times to Azerbaijan between 1961 and his death in 2002 to study the site, which he argued to be evidence that modern-day Scandinavians migrated north through the Caucasus in prehistoric times. He found similarities in the drawings to those found in Scandinavia, particularly some in Alta, Norway. According to Icelandic Sagas, written in the 13 th century, the Norse God Odin (Wotan) migrated from the Caucasus in the first century AD.

After that you will also have a chance to visit quite a unique site where 300 of the planet's estimated 700 mud volcanoes sit Gobustan, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. Many geologists as well as locals and international mud tourists trek to such places as the Firuz Crater Gobustan Salyan mud tourists trek to such places as the Firuz Crater, Gobustan, Salyan and end up happily covered in mud which is thought to have medicinal qualities. In 2001 one mud volcano 15 kilometers from Baku made world headlines when it suddenly started spewing flames 15 meters high.

Unfortunately, the mud volcanoes area has been recently declared a National Park with restricted access, though sporadic visits seems feasible  as there is no security. Besides, hardly anyone would have a patience to literally guard tons of mud. But visit there definitely worth a visit as it's one of the rarest things one can find on Earth.

On the entrance to Baku pay a visit to a famous Bibi Heybat Mosque. The existing structure, built in the 1990s, is a recreation of the mosque with the same name built in the 13th century by Shirvanshah Farrukhzad II Ibn Ahsitan II, which was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936.

The Bibi-Heybat Mosque includes the tomb of Ukeyma Khanum (a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad), and today is the spiritual center for the Muslims of the region and one of the major monuments of Islamic architecture in Azerbaijan. It's locally known as "the mosque of Fatima" which Alexandre Dumas using the same name, described the mosque during his visit in the 1840s.

After that you will be taken to Martyr's Cemetery, located on the higher slopes of the city's west-end, this is the best place for panorama viewing of the city and the Bay of Baku.

Day 9

Breakfast and leaving Baku around 08:30 and arrival to Quba at around 11:00. Short sightseeing program in Quba and Krasnaya Sloboda.

Krasnaya Sloboda is Azerbaijan's mountain Jews settlement. Over the years, they've clung to the broad outlines of their religion. Perhaps 40,000 of them remain. Over the years, they borrowed customs from their amiable Muslim neighbors, but never assimilated. Even as their knowledge of the rituals seeped away, they adhered to the broad outlines of Judaism, faithfully attending Sabbath prayers, scrubbing their homes on Fridays, baking their own matzo on Passover and eschewing pork.

After trip to Krasnaya Sloboda and lunch a short 1 hour transfer to Xinalig settlement along the marvelous mountainous road. There are no restaurants in Xinalig so if needed meals can be arranged in the local house on a spot. Short hiking to surrounding mountains and in village itself.  Return to Baku and arrival to hotel at around 20:00. 

Day 10

Check-out from the hotel. Transfer to airport

 

N of pax

Tour cost for group (USD, $)

Cost per pax (USD, $) Special notes
2 2700 1350 4 seater sedan or 4WD vehicle to be provided
4 3500 875 7 seater van to be provided
6 4320 720 15 seater van to be provided to allow luggage
8 5400 675 15/20 seater van to be provided to allow luggage
10 6000 600 15/20 seater van to be provided to allow luggage

Package includes:

- Accommodation in Baku in 3* Azscot hotel (double/twin occupancy for groups including breakfasts), 1 night in private house in Galagyg (including all meals), 2 nights in Issam Hotel in Sheki (including breakfast), 1 night in Ganja hotel
- Private vehicle accompanied by an experienced English speaking local guide
- Local driver for your vehicle, exclusively for your tour
- Sightseeing program including all entrance fees
- Private guided transfers to and from airport
- Guide's and driver's expenses
- Visa support

Not included into the package:

 - Fees for taking photos in historical sites
 - Any meals
 - Other personal expenses

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