Arrival to Baku. Meeting at the airport and transfer to your hotel. After short rest an excursion within central Baku will be organised. You will be taken to historical centre of Baku city, to 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 lunch. Proceed with sightseeing tour across the city. Pay a visit 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. After that you will have a walk along Baku Boulevard, the second longest one in the Europe. You can get a boat and make 30 minutes 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. Return to the hotel.
The second day will be spent primarily within the Greater Baku, where you will be taken to main sites on the Absheron Peninsula. You will visit 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 lunch you will visit the 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.
Next stop is Mount Yanardagh, though it is rather just a hillside than a mount. The word "Yanar" in Azeri language means "burning", and "Dagh" - "mountain". And this is real a burning mountain - not metaphorically, but literally. Once in Absheron it had been a lot of places where natural gas coming out from the earth to the surface ignited spontaneously, but with the start of mass extraction of oil and gas in Absheron these places started to disappear. At present, it is the only place of this unique natural phenomenon - the output of natural gas to the surface.
Our today's tour ends with a photostop at 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.
After breakfast at about 07:00-08:00 am start the way to Lagich village. On your way through Shemakha 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 to 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. Some hiking in the mountain Nialdag, visit waterfalls and remains of the fortress of Javanshir. Accommodation in the private house in Lagich with breakfasts and dinners included.
After breakfast a transfer will be arranged further north towards town of Gabala. Gabala is situated within 225 km from Baku and was built 1800 years ago, out of which 600 it had served as the capital of Caucasian Albania. Located in an area of tall mountains and deep canyons, near the Garachay and Gochalanchay rivers, Gabala is notorious for the ruins of an ancient walled city (Chukur Gabala), dating back to the 4th century BC. Situated south of Mirzabaili, 20km from the modern town, although with an area of 25 hectares the ruins of Chukur Gabala were only discovered in 1959. Since then a lot of archaeological work has been done, uncovering a wide area of urban settlement and artefacts evidencing trade links with Europe, Asia and the middle east. You can still see the remains of five watchtowers and the walls between them; burial grounds; gates; furnaces; residences; etc.
The city has an interesting cultural centre, with beautiful Soviet mosaics, a large war memorial, numerous ancient stone houses and the Rashidbek monument, shapped as a huge book. To enjoy a good perspective of the city climb the neighbouring Kohmurad mountain, an ancient lookout position controlling the city and the mountains. The program of today includes visit to the village of Nidzh, not far from Gabala, known for a unique architectural monument of the Caucasian Albania - Udin Temple. The Udins are absolutely special ethnic group who are considered descendants of Alabanians (only 10,000 of them left). They have managed to preserve their traditions, language, material and spiritual culture up to now. Just recently the temple has been restored and today it is open for church-goers of udin Christian community and tourists wishing to witness the most ancient landmark of Azerbaijan . The restored temple was constructed in the17th - 18th centuries on the site of an ancient Albanian church which had been built at will Saint Eliseus - the Christian ecclesiast and educator honored in the Caucasian Albania. The present day temple has been named after him.
After checking Gabala landmarks you will be taken to ancient Sheki. 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.
Have breakfast and at around 09:00 leave Sheki for the tour in surrounding areas. Before leaving Sheki you will have a chance to visit local bazaar to witness the daily life of ordinary people, their shopping habits and purchase local souveniors. Our first stopover will be in the Qax region where you will visit village Qum and see ruins of 5th century church and 19th century mosque. In the center of Qax you will see Georgian Orthodox church. Then start way to Ilisu village. Visiting there 18th century Sumug Tower, ruins of 17th tower, ancient mosque, remains of the bridge dating from the 18th century and very beautiful waterfall. After finishing tour in Qax and Ilisu have a lunch in one of the local restaurants with panoramic views over surrounding mountains. After lunch drive back to Sheki and have free time.
After breakfast transfer to Ganja through Mingechavir. Mingechaur is located on the Kura River. It is well-known first of all for its water basin which local residents call 'Mingechaur Sea'. It provides nearby areas of the republic with fresh water. Located on the coast of the water basin is the tourist center with a magnificent view on the sandy beach. But it is not only the "sea" that attracts tourists.
Ganja is Azerbaijan's second-largest city. In Soviet times it was named Kirovabad. According to medieval Arab sources, the city of Ganja was founded in 859-60 by Mohammad Khaled - the Arab governor of the region in the reign of the caliph Al-Mutawakkil, and so-called because of a treasure unearthed there. According to the legend, the Arab governor had a dream where a voice told him that there was a treasure hidden under one of the three hills around the area where he camped. The voice told him to unearth it and use the money to found a city. He did so and informed the caliph about the money and the city. Caliph made Mohammad the hereditary governor of the city on a condition that he would give the money he found to the caliph. However, modern historians believe that the Persian name Ganja suggests that the city existed in pre-Islamic times and was likely founded in the fifth century A.D.
The city is situated on a foot of the Small Caucasus, on the Ganja River, south of the Kura River in a rich agricultural area. It is in a middle of the way between Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, and Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia. There are many ancient historical monuments: mosque of Albanians, Ganja Gates (X-XI c.), Palace "Dar-us-Soltan" (XII c.), towers, medrese, bath-house, Caravansaray, Imam-zade Complex (XVI c.), Djuma Mosque (1606). To the south of Ganja between the emerald alpine forests is hidden the azure lake Goy-Gol (Blue Lake). On slope of mountains surrounding the lake there are unique creations of nature: "Stone circus", "Chingil", mystical caves and grottos.
Sightseeing program in Ganja. Free time. Overnight in the hotel.
Departure for Baku / or to Azeri-Georgian border point at Red Bridge depending on your further travel plans
- Accommodation for 2 nights in Baku in 3* Azscot hotel (double/twin occupancy for groups including breakfasts), 1 night in private house in Lahij (including all meals) and 2 nights in Issam Hotel (including breakfast), and 1 night in 3* Ganja hotel in Ganja
- 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
Not included into the package:
- Fees for taking photos in historical sites
- Any meals
- Other personal expenses
|N of pax||
Tour cost for group (USD, $)
|Cost per pax (USD, $)||Special notes|
|2||2300||1150||4 seater sedan or 4WD vehicle to be provided|
|4||3600||900||7 seater van to be provided|
|6||4200||700||15 seater van to be provided to allow luggage|
|8||4800||600||15/20 seater van to be provided to allow luggage|
|10||5100||510||15/20 seater van to be provided to allow luggage|